Coming this Summer: Birmingham’s Long-Awaited City Park

Railroad Park Construction

“All great cities have a great park.”

When you think of great cities with great parks, your first thought might be Central Park of New York City or Audubon Park in New Orleans. But did you know that the Olmsted Brothers, who designed these iconic city parks and many others, also created plans for a park here in the heart of Birmingham?

It’s taken over 80 years, but Birmingham is about to realize its long-awaited dream of a city park. Our city’s landscape architects and urban planners have long envisioned a ‘great downtown park’ for the city of Birmingham, and frankly, as a citizen and a mom, I’ve missed having one.  It’s thrilling to think that our park is about to become a reality. But BirminghamMoms don’t have to wait until late summer, when the work is scheduled for completion, to enjoy it.

If you have little ones who are into trucks and construction equipment, now’s a great time to drive by and watch the work in progress. The area is a real-life sandbox right now, with dirt movers and big-wheeled trucks working away. One Birmingham Mom reports recently visiting the park with her 6 yr old, where they walked the perimeter and peered at the children’s equipment. Besides watching the diesel-powered big trucks, the highlight of the visit was watching the train pass overhead.

Railroad Park is an 8-block area in the heart of downtown Birmingham. The $35 million park will reflect Birmingham’s industrial heritage while creating a natural setting with an abundance of trees and vegetation, a small pond, several train viewing areas (perfect for a picnic while watching the trains) and at least two children’s play areas. The genius of the park plan is that it involved a significant amount of site work which creates several small parks within the larger park. As a result, the plan fulfills many goals for this new attraction in Birmingham. Here are some of the amenities we can look forward to enjoying, according to the Railroad Park website:

Family Activities – 10 acres of open lawn, walking trails, lake, and shaded pavilions will provide space for Birmingham families to enjoy the newly created green space in the middle of the city.

Entertainment Venues – the open-air performance amphitheater will provide shade and seating space for thousands, with a generous stage area and sloped lawn surrounding, to accommodate very large events. Additional, smaller staging areas, such as a terraced Greek theater space, can also house smaller performances.

Restaurant & Shopping – near the amphitheater a restaurant will be built on the shores of the lake for a unique dining experience. Multiple shopping kiosks will be made available as well at predetermined areas bounding the park.

Health & Wellness – the park’s 10-acre open lawn will provide space for numerous casual sports activities. A scenic, elevated walkway – the Railtrail – will extend the length of the park from the amphitheater to the plaza at 14th Street surrounded by scenic trees and natural beauty.

The park is situated along 1st Avenue South, between 14th and 18th Streets, and is a joint effort between the City of Birmingham, the Railroad Park Foundation and the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham. At long last, we will have an essential element of a great city – a great park.

  • jaime james

    this sounds super awesome, but when is birmingham going to get a splash park?!?!? (other than having to pay to go inside the zoo for one). this is the mark of a great city to me! especially with the horrid hot summers that we have here.

  • Tina

    A splash park sounds like a good addition to the family area. Maybe they can add it in a subsequent phase? Other Alabama cities, like Decatur and Florence, have had great success with splash fountains in their public parks. We certainly do need some relief in the hot summer!

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