Celebrating 192 Years of Birmingham's History in Pictures
Today is the anniversary of Birmingham's first land entry. Add your own photos to these snapshots of the city's past.
When I set off to learn about Birmingham's history, I got in a bit over my head. After all, Birmingham has a long history—192 years of it, to be exact. Today marks the anniversary of the first land entry in what is now considered Birmingham, when Col. Benjamin H. Pierce—brother of future President Franklin Pierce—laid claim on a parcel of land abutting the intersecton of what is now Maple Road and Pierce Street downtown.
After that first claim on what was supposed to be a marshy stretch of land between Detroit and Pontiac, Birmingham's history explodes. The city was a way station, conveniently located on a dirt track that cut diagonally through the county; later Woodward Avenue would serve as the artery for Detroit's industry and people as they traveled outward to create what is now considered Metro Detroit.
Birmingham was built on the backs of its residents, and the streets and schools reflect that: Benjamin Pierce, Fred V. Quarton (the namesake of Quarton Elementary) and Martha Baldwin. Baldwin may be one of the city's most inspiring stories, and not the least because she was a woman living and working during the latter half of the 19th century. According to resources at the library, Baldwin Public Library, Martha Baldwin Park and the former Baldwin High School are all named in honor of Birmingham's first lady.
But then, these are just words. The work of Martha Baldwin, John Hunter, Charles Shain, and Harry Allen are important, as are the history of other Birmingham institutions such as the transit station and The Community House. But sometimes, stories are better told not in words, but with images of the past juxtaposed with how far we've come.
However, history is alive and I know there are more stories out there. And so, in commemoration of Birmingham's 192-year-anniversary, I invite you to add your own photos to the gallery below, depicting the Birmingham you knew throughout the years. Leave a comment telling your own stories, send in your home videos. We want to celebrate the years and the people who've lived here—whether they lived in 1896, 1956, or 2006.
Happy anniversary Birmingham. I can't wait to learn even more.