Civil Rights District#1 in Best Things To Do in Birmingham
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To learn more about Birmingham's role in the civil rights movement, plan a visit to the Civil Rights District. This six-block area in downtown Birmingham encompasses several historic sites, including the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the 16th Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, the A.G. Gaston Gardens and the Fourth Avenue Business District, among other points of interest.
Perhaps the most significant site is Kelly Ingram Park, which played host to civil rights rallies, demonstrations and confrontations in the 1960s, including the Children's Crusade. You can take a self-led walking tour through the park to learn about the notable protesters and the significant incidents of this turbulent time in the city's history, detailed by markers along the Freedom Walk route. The park is also home to the Four Spirits statues, which honor the four African American girls killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. To fully experience the walk, you can access a free audio tour from your cell phone by calling 205-307-5455.
Visitors call the Freedom Walk an enlightening experience, saying the route through Kelly Ingram Park and visits to the 16th Street Baptist Church and the BCRI can be emotionally painful, but are necessary since they provide an in-depth look at Birmingham's struggle during the civil rights movement. Many commented that it's better to visit the institute first and then do the walk through the park to understand the significance of the statues and markers. Some reviewers also cautioned that there were a number of panhandlers in the area, advising visitors should maintain a close watch of any bags or purses.
The Civil Rights District encompasses Kelly Ingram Park – also known as West Park – located between 16th and 17th streets and Fifth and Sixth avenues north. Admission is free and the park is open daily from dawn to dusk. To learn more about the park and its history, visit the National Park Service website. For more information about the various sites and attractions that comprise the Civil Rights District, visit the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau website.
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Known as "Birmingham's Living Room," the 19-acre Railroad Park is where locals gather for recreational activities, concerts and special events. The park features a lake, jogging trails, skate bowls, an outdoor gym, playgrounds and the partially covered 17th Street Plaza, which offers restrooms and the Railroad Park Dining Car.
Recent travelers said this local favorite is a gorgeous green space. Reviewers commented on the clean restrooms, beautiful gardens, picnic facilities and scenic trails. Parents noted that their kids loved watching the trains go by at the adjacent railroad yard.
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