Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Birmingham Train Terminal Memories

(Click Images to Enlarge)

Birmingham Train Terminal The Wrecking Ball
Reclamation? Restoration? Historical Preservation?
Demolition? Salvage?

Choices were made. Bad choices. Irreversible choices. Regrettable choices.

The Red Mountain Expressway was being planned to bring traffic into downtown Birmingham more efficiently. A huge cut through the mountain was envisioned and approved.

The Expressway would require tearing down the old Public Housing Projects complex in Downtown, called Central City. The people who lived in the projects cried, "DISCRIMINATION!!!" True, most of the residents were Black and obviously Poor, but this was where the arrow drew it on the map. Was that arrow REALLY the work of discrimination? I have no idea.

Birmingham Train Terminal
"MOVE THE EXPRESSWAY!," was their response! So, what would have to be torn down to do that? The one-of-a-kind, never to be seen again, Birmingham Railroad Terminal, which was, certainly, in a horribly shabby state of disrepair. And so the decision was made.

Birmingham Train Terminal Interior View
The City of Maimi was the last train to pull into the terminal on September 21, 1969. Even in its run down condition, it was so beautifully built that artists and photographers scrambled to capture it before demolition was started the next day.

Oh, and whatever happened to Central City?

Part of it was torn down during a remodeling effort some years ago, when it became known as Metropolitan Gardens, and now it is being redone completely as a multi-use area of high income lofts and low income government subsidized housing.

And what fine modern building now stands on the land that once was graced by that magnificent terminal?

not a thing

Has your city or town been fortunate enough to preserve its historic buildings, or have you, too, only memories of places that should still be there?

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vasilisa said...

I think a city that doesn't respect it's heritage is asking for trouble. People need to see that they are a part of history, of something grand...

My original city is very old. (over a 1000 years, actually). I grew up surrounded by history. They've worked very hard to preserve old buildings, churches, monuments.

In the past the city was known for it's many church-bells. But when the communist government came to power (the city is in Russia, by the way), they destroyed them. At one point only one remained. I remember, almost everytime it rang, somebody would mention that the city used to have hundreds. It really is a loss felt even by people whose parents weren't born when the demolitions took place.

(Here is the link to the city, by the way, if you're curious:
I haven't been there in a long long time. After typing this comment, I suddenly got very nostalgic.)

Dirty Butter said...

Thank you, Vasilisa, for sharing your memories and giving us the link to the Pskov site. It really is a beautiful place, and your pride in your homeland is understandable.