Heaviest Corner on Earth (Commercial), First Avenue, North & Twentieth (20th) Street, Nor, Birmingham, Jefferson County, AL
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Nor, Birmingham, AL
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Documentation compiled after 1933.
Survey number HABS AL-927
Significance: The Heaviest Corner showcases both the Chicago and New York architectural traditions in the design of skyscrapers. Designed by important local architects in association with national firms (on three of the four buildings), the earliest buildings, the Woodward and the Brown Marx, are good examples of the Commercial style, with exteriors strongly reflecting the skeletal structure. The Woodward Building (the first steel frame building in the city) introduced the innovative technologies of the skyscraper form -- steel frame construction, terra cotta fire-proofing and decoration, internal plumbing, and the use of electricity to light and heat interior spaces -- to Birmingham. The later two Neoclassical Revival style skyscrapers, the American Traders-John Hand Building and the Empire-Colonial Bank Building, are extravagantly adorned towers decorated with granite, marble and glazed terra cotta in skilled interpretations of classical motifs.
Historic American Buildings Survey (Library of Congress)
1. AERIAL VIEW, LOOKING SOUTH, ALONG 20TH STREET NORTH WITH EMPIRE BUILDING (CENTER RIGHT), WOODWARD BUILDING (CENTER), JOHN HAND BUILDING (TOP LEFT), BROWN MARX BUILDING (BOTTOM LEFT), THE FOUR BUILDINGS THAT COMPRISE THIS NATIONAL REGISTER HISTORIC DISTRICT
2. AERIAL VIEW, LOOKING WEST, ALONG FIRST AVENUE NORTH, WITH BROWN MARX BUILDING (BOTTOM CENTER TO RIGHT), EMPIRE BUILDING (CENTER TOP) WITH ITS TERRACOTTA-CLAD 20TH STREET AND FIRST AVENUE FACADES, AND JOHN HAND BUILDING
3. EXTERIOR/STREET LEVEL VIEW, LOOKING WEST ALONG FIRST AVENUE NORTH WITH (LEFT TO RIGHT) CALDWELL-MILNER, MCADORY, JOHN HAND, WOODWARD BUILDINGS AND BROWN MARX BUILDING (RIGHT). ALSO PICTURED IS THE BANK FOR SAVINGS BUILDING (TOP RIGHT) AND THE RAILROAD RESERVATION (TOP LEFT TO RIGHT). VIEW TAKEN AS CITY THAWS FROM A MARCH BLIZZARD.
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