Amtrak stop in Birmingham, AL - Photo via Flickr
To make trip planning easier for those of yo that intend to visit Birmingham, AL Hipmunk commissioned me to write this article and include some solid tips and lodging options in The Magic City. But first, a little history.
Birmingham, Alabama is named after Birmingham, UK. The city was founded in 1871, merging three pre-existing farm towns, and, to this day, it is the largest settlement in the state. According to the book “The Most Segregated City in America: City Planning and Civil Rights in Birmingham, 1920-1980” by Charles E. Connerly, the city was planned to host cheap, non-unionized labor.
Birmingham’s steel manufacturing plants used mostly African-American workers from rural backgrounds, underpaying them to gain competitive advantage over the rest of the manufacturers in the country. The success of steel manufacturing had the city of Birmingham growing rapidly between 1881 and 1920, earning her the two nicknames of Magic City and The Pittsburgh of the South, and turning it into the most industrialized city in the region.
Birmingham is often remembered as the theater of racist violence, bombings, and anti-segregation protests. So when you visit the city you might decide to use your time to explore the history of American civil rights by visiting Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the Civil Rights District .
Birmingham, AL Loveman's Department Store 1950 - Photo via Flickr
Visiting Birmingham only to rehash its cloudy past would be a pity, however. Another approach is to go there for its present, trying to understand how the city’s environment has reacted to its history, and reshaped itself to accommodate modern society, all while keeping the institutions of southern hospitality and good blues alive.
During your visit, you will realize that the city has a lot to offer, starting from its impressive Museum of Art, but also other landmarks like the Tunnel of Color or the Five Points Fountain.
If you intend to visit Birmingham, these are a few lodging options.
Cobb Lane Bed and Breakfast is a solid choice. The B&B has a distinctive Victorian feel, with breakfast included in the inexpensive daily rate. The Cobb Lane Bed and Breakfast is located in the charming area of Five Points, close to Redmond Park, the right place to be if you are interested in discovering Birmingham’s architecture and her historic districts.
If you prefer higher-end accommodation, you can choose the Redmont Hotel instead. The Redmont is the oldest hotel still open for business in town, and after its opening in 1925, it recently underwent a makeover, resurrecting in 2015 as part of the “Curio Collection by Hilton”. The rooms at the Redmont are cozy and tasteful, and within the premises, you will find the Blue note, Alabama’s only rooftop bar.
If instead you intend to stay for a longer period, or if you are after a more basic fare, you should check out Extended Stay America or The Sun Suites. Both hotels offer routine amenities and all the comforts of home away from home.
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