Birmingham, the Magic City, the Steel City, Birminghome. Whatever you call it, Birmingham is undeniably a great place to hang your hat. Though it isn’t one of the oldest cities or one of the largest, it’s residents genuinely love their city. Birmingham was established in 1871 to accommodate an intersection between the north and south Alabama and Chattanooga railroads. Within 30 years the city had boomed due to the steel industry, giving it is two famous nicknames, the Magic City and the Steel City. What makes this modest southern city so popular with its residents? Below are __ people’s responses to the question, “why do you love living in Birmingham?”
“I love living in Birmingham because of the profession opportunities I’ve already had and will have. As an Athletic Training major I have access to a lot of high school and college programs in the area that l can work with and get experience. Also, Andrew Sports Medicine is located here, and I had the opportunity to observe them my freshman year which was such a privilege. There the possibility for more opportunities with them in the future and I’m so grateful for that.” – Mikayla Scarborough, 19 years-old
“I love Birmingham because it’s a moderate sized city that still has a small town feel. I love that you can still get the mom-and-pop feeling here. And I love the food culture that’s emerging here. Especially in Avondale with all of the breweries and cool restaurants, it’s awesome. I love the botanical gardens, too. It’s really nice that we have those to walk around in.” – Madeline J., 24 years-old
“Much of the reason why I love living in Birmingham, is because there is an abundant amount of opportunity for me to get plugged in as a young professional. Due to the large amount of growth and revitalization happening within the city, there’s also a massive amount of opportunity for me to start a small business. But I would say above all else, I love living in Birmingham because of the sense of community and how easy it is to get plugged in.” – Wade Cline, 21 years-old
“I love the film industry here. We have one of the largest sidewalk film festivals in the country and one of the largest film festivals in general. There aren’t permit fees so it’s cheap- most of the walking dead is filmed in northern Alabama. I’ve heard that the Erwin Brothers might be opening up a studio here. I also grew up here so it has a lot of history. Everything has a story, you know? The climate is nice, too. I like that we don’t have a real winter. Birmingham is also called the Portland of the south which is cool. You know, it’s got a good coffee shop vibe going on throughout the city. Avondale is really where that’s concentrated, it’s pretty hipster.” – Anna Howard, 23
There’s many reasons to love Birmingham. It has an emerging foodie culture, a film culture, and opportunities for great success. It may not be Atlanta or New York, but for those who love it, it really is Birminghome.
For all those who were saddened by the closing of the Salvation Army on Greensprings Highway, have no fear. There’s a bigger and better Salvation Army on Reverend Abraham Woods Blvd. I haven’t had the chance to check it out in person yet, but I’ve heard from a few fellow thrift shoppers that it’s great.
Menu: small, classic, simple. Seeds isn’t here for the frills, they’re here for good, simple coffee.
Location: 174 Oxmoor Rd, Birmingham, AL 35209
Vibe: Seeds is another great coffee shop to study at. There’s plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. It’s louder than a lot of coffee shops, there’s always a steady buzz of conversation and folk pop in the background. But the lighting is good, the coffee is great, and the staff is always friendly.
Menu: Expansive and bit expensive. O’Henry’s has a lot of different beans to choose from as well as a large variety of staple and seasonal lattes, including a Nutella latte during the Christmas season.
Location: There’s three O’Henry’s locations in Birmingham. Downtown, Downtown Homewood, and Brookwood Village.
Vibe: O’Henry’s is a great place to study because it has just the right amount of background noise and quiet. There’s always an interesting playlist, but most people plug in headphones and study quietly.
Pictured above: O’Henry’s seasonal Nutella Latte
This past weekend I went out in the cold and rain in search of the perfect tacky Christmas sweater to pair with my tacky Christmas sweater skirt. My friends were throwing a Christmas party, and I wanted to be extra tacky for the occasion. My first pick of thrift stores in Homewood has always the Salvation Army on Greensprings Highway – until now. Upon pulling into the parking lot it was clear that the store had been abandoned. Not a car was in sight, the lights were off and a paper on the door announced that the store had closed. There was no warning or explanation, and the website still lists it as open. Needless to say, I was pretty upset that the store had closed, I’d always had good luck there in the past. I’m still waiting for an explanation from the Salvation Army of Birmingham, hopefully one comes soon.
The Alabama Theatre was built in 1927 by Paramount studios to showcase Paramount films. It has the capacity for about 2,500 people, and is now one of the only remaining movie palaces of its size. Throughout the year the theatre hosts events such as the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, the Alabama Ballet, and various concerts. “I like that it is an old fashioned building. At the beginning, before they play the movie, the piano rises out of the stage and the pianist plays old fashioned Christmas music,” said Hannah Blazer, a 19-year-old Birmingham native. “It sets the mood for everything. They introduce the movie, and give the background to it. It’s so cool because you get to watch the old movies in an old theatre, and I’m a very traditional person, so it’s neat.”
Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland
Each year over three and a quarter miles of Christmas lights are set up along the Birmingham Race Course to entertain guests throughout the Christmas season. Guests can drive through the light displays while a synchronized radio station plays through the car speakers. “It was really fun to get all of my friends into the car and drive through all the lights. We packed eight of us in this van and jammed the whole way through,” said Kyle Church, a sophomore Samford student. “I’m from Texas, so I have pretty high standards when it comes to flashy light displays, and this was great.”
Lighting of the Way at Samford University
Lighting of the Way is one of Samford’s most beloved Christmas traditions. After the school’s annual Hanging of the Green ceremony, the student body gathers on the campus’ quad to listen to the president’s wife tell the Christmas story, and lead the countdown to lighting up Centennial walk and the Christmas tree. A live band plays, and there’s plenty of hot chocolate and sweet treats for everyone to enjoy. “Lighting of the Way is one of my favorite parts about Samford,” said Sam Fink a sophomore student at Samford. “We all get to come together as a campus to kick off the Christmas season at Samford and it’s so special.”
Ballet at Briarwood
Briarwood Presbyterian Church offers ballet classes from ages three through high school. The classes are taught in a Christian environment that emphasizes worshiping the Lord through dance. Every year during Christmas the classes put on a Christmas ballet for the Birmingham community. Mary Emma Campbell, who now attends Samford University, has danced with Briarwood for 16 years and taught classes for three years during high school. “The Briarwood Christmas Ballet is such a beautiful tradition of elegant worship and praising God through the joy of dance. The company puts so much time and effort into making it a show of worship and it is truly a joy to be a part of,” she said.
Brrrmingham: Ice skating at Rail Road Park
This winter is the inaugural year of Brrmingham, where birminghamians can ice skate outdoors at Rail Road Park. The atmosphere is lively and exciting with people whizzing (or stumbling, clutching the wall) around the rink. In addition to getting in some exercise to counteract the Christmas cookies, it also makes for a great photo-op with the Birmingham skyline in the background. “I hope that this becomes an annual Christmas tradition in Birmingham. It’s really have in fun to have a place to ice skate to ice skate in the middle of the city, especially in a place like Birmingham where you don’t see much ice,” said Marcus Witzel.
If traditional brick and mortar and granny couch thrift shops aren’t your cup of tea, don’t worry. thredUP is an online thrift store with great brands that you’d normally buy in stores for great prices. Continue reading “A New Kind of Thrift Shop: thredUP”
This morning I got up early and headed out to try a new coffee shop in the East Lake neighborhood of Birmingham. I’ve heard wonderful things about East 59 for ages and they didn’t disappoint! Continue reading “Meet Me at East 59 Vintage & Cafe”