Wednesday, June 06, 2007

BACK FROM BIRMINGHAM

So I liked it. It was a short trip, and as I mentioned yesterday, I was there for work, so I didn't really get to experience too much of the place. But from what I saw, I liked it. The people are very friendly, the city is actually pretty attractive, and I was able to understand most of what people said.

(Most.)

The downtown area where we stayed and worked is really quite nice: very clean, tree-lined streets, flower pots hanging from many of the lamposts. The urban center is easily navigable, with some parks, museums, a few main streets with grass & plant-covered medians down the center. Very nice.

Of course, the park near our hotel (Linn Park, I believe) was largely deserted at all times, except for some friendly (but far-from prosperous) homeless people.

Another thing that surprised me was the architecture. I didn't realize this before, but Birmingham was established after the Civil War, in 1871, as an industrial town, with steel mills like the Northern England city of the same name, or Pittsburg. In fact, a statue of Vulcan sits on a hill overlooking the city. In fact it was known as "The Pittsburg of the South" and "Magic City," because of its rapid growth.

(I think I'd rather live in "Magic City" than in "The Pittsburg of the South." Come to think of it, I'm not sure I'd wanna live in "The Pittsburg of the North" either. Perhaps I'll accept "The Pittsburg of the Caribbean.")

Ok, enough of the trivia. Because of its industrial and commercial roots, Birmingham's downtown doesn't look like so many in America today: it's not just hyper-modern, glass & steel high-rises in a small area. There are some of those to be sure, but also late-19th century warehouses and office buildings, plus a lot of 5-15 story, brick structures from the first half of the 20th century. It gives the city a look that reminded me far more of a northeastern downtown than that of Charlotte or Atlanta or many of the other southern cities I've visited. Birmingham's downtown is attractive, and has a more organic feel than those other places.

And as I said, the people were very friendly (more than those I've met in Texas or the Carolinas). Plus, the food was very good (if not "Southern"), and there was plenty of "local scenery" to observe and admire. I'm not joking on that last part. Wow.

That's all for now. I'm pretty sure I'll be back there plenty more times in the coming months, and I'll update and report as need be.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

Glad you made it back.

I'm going to try to not curse for a while since I apparently disappointed you. :)

Metsies are in a bit of a slump right now.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Dwilkers said...

Slump? Count your blessings. The disAstros are just frickin terrible this year. They went on about a ten game slump over the last couple weeks where the opposing teams had more runs than the Astros had hits. I mean gawd, its like getting a root canal watching this team. Even Berkman can't hit this year for some reason.

Next time you're down there get some of the local fare Mike, stretch the old envelope.

1:24 PM  
Blogger Otto Man said...

You went to Alabama and avoided the one thing worthwhile there -- Southern cooking.

As an exiled southerner, here's a handy rule of thumb for BBQ. The quality of the food will be in inverse proportion to the quality of the building. Cinder block walls and a C from the health department? You're in for the meal of your life.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous wfta said...

I guess nobody offered to take you hog hunting.

6:16 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

To those of you who commented on the food situation: of course I'd have sampled the Southern fare given the choice. I'm surprised any of you thought otherwise.

But, as I'm sure you all know, when traveling for work, one tends to eat whatever the senior-most person wants to eat.

And the senior-most person wasn't me. Therefore . . .

6:34 AM  
Anonymous John Royal said...

Well, here's one Texan telling you where you can shove your Alabama hospitality...

Just for that, you're buying when in I'm in New York next month.

And Dwilkers, did you really expect anything better from the Astros? If not for Hunter Pence and Roy Oswalt this team would have a worse record than the Reds. As for Berkman, I think he's gotten Jesus pissed off at him, or something.

9:57 AM  

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