Feb 21, 2016

Sunday Focus: Birmingham Remembered.

     There was only one thing truly distinctive about the Liberty National Insurance Headquarters building in Birmingham, a 1/5th replica of the Statue of Liberty...and that feature was removed from the building in 1989 and moved to the suburbs---perhaps symbolic of the white flight from Birmingham before and after that event.
     Come to think of it, the Statue of Liberty replica was placed on the building in 1958...right after the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and just before the Bull Conner days in Birmingham. It may have been some kind of a statement.

      The statue was cast in France because no American factory could be found to handle the job.
     Birminghamwiki tells the original story:

A six-story addition was completed in 1952. A 1/5th-scale bronze replica of the Statue of Liberty was placed on top of the older building on September 13, 1958. Liberty National provided guides for visitors wishing to see the statue up close.

      In 1989, the statue was relocated to a multi-purpose development in Vestavia's Liberty Park off I-459* in 1989.
     The statue had a gaslight torch on 20th street, but it was to be replaced with an electric torch in the 280 subdivision location.
     ALAGASCO got wind of it and convinced the developers to keep the gas flowing. It was a symbolic effort more than an economic one. For all I know they supply the gas free.
     I got thinking about the Liberty National building because of a report that bricks were falling from the building and Birmingham police closed some streets on Friday. 
    [Corrected. I originally wrote 280. I must get up to Birmingham more often! Thanks Charles.]  

1 comment:

Charles Kinnaird said...

I remember my first visit to Birmingham when I was a kid, Dad knew the city well, but it was all knew to us. I must have been 7 or 8 years old. We went to what was then the Jimmy Morgan Zoo, but we were also surprised and excited to see the Statue of Liberty -- upon which Dad had to explain the liberty National replica to us. I live in Birmingham now and was here when the statue was moved. At the time, I thought the company moved out to 459, but a friend who took a job with them told me, "No, they just moved the statue, but they are still in the same building." The statue does have better visibility now, but I was never quite sure why it was moved.