Known as the largest cast-iron statue in the world, the Vulcan statue has become the symbol of Birmingham and the pride of a community. The Statue is fifty six feet tall, and is a depiction of the Roman god of fire. The Vulcan statue is the biggest and tallest statue ever to be built in the United States of America. It was built not to bring a nation together or to set forth the noble ideals of liberty and justice; but it was built as an entry in the 1904 World's Fair, the spirit of competition.
The Statue had its beginning in the ideals of a comity but it came to life through the ideas and hard work of a man named Giuseppe Moretti, an Italian born sculptor. The technique of clay sculpting was used to make the molds in the humble setting of an abandoned church in New Jersey. When it was finally completed, the clay molds were separated into sections and taken by railway to the Birmingham company that was to make the casting molds.
The Vulcan statue is made up of twenty nine different sections. The heaviest of them all is the head which weighs about eleven thousand pounds. The interesting thing is that only locally made iron was used to make the statue. So not only did the community pitch together to win the state fair, the statue was also something that provided work and an economic boost to the entire area.
The Vulcan statue eventually made it to the 1904 exposition and was a credit to the people and to the whole community who pitched in to build it. It was enough to make even the most miserable of people feel proud. It won the Grand Prize, and its mission was accomplished. The sad thing is that when the fair ended the statue was dismantled and shipped back to Birmingham. It was left there to rot because of unpaid bills.
The Vulcan statue was eventually re-erected. The problem was that when they put him back together again, they did it wrong. The spear that the statue was supposed to be holding was mysteriously missing. In 1930 the statue was taken down and re-painted.
Finally in 1936 the statue got the home that it deserved - a new park was made in the city. The statue was hoisted on to a brand new 126 foot pedestal. And instead of Coca-Cola bottles and Ice-cream cones, a new spear was placed into the hands of the Vulcan Statue. It was also repainted with an aluminum finish.
It was a great celebration to finally have the statue in a place that was worthwhile. In 1971 the whole area around the statue was renovated. The original tower was done in marble and an elevator and observation deck was put in. At one point they found out that the statue was in danger of collapse because it had been filled up to the chest with concrete. In 1999, the statue was removed to be repaired but nothing really happened until 2001 when it was shipped to Robison so that repair work could be done on it. When it was finished, the Statue was put back in its place; watching over the city that had done so much for it!