Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

    Travel Guide: Lightrails and Railroad Park are part of a brighter Downtown Birmingham


    For students seeking an easy way to catch a break from the monotony of class and stress of midterms, much-needed relief is just a short trip up the interstate. 

    Downtown Birmingham’s Lightrails art installation is the perfect solution for downtrodden students feeling the weight of classes and other responsibilities. Lightrails, often informally referred to as the Rainbow Tunnel, is an installation piece by Bill FitzGibbons installed in 2013 in the 18th Street underpass. The 60-foot tunnel features thousands of LED lights which illuminate the walls, floor, and ceiling of the underpass.

    The lights periodically change color, rotating through every shade of the rainbow and earning Lightrails its unique nickname. Visitors can walk or drive through this 1930’s railway tunnel to enjoy the 24-hour light show. 

    According the the REV Birmingham website, Lightrails is a part of the Birmingham Lights project co-sponsored by REV Birmingham and donors from Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham’s Community Catalyst Fund. The project strives to encourage pedestrian traffic throughout the city by creating well-lit, visually interesting underpasses which visitors can enjoy more than the original tunnels, which were often dark and occasionally even ominous for pedestrians.

    Lightrails was the first of the project’s installation pieces to be completed; since then, similar pieces were added throughout downtown Birmingham in the 14th, 19th and 20th Street train underpasses. 

    Of the four installations, Lightrails may be the most deserving of a weekend visit, because it functions not only as a rainbow tunnel but also as a gateway to another of Birmingham’s hidden treasures: Railroad Park. 

    Railroad Park is a 19-acre green space located between 14th and 18th Streets in the middle of downtown Birmingham. This relatively new area was completed in 2010 and offers a huge assortment of activities and areas in which to relax, explore and blow off steam from a long week. 

    Called “Birmingham’s Living Room” by the park’s official website, this urban green space is split into five sections: the Meadows, the 17th Street Plaza, the Hillside, the Amphitheatre, and the West Green. Each area is unique and offers specific features, such as the Hillside’s sweeping view of the rest of the park or the Meadows’ proximity to the park’s two playgrounds. 

    The park has over 600 trees and several bodies of water available for visitors to enjoy, including ponds, streams, and other water-based attractions, such as the Rain Curtain and Wetlands area. It also has ample walking trails, including the Rail Trail, an elevated walking and jogging track that runs ¾ mile along the outer rim of the park. 

    The park is a recreational space for locals and tourists alike: free dance and exercise classes are offered regularly throughout the week, and visitors also can reserve areas of the park for special occasions like birthday, photography sessions, or family reunions. Concerts take place in the Amphitheatre throughout the year, and the park has multiple skate areas open to both skateboarders and rollerbladers. Leashed pets are welcome to enjoy the green space alongside their owners. 

    The park is free to the public and is open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. More information and a park map can be found at

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