Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama and is located in the northern midsection of the state. It has a population of 242,000 and is comprised of one hundred fifty square miles. Birmingham was founded in 1871 by real estate investors who began selling tracts of land near the crossing of the Alabama & Chattanooga and South & North Alabama Railroads. The area was rich in natural resources, such as iron ore and coal, that were crucial in the production of steel.
Birmingham is surrounded by hills and small mountains. Red Mountain, which gets its name from the red tone of the iron ore, has some of the most exclusive real estate in the city. Also located on Red Mountain is the largest cast-iron statue in the world. It is a depiction of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and forge. The statute was created as the city’s entry into a competition at the 1904 World’s Fair. Another mountain of note is Ruffner Mountain. Ruffner Mountain is home to the Ruffner Mountain Nature Center, which is one of the largest urban nature reserves in the country. The reserve was established in 1950 and includes eleven miles of hiking trails. There is also an abundance of native wildlife in the reserve, such as raptors, snakes, and owls. Moss Rock Preserve is another nature preserve in the city. Moss Rock has unique boulder formations where climbers can test their skill levels.
Birmingham is revered as the cultural capital of Alabama. The Birmingham Museum is the largest museum in the state. The city has several dance, opera, and symphony companies as well. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute houses many narrative exhibits detailing Birmingham's important role of early civil rights movements. Other cultural venues of note in Birmingham are the Museum of Health Sciences, Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, Alabama Historical Radio Society, and the Alabama Mining Museum.
Some of the more popular attractions in Birmingham are also the most modern. Alabama Adventure is a massive complex that includes a water park as well as a traditional theme park. There are plans in the future to add an animal park, mini- stock car racing, and many other attractions to the park’s line up. For those who can’t wait for the plans to come to fruition, the Talladega Superspeedway is located nearby. The car racing venue seats an impressive 143,000 people (and more in the 200 acre outfield) and is the biggest competitive motor sports venue in the world. Located on site is the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. Another interesting sporting venue in Birmingham is Rickwood Field - the oldest ball park in America. Babe Ruth. Reggie Jackson and Willie Mays all played at Rickwood Field at some point during their baseball careers.
The number one attraction in Birmingham is the Riverchase Galleria. It is a two story shopping mall that includes retailers such as Belk, Macy’s, and Sears. Attached to the mall is a four-diamond rated Wynfrey Hotel as well as a seventeen story office tower. Riverchase Galleria also features one of the largest skylights in North America.