BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The Magic City is full of statues built in honor of those deemed history makers, but how many of those are women?

Birmingham is home to over 80 outdoor sculptures compiled in the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s online database. Of those, at least 25 are statues built to memorialize male historical figures, athletes, and entertainers, most of whom have ties to Birmingham. When the number of symbolic statues representing men, such as Vulcan, are added, the number increases by more than 10.

But when it comes to women memorialized by statue in Birmingham, the number recognized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s database stands at just two, with only one of the statues being full-sized. The other simply features portraits atop a pedestal.

There is only one other full-sized Birmingham statue not logged in the Smithsonian database built in honor of a woman who actually lived. Symbolic representations throughout the city, like Electra, add to the number slightly.

Who are the women with statues in Birmingham?

Statue of Mary A. Cahalan in Linn Park

Mary A. Cahalan was a teacher and principal at the Powell School, the oldest surviving school in the Birmingham City Schools system. In 1874, Cahalan became the first teacher hired at the school. She became principal in 1885 an held her job until she died in 1906. A plaque installed at the statue's base reads: "Mary A. Cahalan, Teacher and Principal, Powell School, 1874-1906. Miss Cahalan moved to Birmingham in 1872 from Columbus, Georgia with her Irish parents and six brothers and sisters. This statue was donated by the people of Birmingham and dedicated May 1, 1908."

Statue of Nina Miglionico in Linn Park

Nina Miglionico was a lawyer, politician, and the first woman elected to serve on the Birmingham City Council, campaigning against the wishes of groups like the Ku Klux Klan. In 1965, right before her re-election for a second term on the council, a bomb was discovered on her front porch. Unphased, Miglionico continued to serve on the Council, even serving as president from 1978 to 1981. She retired from politics in 1985. Miglionico is also often thought to be the first woman in Alabama to establish her own law firm. She was inducted into the Birmingham Gallery of Distinguished Citizens, the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame, and the Alabama Lawyers Hall of Fame. Miglionico died in 2009. A statue was built in her honor in 2015.

Who are the symbolic representations of women in Birmingham?


Electra is a 4,000-pound, 23-foot-tall statue holding lightning bolts that has stood atop the Alabama Power Company building for 97 years. Electra was originally named the "Divinity of Light," and was sculpted in New York by Edward Field Sanford Jr.

Four Spirits at Kelly Ingram Park

Four Spirits is a memorial dedicated to the four victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing of 1963. The monument was installed at Kelly Ingram Park on the 50th anniversary of the attack.

The lack of visibility for notable women memorialized in stone is not just isolated to Birmingham.

Out of 5,467 outdoor sculptures of historical figures and events identified by the Smithsonian nationally, only 97 depict women.