Just four hours north of our EW offices here in beautiful Mobile is Alabama’s largest city, Birmingham. One of the main attractions is Vulcan Park, which features the largest cast iron statue ever produced in the United States – The Vulcan. Over-looking the city, the Vulcan, which is the Roman god of fire and forge, was chosen in 1903 to represent the city. It was showcased at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri, by its Italian sculptor Giuseppe Moretti.
In 1936, Vulcan was finally installed at its current perch atop Red Mountain in Birmingham.
He stands 56 feet (17.1 meters) tall on top of a 124 foot (37.8 meter) pedestal for a total height of 180 feet (55 meters).
Being in the elevator industry the first thing I noticed when I visited the park a couple of weeks ago, was of course the exterior elevator!
The elevator to the observation deck was added in 1971 as part of a modernization project for the entire park. Between 1999 and 2004, it was decided that the park should return to its original 1930’s design. In addition to a major restoration on the statue itself, the elevator was completely modernized.
The shaft was specifically positioned so that it would not be visible when viewing Vulcan from the front. But Vulcan can’t have just any ordinary elevator. It had to be unique. The shaft is glass on two sides allowing for visitors and riders to see the rope and pulley system at work. The mechanisms for which are placed below ground level.
The elevator takes riders to the top for a stunning view of the city:
As President & CEO of Vulcan Park and Museum, Darlene Negrotto noted: “While many younger visitors enjoy running up the 159 steps in the observation tower, well over a million visitors have enjoyed the comfort of the elevator since the park reopened in 2004.”
Thanks to Darlene Negrotto, President & CEO and Morgan Berney, Director of Marketing and PR, for helping out with the historical information.
You can visit the park’s website at www.visitvulcan.com
Thanks for reading,