|Birmingham City Parks|
|Location||630 25th Street North, (map)|
Central City neighborhood
Marconi Park (formerly East Park) is a 3.71-acre public park located on Block 29, between 24th and 25th Street and 6th and 7th Avenue North in Birmingham's Central City neighborhood. It is a centerpiece of the Park Place Apartments mixed-income residential development.
The park property was one of the three downtown park blocks (along with Linn Park (Central Park) and Kelly Ingram Park (West Park) that appeared in Major William Barker's original Plat of Birmingham in 1872. The three parks were sold by the Elyton Land Company to the City of Birmingham on February 21, 1883 for a nominal price of $10 each.
On January 19, 1908 a public play ground was dedicated at East Park, as the city's first foray into the "playgrounds movement". Facilities added to the park included a running track, jumping pits, tennis courts, and vaulting pits for use by Birmingham High School and Powell School students, as well as the public. Governor B. B. Comer and Mayor George Ward spoke at the playground's dedication, along with J. B. McCabe of the Amateur Athletic Union of America.
At the motion of member Laura Sharp, the Birmingham Park and Recreation Board voted to rename East Park in honor of Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi on March 9, 1938, eight months after his death. The park was rededicated with a formal ceremony on the afternoon of Tuesday, April 25, 1939. Solicitor George Bailes Sr spoke about the inventor and Commission president Jimmy Jones presided over the rededication. A. Bartolucci, representing the Italian consulate in New Orleans, also spoke at the event, and at a later banquet at the Tutwiler Hotel. Operatic singer Mary Barranco performed with Sam Gagliano and Joe Baldone for the event, which was broadcast on WSGN-AM.
A community center for Marconi Park was included in the Park Board's long-range plans, approved by the Birmingham Planning Commission in 1973. A YMCA Youth Center now adjoins the north side of the park.
The Carraway Community Development Corporation organized a town hall meeting and charette to discuss renovations to Marconi Park in May 2007. Cheryl Morgan of the Auburn Urban Studio attended along with representatives from KPS Group and Space One Eleven. Another design charette was held with Sloss Real Estate executive Cathy Crenshaw and Loeb Fellows from the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2010. At that time the need to increase amenities at the park for use by neighborhood residents was emphasized.
The park, with its combination baseball and football field, is heavily used by youth athletic leagues. A concession stand and scorekeepers' booth was damaged in a storm in 2013. The park remained without functioning lighting and a scoreboard until 2015.
During the 2022 World Games a "Peace Tree" was dedicated at Marconi Park. Representatives of Israel, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco attended the dedication along with Birmingham mayor Randall Woodfin and Birmingham World Games Organizing Committee CEO Nick Sellers. The event was also marked by a mayoral proclamation dedicating July 14 as "Abraham Accords Day in Birmingham". The actual planting of a fruit tree is scheduled for the fall months, and Jones Valley Teaching Farm will supervise its maintenance.
- "Formal Opening of Play Ground." (December 24, 1907) The Birmingham News, p. 10
- "Landgrebe Named Park Board Head." (March 9, 1938) The Birmingham News, p. 10
- "Marconi Park Dedication Set." (April 22, 1939) The Birmingham News, p. 5
- "Marconi Park To Be Dedicated." (April 24, 1939) The Birmingham News, p. 13
- "Noted Italian's Memory Honored." (April 26, 1939) The Birmingham News, p. 14
- "3 parks 'given' to city are now worth $2 million" (August 18, 1958) Birmingham Post-Herald - via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections
- Natta, André (May 9, 2007) "Marconi Park charette set for May 24" The Terminal
- Tomberlin, Michael (August 13, 2010) "Next phase planned for Birmingham's Park Place mixed-income housing." The Birmingham News
- Robinson, Ronda (October 19, 2015) "On Your Side: Lighting no longer an issue at Marconi Park." WBRC.com
- Brock, Larry (July 14, 2022) "World Games: Birmingham honors Abraham Accords with “peace tree” ceremony during World Games." Israel Insight