Empire Building

The Empire building in downtown Birmingham, Alabama was constructed in 1909. After completion, the 16-story Classical Revival style skyscraper became the tallest building in Alabama. The exterior was covered in molded terra-cotta with pink granite columns showcasing the 1st Avenue entrance. Four years later, the American Trust and Savings building, across the street, took the “tallest building in Alabama” title. These two buildings along with the Brown Marx Tower and the John Hand Building were proclaimed the “Heaviest Corner on Earth.” Today it’s still the most prominent corner in downtown Birmingham.

A wrought iron awning hangs over the entrance at 1928 1st Avenue North.


 In 1917 a crowd of 35,000 looked on as the Human Fly scaled the building’s exterior. The publicity stunt received national press coverage.


Originally a drug store occupied the ground floor with offices and businesses on the upper floors. The Empire building was sold in 1964. After a year long remodel, the building reopened with City National Bank occupying the ground floor space.

In 1982 the Empire building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.


16817460837_71dd50db80_k.jpgDusty granite-lined walls and iron pendant chandeliers adorn the ground floor lobby.

21391064999_7b0b7547b1_k.jpgThe view looking up through the decaying lobby staircase.

21251110936_556fbe0526_kThe Empire building is one of the most ornate historic buildings in Birmingham.

21679938425_f077e0c65b_k.jpgA terra-cotta cornice wraps around the entire top of the Empire building with a prominent E on display.


Overlooking the city sits a half face moon cracked and chipped.


After sitting vacant for 3 years the Empire building was purchased by investors in 2012.


The $27 million renovation will revamp the 107 year old building into the 5-star boutique Empire Hotel featuring 117 guest rooms, a restaurant, and rooftop bar. The Empire Hotel is slated to open in 2017.




12 thoughts on “Empire Building

  1. Gorgeous architecture. The craftsmanship in this building is amazing….they surely don’t make them like this anymore. Would love to see it after the renovation! By the way…love your site and your instagram! Keep it up!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. As skyscrapers go, this one’s a beauty, strange thin shape and the ornate top floors. The artistic details are striking. Though you do “abandoned” it’ll be interesting if you took pictures once it’s renovated 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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