Travel Postcard: 48 Hours in Birmingham, Alabama

Fri May 31, 2013 1:56pm EDT
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By Verna Gates

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Reuters) - Birmingham is honoring its turbulent past by commemorating the 50th anniversary of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, which killed four young girls, and other historic events that were part of the civil rights movement in the Alabama city.

Today Birmingham is known for fried chicken and James Beard-nominated chefs, and a music scene ranging from blues and country to jazz and opera. It also has one of the finest art museums in the region, home to Old Masters and folk art.

Reuter correspondents with local knowledge help visitors make the most out of a short visit.


2:30 p.m. - Start with a visit to Sloss Furnaces, a towering monument to Birmingham's steel era. The 1902-1970 mill, now a national historic landmark, is the country's only preserved 20th century blast furnace.

3:30 p.m. - Head to the Birmingham Museum of Art, which has the largest collection of Wedgewood china outside England. The free museum is also home to more than 25,000 artworks, ranging from pre-Columbian to postmodern.

4:30 p.m. - Sports fans should not miss the Alabama Sports Hall of Fall. Few states have produced more athletic champions, from track and field star Jesse Owens, an African American who won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, to football teams that have captured the last four national championships.

5:30 p.m. - Head to the Renaissance Ross Bridge, the city's only four-star hotel, and sip a cocktail while listening to the sounds of a bagpiper at sunset.   Continued...

The world's largest cast iron statue, Vulcan, towers over the city from its perch on Red Mountain Vulcan Park and Museum in Birmingham, Alabama in this 2012 Birmingham Convention and Visitors Center photo released to Reuters on May 30, 2013. REUTERS/Birmingham Convention and Visitors Center/Handout via Reuters