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Visitors to Birmingham will enjoy the variety of parks throughout the city, including the 90-acre Highland Park with its modern sports complex and golf course; Roebuck Park, known for its beautiful golf course and wooded grounds; Avondale, with an amphitheater, duck pond, and formal rose garden; East Lake, with more than 50 acres of fresh water; and Magnolia, known for its flowing fountains.

Birmingham's Vulcan Park features a towering statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and the forge, the city's symbol.

The Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex completed a 0 million expansion in 2000, creating even more versatile convention facilities.

Today, though, Birmingham's economy relies more heavily on the medical industry as well as trade, finance, research and government.

The Birmingham public schools offer the Education Program for the Individual Child (EPIC schools) with a population of 50 percent typical children and 50 percent children with developmental challenges; or 50 percent African American students and 50 percent white students; or 50 percent girls and 50 percent boys.

EPIC schools aim to foster the individual student's sense of self-worth by helping students to communicate and understand one another.

Modern Birmingham calls itself the "Magic City," but this young city, which was founded after the Civil War, has seen its days of adversity.

Early in its history it suffered from epidemics, crime, and violence.

Located 300 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico in north central Alabama, Birmingham lies in the Jones Valley between a ridge of hills running from northeast to southwest and the Red Mountain Range, which runs in roughly the same direction.A hilly city, Birmingham stretches for about 15 miles along the valley.The Cherokee, Choctaw, and Chickasaw tribes hunted in the Jones Valley long before the first white man set foot there.The natives found a valley teeming with game and strikingly marked with giant outcroppings of red rock.Birmingham operates under a mayor-council form of government.The mayor is elected at large every four years; the nine council members are also elected at large, but on a staggered basis in odd-numbered years.

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