You may see the Iron man every day, but what do you actually know about him? Overlooking the beautiful city of Birmingham, Vulcan is the world’s largest iron-cast statue and from the very beginning, Vulcan has been an icon to the city. Birmingham was founded in 1871, and it wasn’t long until it got its nickname as the “Magic City” because of its rapid growth due to its iron and steel production. Vulcan is a symbol of those industries.
No one says it better than Vulcan Park and Museum - “What kind of city builds a burly, bearded, bare-bottomed man to tower over its entire population? One that never forgets its roots. Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and forge, watches over all of Birmingham as a symbol of the city’s iron origins - and the ever present spark of its indomitable spirit.”
So when did Vulcan come into the picture? Vulcan was designed by Giuseppe Moretti, an Italian sculptor, in 1903 and represented Alabama in the World’s Fair in 1904. After receiving the grand prize, he eventually made his way back to Birmingham where he found his home sweet home.
After the fair, Vulcan was disassembled and taken back to Birmingham by train. He was then placed at the Alabama State Fairgrounds for almost 30 years. (When he was reassembled, he was put together incorrectly - preventing him from carrying his spearpoint.) In the years of the Great Depression Vulcan was yet to have a permanent home until 1939 when he was placed in his very own park atop Red Mountain.
Eventually, Vulcan began to grow old and deteriorate and was taken down for fear that he was close to crumbling in 1999. The community came together in order to save their beloved Vulcan, who was so much more than just a statue to the city of Birmingham. The Vulcan Park Foundation raised over $16 million in order to make sure Vulcan would continue to watch over the city, and he was raised on top of Red Mountain in 2004 in time for his 100th birthday. Vulcan Park and Museum allows people to explore, learn, celebrate and dive deeper into the roots of not only Vulcan but Birmingham.
Did you know?
- Made of 100,00 pounds of iron and standing 56 feet tall, Vulcan is considered one of the most memorable and remarkable works of civic art in the United States to this day. He was constructed from cast iron that was made right in the heart of Birmingham.
- His name originates from the Roman god of fire and metalwork which is fitting considering Birmingham’s deep roots in the iron and steel industry.
- Over the years Vulcan has held a number of objects. From an ice cream cone to pickles to a bottle of Coca-Cola, Vulcan was used in his early years as an advertising tool. Later he held a lighted torch that marked auto deaths in Alabama.
- A song was written about Vulcan’s derriere called “Moon over Homewood “.
On Sunday, June 6th, the city of Birmingham celebrated Vulcan’s 117th birthday. Vulcan’s Birthday Bash was a day of family fun, games, and food. But you can celebrate Vulcan any day by visiting Vulcan Park and Museum and exploring the grounds or even getting a great photo with one of the best views of Birmingham!