It’s not easy being the largest cast iron statue in the world. But someone has to do it.
I know I make it look easy just standing here overlooking the beautiful city of Birmingham 24/7, 365 days a year, but don’t be misled. I’ve lived through a lot.
When I was chosen by the Commercial Club in 1903 to represent Birmingham (I am, after all, the Roman god of fire and forge, and Birmingham was, after all, positioning itself as the iron and steel making capital of the South), it would be a 30-year process before my 56-foot-tall, 100,000-pound body would be erected to my final resting place.
Since that day I’ve witnessed many major changes and events in Birmingham; not all of them I enjoy remembering.
I looked on as the Civil Rights Movement unfolded before my eyes. I was there when the Ku Klux Klan bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church, and I watched in horror when a public safety commissioner in 1963 turned high-powered fire hoses and police dogs on African American protestors.
I’ve weathered freezing temperatures and flooding rains. In 1993 I watched as the city was buried 13 inches of snow. In 2011 I stood helplessly as our city and neighboring cities were terrorized by multiple tornadoes.
But the view from my 124-foot pedestal hasn’t always been a bad one.
I’ve gotten to watch as the city of Birmingham has grown in both size and beauty through skyscrapers, parks and more. I’ve lived in the place called home by people like Courteney Cox, Bobby Bowden and Condoleezza Rice. I’ve been visited by groups of friends, families, prom goers, newlyweds, newborns, bored college students and people of all ages, genders and races.
Life for me has had its ups and downs. I’ve been moved around, taken apart, re-erected and more. But Birmingham is my home, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Photo by Katie Willis