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Vulcan: Birmingham's Industrial Colossus
Matthew A. Kierstead
IA. The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology
Vol. 28, No. 1, IA IN ART (2002), pp. 59-74
Published by: Society for Industrial Archeology
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40947144
Page Count: 16
You can always find the topics here!Topics: Statues, Pig iron, Foundries, Cast iron, Plasters, Tariff drawbacks, Coal mining, Iron mining, Iron industry, Iron
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This article is a summary of a history of the Vulcan statue the author wrote for the Historic American Engineering Record during the summer of 1993. The 65-foot tall, 60-ton Vulcan is the largest cast-iron statue in the world, conceived by Birmingham, Alabama, businessmen as a dramatic booster for the industry of the city and the South for display at the 1904 St. Louis Exposition. This colossal image of the Roman god of the forge was designed by Italian sculptor Giuseppi Moretti (1857-1935), a pioneer of metal art sculpture in the U.S. A product of a 19th-century tradition of allegorical imagery, the statue was created at a time when artistic representation was shifting to literal portrayal of subject matter. Its construction was a technical feat for its scale and speed and combined art and industrial casting methods. The statue was a sensation at the St. Louis Fair but languished as a State Fairgrounds advertising prop for more than 30 years after its return to Birmingham. In 1937 the WPA and local forces erected it on a mountain overlooking the city. Subsequently the statue's visibility and meaning were compromised by installation of a beacon and insensitive park renovations. The statue suffered deterioration and was dismantled in 1999. Vulcan and Vulcan Park are being restored to fulfill the original civic goals of their creators.
IA. The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology © 2002 Society for Industrial Archeology