I hate the Magic City

The Magic CityI like Birmingham, but I don’t like our nickname, ‘The Magic City.’

I like “The Magic City” for historical purposes, and I know that is what we call ourselves, but that name is not going to get us anywhere outside of Birmingham.

Those of us who live here know we’re ‘The Magic City.’  Outside of Alabama—not so much.

In fact, if you GoogleMagic City,’ your first option will be an Atlanta adult entertainment night club.

And if you Google cities nicknamed, ‘The Magic City’–Miami pretty much owns that title.

Amazingly there are 14 other cities besides Birmingham  nicknamed, ‘The Magic City.’

  1. Barberton, Ohio
  2. Billings, Montana
  3. Bogalusa, Louisiana
  4. Cheyenne, Wyoming
  5. Florence, South Carolina
  6. Gary, Indiana
  7. Leadville, Colorado
  8. Miami, Florida
  9. Middlesboro, Kentucky
  10. Millinocket, Maine
  11. Minot, North Dakota
  12. Moberly, Missouri
  13. Roanoke, Virginia
  14. South Omaha, Nebraska

We should have a name we can dominate–that is unique to Birmingham.

For instance, I bet you know the city associated with each of these nicknames*:

  • The big apple
  • The windy city
  • The big easy
  • The City of Brotherly love
  • Motor City
  • Music City
  • Weird

How about a name for Birmingham many of us are already using…


The ham fits the new, vibrant city we are becoming.

I could find no other city nicknamed The Ham–so Birmingham could be the one and only.  We could own The Ham.

According to Culturemap in Austin, Texas, Birmingham could be the next hipster city.

Birmingham is working towards ‘hip’–The Ham is hip.

We could be both the ‘magic city’ and The Ham, but let’s put The Ham front and center.

If you like the idea, comment below.  I propose The Ham.  What do you think?

*New York, Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Detroit, Nashville, Austin

Let’s turn Birmingham around.  Click here to sign up for our newsletter.  There’s power in numbers. (Opt out at any time)

David Sher is the publisher of ComebackTown, a co-founder of Buzz12, a division of Intermark Group, and co-CEO of AmSher Compassionate Collections.  He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

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19 thoughts on “I hate the Magic City”

  1. *’The Ham’ is catchy, and I know of several people who already use it…for years now. On a lighter note, can you use that name if you keep Kosher? 😉

  2. I’ve never liked “The Magic City” as a nickname. I heard that it came from when the city “Grew like Magic” until, of course, it didn’t and fell into decline while neighboring cities and states progressed and grew. Now the name is, to me, embarrassing. Kind of like “The Football Capital of the South” – which it never was. Can’t say that I’m excited about “The Ham” either – not that I have a better idea. What’s that mean? The “Pork Capital of the South”?

    But as long as we have the like of Roy Moore representing us, a nickname matters little.

  3. Birmingham is and has always been “The Magic City” – and the “magic” continues – Birmingham continues to grow.
    About other cities with nickname “The Magic City”:  So?!?

    Doesn’t it tell you something that you find no other city nicknamed the “ham”?!?
    da Ham, Th’ Ham, The Ham, Ham – We are NOT the rear end of a swine” ~ (even tho Roy Moore makes us appear so!)
    and if one insists on using the (uncomplimentary) “ham” word, at least give it an apostrophe: “‘Ham”
    We are Birmingham, Alabama, “The Magic City.”


  4. *I’ve seen some hipster t-shirts with a pretty cool design/logo representing Birmingham.  

    “I” picture of a heart “B” picture of a whole ham….I heart B(ham). I thought it was kinda cool. I am a lover of all things porcine. 

  5. *David, surely we can do better, than “the ‘ham”!

     You must have some marketeers following your blog. Help please!

  6. * I think “the Ham” as a nickname would complete our denigration. Either we’re a slab of pork, of the meat or the waste variety, or trying to be something we’re not. What about Birmingham, “the Magic City of Change”?

  7. *Perhaps ‘the Ham’ is not a good logo for us if no one commenting here even realized that it is old English meaning ‘the City’. We also have thirty or more surrounding ‘Hamlets’.

    Since is it most likely not legal to grow pigs in the city, I am wondering why people thought this was about meat. I also don’t see apples or peaches growing in those cities however.

    At any rate, calling the City, the Ham seems so natural. But most likely opens us to more national ridicule as being compared to any part of a pig does not engender respect.

    No one questions so many southern cities with Ville; and I am betting few know that the French know that to be City. (could be the same reason there are so many Hams in England)

    Perhaps we have to find something that the less enlightened masses can pick up on. We could stick with the fruit line of thought and call the city the Grape. Only because no young and most older people will not know what the Muscadine means. At least these come in bunches, like our suburbs.

    It appears we have yet a new problem of our own making. A Simple reference to our city to Simple people. (but if we want high tech educated people, maybe we should go back to ‘The Ham’, once they get it they will see all those cities in England with a whole different understanding. We can hope.


  8. *This isn’t helpful, but all truckers over 50 years old remember Birmingham as “Smoke City.” We also used to be “Pittsburgh of the South.” How about “Detroit of the South?” Nah . . . 

    How about Birmingham-Hoover? It worked for Minneapolis-St. Paul. Hmmm, Atlanta’s country cousin?  Charlotte wannabee? Capital of white flight? Bethesda of the South? OK, bad (but not necessarily untrue) ideas.

    Thanks to Roy Moore, it will never be “Capital of the New South.” How about “Cradle of the P.C.A.” or “New Life?” Heart of Affluent New World Evangelicalism?

    Birmingham – Home of the Civil Rights Movement is not only truthful, but makes sense unless Montgomery or Selma have already claimed it.

    Think about it, ye marketers . . . What is Birmingham known for that can be parlayed into something useful for the future? Why do (or would) people want to travel here? What would make Birmingham a travel destination? Herein lies the issue . . .

    I propose that Jeffrey Bayer design and construct a canal from Locust Fork to and around downtown Birmingham and a resultant River Walk or Green Belt. It worked for San Antonio, Chattanooga, and to a point, Nashville.

    Oh, well . . .

  9. Bring back THE HAM . Quick history lesson here. Back in the day, older African-Americans from Birmingham identified themselves as being from the HAM, not The Magic City. Case in point, when my grandmother visited us in Buffalo New York she introduced herself as being from THE HAM and  everybody knewshe was talking about Birmingham Alabama.When I relocated to Birmingham to attend Miles College many years ago the tag was in use. However it seemed to die out over the years. But I still use it today so let’s bring it back.

  10. *David, I’ve been calling it that for years, even use the phrase:
    “There ain’t no ham like Birmingham” 

    Not sure it’ ll catch on, but I appreciate that someone like you is thinking about how to better The Ham!

  11. *”The Ham” is really a terrible idea.  In my opinion, it’s really low class, and could only result in a spate of bad jokes.

    This only a partial idea, but a name that connotes the concept of growth is what I’m looking for, because that’s what’s going on around here.  Look at what’s new in Birmingham — the re-development of downtown, the growing Lakeview entertainment district, Regions Field ballpark, etc.  Those are new, exciting, and FUN aspects of Birmingham.

    And you want to go with “The Ham”?  No — I don’t think so.

  12. *Folks–thanks for your many responses.  I still like the ‘ham.’  Because of our checkered history, I think we take ourselves too seriously.  Austin has a sense of humor.  Austin has a good time with its ‘weird’ nickname and even has a “Keep Austin Weird Fest.  http://keepaustinweirdfest.com/.   Like Murray Beck suggests,”“There ain’t no ham like Birmingham.”

  13. I like “The Ham.” It’s lighthearted, fun, and like David said, doesn’t take itself too seriously. Birmingham is a fun place full of fun things to do, and I think a playful nickname would be a good way to reflect that. It’s also a nice little tip of the cap to all our great barbecue restaurants and our amazing food culture more generally. People who would make fun of this are going to make fun of us anyway, no matter what we do. Forget them. VIVA LA HAM!

  14.  This city has been a crutch for me my entire life. I’ve been educated here. I’ve always been able to find a job here. I will die here. For me, it will always be The Magic City. Oh, and BTW, Roy Moore rocks…You’re just jealous.

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