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Birmingham
—  City  —

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Nickname(s): "The Magic City", "Pittsburgh of the South"
Location in Jefferson County in the state of Alabama
Birmingham is located in Alabama
Birmingham
Location in Alabama.
Coordinates: 33°39′12″N 86°48′32″W / 33.65333°N 86.80889°W / 33.65333; -86.80889
Country United States
State Alabama
Counties Jefferson, Shelby
Incorporated December 19, 1871
Government
 - Type Mayor – Council
 - Mayor William A. Bell
Area
 - City 151.9 sq mi (393.5 km2)
 - Land 149.9 sq mi (388.3 km2)
 - Water 2.0 sq mi (5.3 km2)
Elevation 614 ft (140 m)
Population (2007)[1]
 - City 229,800
 Density 1,510/sq mi (583.03/km2)
 Metro 1,198,932
 - Demonym Birminghamian
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Area code(s) 205
Interstates I-20, I-22, I-59 I-65, and I-459
Airports Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport
FIPS code 01-07000
GNIS feature ID 015817
Website http://www.birminghamal.gov/

Birmingham (pronounced /ˈbɜrmɪŋhæm/, BUR-ming-ham) is the largest city in the state of Alabama in the United States. It is the county seat of Jefferson County and includes part of Shelby County. According to a 2007 estimate, the city had a population of 229,800.[2] The Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area, as of the 2008 census estimates, has a population of 1,198,932. It is also the largest city in the Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman Combined Statistical Area, colloquially known as Greater Birmingham, which contains roughly one quarter of the population of Alabama.

Birmingham was founded in 1871, just after the American Civil War, as an industrial enterprise. It was named after Birmingham, one of the UK's major industrial cities. Through the middle of the 20th century, Birmingham was the primary industrial center of the Southern United States. The astonishing pace of Birmingham's growth through the turn of the century earned it the nicknames "The Magic City" and "The Pittsburgh of the South". Much like Pittsburgh in the north, Birmingham's major industries were iron and steel production.

Over the course of the 20th century, the city's economy diversified. Though the manufacturing industry maintains a strong presence in Birmingham, other industries such as banking, insurance, medicine, publishing, and biotechnology have risen in stature. Birmingham has been recognized as one of the top cities for income growth in the United States South with a significant increase in per capita income since 1990.[3]

Today, Birmingham ranks as one of the most important business centers in the Southeastern United States and is also one of the largest banking centers in the U.S. In addition, the Birmingham area serves as headquarters to one Fortune 500 company: Regions Financial. Five Fortune 1000 companies are headquartered in Birmingham.

Contents

History

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Founding and early growth

Panorama of Birmingham, Alabama c.1916

Birmingham was founded on June 1, 1871, by cotton gin promoters who sold lots near the planned crossing of the Alabama & Chattanooga and South & North Alabama railroads. The first business at that crossroads was the trading post and country store Yeilding's. The site of the railroad crossing was notable for the nearby deposits of iron ore, coal, and limestone – the three main raw materials used in making steel. Birmingham is the only place worldwide where significant amounts of all three minerals can be found in such proximity. From the start the new city was planned as a great center of industry. The founders, organized as the Elyton Land Company, borrowed the name of Birmingham, one of England's main industrial cities, to advertise that point. The growth of the planned city was impeded by an outbreak of cholera and a Wall Street crash in 1873. However, it began to grow shortly afterwards at an explosive rate.

The turn of the century brought the substantial growth that gave Birmingham the nickname "The Magic City" as the downtown area developed from a low-rise commercial and residential district into a busy grid of neoclassical mid-rise and high-rise buildings and busy streetcar lines. Between 1902 and 1912 four large office buildings were constructed at the intersection of 20th Street, the central north–south spine of the city, and 1st Avenue North, which connected the warehouses and industrial facilities stretching along the east–west railroad corridor. This impressive group of early skyscrapers was nicknamed "The Heaviest Corner on Earth".

The Great Depression hit Birmingham especially hard as sources of capital that were fueling the city's growth rapidly dried up at the same time that farm laborers, driven off the land, made their way to the city in search of work. New Deal programs made important contributions to the city's infrastructure and artistic legacy, including such key improvements as Vulcan's tower and Oak Mountain State Park.

The wartime demand for steel and the post-war building boom gave Birmingham a rapid return to prosperity. Manufacturing diversified beyond the production of raw materials and major civic institutions such as schools, parks and museums, were able to expand their scope.[4]

Birmingham Civil Rights Movement

In the 1950s and '60s Birmingham received national and international attention as a center of the civil rights struggle for African-Americans. Locally the movement's activists were led by Fred Shuttlesworth, a fiery preacher who became legendary for his fearlessness in the face of violence, notably a string of racially motivated bombings that earned Birmingham the derisive nickname "Bombingham".[5]

A watershed in the civil rights movement occurred in 1963 when Shuttlesworth requested that Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which Shuttlesworth had co-founded, come to Birmingham, where King had once been a pastor, to help end segregation. Together they launched "Project C" (for "Confrontation"), a massive assault on the Jim Crow system. During April and May daily sit-ins and mass marches organized and led by movement leader James Bevel were met with police repression, tear gas, attack dogs, fire hoses, and arrests. More than 3,000 people were arrested during these protests, almost all of them high-school age children. These protests were ultimately successful, leading not only to desegregation of public accommodations in Birmingham but also the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[6]

While imprisoned for having taken part in a nonviolent protest, Dr. King wrote the now famous Letter from Birmingham Jail, a defining treatise in his cause against segregation. Birmingham is also known for a bombing which occurred later that year, in which four black girls were killed by a bomb planted at the 16th Street Baptist Church. The event would inspire the African-American poet Dudley Randall's opus, "The Ballad of Birmingham", as well as jazz musician John Coltrane's song "Alabama".

In 1998 the Birmingham Pledge, written by local attorney James Rotch, was introduced at the Martin Luther King Unity Breakfast. As a grassroots community commitment to combating racism and prejudice, it has since then been used for programs in all fifty states and in more than twenty countries.[7]

Recent history

In the 1970s urban renewal efforts focused around the development of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, which developed into a major medical and research center. In 1971 Birmingham celebrated its centennial with a round of public works improvements, including the upgrading of Vulcan Park. Birmingham's banking institutions enjoyed considerable growth as well and new skyscrapers started to appear in the city center for the first time since the 1920s. These projects helped the city's economy to diversify, but did not prevent the exodus of many of the city's residents to independent suburbs. In 1979 Birmingham elected Dr. Richard Arrington Jr. as its first African-American mayor.

The population inside Birmingham's city limits has fallen over the past few decades. From 340,887 in 1960, the population was down to 242,820 in 2000, a loss of about 29 percent. The Center Point neighborhood incorporated as a new city in 2002, which caused the population to drop to 227,690. Also, the growth of Birmingham's suburbs over that same period—notably Hoover, Vestavia Hills, Alabaster and Trussville—has kept the metropolitan population growing.

Today, Birmingham has begun to experience a bit of a rebirth. Currently there are around a billion dollars being invested in reconstructing the downtown area into a 24-hour mixed-use district. The market for downtown lofts and condominiums has mushroomed while restaurant, retail and cultural options are beginning to sprout up. In 2006 the visitors bureau selected "the diverse city" as a new tag line for the city.[8]

Geography and climate

Geography

Birmingham occupies Jones Valley, flanked by long parallel mountain ridges (the tailing ends of the Appalachian foothills – see Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians) running from north-east to south-west. The valley is drained by small creeks (Village Creek, Valley Creek) which flow into the Black Warrior River. The valley was bisected by the principal railroad corridor, along which most of the early manufacturing operations began.

Red Mountain lies immediately south of downtown. Many of Birmingham's television and radio broadcast towers are lined up along this prominent ridge. The "Over the Mountain" area, including Shades Valley, Shades Mountain and beyond, was largely shielded from the industrial smoke and rough streets of the industrial city. This is the setting for Birmingham's more affluent suburbs of Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, Homewood, and Hoover. South of Shades Valley is the Cahaba River basin, one of the most diverse river ecosystems in America.

Sand Mountain, a smaller ridge, flanks the city to the north and divides Jones Valley from much more rugged land to the north. The Louisville and Nashville Railroad (now CSX Transportation) enters the valley through Boyles Gap, a prominent gap in the long low ridge.

Ruffner Mountain, located due east of the heart of the city, is home to Ruffner Mountain Nature Center, one of the largest urban nature reserves in the United States.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 151.9 square miles (393.5 km²), of which, 149.9 square miles (388.3 km²) of it is land and 2.0 square miles (5.3 km²) of it (1.34%) is water.

Climate

Birmingham has a Humid subtropical climate, characterized by hot summers, mild winters, and abundant rainfall. January sees average daily high temperatures of 53.0 °F (11.7 °C) and lows of 31.8 °F (−0.1 °C). In July the average daily high is 90.6 °F (32.6 °C) and the low is 69.7 °F (20.9 °C). The average annual temperature in Birmingham is 62 °F (17 °C). Snowfall averages only 1.9 inches (4.8 cm) but during the Great Blizzard of 1993, the city received over a foot (30 cm) of snow. The average yearly rainfall in Birmingham is about 52 inches (1330 mm), with March being the wettest month and October the driest.

The spring and fall months are pleasant but variable as cold fronts frequently bring strong to severe thunderstorms and occasional tornadoes to the region. The fall season features less rainfall and fewer storms, as well as lower humidity than the spring, but it is also a secondary severe weather season. Birmingham is located on the heart of a tornado alley known as the Dixie Alley due to the frequency of tornadoes in Central Alabama. The Greater Birmingham area was hit by two F5 tornadoes – in 1977 and 1998 occurring on its western (1998) and northern suburbs (1977). In late summer and fall months, Birmingham experiences occasional tropical storms and hurricanes due to its proximity to the Central Gulf Coast.

Birmingham, AL
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
5.5
 
53
32
 
 
4.2
 
58
36
 
 
6.1
 
66
42
 
 
4.7
 
74
48
 
 
4.8
 
81
58
 
 
3.8
 
88
65
 
 
5.1
 
91
70
 
 
3.5
 
90
69
 
 
4.1
 
85
63
 
 
3.2
 
75
51
 
 
4.6
 
65
42
 
 
4.5
 
56
35
average max. and min. temperatures in °F
precipitation totals in inches

Government

Birmingham has a strong-mayor variant mayor-council form of government, led by a mayor and a nine-member city council. The current system replaced the previous city commission government in 1962 (primarily as a way to remove Commissioner of Public Safety Eugene "Bull" Connor from power).[10]

By Alabama law, an issue before a City Council must be approved by a two-thirds majority vote (Act No. 452, Ala. Acts 1955, as supplemented by Act No. 294, Ala. Acts 1965.). Executive powers are held entirely by the Mayor's Office. Birmingham's current Mayor is William A. Bell. Mayor Bell, who previously served as interim Mayor in 1999, won a special election on January 19, 2010 to fill the unexpired term of former Mayor Larry Langford. Langford was removed from office after being convicted of federal corruption charges on October 28, 2009.[11][12]

Current City Council Membership
District Representative Position
1 LaShunda Scales
2 Kim Rafferty
3 Valerie A. Abbott
4 Maxine Parker
5 Johnathan Austin
6 Carole Smitherman
7 James J. Roberson, Jr.
8 Steven Hoyt President Pro-Tem
9 Roderick Royal President

In 1974 Birmingham established a structured network of neighborhood associations and community advisory committees to insure public participation in governmental issues that affect neighborhoods. Neighborhood associations are routinely consulted on matters related to zoning changes, liquor licenses, economic development, policing and other city services. Neighborhoods are also granted discretionary funds from the city's budget to use for capital improvements. Each neighborhood's officers meet with their peers to form Community Advisory Committees which are granted broader powers over city departments. The presidents of these committees, in turn, form the Citizen's Advisory Board, which meets regularly with the mayor, council, and department heads. Birmingham is divided into a total of 23 communities, and again into a total of 99 individual neighborhoods with individual neighborhood associations.[13]

State and Federal representation

The United States Postal Service operates post offices in Birmingham. The main post office is located at 351 24th Street North in Downtown Birmingham.[14] Birmingham is also home to the Social Security Administration's Southeastern Program Service Center. This center is one of only 7 in the United States that processes Social Security entitlement claims and payments. Additionally, Birmingham is home to a branch bank of the Atlanta Federal Reserve district.

Economy

From Birmingham's early days onward, the steel industry has always played a crucial role in the local economy. Though the steel industry no longer has the same prominence it once held in Birmingham, steel production and processing continue to play a key role in the economy. Several of the nation's largest steelmakers, including U.S. Steel, McWane, and Nucor, all have a major presence in Birmingham. In recent years, local steel companies have announced about $100 million worth of investment in expansions and new plants in and around Birmingham.

Night skyline of Birmingham, Alabama

In the 1970s and 1980s, Birmingham's economy was transformed by investments in bio-technology and medical research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and its adjacent hospital. The UAB Hospital is a Level I trauma center providing health care and breakthrough medical research. UAB is now the area's largest employer and the largest in Alabama with a workforce of about 20,000. Health care services provider HealthSouth is also headquartered in the city.

Birmingham is also a leading banking center, serving as home to two major banks: Regions Financial Corporation and Compass Bancshares. SouthTrust, another large bank headquartered in Birmingham, was acquired by Wachovia in 2004. The city still has major operations as one of the regional headquarters of Wachovia, which itself is now part of Wells Fargo Bank. In November 2006, Regions Financial merged with AmSouth Bancorporation, which was also headquartered in Birmingham. They formed the 8th Largest U. S. Bank (by total assets). Nearly a dozen smaller banks are also headquartered in the Magic City, such as Superior Bank and New South Federal Savings Bank. As of 2009, the finance & banking sector in Birmingham employed 1,870 financial managers, 1,530 loan officers, 680 securities commodities and financial services sales agents, 380 financial analysts, 310 financial examiners, 220 credit analysts, and 130 loan counselors [15].

Telecommunications provider AT&T, formerly BellSouth, has a major presence with several large offices in the metropolitan area. Major insurance providers: Protective Life, Infinity Property & Casualty, ProAssurance and Liberty National among others, are headquartered in Birmingham and employ a large number of people in Greater Birmingham.

The city is also a powerhouse of construction and engineering companies, including BE&K, Brasfield & Gorrie and B.L. Harbert International which routinely are included in the Engineering News-Record lists of top design and international construction firms.[16][17]

Birmingham also has a dairy industry. Mayfield Dairy Farms has a production facility in Birmingham.

Two of the largest soft-drink bottlers in the United States, each with more than $500 million in sales per year, are headquartered in Birmingham. Buffalo Rock, founded in 1901, is a major bottler for Pepsi products, and Coca-Cola Bottling Company, United, founded in 1902, is the nation's third-largest bottler of Coca-Cola products.

Metropolitan Birmingham has consistently been rated as one of America's best places to work and earn a living based on the area's competitive salary rates and relatively low living expenses. One 2006 study published at Salary.com determined that Birmingham was second in the nation for building personal net worth, based on local salary rates, living expenses, and unemployment rates.[18]

A 2006 study by Bizjournals.com calculated Birmingham's "combined personal income" (the sum of all money earned by all residents of an area in a year) at $48.1 billion.[19]

Infrastructure

Education

The city of Birmingham is served by the Birmingham City Schools system. It is run by the Birmingham Board of Education with a current active enrollment of 30,500 in 67 schools: 7 high schools, 13 middle schools, 34 elementary schools, and 9 K-8 secondary schools.

The Birmingham Public Library with 21 branches serves the entire community to provide education and entertainment for all ages.

The Greater-Birmingham metropolitan area is home to numerous independent primary school systems. The area's largest are the Jefferson County, Birmingham City, and Shelby County school systems.

The Birmingham area is home to some of America's best high schools and post-secondary colleges and universities. In 2005, the Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School in Irondale, an eastern suburb of Birmingham, was rated as the #1 high school in America by Newsweek, a national publication. The school remains among the nation's Top 5 high schools. Mountain Brook High School placed 250 on the list. Other local schools that have been rated among America's best in various publications include Vestavia Hills High School and the Alabama School of Fine Arts located downtown. The metro area also has three highly regarded preparatory schools: Saint Rose Academy located in Birmingham proper The Altamont School, also located in Birmingham proper, and Indian Springs School in north Shelby County near Pelham.

Institutions of Higher Education

Planning

Before the first structure was built in Birmingham, the plan of the city was laid out over a total of 1,160 acres (4.7 km²) by the directors of the Elyton Land Co. The streets were numbered from west to east, leaving Twentieth Street to form the central spine of downtown, anchored on the north by Capital Park and stretching into the slopes of Red Mountain to the south. A "railroad reservation" was granted through the center of the city, running east to west and zoned solely for industrial uses. As the city grew, bridges and underpasses separated the streets from the railroad bed, lending this central reservation some of the impact of a river (without the pleasant associations of a waterfront). From the start, Birmingham's streets and avenues were unusually wide at 80 to 100 feet (24 to 30 m), purportedly to help evacuate unhealthy smoke.

In the early 20th century professional planners helped lay out many of the new industrial settlements and company towns in the Birmingham District, including Corey (now Fairfield) which was developed for the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company (subsequently purchased by U. S. Steel). At the same time, a movement to consolidate several neighboring cities gained momentum. Although local referendums indicated mixed feelings about annexation, the Alabama legislature enacted an expansion of Birmingham's corporate limits that became effective on January 1, 1910.

The Robert Jemison company developed many residential neighborhoods to the south and west of Birmingham which are still renowned for their aesthetic quality.

A 1924 plan for a system of parks, commissioned from the Olmsted Brothers is seeing renewed interest with several significant new parks and greenways under development. Birmingham officials have approved a City Center Master Plan developed by Urban Design Associates of Pittsburgh, which advocates strongly for more residential development in the downtown area and includes a major park over several blocks of the central railroad reservation to be called the Railroad Reservation Park. Along with Ruffner Mountain Park, and the proposed Red Mountain Park, Birmingham would rank first in the United States for public green space per resident.

Notable buildings

Birmingham, Alabama skyline
Tallest buildings
Name Stories Height
Wachovia Tower 34 454 ft (138 m)
Regions-Harbert Plaza 32 437 ft (133 m)
AT&T City Center 30 390 ft (119 m)
Regions Center 30 390 ft (119 m)
City Federal Building 27 325 ft (99 m)
Alabama Power Headquarters Building 18 322 ft (98 m)
Leer Tower 20 287 ft (87 m)
John Hand Building 20 284 ft (87 m)
Daniel Building 20 283 ft (86 m)

Transportation

Birmingham has one of the most extensive networks of highways and roadways in the Southeast. The city is served by three Interstate Highways, Interstate 20, Interstate 65, and Interstate 59, as well as a southern beltway Interstate 459 and the Elton B. Stephens (Red Mountain) Expressway (U.S. Highway 31 & U.S. Highway 280). There have been some recent developments with the regional interstate system, including the construction of Corridor X (Future Interstate 22), and the planned future construction of a Northern Beltline corresponding to the existing Interstate 459. Birmingham is served by the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority through the Metro Area Express (MAX) bus system.

Birmingham is served by Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport which serves more than 3 million passengers every year. With more than 160 flights daily, the airport offers flights to 37 cities across the United States. Commercial passenger service through Birmingham is provided by United Express, Delta Air Lines/Delta Connection, American Airlines/American Eagle [from April 6], Continental Airlines/Continental Express, US Airways/US Airways Express, Southwest Airlines.

Birmingham is served by three major freight railroads. Norfolk Southern, CSX Transportation, and BNSF Railway all have major classification yards in the metro area. Smaller regional railroads such as the Jefferson Western and Birmingham Southern also serve Birmingham's freight customers. Amtrak's Crescent connects Birmingham with the cities of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Greensboro, Charlotte, Atlanta and New Orleans. The Birmingham Amtrak Station is situated at 1819 Morris Avenue.

Utilities

The water services for Birmingham and the intermediate urbanized area is served by the Birmingham Water Works Authority (BWWB). A public authority that was established in 1951, the BWWB serves all of Jefferson, northern Shelby, western St. Clair counties. The largest reservoir for BWWB is Lake Purdy, which is located on the Jefferson and Shelby County line, but has several other reservoirs including Bayview Lake in western Jefferson County. There are plans to pipeline water from Inland Lake in Blount County and Lake Logan Martin, but those plans are on hold indefinitely. Jefferson County Environmental Services serves the Birmingham metro area with sanitary sewer service. Sewer rates have increased in recent years after citizens concerned with pollution in area waterways filed a lawsuit that resulted in a federal consent decree to repair an aging sewer system. Because the estimated cost of the consent decree was approximately three times more than the original estimate, many blame the increased rates on corruption within the Jefferson County Environmental Services Department. One major reason for the higher cost was that Jefferson County had to buy the sewers from the many smaller municipalities in the area to ensure that these sewers were being maintained in a fashion that would meet E.P.A. approval to avoid massive fines for failure to comply with the consent decree. This continues to be a controversial topic in the region.

Electric power is provided primarily by Southern Company-subsidiary, Alabama Power. However, some of the surrounding area such as Bessemer and Cullman are provided by TVA. Bessemer also operates its own water and sewer system[1]. Natural gas is provided by Alagasco, although some metro area cities operate their own natural gas services. The local telecommunications are provided by AT&T. Cable television service is provided by Bright House Networks within the cities of Birmingham and Irondale, and Charter Communications in the rest of metro area.

People and culture

Demographics

Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1880 3,086
1890 26,178 748.3%
1900 38,415 46.7%
1910 132,685 245.4%
1920 178,806 34.8%
1930 259,678 45.2%
1940 267,583 3.0%
1950 326,037 21.8%
1960 340,887 4.6%
1970 300,910 −11.7%
1980 284,413 −5.5%
1990 265,968 −6.5%
2000 242,840 −8.7%
Est. 2009 228,798 −5.8%

As of the census[20] of 2000, there were 242,820 people, 98,782 households, and 59,269 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,619.7 people per square mile (625.4/km²). There were 111,927 housing units at an average density of 746.6/sq mi (288.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 73.46% Black or African American, 24.07% White, 0.17% Native American, 0.80% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.62% from other races, and 0.83% from two or more races. 1.55% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. Also there is a Lebanese population in the city. It is one of the few Lebanese populations in the south.

There were 98,782 households out of which 27.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.1% were married couples living together, 24.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.0% were non-families. 34.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 3.09.

In the city, the population is spread out, with 25.0% under the age of 18, 11.1% from 18 to 24, 30.0% from 25 to 44, 20.4% from 45 to 64, and 13.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 85.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $26,735, and the median income for a family was $31,851. Males had a median income of $28,184 versus $23,641 for females. The city's per capita income was $15,663. About 20.9% of families and 24.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 35.4% of those under age 18 and 18.5% of those age 65 or over.

Surrounding suburbs

Suburbs are listed in order of population.

Crime

Crime rates in the City of Birmingham are above national averages because many married residents with children leave the city proper to move to the suburbs seeking lower cost housing and better schools. Although homicide rates have remained above national averages for several years [21], the MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) crime statistics are much lower. According to statistics reported to the FBI, Birmingham has the seventh highest murder rate among US cities and is ranked eighteenth in violent crime, but again this is for Birmingham proper only and does not include the various sub-cities which make up the 1.1 million Birmingham MSA. In fact, the Birmingham MSA crime rate is in line with several low crime southern MSAs such as Jacksonville, FL, and Charlotte, NC.[22] Recently the A&E series, "The First 48" has filmed episodes with some of the city's Homicide detectives.

The downtown district, relatively free from crime, is patrolled by City Action Partnership (CAP), formed in 1995 to increase the perception of safety. Funded by a downtown improvement association, the organization reports a 62% decline in criminal activity within its 109-block area.

Culture

Birmingham is the cultural and entertainment capital of Alabama with its numerous art galleries in the area and home to Birmingham Museum of Art, the largest art museum in the Southeast. Birmingham is also home to the state's major ballet, opera, and symphony orchestra companies such the Alabama Ballet, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham Ballet, Birmingham Concert Chorale, and Opera Birmingham.

Inside the Alabama Theatre in 1996 before its extensive renovation.

Other entertainment venues in the area include:

  • Fair Park Arena, on the west side of town, hosts sporting events, local concerts and community programs.
  • WorkPlay, located in Southside, is a multi-purpose facility with offices, audio and film production space, a lounge, and a theater and concert stage for visiting artists and film screenings.
  • Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival, a celebration of new independent cinema in downtown Birmingham, was named one of TIME magazines "Film Festivals for the Rest of Us" in their June 5, 2006 issue.
  • The Wright Center Concert Hall at Samford University is home to the Birmingham Ballet

Birmingham's nightlife is primarily clustered around Five Points South and Lakeview, but an additional $55-million entertainment district has been approved for an area adjacent to the BJCC.

The Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham maintains activeculture.info, "a one-stop source for finding out what's going on where around" Birmingham.

Attractions, events, and recreation

Museums

Sloss Furnaces, Birmingham

Birmingham is home to several museums. The largest is the Birmingham Museum of Art, which is also the largest municipal art museum in the Southeast. The area's history museums includes Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which houses a detailed and emotionally-charged narrative exhibit putting Birmingham's history into the context of the U. S. Civil Rights Movement. It is located on Kelly Ingram Park adjacent to the 16th Street Baptist Church.

Other history museums include the Southern Museum of Flight, Bessemer Hall of History, Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark, Alabama Museum of Health Sciences, and the Arlington Home.

The McWane Science Center is a regional science museum with hands-on science exhibits, temporary exhibitions, and an IMAX dome theater. The center also houses a major collection of fossil specimens for use by researchers. Other unique museums include the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, with the largest collection of motorcycles in the world, the Iron & Steel Museum of Alabama at Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park near McCalla, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, and the Talladega Superspeedway International Motorsports Hall of Fame museum.

South of downtown on Red Mountain, Vulcan Park features the world's largest cast iron statue, depicting Vulcan at his forge. It was cast for the 1904 St. Louis Exposition, and erected at Vulcan Park in 1938.

Festivals

Birmingham is home to numerous cultural festivals showcasing music, films, and regional heritage. Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival brings filmmakers from all over the world to Birmingham to have their films viewed and judged. This festival usually is scheduled on the last weekend in September at eight venues around downtown. Screenings are concentrated at the Alabama Theatre.

Fountain at Linn Park in downtown Birmingham, Alabama during Magic City Art Connection celebration.

Another musical festival is the Taste of 4th Avenue Jazz Festival, presented at the end of September each year, concurrent with the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival. This all day festival features national and local jazz acts. In 2007, the festival drew an estimated 6,000 people.

The Birmingham Folk Festival is an annual event held since 2006. It moved to Avondale Park in 2008. In 2009 the festival featured nine local bands and three touring "headliner bands." [23]

The Southern Heritage Festival began in the 1960s as a music, arts, and entertainment festival for the African-American community to attract mostly younger demographics. Do Dah Day is an annual pet parade held around the end of May. The Schaeffer Eye Center Crawfish Boil, an annual music festival event held in May to benefit local charities, always includes an all-star cast of talent. It typically draws more than 30,000 spectators for the annual two-day event. The annual Greek Festival, a celebration of Greek heritage, culture, and especially cuisine, is a charity fundraiser hosted by the Greek Orthodox Holy Trinity - Holy Cross Cathedral. The Greek Festival draws 20,000 patrons annually. [2]. The Lebanese Food Festival also draws many people. It is held at St. Elias Maronite Church. Magic City Brewfest is an annual festival benefiting local grassroots organization, Free the Hops, and focusing on craft beer.

Joe Minter's African Village in America ia a half-acre visionary art environment near downtown Birmingham.

Alabama Bound is an annual book and author fair that celebrates Alabama authors and publishers. Hosted by the Birmingham Public Library, it is an occasion when fans may meet their favorite authors, buy their books, and hear them read from and talk about their work. Book signings follow each presentation.

Other attractions

Kelly Ingram Park, site of notable civil rights protests and adjacent to historic 16th Street Baptist Church. Oak Mountain State Park is about 10 miles (16 km) South of Birmingham. It is one of the southernmost wrinkles in the Appalachian chain, and a scenic drive to the top provides views reminiscent of the Great Smoky Mountains further north. To the west of the city is located Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, a 1,500-acre (6.1 km2) Civil War site which includes the well-preserved ruins of the Tannehill Iron Furnaces and the John Wesley Hall Grist Mill. The Birmingham Botanical Gardens is a 67 acre (270,000 m²) park displaying a wide variety of plants in interpretive gardens, including formal rose gardens, tropical greenhouses, and a large Japanese Garden. The facility also includes a white-tablecloth restaurant, meeting rooms, and an extensive reference library. It is complimented by Hoover's 30-acre (120,000 m2) Aldridge Gardens, an ambitious project open since 2002. Still under development, Aldridge is currently more valuable to locals looking for a place to stroll than to tourists, but promises unique displays in coming years. The Birmingham Zoo is a large regional zoo with more than 700 animals and a recently opened interactive children's zoo. Alabama Adventure Theme Park (formerly Visionland) is an amusement park with two independent sections: Splash Beach Water Park and Magic Adventure Theme Park,. The theme park has 25 different thrill rides including The Rampage wooden roller coaster and Zoomerang, a steel roller coaster purchased in 2004 from the Brisbane expo. (The park was renamed at the start of the 2006 season, and major expansion plans were announced at that time.) The Summit is a lifestyle center with many stores and restaurants. It is located in Southeast Birmingham off of U.S. Highway 280, parallel to Interstate 459. Its anchor tenants are Belk and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Sports

Minor League teams

Club Sport Founded League Venue
Birmingham Barons Baseball 1885 Southern League: South Division Regions Park

Other area sport facilities include:

Media

Birmingham is served by one daily newspaper, The Birmingham News (circulation 150,346), which in 2007 was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting, the newspaper's second Pulitzer. The Birmingham News' Wednesday edition features six sub regional sections named East, Hoover, North, Shelby, South, and West that cover news stories from those areas. The Birmingham Post-Herald, the city's second daily, published its last issue in 2006. Other local publications include The North Jefferson News, The Leeds News, The Western Star (Bessemer) and The Western Tribune (Bessemer).

Birmingham Weekly, Birmingham Free Press and Black & White (published biweekly) are Birmingham's free alternative publications. The Birmingham Times, a historic African-American newspaper, also is published weekly.

Birmingham is served by the city magazine of the Chamber of Commerce, Birmingham magazine.

Birmingham is part of the Birmingham/Anniston/Tuscaloosa television market, which is the nation's 40th largest. The major television affiliates are WBRC 6 (Fox), WBIQ 10 (PBS), WVTM 13 (NBC), WTTO 21 (CW), WBMA 33/40 (ABC), WIAT 42 (CBS), WPXH 44 (ION), and WABM 68 (MyNetworkTV).

Over 45 radio stations serve the Birmingham market, which is the nation's 56th largest radio market. Major broadcasting companies who own stations in the Birmingham market include Clear Channel, Cox Radio, Citadel Broadcasting, and Crawford Broadcasting. The Rick and Bubba show, which is syndicated to over 25 stations primarily in the Southeast, originates from Birmingham's WZZK-FM. The Paul Finebaum sports-talk show, also syndicated to a network of stations mainly in Alabama, originates from WJOX.

Birmingham is home to EWTN, the world's largest Catholic media outlet and largest religious network of any kind broadcasting to approximately 118 million homes worldwide.

See also List of television stations in Alabama
See also List of radio stations in Alabama

Other

Notable natives

Sister cities

Birmingham's Sister Cities program is overseen by the Birmingham Sister Cities Commission

References

  1. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Population for Incorporated Places in Alabama". United States Census Bureau. 2008-07-10. http://www.census.gov/popest/cities/tables/SUB-EST2007-04-01.csv. Retrieved 2008-07-14. 
  2. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Population for Incorporated Places in Alabama, Listed Alphabetically: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2006" (CSV). 2007 Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. 2007-06-28. http://www.census.gov/popest/cities/tables/SUB-EST2006-04-01.csv. Retrieved 2007-06-28. 
  3. ^ Thomas, G. Scott (July 5, 2004). "Colorado metros set income pace for the U.S.". American City Business Journals. http://www.bizjournals.com/edit_special/9.html. Retrieved 2006-11-09. 
  4. ^ Atkins, Leah Rawls (1981). The Valley and the Hills: An Illustrated History of Birmingham & Jefferson County. Windsor Publications. ISBN 9780897810319. 
  5. ^ Cohen, Adam. "Back to "Bombingham"". TIME. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,986714,00.html. 
  6. ^ Civil Rights Movement Veterans. "The Birmingham Campaign". http://www.crmvet.org/tim/timhis63.htm#1963bham. 
  7. ^ http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/face/Article.jsp?id=h-1884
  8. ^ Dugan, Kelli M. (July 14, 2006). "Big ideas". Birmingham Business Journal. http://birmingham.bizjournals.com/birmingham/stories/2006/07/17/smallb1.html?jst=s_cn_hl. Retrieved 2006-11-09. 
  9. ^ "Average Weather for Birmingham, AL - Temperature and Precipitation". http://www.weather.com/outlook/travel/businesstraveler/wxclimatology/monthly/graph/USAL0054. 
  10. ^ Nunnelley, William A. (1991) Bull Connor. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. ISBN 0817304959
  11. ^ "Langford elected mayor". The Birmingham News. http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2007/10/langford_elected_mayor.html. 
  12. ^ Bryant, Joseph D. (2009-11-24). "Roderick Royal elected Birmingham Council president, and will serve as interim mayor". The Birmingham News. http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2009/11/roderick_royal_elected_birming.html. 
  13. ^ Thomson, Ken (1988) "Birmingham Participation". Citizen Participation Project at the Lincoln Filene Center at Tufts University. CPN.org - accessed May 5, 2009
  14. ^ "Post Office Location - Birmingham." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on May 5, 2009.
  15. ^ "Birmingham, Hoover Career, Salary & Employment Info". http://www.collegedegreereport.com/cities/birmingham-hoover. 
  16. ^ McGraw-Hill Construction Engineering News-Record; 2008 Top Design Firms
  17. ^ McGraw-Hill Construction Engineering News-Record; 2007 Top International Contractors
  18. ^ Malachowski, Dan. "Salary.com's Salary Value Index". Salary.com. http://aol.salary.com/careersandwork/salary/articles/atcl_careeradvice.asp?atc=569. Retrieved November 9, 2006. 
  19. ^ "Birmingham is wealthy enough for pro sports team, study shows". Birmingham Business Journal. February 14, 2006. http://birmingham.bizjournals.com/birmingham/stories/2006/02/13/daily12.html?jst=b_ln_hl. Retrieved 2006-11-09. 
  20. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  21. ^ Birmingham Weekly Whitmire, Kyle. Making a Mayor: Birmingham Crime. Birmingham Weekly blog; September 7, 2007
  22. ^ Al.com FBI statistics suggest the need for new crime-fighting strategies and technologies for Birmingham. The Birmingham News; Opinion; January 10, 2008.
  23. ^ The Birmingham Folk Festival
  24. ^ Tomberlin, Michael (July 27, 2009). "It's official: 3 Indy car races coming to Barber Motorsports Park". The Birmingham News. 

External links

Coordinates: 33°31′29″N 86°48′46″W / 33.524755°N 86.81274°W / 33.524755; -86.81274


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BIRMINGHAM, a city and the county-seat of Jefferson county, Alabama, U.S.A., in the north-central part of the state, 96 m. N.W. of Montgomery, at an altitude of 600 ft. It is served by the Southern, the Louisville & Nashville, the Seaboard Air Line, the Central of Georgia, the Alabama Great Southern (of the Queen & Crescent Route), the Illinois Central, the Atlanta, Birmingham & Atlantic, the Birmingham Southern (for freight only), and the Kansas City, Memphis & Birmingham (Frisco system) railways. Pop. (1890) 26,178; (1900) 38,415, of whom 16,575 were of negro descent, and 1776 were foreignborn; (1910) 13 2,685. Birmingham is situated in Jones Valley, between two mountains which lie south-east and north-west of the city. Its streets are wide and well constructed, and there are sixteen public parks, three of which, East Lake, Lakeview and Capitol, are particularly attractive. Among the principal buildings are the First National bank, the immense Union station and the Saint Vincent hospital; besides several fine office and school buildings (including the beautiful manual training high school) and churches. Although the state constitution restricts municipal investments, a Waring or "Separate" sewage system has been established. The most important educational institutions are the Birmingham medical college and college of pharmacy; the Birmingham dental college; a school of art and a conservatory of music. At East Lake station, in the north-east of the city, is Howard College (Baptist; founded at Marion, Perry county, in 1841 as an academy; granted first collegiate degrees in 1848; opened in East Lake in 1887); and 2 m. west of the city is the North Alabama Conference College (Methodist Episcopal South), opened in 1897.

Birmingham, situated in an immensely rich iron, coal and limestone region, is the principal manufacturing centre in the state, and the most important centre for the production and manufacture of iron in the southern states. In the decade 1890-1900 the value of the products of Birmingham's manufactories increased 78.9% from $7,064,248 to $12,581,066; in 1900 establishments under the "factory system" produced goods valued at $8,599,418, in 1905 at $7,592,958, a decrease of 11.7%.

Immediately outside the city limits in 1905 there were many large manufactories, including the repair shops of the Southern railroad; iron and steel, car wheels and cotton-oil were among the products of the suburban factories. In Jefferson county there were in 1900 more than 300 mining and manufacturing establishments, engaged, chiefly, in the production of iron, coal and coke, and a majority of these are in Birmingham and its suburban towns. A short distance south of the city is Red Mountain, 25 m. long and about 225 ft. high, rich in hematite iron ore; valuable limestone deposits are found some 30 m. distant, and in the vicinity are three great coalfields, the Warrior, the Coosa and the Cahaba. These natural advantages make possible the production of pig iron at an unusually low cost. In 1900 the Birmingham district produced six-sevenths of the total pig iron exported from the United States, and in 1902 nine-tenths of Alabama's coal, coke and pig iron; in 1905 Jefferson county produced 67.5% of the total iron and steel product of the state, and 62.5% of the pig iron produced by the state. The first steel plant in the southern states was established at Birmingham in 1897; in 1902, at Ensley, one of the suburbs, there were 10 furnaces controlled by one company. The city has also a large trade in cotton, the annual receipts averaging about ioo,000 bales. Among the manufactures are cotton goods, cotton-seed oil, yarn, furniture and machinery. Birmingham also has important lumber interests.

The city is a product of the industrial transformation in the southern states since the Civil War. In 1870 the site was a cotton field, where two railways, the South & North, and the Alabama & Chattanooga, now part respectively of the Louisville & Nashville and the Southern System, met, 2 m. from Elyton. In 1871 a land company, promoted by railway officials, founded Birmingham. Within four months the population was 1200; by 1873 it was 2500; in 1880 it was 3086; and in 1890 it had reached 26,178.


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Simple English

City of Birmingham
—  City  —
File:Flag of Birmingham,
Flag
Nickname(s): "The Magic City" or "Pittsburgh of the South"
Coordinates: 33°39′12″N 86°48′32″W / 33.65333°N 86.80889°W / 33.65333; -86.80889
Country United States
State Alabama
Counties Jefferson, Shelby
Incorporated December 19, 1871
Government
 - Type Mayor - Council
 - Mayor Bernard Kincaid (Current)
Larry Langford (Mayor-Elect)
Area
 - City 151.9 sq mi (393.5 km2)
 - Land 149.9 sq mi (388.3 km2)
 - Water 2.0 sq mi (5.3 km2)
Elevation 614 ft (140 m)
Population (2006)
 - City 229,424
 Density 1,510/sq mi (583.03/km2)
 Metro 1,100,019
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Area code(s) 205
Website http://www.informationbirmingham.com/

Birmingham is a city in the American state of Alabama. It is the county seat of Jefferson County. Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama by population. The city has a population of about 230,000 people[1] and a metropolitan population of over 1 million. It has an area of about 152 square miles (394 km²) and an elevation of 614 feet (140 m).

History

Birmingham was founded in 1871. Three smaller towns came together to make one, which grew into a large town. It was named after Birmingham, England, a British industrial city. The Alabama city is famous for its iron ore, coal, and limestone, which are used in making steel.

Birmingham Sunday

Birmingham became famous around the world when a bomb exploded in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church on Sunday September 15, 1963. Four young black girls were killed. A member of the Ku Klux Klan was charged for the bombing many years later. Richard Farina wrote a sad song called "Birmingham Sunday" in 1964 to the tune of "I Love A Lass".[2] It has been recorded by several singers, including Joan Baez.

References


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