Vulcan Park and Museum should be the first place you visit when you arrive in Birmingham. With its spectacular view of the city and the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau information center, it’s the best place to learn about the city, its rich history and its many attractions.
Vulcan, at the center of the park, is the world’s largest cast iron statue. Made of 100,000 pounds of iron, the 56 foot tall statue stands at the top of Red Mountain overlooking the city. You can climb or take an elevator up Vulcan’s 124-foot pedestal for a panoramic view of the entire metro area.
But Vulcan is more than just a statue. The museum showcases Vulcan and Birmingham history and how they go hand in hand.
Birmingham was founded in 1871. The area was rich in natural resources: coal, iron ore and limestone, the raw materials for making iron and steel. Birmingham’s founders knew this would be a good place to build an industrial city. By 1900, Birmingham was called the “Magic City” because it grew so quickly.
So, why did the city built a statue of the Roman god of fire and forge? It was the turn of the last century and the world was focused on St. Louis and the World’s Fair. James A. MacKnight, the manager of the Alabama State Fair, decided a statue of Vulcan would best illustrate the area’s growing industrial abilities.
Giuseppe Moretti, well known for creating large and beautiful statues, was hired to create the world’s fair entry. The statue would help advertise Birmingham and its great industrial accomplishments.
Vulcan was dedicated at the World’s Fair in the Palace of Mines and Metallurgy and christened with water from the Cahaba River. Vulcan won the Grand Prize in the mineral department at the Fair; Moretti also won a medal.
Today Vulcan watches over all of Birmingham as a symbol of the city’s iron origins and its rich history.