Wade on Birmingham

The Future of Birmingham: Of passing concern

UAB campus on Southside

Photo: Max Wolfe (CC)

The UAB campus is likely to grow in the coming years,
becoming even more prominent on Birmingham’s Southside.

Get the full version of this essay in our free ebook.
Details at the end.

By Chris Mitchell

Is there a more intimidating prospect than predicting the future?

The Future of BirminghamIf I had been asked 5 years ago, I would have written a scathing missive about how Birmingham would continue to slowly crumble, the pieces doled out among ever increasingly bloated suburbs. Despite the positivity I have today, that is still happening. But much less so now.

It’s not the same city it was. Or I’m not the same man. I’m 40 and have an 8-month-old daughter.

Enough of this, Chris. Tell us what’s going to happen.

Here are some things I believe will occur:

Prediction No. 1: UAB will continue to swallow more of Southside. The footprint of the school from which I graduated in 1999 has probably doubled. I expect this growth to continue, mainly because they print money in one of those labs.

Prediction No. 2: The completion of I-459 with the Northern Beltline will be a success. It will be ridiculously expensive and probably destroy something beautiful, but it will create commerce and jobs … and more sprawl.

Prediction No. 3: We will never have a decent newspaper again. No one is mad about it any more, unfortunately. Whatever goes on in our city that the 10 people who work for al.com don’t see is now lost. I worked in local TV news for 12 years. Every morning, the newsroom would open the paper and decide what to cover that day. A weak paper means weak TV news.

Prediction No. 4: Hoover will eventually be as big as Birmingham by gobbling up the countryside. Its population sits at 80,000, while Birmingham is at 212,000. Hoover is not a defined thing; it’s a confederation of neighborhoods, which is incredibly attractive to a lot of people. As my daughter gets to an age where I have to worry about schools and such, I’ll probably be one of them.

Prediction No. 5: Someone amazing will come from here. I don’t know how, but it will.

Prediction No. 6: Birmingham will never outlive its reputation of racism and bigotry. Before we were born, some very bad men made us look awful, and the world will never forget.

Prediction No. 7: Birmingham will be overrun with murderous robots sometime after the second Civil War. It will be a real bummer. I wrote this in my first novel, “Independent Now and Forever,” which you can buy it on your Kindle [aff. link]. I kind of hope this invasion doesn’t happen, but I feel like it’s worth warning you about.

I don’t know what the hell is going to happen to Birmingham, though I have this “wind of positivity.” Will the next generation continue to fall in love with lofts and the rougher edges, seeing the challenge and aspirations they represent? I certainly hope so.

My time of taking those risks is over. All I think about now is how to put my daughter in an environment of safety and happiness.

The future of Birmingham is not my biggest concern any more. Good luck.

• • •

Chris MitchellChris Mitchell is managing editor of Bassmaster.com and is co-founder of the music blog BhamFM.com.

• • •

The Future of BirminghamThe full version of this essay and many more are available in the free ebook, “The Future of Birmingham.”

All you need to do is fill out this simple form. We’ll email you a link to download the book. (And, at no extra charge, we’ll add you to the mailing list for the free Y’all Connect newsletter.)


• • •

Read more essays in our special 10th anniversary series, The Future of Birmingham.

1 Yip for “The Future of Birmingham: Of passing concern”

  1. 8 months later… |
    Tuesday, November 17, 2015, 9:40 pm

    […] I also wrote an essay about how Birmingham is not perfect. […]

Leave a Yip

Subscribe without commenting