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Situated along 6th Avenue, the 16th Street Baptist Church is a beautiful church in the heart of the city. Conceptualized as early as 1873, it has had a long history. The initial building was demolished in 1908 and the current structure was built in 1911 by the famous Wallace Rayfield. During the Civil Rights Movement, the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing killed four young girls. Today, the church continues to function with great vitality, and has also been declared a National Historic Landmark. Call to book individual or group tours.
The very genesis of Birmingham, Sloss Furnaces were one of the pioneers in the process of smelting pig iron. Established in 1882, it is this iron industry that prompted the city of Birmingham to grow around it. Over the years, the machinery has gathered abundant rust and experience, both of which tell stirring tales of the industry's glorious heyday. Proclaimed a National Historic Landmark, this antiquated site is an escape into the ancient industrial processes of the country. The site was restored in 1983, and, in addition to the impressive furnaces, there is an industrial museum, a sculpture garden, and a park which lend deeper insights into the history and legacy of Sloss Furnaces. The furnaces also play host to concerts, festivals, events, and activities.
Rickwood Field was built in 1910 for in the city's professional baseball team, the Coal Barons. Rickwood Field has since been restored to look the way it did in its 1940s heyday, all the way down to the hand-operated scoreboard. Wearing old-time uniforms, the Birmingham Barons play the annual Rickwood Classic. Baseball greats who played at Rickwood include Babe Ruth, Rogers Hornsby, "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, Ty Cobb and Birmingham's own Burleigh Grimes, the last legal spitball pitcher in the big leagues. Rickwood was also home to the Birmingham Black Barons Negro League team, which brought the likes of Satchel Paige, Piper Davis and local teenage phenomenon Willie Mays to play here. There is no charge to visit Rickwood; inquire about admission prices for the Rickwood Classic and other special events.
Kelly Ingram Park is a treasure trove of sculptures occupying the heart of Birmingham. Formerly known as the West Park, the park served as the platform for the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. It is home to several sculptures that thoughtfully commemorate those who fought for racial equality. The bronze statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, the 'Four Spirits' sculptures, and the 'I Ain't Afraid Of Your Jail are three of the park's standout sights. Thriving under the aegis of the 16th Street Baptist Church, this park is a beautiful amalgamation of history and culture.
One of the most interesting destinations in the area, this park is about a 20-minute drive from downtown Birmingham. Tannehill was the site of a large Civil War-era blast furnace that was destroyed by Union troops in 1865. Accompanying the restored furnace are a museum and, in the summer, working artisans recreating rural Alabama life circa the 1840s. There are also several hiking trails, as well as cabins for rent and a campground. The park is open daily.
Famous for its "miracle mile", Rickwood Caverns State Park is an absolute delight for those with an interest in speleology. The underground caverns that make up the famed miracle mile comprise fascinating limestone formations and passages with beautiful lighting. As the cavern has been carved from the seabed, its walls and ceiling feature many fossils, shells and other signs of marine life. Aside from the natural wonders, the park boasts facilities like a swimming pool, hiking trails, campground, gem mining and more.
Cradled in Downtown Birmingham, the Civil Right District is the center point of the state's long-standing history. The very site where several important events of the Civil Rights Movement were birthed, this historic district sprawls across six blocks. The district has witnessed many of the most significant happenstances of the Birmingham arm of the movement, including the fateful bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. Kelly Ingram Park, which is also a part of the district, was the location of many demonstrations during the Civil Rights Movement. Numerous sculptures in the park commemorate the historical protests. Some of the most important sites in the district include the statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Carver Theater, which has now been transformed into a live music venue, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Harboring several historical sites, the Civil Rights District reads out America's most significant chapter out loud.
Arlington Antebellum Home and Gardens, the city's only antebellum mansion, offers tours featuring its collection of 19th-century furniture and decorative arts. The building is a grand example of the Greek Revival architecture that was prominent in the 1840s. A tearoom is available, and the gardens are a beautiful site and backdrop for weddings and other special events. Call ahead for admission details.