The Steel City





These are the last of my images during the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk in Birmingham, Alabama. I really enjoyed my trip down Morris Avenue. If you have never been on a walk in your area you may want to think about it next year.

These days, Birmingham is known more for its medical field than anything else, but when I was a child it was still known as the Steel City. I can remember my father referring to the smoke coming from the local steel mills as money. He was correct, in that it was the result of many earning a living for their families. However, it also had a huge effect on the air quality too. I remember this debate going on like it was yesterday. Many people were hurt as the local economy changed and many of the steel mills closed. On the other hand, today the Birmingham area is a much cleaner place for their children and grandchildren to live.

Change is rarely easy. The same was true when the stables and blacksmiths were put out of business because of the trains and automobiles. Then later the trains suffered when the interstates opened up another possibility of travel. It was during this time that Steve Goodman wrote the words to the City of New Orleans.  The song is actually a true story written as Steve and his wife rode the train to see her family.





During this period, many trains’ routes were being cut. This was supposed to have been one of the last trips for the City of New Orleans. This was either changed, or the route was reinstated. I’m sure that the popularly of the song didn’t hurt business. Today you can still ride on the City of New Orleans although it is owned by Amtrak instead of Illinois Central.


next stop birmingham

next stop Birmingham


Goodman speaks of the many trains like the City of New Orleans, when he wrote  “… And all the towns and people seem to fade into a bad dream and the steel rails still ain’t heard the news. The conductor sings his song again, the passengers will please refrain this train’s got the disappearing railroad blues.”


razor wire 1

razor wire 1


As I continued I saw a fence with razor wire. I never had so much fun photographing something. I bet I took fifty pictures of razor wire. I really enjoyed playing with the depth of field of the wire.  Razor wire, it can be used to either keep people inside or to keep people out. In this case it’s the latter. It really does look like nasty stuff.



razor wire 2

razor wire 2












  1. Edith Levy November 1, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    Excellent series of images Phillip. I really like the wire shots. They’ve got a gorgeous abstract quality about them.

    • Phillip November 1, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

      Thank you Edith. I could’ve had a post of just razor wire, except there’s only so much that one can say about razor wire. 🙂

  2. Tony Triolo November 1, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

    Love the razor wire shots Philip. I need to schedule a revisit to the Sloss soon myself. Good shooting.

    • Phillip November 2, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

      Thanks Tony! We were originally supposed to go to Sloss instead of Morris Avenue. However, Sloss had their horror event going on for Halloween and it had to moved. If you would like to come down let me know when. I’d love to meet you over there.

  3. Jan Winther November 2, 2012 at 4:10 am #

    Really digging the razor wire, Phillip. Excellent shots.

    • Phillip November 2, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

      Thanks Jan. Wow everyone is liking the razor wire. Maybe I should have title this post “Steel Wire” instead of city. 🙂 I really appreciate it Jan!

  4. Len Saltiel November 2, 2012 at 5:50 am #

    Excellent images Phillip. Didn’t know about the nickname “Steel City” (always thought it was Pittsburgh). Nice reference to a great song.

    • Phillip November 2, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

      Thanks Len. I wouldn’t doubt if they did call Pittsburgh the “Steel City” too. Birmingham had several names the “Magic City” was another. In fact it has also been called the Pittsburgh of the South.

  5. Jimi Jones November 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    Very nice images, Phillip.

    The razor wire shots are really cool. Seem to be a favorite here and I certainly agree.

    The steel industry was booming in many cities several decades past. We had a subdivision of Baltimore known as Sparrow’s Point where it a large portion of the population worked in a plant owned by Bethlehem Steel.

    • Phillip November 12, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

      Thanks Jimi. Just let this be an example that one never really knows which images are going to standout. I had a lot of fun shoot that wire.

  6. Otto von Münchow November 21, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

    A great series of picture, so different from your nature photography. Particularly those shots of razor wire are intriguing.

    • Phillip November 24, 2012 at 10:22 am #

      I appreciate the comment Otto. It is different from my nature, and historical stuff. I tend to shoot whatever interest me at the moment. Thanks

  7. Andrew Graeme Gould December 15, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    Very interesting urban images, of which my personal favourites are the first and Iast. The song goes really well here, too.

    • Phillip December 15, 2012 at 9:27 am #

      I appreciate it Andrew. I really don’t do too much Urban photography. It was a welcome change.

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