Birmingham, Alabama – May 2019 – Rickwood Field

Despite what Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, or even Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana say, Rickwood Field in Birmingham is America’s oldest baseball stadium.

Opened in 1910 it is in amazingly similar look and condition to the day it was opened.

While it is no longer used regularly for the minor league Birmingham Barons, it still sees some use with a tribute game by the Barons, as well as other use.

Most frequently it is used as a movie set for retro baseball movies, as well as local colleges.


As you enter the stadium you are greeted with old entry gates, not metal detectors.


The lineups are written on a chalkboard.


Going into the box seats you have a fence surrounding the home plate area for protection from foul balls.


The seats are still all wood, not plastic.


For most a large roof protects you from the hot Alabama summer sun.


Looking down the stands towards the press box. The original press box was a tiny 4 person booth on the roof, but this one was added for a period piece movie and it was left as it is more functional.


We were permitted to go onto the perfectly manicured field to check it out. The center field fence seems far away from here.

Also note how much foul ground there is behind home plate – many would be foul balls likely turn into outs here.


Looking down first base toward right field show the unusual cantilevered light towers.


Left field is similar, with a ‘batting barn’ built further off to the left.


A view from home plate back towards the stands again show the foul territory.


Despite it’s minimal use, they keep the field in perfect condition.


The view of the right field stands are far longer than those along left field. When this stadium was built in 1910 Forbes Field in Pittsburgh had just been completed as the standard in stadium design, and the architects here used essentially the same design – albeit with much less seating than the major league stadium.


As we make our way into the outfield you can see the advertising along the outfield fence. This was a common practice in the early 1900s, and the advertising that is there is either period advertising, or new companies with the ads made to look period correct.


The scoreboard has been restored to the early 1900s look, with the scorekeeping done manually.

The teams listed would be those from the 1930s – Atlanta is still in the Southern League, and Brooklyn still has the Dodgers.


Birmingham is happy to see you.


Even the Vulcan is present.


The ads are very cool.


Another sign of the history of the south – there were all white teams, and all black teams. Rickwood Field hosted both Birmingham teams.

This practice ended in the 1950s.


The right field stands.


Rickwood Field is easily one of the best baseball ‘park’s I have ever seen. While it has been made retro for Hollywood , it really works nicely.





Birmingham, Alabama – May 2019 – Views of the City

Some random views of Birmingham, Alabama. The city is known as the Magic City because of the fast growth in the late 1800s during the rapid expansion of the steel industry.



There are a number of classic old buildings downtown.



With the industry gone, today Birmingham depends on education (UAB) for much of it’s employment.



Eddie Kendricks grew up in Birmingham before moving to Detroit and starting the Temptations.



The Vulcan Statue is the symbol of Birmingham, reflecting the steel industry roots. It stands on a 180′ pedestal high on a hill overlooking the city.



The statue itself was made for the 1904 World’s Fair in St Louis where it was awarded the Grand Prize.

Today you can walk up the many stairs or take the elevator to the top for great views.



We took the elevator!



For a medium sized city Birmingham has a nice skyline.



With sunset, the lights came on around town.



The skyline lit up nicely from atop the Vulcan Park tower.






Birmingham, Alabama – May 2019 – Civic Culture

For more than 100 years Birmingham was the center of manufacturing for the southern United States. It was often referred to as Pittsburgh of the South in reference to all of the steel mills. As with Pittsburgh, the industry has for the most part left town.

As with the northern industrial cities there was significant investment in civic culture, and in Birmingham there is none better than the main library.


While the primary entrance is a modern building, across the street is the Linn-Henley Research Library. Built in 1927 it reflects the art deco style of the period.



The building is most known for the Ezra Winter murals. Most depict historic events such as below left – Dante and Virgil. On the right is Don Quixote.



In addition to the murals, the main reading room has a fantastic ceiling.



The west side of the room shows the interesting mix of the murals with the art deco balcony railings.



Ezra Winter was raised in Michigan, but spent his early adult years in Europe where he was classically trained in painting. Interestingly they were completed in New York City and applied to the Birmingham Library walls with white lead.



The Children’s Library has a mural depicting fairy tales.



A seemingly out of place modern art piece is also present.



The library, county courthouse and city hall all frame a public park. As they were all built about the same time all reflect the art deco style.

The courthouse was designed by the famed Chicago firm of Holabird & Root.



Reliefs high up on the building reflect local history.



Outside is the Statue of Liberty – well a small replica of the Statue of Liberty.



Murals depicting the history of the region are in the lobby of the courthouse. This mural, entitled Old South, has caused great controversy as it depicts slaves picking cotton. A multi racial committee of 16 reached a consensus that they would create a retractable cover that would obscure them except during educational tours.

They apparently haven’t yet decided to cover up their history as it was available for us to see.



The accompanying mural entitled ‘New South’ depicts the industrial work. As previously noted, the industry is gone, so I suppose they will have to come up with a ‘New New South’, depicting Birmingham’s current major employers including Education, Finance and Engineering firms.



As part of the agreement on the Old South mural, a new mural entitled Justice Is Blind was added with a modern collection of symbols that show, among others, a black lady justice along with a white lady justice.



Less controversial is the scales of justice relief as well as the art deco clock.



The final building in the area is Birmingham City Hall.



City Hall has a gallery of noteworthy city residents over the years.



While not a Birmingham resident, Martin Luther King was instrumental in bringing social justice to the city, and is honored with a portrait in the gallery.

Birmingham turned out to be far nicer than I was expecting. It is a city that is recognizing it’s past (good and bad), and moving forward into the future.





Tullahoma, Tennessee – May 2019 – Beechcraft Aircraft Heritage Museum

The small city of Tullahoma, Tennessee has had a long association with flight, as it is located next to Arnold Air Force Base – where many engineers evaluate aircraft and other military apparatus for flight.

As a result of their passion for flight, they have a museum dedicated to Beechcraft Aircraft, despite the fact the planes themselves are built in Wichita, Kansas.

The lighting of the walkway to the museum is made to look like runway lights.



Inside you find 36 aircraft in a number of hangars. The most famed early Beechcraft airplanes are known as staggerwings – as their biplane wings are slightly offset from each other.



These airplanes are quite rare, but the museum has a nice collection of them.



This airplane is known as Serial Number 1 – Travel Air Mystery Ship.



The next hangar have some Twin Beechs in addition to the biplanes.



The final hangar was the largest, with a great collection of single engine aircraft.



Also included in the collection is a cutaway to show the frame of the aircraft.



They are beautiful little airplanes.



The final stop on our tour of their museum was an all composite Beechcraft Model 2000A Starship. This unusually shaped airplane was one of the first carbon fiber frames, as well as rear facing engines and propellers.

The Beechcraft Heritage Museum is a nice stop for any aviation enthusiasts.




Frankfort, Kentucky – May 2019 – A Small Capital City

Even though Kentucky is middle of the pack in terms of states by population , their capital city Frankfort is the 4th smallest of all. There are less than 30,000 people in the city.



For the most part it feels like any other small town. They have a small downtown business district.



Interestingly there is a freight rail line going down the middle of main street.



The town is quite old – it was established in 1786.



There are a few restaurants and coffee shops in town.



In the center of town is the Old Kentucky State Capitol. It was completed in 1830 and used until 1910 as the Capitol.


William Goebel was elected governor in 1900, and served for 4 days before being assassinated. He was known for being a deal maker, and a deal breaker.

He had gained so many enemies that he walked with bodyguards, but to no avail – On January 30, 1900 shots fired from the state capitol building – leading to chaos in the Kentucky state government. He died 4 days later.



As you drive around town you see an interesting mix of old and new, with nearly all the new being the government buildings.



The lampposts have banners celebrating famous Kentuckians – while Johnny Depp was born in Kentucky he was raised elsewhere



We are in Kentucky so we need to celebrate horse racing.



Much like many of the state government buildings, the county courthouse is modern as well.



The original state arsenal however, is not. It dates from 1850 and now serves as a military museum.



Across the river and up a hill is the ‘new’ state capitol grounds. Included here is the Governor’s Mansion – which in it’s Beaux Arts style bears a strong resemblance to the White House.


The new capitol building was completed in 1910.



The grounds look back down upon the town.


An additional annex building is located behind the capitol.


One of the most famous attractions is the floral clock that spells out Kentucky – although without a rise to view it from above it is tricky to see.

Frankfort seems an unusual place to have the state capitol, but politics often leads to unusual deals.




Lexington, Kentucky – May 2019 – Scenes of the City

Two things are important in Lexington – horse racing and bourbon!




Even some of the public art – including giant sculptures of books often depicts horse racing.


A number of artistic horse sculptures are scattered around town.

A downtown sculpture area is called Thoroughbred Park – depicting the finish line in great detail.


The best ‘ghost sign’ in town is for Horse Racing Oats.

But there is more to Lexington that just horses and bourbon – there is the University of Kentucky, and their stunning library.



For a city this far off the east coast there are a number of early 1800 or older buildings and homes.



A former courthouse is now the main visitor center – as well as other civic offices.



The area has been growing, and there is evidence of new investments downtown with government buildings and plazas.



The main library is newer as well, and features this 5 story pendulum clock – reputed to be the largest in the world.



We visited Transylvnia University and an art fair that was occurring there. The college was the first institution of higher learning west of the Allegheny Mountains. It is named for the Transylvania Colony – a proposed 14th colony that never really came to be – but the university name stuck.




Our final stop was the arboretum shared by the University of Kentucky and the city of Lexington. On this spring day there were a number of groups using the setting for their backdrops – homecoming groups, weddings, engages, and others…




Our final stop was a memorial to 49 people who lost their lives in a commuter airline crash in 2006. They are represented by 49 birds in flight.

For a mid sized city Lexington has a lot to offer – a good place to spend a day or two.






Maysville, Kentucky – May 2019 – Great Architecture in an Unlikely Place

Maysville, Kentucky was one of the original settlements west of the Allegheny Mountains, as it is situated along the Ohio River about 80 miles upriver from Cincinnati.

We entered the town via the 1931 Simon Kenton Bridge. Spanning the Ohio River for almost 2,000 feet it is a classic old steel bridge.



As with many river towns the flood wall is adorned with murals. Maysville’s are well done – including this one as a tribute to favorite daughter Rosemary Clooney, who from the 1940s until the turn of the century was an actress and fantastic singer (and also well known as George Clooney’s aunt).




The town is in remarkably good condition compared to most of the little river towns of this part of the world.




Much of the center of town has been restored, including this fountain and square.




More of the excellent flood wall murals – horses are a big deal in Kentucky.




This mural depicted the street we were standing on 100 years ago.




For most of the Ohio River valley in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky there are steep hills just a few blocks back – Maysville is no exception.




The Washington Opera House dates from 1898 in a Beaux Arts style. It is used today for theater and concerts.




Another great example of the nice restoration done in town.




The main street has some galleries to go with the small stores.




Some architecture is reflective that we are in the beginnings of the south.




The Kentucky Gateway Museum is a new building, but well done and blending nicely with it’s surroundings.




Maysville was once a center of wrought iron manufacturing, and many of the homes show this heritage.




Even a vacant lot has been re purposed as a small park – along with another great ghost sign.



Even the vacant house it very cool – the building in front and most of the house appears to be covered in kudzu, which I haven’t seen this far north before.




Just down the rest are more restored homes.




This row of houses to me is reminiscent of the famed ‘Painted Ladies’ of San Francisco – only at 1/10th the cost.




If you ever get the chance stop by Maysville, Kentucky – it is worth the visit.