McAdory and Caldwell-Milner Buildings

2013 1st Ave N and 2015 1st Ave N. Walk east on 1st Ave. About mid-block (best seen from across the street) are two of

the city s fi nest remaining Victorian buildings: McAdory (1888)

and Caldwell-Milner (1887). Look above the ground fl oor for the

date and owners initials on one of the facades and the owner s

name on the other. These buildings show the scale of the city

before the Heaviest Corner was built.

Steiner Building

2101 1st Ave N. At the end of this block, on the SE corner where Richard Arrington Jr Blvd crosses, stands another

Victorian structure, the Steiner Building (1890). It is the city s

only Richardsonian Romanesque style commercial building,

distinguished by its fi ne brickwork and massive rough-cut

masonry arches. It was built to house the banking offi ces

of Burghard and Sigfried Steiner.

Birmingham Railway, Light & Power Building

2100 1st Ave N. The Birmingham Railway, Light and Power Building (ca. 1928; now called the Landmark Center) is another

downtown structure faced in gleaming white terra cotta with

classical details.


Morris Avenue at 20th Street

Start the tour at the corner of Morris and 20th St N. Take time to read both sides

of the historic marker. Then

explore a block or two of the city s fi rst warehouse district, built

along the railroad tracks that connected the city to markets

and fed its growth. You may want to stop in the Peanut Depot,

which has been serving customers since 1907. (To see more of

the trains that sparked the birth of the city, visit award-winning

Railroad Park, some three-to-four blocks south and west.)

Heaviest Corner on Earth

20th St & 1st Ave N. A block north of Morris on

20th Street is a group of

buildings that tells about

Birmingham emerging as an urban center in the early 20th

century. It s easy to imagine how the nickname Heaviest Corner

on Earth came about as, in the span of a single decade, four

steel-frame towers rose to dwarf the city s existing two-to-four-

story buildings, and thriving businesses fi lled them to capacity.

This is the most distinctive concentration of skyscrapers in the

city. The oldest, the Woodward Building SW corner 20th St & 1st Ave N (1902; now a bank), expresses clearly the structural frame that characterizes what is known as the Chicago school.

The Brown-Marx Building NE corner 20th St & 1st Ave N (1906, 1908) has suffered from remodeling, including removal of

an exceptionally large and handsome cornice and of architectural

treatment on the lower fl oors. The Empire Building NW corner 20th St & 1st Ave N (1909) showcases the decorative versatility of architectural terra cotta in its twisted columns,

sculpted busts, and molded details. Notice how the multicolored

accents enliven the glazed white surface near the top, and

look for the E s (for Empire) along the edge of the cornice. The

American Trust & Savings Building SE corner 20th St & 1st Ave N (1912), also faced in white terra cotta, with marble pilasters at its base, is the last and the tallest of the four

buildings. The building s clock was a popular meeting place.