Monday, January 13, 2014

i believe in birmingham

i believe in birmingham.

for those of you unfamiliar with this southern city, it might seem weird to bold that and put it out there like some grandiose statement of truth. but i mean it that way, and i'll tell you why.

as it has been documented, birmingham has a self esteem problem. and rightly so. without delving too far into the past and the politics, this city has struggled with an identity and a purpose. while other southern cities like atlanta and nashville grew into prosperous cultural hubs, birmingham stayed behind, reluctant, timid. how long can birmingham cling to this?

growing up on the coast, i was told tales of the big, bad, scary birmingham. and while my family relished in passing through so they could stop at the summit to shop, we never ventured downtown for any activities. all i ever heard about was how unsafe it was, how i absolutely had to live "over the mountain" in vestavia, hoover or homewood if i didn't want to be burglarized, how there was "nothing to do".

then, i actually moved here. not over the mountain, not locked away in a castle, but right downtown, a mile from five points, in the hustle and bustle of it all, in a little historic home that i immediately fell in love with.

the truth? i was terrified. i didn't sleep for the first week. i didn't go anywhere except for work, and i definitely didn't venture anywhere if the sun was going down.

after the intital shock wore off, i began to slowly, but surely, explore. and i was amazed. i still am. foodie me ventured to all the hot, happening food spots - right in southside & five points! frank stitt's culinary wonders delighted me. i ate out on the patio and listened to live music at slice. i crawled through the caverns of blue monkey and had specialty cocktails. i stared in amazement at the beer list at j. clyde's. i played trivia at black market. i looked around lakeview and was vaguely reminded of the bar scene in tuscaloosa. i became a regular at rojo.

i took a walk around highland park, just as the leaves were falling. and it reminded me of fairhope. people were walking, playing with their dogs. i checked out the new region's field and watched a baron's game, then walked over to good people brewery afterwards.

i went to trucks by the tracks at the new railroad park and watched as birmingham's food trucks lined up to serve hundreds of people. the lines were so long i couldn't even get any food, but it was a beautiful day. people swarmed the park in droves with their families, listening to live music.

where was this big, bad scary birmingham i thought i knew all about? surely, not here. there were fashion bloggers taking outfit photos on the sidewalks, craft beers brewing in the distance, music acts frequenting venues new and old, and specialty eateries popping up on every street corner alongside the booming food truck endeavors.

i'm not denying statistics. i'm not saying there aren't problems to be addressed. i'm not saying birmingham is perfect. and hey, call me naive because i've only lived here since july 2013. what i'm saying is that things are changing - i can feel it. people are returning to downtown. i can't tell you how many young people i've met who are new graduates with jobs that chose to live on this side of the mountain as opposed to in the suburbs. trendy restaurants are opening. parks are being built. the rotary trail is happening! the breweries are prospering and bringing money to both the state and the city.

i believe that if we as a community continue to put positive energy, events and businesses into this city, we will evolve. we can be the next nashville. the potential is there. and it's happening, i assure you of this. 2013 was a monumental year for this city, and continuing the trend is crucial. stop with the self esteem problem, stop saying "never", and make this a place YOU want to live.

believe in birmingham.


  1. I really love this post, Meredith! It's so wonderfully written. And so true! When I lived here before college, I never went into the downtown area. But it's really cool to be here during the "revive" movement. :)

    1. Thank you! I'm so happy to be here during this time, we got really lucky!

  2. I lived in Vestavia for a short time during high school and always thought downtown had such potential to be great. I'm so glad to hear that it's starting to realize it's potential and slowly on the path to becoming a really great Southern city.

  3. I try to convince people all the time that Birmingham can actually be fun!

    1. I just read your post about convincing an Atlanta friend to come here. I've had similar reactions from people! There's SO much here that people don't know about!

  4. this is a great post! one of my friends and I have devoted every Sunday since the New Year doing something different in Birmingham and it has been so much fun! We went to Primeaux at the Summit recently, it was perfect for a girls night or for a intimate date and the food was amazing!

    1. Thank you! I've heard of Primeaux & its been on my list of things to check out. I'll definitely stop by now! That's such a good idea too, I should do that!

  5. We moved to Birmingham in July and absolutely love it! We believe!!!


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