This is the first ever book review on Geek Alabama! For my first book review, I am going to talk about the new book from Beverly Crider titled “Lost Birmingham.” Lost Birmingham talks about some of the history behind the Magic City. Most people living today in the Birmingham Metro would never know about the Birmingham Terminal Station, Quinlan Castle, Lyric Theatre, Shelby Hotel, Avondale Mills, and much more! If you are a history buff or what to learn more about Birmingham, you need to pick up this book.
Lost Birmingham talks about the forgotten landmarks and history of Birmingham. Although I am not going to talk about everything in the book, I am going to talk about some interesting things I have read in Lost Birmingham. First, did you know that the former Lakeview Park was the site of the very first Alabama vs. Auburn football game way back in 1893? The park had a lake, a theatre, baseball field, swimming pool, skating rink, and even a bowling alley. The first football game between the University of Alabama and the Agricultural and Mechanical College (Auburn) occurred on February 22, 1893.
Attendance was at around 5,000 people and the park was jam-packed with fans. Auburn won the first game 32-22. The players were even treated to special meals at their hotels. And most people traveled by train to get to this game. Today, Lakeview Park is no longer there. But you can find a historical marker of the first Alabama vs. Auburn football game in front of a BBVA Compass administrative building.
The Lyric Theatre was very successful in downtown Birmingham, until the Alabama Theatre opened across the street. At one time, The Lyric Theatre was so desperate to stay open they started to show “adult movies.” The protectionist even got arrested for showing these films for violating Birmingham’s blue laws. Today, the Lyric Theatre is still there but needs millions of dollars of renovations to re-open.
Avondale Park was a place for the Avondale employees to relax. By the way, Avondale had kids working back in the day. Children were great workers because their small hands could get in between the machines. Avondale Park became the first home of the Birmingham Zoo. One of the most popular animals was an elephant named Miss Fancy. At times, you could see Miss Fancy wandering the streets of Birmingham as she escaped quite often. She did not stay for long as the zoo closed and Miss Fancy and the other animals were sold off.
Birmingham also had a wonderful train station that opened in 1909. The Birmingham Terminal Station had a great design and was talked about by numerous magazines from across the country. The station had two huge rooms and was topped by a huge central dome. One sight at the station was a huge sign saying “Birmingham, The Magic City.” When passenger train traffic declined in favor of the car, the train station was torn down. Today, the Red Mountain Expressway goes over the spot of the former train station.
If you want to read an interesting book about Birmingham’s history and see a lot of old photos, you need to get a copy of Lost Birmingham! I found the book very interesting and I loved seeing all the old photos showing how Birmingham once was.
To learn more about Lost Birmingham and to purchase the book go to: http://lostbirmingham.com/
Follow Beverly Crider on AL.com at: http://connect.al.com/user/BeverlyCrider/posts.html
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