The Railroad Reservation
cities were founded along rivers -- Birmingham was founded along a
city grew at the junction of two railroads, and the plan for the city
called for a Railroad and Mechanical Reservation along the mainline of
the railroads, surrounded by a street grid of avenues (west to east) and
streets (south to north).
1880 map from the UA map archive clearly shows the label of Railroad
Reservation, with a new city planned to grow around it.
that in Birmingham everything really is on a southwest to northeast
diagonal, due to the line of the ridges like Red Mountain. So,
when we say "south" we often really mean
of the railroad reservation avenues were originally lettered from Avenue
A, increasing to the south, toward Red Mountain. North of the
railroad, avenues were numbered from 1st Avenue, increasing to the
north. In later years, the lettered avenues became numbered
avenues, designated "south" and "north" indicating
to which side of the railroad a street was located.
it was intended that this new city of Birmingham would have industrial
activities located adjacent to the railroads and right in the heart of
the city. For example, Alice Furnace was located at the
"west" end of the railroad reservation and Sloss Furnace was
located at the "east" end of the reservation. At these
locations the two main rail lines diverged, creating a distinct triangle
area for both of these early industries. See the Birmingham
Industries section of this page for a more detailed view of the image
above, and below.
Furnace was dismantled years ago, and today Interstate 65 covers
part of the site.
Sloss Furnace, on the other hand,
became a museum in 1972, and is about to enter a new era with the
implementation of a Master Plan for development.
the years, the City of Birmingham has developed into
"downtown" and "Southside". Downtown is the
heart of the central business district, and Southside is the heart of
the University District.
2004, the City is undergoing a new City Center Master Plan, led by Urban
Design Associates (UDA), of Pittsburgh. This is an exciting new
plan for the future of the downtown area. A key component of this
plan seems to include the Railroad Reservation Park, or District, as an
east west linkage as well as a focal point for revitalizing this portion
of the central city.
parallel effort is led by the Friends of the Railroad District (FoRRD),
who are working with the City of Birmingham to assist and provide a
catalyst for the development of this Railroad Reservation Park.
This is an exciting effort to add a vibrant new district to the City
Center in Birmingham and to provide a focal point for revitalization and
exploring the Railroad Reservation This page may take a bit longer to
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