|Birmingham City Parks
|3300 2nd Street West, (map)
George Clayton Acipco Park (often Clayton Park) is a 16-acre Birmingham city park located between 33rd Avenue West (Jefferson County Road 77) and 33rd Terrace West at 2nd Street West in the Acipco-Finley neighborhood just north of the American Cast Iron Pipe Company plant.
Originally the city agreed to an indefinite lease at $1 per year to take control of the 8-acre park site from Acipco. The park was dedicated on November 8, 1952 and named for Acipco machinist George Clayton who lobbied the city persistently for help creating the park. The proposed name was debated by the Birmingham Park and Recreation Board, which sought clarification of state law prohibiting the naming of public institutions after living public officials. Eventually it was decided that since Clayton was not a public official, that the honor was appropriate.
The dedication was attended by Mayor Cooper Green and featured music from the Boys Industrial School band and the Acipco Male Chorus. A monument bearing Clayton's likeness, sculpted by George Bridges was cast in bronze at the Acipco plant and unveiled at the site by his granddaughter. The ceremonies were broadcast on WSGN-AM and WAPI-AM.
Even as the park was being dedicated, plans for improvement were underway. Friends and coworkers of Clayton's collected $500, which they presented to the Park Board along with a list of desired improvements, including barbecue pits, play equipment and a wading pool. An 18th-century sundial was installed in the park as a memorial to Acipco employees who died in the Korean War. The donation of a steam engine from the Southern Railway's Finley Yard was requested, with the city promising to maintain it as a permanent reminder of the former railyard.
In early 1954 a 57-millimeter anti-tank gun used by the U. S. Army in World War II was acquired from the ordnance depot on La Carno, Ohio. It was the first WWII weapon to be displayed in a park in Alabama. The gun was aimed toward the Vulcan statue, in order "to stand guard" over the symbol of the city. The Veterans of Foreign Wars District 3 enlisted the help of Representative Laurie Battle to obtain the weapon and agreed to maintain it in the park.
In 1955 thirty-one trees, donated by individuals, were planted at Clayton Park.
- "Legal obstacle prevents naming park for Clayton" (November 29, 1951) The Birmingham News - via Birmingham Public Library Digital Archives
- "First there was one, then many joined to create Clayton Park" (November 2, 1952) The Birmingham News - via Birmingham Public Library Digital Archive
- "Acipco Park seeks Southern engine as relic" (December 17, 1952) The Birmingham News - via Birmingham Public Library Digital Archive
- "57-mm War II gun to stand guard over city's symbol Vulcan" (March 14, 1954) The Birmingham News - via Birmingham Public Library Digital Archive