When most people find out I spent most of my life and therefore claim Alabama as my home state, they jump to all kinds of conclusions. All they know about Alabama is what they learned in their history books about racism and what they saw in the movie Forest Gump. Well, there is so much more to this great state – especially Birmingham, the metropolitan area I grew up in. Downtown Birmingham, especially the Five Points South area, has some great architecture, shopping and night life. I spent many a night wandering around this lively area and have many great memories!
photo credit: yellowhammer.org
5 streets converge into a star shape on the south side of Birmingham, which is how Five Points got its name. The area is peppered with shops, restaurants and historic homes dating back to the 1890s-1930s (according to this site). Built right on the point of the star is the Highlands United Methodist Church, a beautiful building built in a Spanish style complete with tile roof. The HUMC web site provides tons of history behind not only the church but Five Points also.
photo credit: Larry Gay
Seated at the base of the HUMC is the famous fountain sculpted by Frank Flemming called “The Storyteller.” Simply called “the fountain” by most locals, this is the hub of Five Points. People meet here, beg here, pass out here, catch up with friends here, sell crafts here, sing songs here (you may even catch the famous “Dumb Bitch” song if you’re lucky!). I can’t recall the number of times I’ve met someone at the fountain or simply sat down to take a break from late night stumblings.
I first fell in love with Five Points when I was about 14 years old and my love of the Beatles, obsession with Janis Joplin and curiosity of the Grateful Dead drove me to Charlemagne Records. Up a steep flight of stairs is a tiny shop full of (at the time) records, tapes and a few CDs. (I’m sure there are plenty more CDs now!). With no real web site that I could find (besides a MySpace account…) this place is truly retro. I remember falling in love with The Doors here and loving the idea of second-hand music. According to Record Store Day, Charlemagne Records has been around for 32 years – longer than most stores in ANY city in America!
photo credit: sailorsamie.tumblr.com
photo credit here
One of my favorite buildings in Five Points is the Cathedral Church of the Advent, although I only just learned its name… like five minutes ago. For years I’ve been passing this church on my way too or from Five Points because of its proximity to parking. The church is gothic in style and I have always loved its courtyard and statues. It is a beautiful building and is just one of many architectural stunners in Five Points.
So this is just a hint of what Birmingham has to offer. There is so much more: from The Vulcan to Oak Mountain State Park there are tons of things to do! For more info on the history of Five Points, follow this link. If you want some city life ideas, check out the Birmingham, AL City Guide on one of my favorite blogs, Design Sponge.
Sweet Home Alabama…