Americans find funny side of Birmingham skyline mix-up
Blogs in Birmingham and across the pond were buzzing after The Birmingham Post revealed how thousands of recycling leaflets posted to households in the city had been produced with a picture of the wrong skyline.
Instead of using an image featuring the familiar sites of Birmingham’s BT tower and the Rotunda, Birmingham City Council used a picture of Birmingham, Alabama, instead.
The Birmingham News, a newspaper based in the American city, referred to the mix up on one of its blogs resulting in a number of comments criticising the city council.
The comments included one by website visitor Cutoff, who said: “It does look like Birmingham England’s recycling effort is working. They are even recycling photographs.”
“It seems Birmingham, England council is about as smart as OUR city council,” added Chuckb.
And “Looks like our Birmingham isn’t the only one with a lot of ‘less than sharp’ people in charge,” was the view of gcgirl3, while lucky31706 said: “That’s pretty funny but if this were a brochure on crime prevention, that would be hilarious.”
Website visitor ChoctawSlim offered advice on the difference between the two Birminghams by saying: “In the UK they pronounce it ‘Burr-ming-hmm’. When they refer to our local city they say “Birming-ham”.
Back home in the West Midlands, Bounder on the birminghamitsnotshit.co.uk carried out research on the photo and said: “I’ve found where the photo originates, it’s on the second page of a Google images search for ‘Birmingham Skyline’. Although it does come from iStockphoto, so they’ve paid for it.
“It would be difficult mistake to make - ‘Alabama’ is clearly in the description of the photo, so maybe we’re not crediting the Council design department with a touch of wry humour. That’d be better than them being stupid, wouldn’t it?”
The city council, which declared it would not change the offending image on its leaflet, is not on its own when it comes to choosing ‘the wrong city’.
Earlier this year, California-based property developer the Leer Corporation used images of England’s second-largest city to advertise its beleagured renovation of Alabama’s landmark Thomas Jefferson Hotel.
André Natta, one of many Alabama-residents who noticed the gaffe, said: “The photos were of Birmingham, England’s city centre and were taken down within 48 hours.”
Birmingham City Council was not so quick to resolve its error - it was the second print run of the leaflet, which carries the message ‘Thank you Birmingham’ above an image of the Alabama skyline, sent to 360,000 homes across the city.
Council officials insisted it was not necessary to recall and reprint the offending pamphlets. Named in honour of the third President of the United States, the hotel is a relic of 1920s Americana, and has played host to entertainers Mickey Rooney and Ethel Merman before it was closed in 1983.
It has since stood vacant, pending a $20 million redevelopment that was thrown into turmoil by a recent legal battle over property ownership.
As editor of a local website devoted to Birmingham (AL), Mr Natta believes there is a strong basis for a relationship, formal or otherwise, between the two cities. He added: “Our site receives some steady traffic from the UK and has several folks subscribe to our newsletter who seem to have an interest in what’s going on over here.
“It’s always interesting to see the similarities between the issues that the two cities face. We write posts about what’s going on in the UK to make our readers aware of that.
“An even stronger relationship would definitely help us to recognise our cities a little better.”