Would you like to have a river in your living room? That is what the City of Birmingham and dedicated citizens created from a corridor that was “Reserved for Mechanical Enterprises” in 1872 by the Elyton Land Company. Instead of a river of water through town, a river of trains was created, providing transport, commerce, and connection just like a river. In 2010 – more than a century later and long past Birmingham’s Iron Age – we built a living room next to the corridor so we could play on the green grass carpet and watch the trains. Nine acres of open lawn set in a 19-acre park provide the green-under-your-toes experience for city dwellers. The open-air feeling in the park is temporary, however. With more than 600 young trees planted onsite, including hardwoods, evergreens, and flowering trees, the park will be a shady woodland by mid-century. Eleven railroad tracks elevated on a viaduct provide the background music for concerts, parties, movies, playgrounds, skate board bowls, and a well-used outer loop for walking and running.
Birmingham, AL 35233
• What To Do •
The park offers continuous activities for family recreation. Nearly every weekend, a celebration or fundraiser sets up on the lakefront or under the pavilion on the 17th Street Plaza. Food festivals, exercise classes, summer farm stands, private family reunions, concerts or movies in the amphitheater, and even weddings take place. Bring your scooters, tricycles, and bicycles for a ride on the wide paved plazas and stop at one of the two unique play areas for toddlers and young kids on Powell Street. Two skate bowls are used by skate boarders, scooter riders, and bicyclists. An outdoor gym on the far west side offers adult exercise equipment. The south side of the park has a meandering stream bed, interconnected ponds, and strolling gardens. Seating throughout the park allows a place to rest and watch the people, water, trains, and sunsets. The Birmingham History Wall, with timeline and images of Birmingham, is worth a walk to the park entrance at the corner of the 18th Street Plaza.
• Seasonal Highlights •
The busiest seasons are late spring, summer, and fall, but any sunny day year round is good day to visit the park. The park hosts regular events from spring to fall, including weekly evening fitness classes such as yoga and Zumba, weekly farm stands, and live music on Thursdays nights. The Alabama Symphony Orchestra plays concerts in the park during the summer. When the weather cools a bit, the park begins free Sunset Cinema on Thursday nights. New annual events are always being developed as the park is embraced by the city.