Category Archives: Birmingham Landmarks

Traversing Brock’s Gap: The Historic Key to the Development of the Birmingham District

The City of Birmingham was founded in 1871, one month after the completion of the last link in the North-South railroad connecting Montgomery to Birmingham through Brock’s Gap. The new city was the center of the developing Birmingham District that grew quickly as a collection of iron ore, coal, and limestone mines. Manufacturing plants were scattered throughout a five-county region constituting today’s Birmingham-Hoover metropolitan area. Attempts to bring the railroad up from the Cahaba River and across Shades Mountain began in the 1850s but were frustrated for many years by the difficult terrain. Brock’s Gap extracted a heavy toll both in terms of funds and human lives before the railbed was successfully completed.

A milelong railbed still exists as a forested road (follow it HERE) that is a potential greenway connection between Shades Mountain and the planned Cahaba Park on the Cahaba River near Helena. Unfortunately, the Brock’s Gap railbed stretches through an area near Interstate 459 that has been targeted for development. The railbed is threatened by a proposed interchange and future land uses.

The Brock’s Gap railbed is irreplaceable as a physical reminder of the success of our forbearers. They overcame difficult challenges developing the Birmingham District whose story begins with the railroads that run through the heart of the District to this day. Brock’s Gap is at the center of this history while also providing a unique public amenity. For more information, read THIS to follow the railbed as it currently exists and download and print this PDF to read about its creation and importance to the Birmingham District.

Lyric Theater once again threatened by a pandemic

The Lyric Theater is one of Birmingham’s Historic Landmarks and is also one of the few remaining theaters that was specifically designed for vaudeville shows. By 1918, four years after it opened, it had an active and popular schedule of events attracting stars including Mae West and The Marx Brothers, and was lauded by Milton Berle to be “as fine a theatre as any in New York.”

But in October 1918, according to booking records carefully preserved since its opening in 1914, it went dark for three weeks. (see below) It’s presumed that the Spanish Flu ravaged the city and forced cancellation of all events. Perhaps because of the very lethal nature of that epidemic, it burned out quickly, and the theater was able to reopen.

However, once again, the theater’s future is threatened by a global pandemic and this time the closing has been much longer than before. The Lyric and Alabama theaters have once again been forced to cancel events, eliminating the income upon which they depend.

According to their website:

WITHOUT YOUR HELP, WE’RE HISTORY

“The Alabama and Lyric Theatres depend on events for income, but the COVID-19 pandemic has jeopardized the future of our historic venues. We need donations more than ever to make sure these Birmingham Landmarks survive this crisis.

If you’d like to help, please invest in the future of these Birmingham landmarks HERE. Or please consider including them in your holiday gift giving. Thanks!