Our adventure in Birmingham continues as part of The Year of Alabama Food! (To start at Part One click here).
Located in the heart of the southeast U.S.—86 miles from Montgomery, 138 miles from Atlanta, 183 miles from Nashville, and almost equidistant—some 212 miles from Mobile and Memphis—Birmingham, Alabama, affectionately referred to as “The Ham” by many of its denizens, is a jewel in the Heart of Dixie.
Founded in 1871, the city has grown and changed dramatically from its early railroad history into an industrial and manufacturing powerhouse (and at one point it was known as “the Pittsburgh of the south”), a major player in the Civil Rights Movement, a center for ground-breaking medicine and engineering, and today as a true cosmopolitan city.
Although Birmingham is Alabama’s largest city, it is still relatively boutique in size with an estimated 265,000 denizens in the city proper, 662,000 in the county and about 891,000 in the metro area. And it is bustling with a great deal to offer from history to recreation, culinary, family, nightlife and cultural adventures, plus most likely its greatest asset–wonderful Southern charm.
Historical and Family Adventures
A great way to gain an overview of the city is by visiting the Birmingham History Center, featuring over 3,000 square feet of exhibit space detailing the city’s history and growth through the decades. The Reynolds Historical Library, located at University of Alabama in Birmingham in the Lister Hill Library, also lends another aspect to the city’s history through its collection of over 13,000 rare books and manuscripts dating from the 14th to the early 20th centuries relative to the history of science and medicine.
General city and area sites and attractions include the Aldridge Botanical Gardens, a picturesque 30-acre woodland garden with a six-acre lake, walking trail and their star feature—a bounty of multihued hydrangeas, camellias and other native Alabama plants; and the Birmingham Zoo, featuring close to 800 animals of more than 200 species, including 60 mammal species, and 80 species each of reptiles and birds.
The McWane Science Center is a great place for interactive family activities including their aquarium, dinosaur collection and four floors of exhibit space, and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, referred to by some as “The Canton, Ohio of motorsports,” is highlighted by an astounding array of historic racing vehicles and memorabilia from 1902 to the present.
We’ve got more to come. To start at Part One click here.