One hundred years from now, when historians write the history of Birmingham, 2013 will be the year they say changed everything.
Birmingham’s been called the “City of Perpetual Promise.” We’ve been described as the “Magic City” at our zenith and as the “Most segregated city in America” at our low point.
We’ve always been a great place to live, but not a great city. 2013 will be the year Birmingham begins its long-hard journey to become that great city.
There’s no question that 2013 was the year we began to feel good about ourselves and sense we could have a better future. We’ve always struggled with low self-esteem, but events of 2013 totally disproved the theory that Birmingham can’t do anything right.
We were told no sane person would take his/her family to Railroad Park because it would be too dangerous. This year there was an unfortunate incident at Railroad Park—but the crowds kept coming. All of us realize that no area of metro Birmingham or anywhere in America is totally safe. Twenty years ago that one single incident would have meant the death of Railroad Park—but not today.
We were told that no one in their right mind would go see the Birmingham Barons play baseball downtown. 2013 totally disproved that theory. The Barons broke attendance records and instilled genuine pride in our community.
In 2013, we received praise from the national media almost every week. From the New York Times to the LA Times—everyone seemed to be bragging about Birmingham.
Take a walk up 18th Street North from the newly renovated façade of the Lyric Theatre, through the brightly lit 18th Street underpass, past our Railroad Park and Regions Field towards our new Children’s Hospital and you see a new Birmingham.
Here are my wishes for 2014:
- Our enlightened millennials and young professionals wrestle control of Birmingham from our old worn out leaders who concentrate on our differences.
- UAB reaches its $1 billion fund raising goal. Birmingham’s future depends on a great UAB.
- Complete the Pizitz redevelopment project. Just as the Railroad Park transformed midtown, Pizitz will transform downtown.
- The new Rotary Trail opens–turning 1st Avenue South into a beautiful walking and biking trail. (The money is raised—the development imminent)
- Complete renovaton of the Lyric Theatre
- Take the first steps to fix local government structure–we have too many competing governments. Cities like Nashville, Charlotte, Louisville, and Jacksonville have unified governments and a unified vision.
- Replace our outdated State Constitution which denies home rule and includes an amendment that mandates no State tax money be used for public transportation—killing our chances for regional mass transit.
- Find a way to fix the poor performing school systems in our Birmingham region.
- Frank Stitt finally wins the James Beard award
We’re so lucky to live in Birmingham. Birmingham’s beautiful and our people are generous.
Birmingham will become that great city—but, even better, we will maintain our small town Southern values.
No reason for low self-esteem here. We have begun our comeback.
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David Sher is the publisher of ComebackTown, a co-founder of Buzz12 Advertising and co-CEO of AmSher Collection Agency. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham)), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).