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Shades Creek: Flowing Through Time

  • The creek meanders through our own lives. Yet knowing the strength and influence of Shades Creek, its history and how it shapes the world around us, is a daunting task without assistance.

    All the answers, written as lyrically as the creek streams along, are contained in Shades Creek: Flowing Through Time ($29.95)," the newest volume from the Birmingham Historical Society. The story of "our creek" begins 330 million years ago and proceeds through Native American occupation, early settlement, the Civil War, visionary plans for a region in harmony with its natural surroundings--and, more currently, the rise of the environmental movement and sites to visit along the 55.8 mile creek that runs from Birmingham through Iron- dale, Mountain Brook, Homewood, Hoover, Bessemer, and Jefferson, Shelby and Bibb Counties to its confluence with the Cahaba River.

    If that's a mouthful, worry not. The reading of the book is assuredly a riveting and enjoyable visit with the Creek and the developments it has witnessed over time. It’s also an elegant telling of our region’s history as seen through an undeniable force flowing from long ago to today’s region of distinction.

    The very distinguished E.O. Wilson, Alabama native and Professor of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, had an early look at the book. He writes, "I've now studied the proof of the Shades Creek volume. And I'm enthralled. The book will help to shape the image of our city closer to the reality of its charmed beauty."

    Others see it as a call to action for future generations. Henry Hughes and Michelle Blackwood of Friends of Shades Creek say, "This book is a first step toward understanding the ecological and human history of Shades Creek, restoring what has been lost, and preventing unnecessary loss by employing techniques of preservation and intelligent design where development is inevitable."

    Accompanying the book's words are 365 photographs, maps and drawings to layer the narrative with visuals--from aaaah to informative. "We at the Birmingham Historical Society consider this one of our most important publications to date," says Marjorie White, BHS executive director, "It continues our mission to fully explore the resources--natural and man-made--that form the city and region we represent and cherish."

    Opportunities to buy:

    • At Alabama Outdoors-Homewood, LeafnPetal at the gardens, and amazon.com

    • By contacting Birmingham Historical Society, One Sloss Quarters, Birmingham, AL 35222 (cash or check). Available for pick-up on February 25 or sent by mail after that date.

    • And, best of all, at the BHS Annual Meeting, February 25 at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The meeting features illustrated presentations on related Shades Creek topics to include "It's Old and Beautiful" (a conservation viewpoint starting with the creek's creation) by Brian Rushing; "A Park of Metropolitan Scale" (early plans by landscape architects Manning and Olmsted/groups who rose in opposition to development) by Marjorie White; and "Why Shades Creek Matters" (land uses along the creek and its role in watershed and water quality) by Birgit Kibelka. Existing members and enrolling members receive the volume as a perk of membership.

      At "Shades Creek: Flowing Through Time" exhibit February 25-March 31 at the Botanical Gardens Library (books available in the LeafnPetal shop on ground floor). For more information, contact Marjorie White, bhistorical@gmail.com.


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