Alabama

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Posted by kaori 03/25/2009 @ 04:14

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News headlines
Baseball's Coleman Named to SEC Service Team - LSUSports.net
Alabama senior right fielder Kent Matthes is one of the Crimson Tide's most accessible players and is constantly surrounded by children after each Alabama home game for autographs and photographs....He was a member of the 2008 Southeastern Conference...
Alabama Legislature approves statewide transit commission - Bizjournals.com
The Alabama Legislature passed a resolution Monday that will create a statewide transit commission, which will serve to generate state-dedicated funding and study transit from both an urban and rural prospective for the entire state....
Softball: Alabama 7, Texas 0 - Dallas Morning News
3 Alabama toppled Texas at home, ending the Longhorns' season. Alabama got to Texas starter Erin Tresselt for three runs on six hits in three innings. The Crimson Tide put the game away with four more runs against Brittany Barnhill....
Texas sweeps doubleheader from Alabama A&M - Austin American-Statesman
By Alan Trubow The Texas Longhorns went about business Sunday against Alabama A&M. Nothing more. Nothing less. Exactly right. No. 6 Texas needed to win both games of the doubleheader at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. And the Longhorns did, 5-1 (seven innings)...
Alabama ranks 16th for child well-being - Bizjournals.com
That'sa two-spot improvement over Alabama's 18th ranking in 2000, according to the study titled “Ranking States on Improvement in Child Well-Being Since 2000.” "Alabama has done tremendous work to improve the lives of children and families around the...
Alabama two-year college Chancellor Bradley Byrne resigns - al.com
Alabama two-year colleges Chancellor Bradley Byrne, the former state legislator picked by Gov. Bob Riley to take over the system at the height of a corruption scandal, has resigned. Byrne has long been considered a likely Republican candidate for...
Montgomery County Escapee Back In Jail - NewsChannel5.com
An inmate that escaped from the Montgomery County Jail last week is back behind bars in Alabama. Police in Ardmore, Alabama arrested Robert Fusco in a stolen vehicle Monday night along I-65 after a brief pursuit. Fusco along with another inmate escaped...
Alabama peanut growers help needy families - Southeast Farm Press
"We hope our donation will help the food banks in Alabama fill the void which occurred over the last several months and help them reach even more individuals who may be in need." The Alabama Peanut Producers Association (APPA) made a special delivery...
Alabama bats warm up against Auburn in regular-season finale - al.com
By EVAN WOODBERY AUBURN — Alabama spent 90 minutes resting in its air-conditioned hotel between Saturday's two games, trying to find an answer to a perplexing offensive slump. When Kent Matthes cranked a home run off the flag pole in right-center field...
Gas prices inch upwards in Alabama - NBC13.com
From: AP By Shannon Delcambre According to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report, the average price for regular unleaded in Alabama is $2.21 a gallon. The highest average among Alabama's largest cities is in Mobile, at $2.23 a gallon, followed by Huntsville,...

Alabama

Map of the United States with Alabama highlighted

Alabama (formally, the State of Alabama; /ˌæləˈbæmə/ (help·info)) (the 22nd state) is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland waterways. The state ranks 23rd in population with almost 4.6 million residents in 2006.

From the American Civil War until World War II, Alabama, like many Southern states, suffered economic hardship, in part because of continued dependence on agriculture. White rural interests dominated the state legislature until the 1960s, while urban interests and African Americans were underrepresented. In the years following World War II, Alabama experienced significant recovery as the economy of the state transitioned from agriculture to diversified interests in heavy manufacturing, mineral extraction, education, and high technology, as well as the establishment or expansion of multiple military installations, primarily those of the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force. Today, the state is heavily invested in aerospace, education, health care, and banking, and various heavy industries including automobile manufacturing, mineral extraction, steel production and fabrication.

Alabama is unofficially nicknamed the Yellowhammer State, which is also the name of the state bird. Alabama is also known as the "Heart of Dixie". The state tree is the Longleaf Pine, the state flower is the Camellia. The capital of Alabama is Montgomery, and the largest city by population is Birmingham. The largest city by total land area is Huntsville. The oldest city is Mobile.

The Alabama, a Muskogean tribe, which resided just below the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers on the upper reaches of the Alabama River, served as the etymological source of the names of the river and state. In the Alabama language, the word for an Alabama person is Albaamo (or variously Albaama or Albàamo in different dialects; the plural form "Alabama persons" is Albaamaha). The word Alabama is believed to have originated from the Choctaw language and was later adopted by the Alabama tribe as their name. The spelling of the word varies significantly between sources. The first usage appears in three accounts of the Hernando de Soto expedition of 1540 with Garcilasso de la Vega using Alibamo while the Knight of Elvas and Rodrigo Ranjel wrote Alibamu and Limamu, respectively. As early as 1702, the tribe was known to the French as Alibamon with French maps identifying the river as Rivière des Alibamons. Other spellings of the appellation have included Alibamu, Alabamo, Albama, Alebamon, Alibama, Alibamou, Alabamu, and Allibamou.

Although the origin of Alabama was evident, the meaning of the tribe's name was not always clear. An article without a byline appearing in the Jacksonville Republican on July 27, 1842 originated the idea that the meaning was "Here We Rest." This notion was popularized in the 1850s through the writings of Alexander Beaufort Meek. Experts in the Muskogean languages have been unable to find any evidence that would support this translation. It is now generally accepted that the word comes from the Choctaw words alba (meaning "plants" or "weeds") and amo (meaning "to cut", "to trim", or "to gather"). This results in translations such as "clearers of the thicket" or even "herb gatherers" which may refer to clearing of land for the purpose of planting crops or to collection of medicinal plants by medicine men.

Among the Native American people once living in the area of present day Alabama were Alabama (Alibamu), Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Koasati, and Mobile. Trade with the Northeast via the Ohio River began during the Burial Mound Period (1000 BC-700 AD) and continued until European contact. The agrarian Mississippian culture covered most of the state from 1000 to 1600 AD, with one of its major centers being at the Moundville Archaeological Site in Moundville, Alabama. Artifacts recovered from archaeological excavations at Moundville were a major component in the formulation of the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex. Contrary to popular belief, this development appears to have no direct links to Mesoamerica, but developed independently. This Ceremonial Complex represents a major component of the religion of the Mississippian peoples, and is one of the primary means by which their religion is understood.

The French founded the first European settlement in the state with the establishment of Mobile in 1702. Southern Alabama was French from 1702 to 1763, part of British West Florida from 1763 to 1780, and part of Spanish West Florida from 1780 to 1814. Northern and central Alabama was part of British Georgia from 1763 to 1783 and part of the American Mississippi territory thereafter. Its statehood was delayed by the lack of a coastline; rectified when Andrew Jackson captured Spanish Mobile in 1814. Alabama was the twenty-second state admitted to the Union, in 1819.

Alabama was the new frontier in the 1820s and 1830s. Settlers rapidly arrived to take advantage of fertile soils. Planters brought slaves with them, and traders brought in more from the Upper South as the cotton plantations expanded. The economy of the central "Black Belt" featured large cotton plantations whose owners built their wealth on the labor of enslaved African Americans. It was named for the dark, fertile soil. Elsewhere poor whites were subsistence farmers. According to the 1860 census, enslaved Africans comprised 45% of the state's population of 964,201. There were only 2,690 free persons of color.

In 1861 Alabama seceded from the Union to join the Confederate States of America. While not many battles were fought in the state, Alabama contributed about 120,000 soldiers to the Civil War. All the slaves were freed by 1865. Following Reconstruction, Alabama was readmitted to the Union in 1868.

After the Civil War, the state was still chiefly rural and tied to cotton. Planters resisted working with free labor and sought to re-establish controls over African Americans. Whites used paramilitary groups, Jim Crow laws and segregation to reduce freedoms of African Americans and restore their own dominance.

In its new constitution of 1901, the legislature effectively disenfranchised African Americans through voting restrictions. While the planter class had engaged poor whites in supporting these efforts, the new restrictions resulted in disenfranchising poor whites as well. By 1941, a total of more whites than blacks had been disenfranchised: 600,000 whites to 520,000 blacks. This was due mostly to effects of the cumulative poll tax.

The damage to the African-American community was more pervasive, as nearly all its citizens lost the ability to vote. In 1900, fourteen Black Belt counties (which were primarily African American) had more than 79,000 voters on the rolls. By June 1, 1903, the number of registered voters had dropped to 1,081. In 1900, Alabama had more than 181,000 African Americans eligible to vote. By 1903, only 2,980 had managed to "qualify" to register, although at least 74,000 black voters were literate. The shut out was long-lasting. The disenfranchisement was ended only by African Americans leading the Civil Rights Movement and gaining Federal legislation in the mid-1960s to protect their voting and civil rights. Such legislation also protected the rights of poor whites.

The rural-dominated legislature continued to underfund schools and services for African Americans in the segregated state, but did not relieve them of paying taxes. Continued racial discrimination, agricultural depression, and the failure of the cotton crops due to boll weevil infestation led tens of thousands of African Americans to seek out opportunities in northern cities. They left Alabama in the early 20th century as part of the Great Migration to industrial jobs and better futures in northern industrial cities. The rate of population growth rate in Alabama (see table) dropped by nearly half from 1910–1920, reflecting the outmigration.

At the same time, many rural whites and blacks migrated to the city of Birmingham for work in new industrial jobs. It experienced such rapid growth that it was nicknamed "The Magic City." By the 1920s, Birmingham was the 19th largest city in the U.S. and held more than 30% of the population of the state. Heavy industry and mining were the basis of the economy.

Despite massive population changes in the state from 1901 to 1961, the rural-dominated legislature refused to reapportion House and Senate seats based on population. They held on to old representation to maintain political and economic power in agricultural areas. In addition, the state legislature gerrymandered the few Birmingham legislative seats to ensure election by persons living outside of Birmingham.

Because of the long disfranchisement of African Americans, the state continued as one-party Democratic for decades. It produced a number of national leaders. Industrial development related to the demands of World War II brought prosperity. Cotton faded in importance as the state developed a manufacturing and service base. In the 1960s under Governor George Wallace, many whites in the state opposed integration efforts.

During the Civil Rights Movement, African Americans achieved a restoration of voting and other civil rights through the passage of the national Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. De jure segregation ended in the states as Jim Crow laws were invalidated or repealed.

Under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, cases were filed in Federal courts to force Alabama to properly redistrict by population both the state legislature House and Senate. In 1972, for the first time since 1901, the Alabama constitution's provision for periodic redistricting based on population was implemented. This benefited the many urban areas that had developed, and all in the population who had been underrepresented for more than 60 years.

After 1972, the state's white voters shifted much of their support to Republican candidates in presidential elections (as also occurred in neighboring southern states). Since 1990 the majority of whites in the state have also voted increasingly Republican in state elections.

Alabama is the thirtieth largest state in the United States with 52,423 square miles (135,775 km²) of total area: 3.19% of the area is water, making Alabama twenty-third in the amount of surface water, also giving it the second largest inland waterway system in the United States. About three-fifths of the land area is a gentle plain with a general descent towards the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. The North Alabama region is mostly mountainous, with the Tennessee River cutting a large valley creating numerous creeks, streams, rivers, mountains, and lakes. A notable natural wonder in Alabama is "Natural Bridge" rock, the longest natural bridge east of the Rockies, located just south of Haleyville, in Winston County.

Alabama generally ranges in elevation from sea level at Mobile Bay to over 1,800 feet (550 m) in the Appalachian Mountains in the northeast. The highest point is Mount Cheaha (see map), at a height of 2,407 ft (733 m).

The states bordering Alabama are Tennessee to the north; Georgia to the east; Florida to the south; and Mississippi to the west. Alabama has coastline at the Gulf of Mexico, in the extreme southern edge of the state.

Alabama's land consists of 22 million acres (89,000 km2) of forest or 67% of total land area.

Areas in Alabama administered by the National Park Service include Horseshoe Bend National Military Park near Alexander City; Little River Canyon National Preserve near Fort Payne; Russell Cave National Monument in Bridgeport; Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site in Tuskegee; and Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site near Tuskegee. Additionally, Alabama has four National Forests including Conecuh, Talladega, Tuskegee, and William B. Bankhead.

Alabama also contains the Natchez Trace Parkway, the Selma To Montgomery National Historic Trail, and the Trail Of Tears National Historic Trail.

Suburban Baldwin County, along the Gulf Coast, is the largest county in the state in both land area and water area.

A 5-mile (8 km)-wide meteorite impact crater is located in Elmore County, just north of Montgomery. This is the Wetumpka crater, which is the site of "Alabama's greatest natural disaster". A 1,000-foot (300 m)-wide meteorite hit the area about 80 million years ago. The hills just east of downtown Wetumpka showcase the eroded remains of the impact crater that was blasted into the bedrock, with the area labeled the Wetumpka crater or astrobleme ("star-wound") because of the concentric rings of fractures and zones of shattered rock that can be found beneath the surface. In 2002, Christian Koeberl with the Institute of Geochemistry University of Vienna published evidence and established the site as an internationally recognized impact crater.

The climate of Alabama is described as temperate with an average annual temperature of 64 °F (18 °C). Temperatures tend to be warmer in the southern part of the state with its close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, while the northern parts of the state, especially in the Appalachian Mountains in the northeast, tend to be slightly cooler. Generally, Alabama has very hot summers and mild winters with copious precipitation throughout the year. Alabama receives an average of 56 inches (1,400 mm) of rainfall annually and enjoys a lengthy growing season of up to 300 days in the southern part of the state.

Summers in Alabama are among the hottest in the United States, with high temperatures averaging over 90 °F (32 °C) throughout the summer in some parts of the state. Alabama is also prone to tropical storms and even hurricanes. Areas of the state far away from the Gulf are not immune to the effects of the storms, which often dump tremendous amounts of rain as they move inland and weaken.

South Alabama reports more thunderstorms than any part of the U.S. The Gulf Coast, around Mobile Bay, averages between 70 and 80 days per year with thunder reported. This activity decreases somewhat further north in the state, but even the far north of the state reports thunder on about 60 days per year. Occasionally, thunderstorms are severe with frequent lightning and large hail – the central and northern parts of the state are most vulnerable to this type of storm. Alabama ranks seventh in the number of deaths from lightning and ninth in the number of deaths from lightning strikes per capita. Sometimes tornadoes occur – these are common throughout the state, although the peak season for tornadoes varies from the northern to southern parts of the state. Alabama shares the dubious distinction, with Kansas, of having reported more F5 tornadoes than any other state – according to statistics from the National Climatic Data Center for the period January 1, 1950 to October 31, 2006. An F5 tornado is the most powerful of its kind. Several long – tracked F5 tornadoes have contributed to Alabama reporting more tornado fatalities than any other state except for Texas and Mississippi. The Super Outbreak of March, 1974, badly affected Alabama. The northern part of the state – along the Tennessee Valley – is one of the areas in the US most vulnerable to violent tornadoes. The area of Alabama and Mississippi most affected by tornadoes is sometimes referred to as Dixie Alley, as distinct from the Tornado Alley of the Southern Plains. Alabama is one of the few places in the world that has a secondary tornado season (November and December) in addition to the Spring severe weather season.

Winters are generally mild in Alabama, as they are throughout most of the southeastern United States, with average January low temperatures around 40 °F (4 °C) in Mobile and around 32 °F (0 °C) in Birmingham. Snow is a rare event in much of Alabama. Areas of the state north of Montgomery may receive a dusting of snow a few times every winter, with an occasional moderately heavy snowfall every few years. In the southern Gulf coast, snowfall is less frequent, sometimes going several years without any snowfall.

The United States Census Bureau, as of July 1, 2008, estimated Alabama's population at 4,661,900, which represents an increase of 214,545, or 4.8%, since the last census in 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 121,054 people (that is 502,457 births minus 381,403 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 104,991 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 31,180 people, and migration within the country produced a net gain of 73,811 people.

The state had 108,000 foreign-born (2.4% of the state population), of which an estimated 22.2% were illegal immigrants (24,000).

The center of population of Alabama is located in Chilton County, outside of the town of Jemison, an area known as Jemison Division.

The largest reported ancestry groups in Alabama: African American (26.0%), American (17.0%), English (7.8%), Irish (7.7%), German (5.7%), and Scots-Irish (2.0%). 'American' does not include those reported as Native American.

Alabama is located in the middle of the Bible Belt. In a 2007 survey, nearly 70% of respondents could name all four of the Christian Gospels. Of those who indicated a religious preference, 59% said they possessed a "full understanding" of their faith and needed no further learning. In a 2007 poll, 92% of Alabamians reported having at least some confidence in churches in the state. The Mobile area is notable for its large percentage of Catholics, owing to the area's unique early history under French and Spanish rule. Today, a huge percentage of Alabamians identify themselves as Protestants. The top two largest denominations in the state are the Baptists (40%) and Methodists (10%).

According to the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis, the 2006 total gross state product was $160 billion, or $29,697 per capita for a ranking of 44th among states. Alabama's GDP increased 3.1% from 2005, placing Alabama number 23 in terms of state level GDP growth. The single largest increase came in the area of durable goods manufacturing. In 1999, per capita income for the state was $18,189.

Alabama's agricultural outputs include poultry and eggs, cattle, plant nursery items, peanuts, cotton, grains such as corn and sorghum, vegetables, milk, soybeans, and peaches. Although known as "The Cotton State", Alabama ranks between eight and ten in national cotton production, according to various reports, with Texas, Georgia and Mississippi comprising the top three.

Alabama's industrial outputs include iron and steel products (including cast-iron and steel pipe); paper, lumber, and wood products; mining (mostly coal); plastic products; cars and trucks; and apparel. Also, Alabama produces aerospace and electronic products, mostly in the Huntsville area, which is home of the NASA George C. Marshall Space Flight Center and the US Army Aviation and Missile Command, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal.

Alabama is also home to the largest industrial growth corridor in the nation, including the surrounding states of Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida, and Georgia. Most of this growth is due to Alabama's rapidly expanding automotive manufacturing industry. In Alabama alone since 1993, it has generated more than 67,800 new jobs. Alabama currently ranks 4th in the nation in automobile output.

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. 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.

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 and ProAssurance 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 and B. L. Harbert International which routinely are included in the Engineering News-Record lists of top design and international construction firms.

Huntsville is regarded for its high-technology driven economy and is known as the "Rocket City" due to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and the Redstone Arsenal. Huntsville's main economic influence is derived from aerospace and military technology. Redstone Arsenal, Cummings Research Park (CRP), The University of Alabama in Huntsville and NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center comprise the main hubs for the area's technology-driven economy. CRP is the second largest research park in the United States and the fourth largest in the world, and is over 38 years old. Huntsville is also home for commercial technology companies such as the network access company ADTRAN, computer graphics company Intergraph and design and manufacturer of IT infrastructure Avocent. Telecommunications provider Deltacom, Inc. and copper tube manufacturer and distributor Wolverine Tube are also based in Huntsville. Cinram manufactures and distributes 20th Century Fox DVDs and Blu-ray Discs out of their Huntsville plant. Sanmina-SCI also has a large presence in the area. Forty-two Fortune 500 companies have operations in Huntsville. In 2005, Forbes Magazine named the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area as 6th best place in the nation for doing business, and number one in terms of the number of engineers per total employment.

The city of Mobile, Alabama's only saltwater port, is a busy seaport on the Gulf of Mexico with inland waterway access to the Midwest via the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. The Port of Mobile is the 10th largest by tonnage in the United States. In May 2007, a site north of Mobile was selected by German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp for a $3.7 billion steel production plant, with the promise of 2,700 permanent jobs.

Alabama's tax structure is one the most regressive in the United States. Alabama levies a 2, 4, or 5 percent personal income tax, depending upon the amount earned and filing status, though taxpayers can deduct their federal income tax from their Alabama state tax, which favors wealthier Alabamians who typically pay federal taxes.

The state's general sales tax rate is 4%. The collection rate could be substantially higher, depending upon additional city and county sales taxes. For example, the total sales tax rate in Mobile is 9% and there is an additional restaurant tax of 5%, which means that a diner in Mobile would pay a 14% tax on a meal. Sales and excise taxes in Alabama account for 51 percent of all state and local revenue, compared with an average of about 36 percent nationwide. Alabama is also one of the few remaining states that levies a tax on food and medicine. Alabama's income tax on poor working families is among the nation's very highest. Alabama is the only state that levies income tax on a family of four with income as low as $4,600, which is barely one-quarter of the federal poverty line. Alabama's threshold is the lowest among the 41 states and the District of Columbia with income taxes.

The corporate income tax rate is currently 6.5%. The overall federal, state, and local tax burden in Alabama ranks the state as the second least tax-burdened state in the country. Property taxes are the lowest in the United States. The current state constitution requires a voter referendum to raise property taxes. One of its amendments lowered the percentage of fair-market value at which property was taxed and another declared that timber and farmland would be taxed on the value of its current use instead of what the land is worth.

Since Alabama's tax structure largely depends on consumer spending, it is subject to high variable budget structure. For example, in 2003 Alabama had an annual budget deficit as high as $670 million. It is one of only a few handful of states to accomplish large surpluses, with a budget surplus of nearly $1.2 billion in 2007, and estimated at more than $2.1 billion for 2008. However, the declining national economy in 2008 has eliminated that surplus and the state is again facing shortfall, with the governor declaring "proration," which will result in an immeditate education budget cut and school layoffs.

Alabama has five major interstate roads that cross it: I-65 runs north–south roughly through the middle of the state; I-59/I-20 travels from the central west border to Birmingham, where I-59 continues to the north-east corner of the state and I-20 continues east towards Atlanta; I-85 originates in Montgomery and runs east-northeast to the Georgia border, providing a main thoroughfare to Atlanta; and I-10 traverses the southernmost portion of the state, running from west to east through Mobile. Another interstate road, I-22, is currently under construction. When completed around 2012 it will connect Birmingham with Memphis, Tennessee. Several US Highways also pass through the state, such as US 11, US 29, US 31, US 43, US 72, US 78, US 80, US 82, US 84, US 98, US 231, and US 280.

Major airports in Alabama include Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM), Dothan Regional Airport (DHN), Huntsville International Airport (HSV), Mobile Regional Airport (MOB), Montgomery Regional Airport (MGM), Muscle Shoals – Northwest Alabama Regional Airport (MSL), Tuscaloosa Regional Airport (TCL), and Pryor Field Regional Airport (DCU). For rail transport, Amtrak schedules the Crescent, a daily passenger train, running from New York to New Orleans with stops at Anniston, Birmingham, and Tuscaloosa.

The foundational document for Alabama's government is the Alabama Constitution, which was ratified in 1901. At almost 800 amendments and 310,000 words, it is the world's longest constitution and is roughly forty times the length of the U.S. Constitution. There is a significant movement to rewrite and modernize Alabama's constitution. This movement is based upon the fact that Alabama's constitution highly centralizes power in Montgomery and leaves practically no power in local hands. Any policy changes proposed around the state must be approved by the entire Alabama legislature and, frequently, by state referendum. One criticism of the current constitution claims that its complexity and length were intentional to codify segregation and racism.

Alabama is divided into three equal branches: The legislative branch is the Alabama Legislature, a bicameral assembly composed of the Alabama House of Representatives, with 105 members, and the Alabama Senate, with 35 members. The Legislature is responsible for writing, debating, passing, or defeating state legislation.

The executive branch is responsible for the execution and oversight of laws. It is headed by the Governor of Alabama. Other members of executive branch include the cabinet, the Attorney General of Alabama, the Alabama Secretary of State, the Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries, the Alabama State Treasurer, and the Alabama State Auditor.

The judicial branch is responsible for interpreting the Constitution and applying the law in state criminal and civil cases. The highest court is the Supreme Court of Alabama.

Alabama has 67 counties. Each county has its own elected legislative branch, usually called the County Commission, which usually also has executive authority in the county. Due to the restraints placed in the Alabama Constitution, all but seven counties (Jefferson, Lee, Mobile, Madison, Montgomery, Shelby, and Tuscaloosa) in the state have little to no home rule. Instead, most counties in the state must lobby the Local Legislation Committee of the state legislature to get simple local policies such as waste disposal to land use zoning.

Alabama is an alcoholic beverage control state; the government holds a monopoly on the sale of alcohol. However, counties can declare themselves "dry"; the state does not sell alcohol in those areas.

The current governor of the state is Republican Bob Riley. The lieutenant governor is Jim Folsom Jr. The Democratic Party currently holds a large majority in both houses of the Legislature. Due to the Legislature's power to override a gubernatorial veto by a mere simple majority (most state Legislatures require a 2/3 majority to override a veto), the relationship between the executive and legislative branches can be easily strained when different parties control the branches.

During Reconstruction following the American Civil War, Alabama was occupied by federal troops of the Third Military District under General John Pope. In 1874, the political coalition known as the Redeemers took control of the state government from the Republicans, in part by suppressing the African American vote.

After 1890, a coalition of whites passed laws to segregate and disenfranchise black residents, a process completed in provisions of the 1901 constitution. Provisions which disfranchised African Americans also disfranchised poor whites, however. By 1941 more whites than blacks had been disfranchised: 600,000 to 520,000, although the impact was greater on the African-American community, as almost all of its citizens were disfranchised.

From 1901 to the 1960s, the state legislature failed to perform redistricting as population grew and shifted within the state. The result was a rural minority that dominated state politics until a series of court cases required redistricting in 1972.

With the disfranchisement of African Americans, the state became part of the "Solid South", a one-party system in which the Democratic Party became essentially the only political party in every Southern state. For nearly 100 years, local and state elections in Alabama were decided in the Democratic Party primary, with generally only token Republican challengers running in the General Election.

In the 1986 Democratic primary election, the then-incumbent Lieutenant Governor lost the Democratic nomination for Governor. The state Democratic party invalidated the election and placed the Lieutenant Governor's name on the ballot as the Democratic candidate instead of the candidate chosen in the primary. The voters of the state revolted at what they perceived as disenfranchisement of their right to vote and elected the Republican challenger Guy Hunt as Governor. This was the first Republican Governor elected in Alabama since Reconstruction. Since then, Republicans have been increasingly elected to state offices until in 2006 Democrats were barely holding a majority in the state legislature. Since 1986, only one Democrat, Don Siegelman, has managed to win the Governor's office. A corruption probe and eventual trial, the timing of which coincided with the 2006 state primary, relegated Siegelman to one term.

Alabama state politics gained nationwide and international attention in the 1950s and 1960s during the American Civil Rights Movement, when majority whites bureaucratically, and at times, violently resisted protests for electoral and social reform. George Wallace, the state's governor, remains a notorious and controversial figure. Only with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 did African Americans regain suffrage and other civil rights.

In 2007, the Alabama Legislature passed, and the Governor signed, a resolution expressing "profound regret" over slavery and its lingering impact. In a symbolic ceremony, the bill was signed in the Alabama State Capitol, which housed Congress of the Confederate States of America.

From 1876 through 1956, Alabama supported only Democratic presidential candidates, by large margins. 1960 was a curious election. The Democrats won with John F. Kennedy on the ballot, but the Democratic electors from Alabama gave 6 of their 11 electoral votes as a protest to Harry Byrd. In 1964, Republican Barry Goldwater carried the state, in part because of his opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which restored the franchise for African Americans.

In the 1968 presidential election, Alabama supported native son and American Independent Party candidate George Wallace over both Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey. In 1976, Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter from Georgia carried the state, the region, and the nation, but Democratic control of the region slipped after that.

Since 1980, conservative Alabama voters have increasingly voted for Republican candidates at the Federal level, especially in Presidential elections. By contrast, Democratic candidates have been elected to many state-level offices and comprise a longstanding majority in the Alabama Legislature; see Dixiecrat.

In 2004, George W. Bush won Alabama's nine electoral votes by a margin of 25 percentage points with 62.5% of the vote, mostly white voters. The eleven counties that voted Democratic were Black Belt counties, where African Americans are the majority racial group.

The state's two U.S. senators are Jefferson B. Sessions III and Richard C. Shelby, both Republicans.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, the state is represented by seven members, four of whom are Republicans: (Jo Bonner, Mike D. Rogers, Robert Aderholt, and Spencer Bachus) and three are Democrats: (Bobby Bright, Parker Griffith and Artur Davis).

Public primary and secondary education in Alabama is under the overview of the Alabama State Board of Education as well as local oversight by 67 county school boards and 60 city boards of education. Together, 1,541 individual schools provide education for 743,364 elementary and secondary students.

Public school funding is appropriated through the Alabama Legislature through the Education Trust Fund. In FY 2006–2007, Alabama appropriated $3,775,163,578 for primary and secondary education. That represented an increase of $444,736,387 over the previous fiscal year. In 2007, over 82 percent of schools made adequate yearly progress (AYP) toward student proficiency under the National No Child Left Behind law, using measures determined by the state of Alabama (not the Federal Government). In 2004, only 23 percent of schools met AYP.

However, while Alabama's public education system has improved, it still lags behind in achievement compared to other states. According to U.S. Census data, Alabama's high school graduation rate--75%--is the second lowest in the United States (after Mississippi). The largest educational gains were among people with some college education but without degrees.

Alabama's programs of higher education include 14 four-year public universities, numerous two-year community colleges, and 17 private, undergraduate and graduate universities. Public, post-secondary education in Alabama is overseen by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education. Colleges and universities in Alabama offer degree programs from 2-year associate degrees to 16 doctoral level programs.

Accreditation of academic programs is through the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges as well as a variety of subject focused national and international accreditation agencies.

Famous people from Alabama include Hank Aaron, Tallulah Bankhead, Charles Barkley, Hugo L. Black, Paul W. (Bear) Bryant, George Washington Carver, Nat King Cole, Courteney Cox Arquette, Mitch Holleman, Zelda Fitzgerald, Charles Ghigna, William C. Handy, Taylor Hicks, Bo Jackson, Jamey Johnson, Helen Keller, Coretta Scott King, Harper Lee, Joe Louis, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, John Hunt Morgan, Jim Nabors, Jesse Owens, Satchel Paige, Rosa Parks, Condoleezza Rice, Kenny Stabler, Bart Starr, Ruben Studdard, George Wallace, Booker T. Washington, Billy Williams, and Hank Williams.

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Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama Skyline.jpg

Birmingham (IPA: /ˈbɝmɪŋhæm/) is the largest city in the U.S. state of Alabama and is the county seat of Jefferson County. It also includes part of Shelby County. The population of the city was 227,690 as of 2002, and 242,000 according to the 2008 estimate. The Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area, as of the 2007 census estimates, has a population of 1,108,210. 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. If nearby counties Tuscaloosa, Etowah, Talladega, & Calhoun are added to the Greater Birmingham population it would exceed over 1.6 million as of 2008.

Birmingham was founded in 1871, just after the U.S. 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 centered around 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.

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.

Birmingham was founded on June 1, 1871, by real estate 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, run by the still prominent Yeilding family. The site of the railroad crossing was notable for the nearby deposits of iron ore, coal, and limestone - the three principal raw materials used in making steel. Birmingham is the only place worldwide where significant amounts of all three minerals can be found in such close proximity. From the start the new city was planned as a great center of industry. The founders borrowed the name of Birmingham, one of England's principal industrial cities, to advertise that point. Birmingham was off to a slow start: the 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". Optimistic that the rapidly growing city could be further improved, a group of local businessmen led by Courtney Shropshire formed an independent service club in 1917. The group would later incorporate and become the first chapter of Civitan International, now a worldwide organization.

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 several major cultural institutions, such as the Birmingham Museum of Art, were able to expand their scope.

In the 1950s and '60s Birmingham received national and international attention as a center of the civil rights struggle for African-Americans. The city was given the derisive nickname Bombingham because of a string of racially motivated bombings that took place during this time.Howard K. Smith, then a CBS correspondent, resigned from the network in 1961 in a dispute about a documentary that he was preparing on police violence against civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham. Smith then joined ABC, where he broadcast his Howard K. Smith: News and Comment program from 1962-1963 and was thereafter the network anchorman.

A watershed in the civil rights movement occurred in 1963 when Birmingham Civil Rights Movement leader Fred 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.

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. Recently Center Point incorporated its self as a new city in 2002, which caused the population to drop to 227,690 but since has increased to 242,000 as of 2008. Also, the growth of Birmingham's suburbs over that same period 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.

Birmingham occupies Jones Valley, flanked by long parallel mountain ridges (the tailing ends of the Appalachian foothills) 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.

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 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).

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.

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.

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. 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.

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 and ProAssurance 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 and B. L. Harbert International which routinely are included in the Engineering News-Record lists of top design and international construction firms.

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

Buffalo Rock, one of the major bottlers for Pepsi sodas, is based in Birmingham. Coca-Cola also has a bottling plant near the airport.

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.

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.

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: 11 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 schools. 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 two highly regarded prep schools: The Altamont School, located in Birmingham proper, and Indian Springs School in north Shelby County near Pelham.

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.

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 (there is another airport of the same name in Birmingham, England) which serves more than 3 million passengers every year. With more than 160 flights daily, the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International 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, Continental Airlines/Continental Express, US Airways/US Airways Express, Southwest Airlines, and Northwest Airlines/Northwest Airlink.

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.

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. 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.

As of the census 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. It should be noted that the MSA of Birmingham is closer to a 75% Caucasian 25% African-American split. Also the MSA crime rate is much lower and in line with other comparable Southern cities like Nashville or Knoxville. The MSA has been growing as well over the past 25 years as many Birmingham residents have moved to other cities within the MSA.

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.

Cities and suburbs are listed in order of population.

Crime is a challenge in Birmingham because of many residents leaving the city proper to move to the suburbs due to lower cost housing and better schools. Although homicide rates have remained at high levels for several years, the MSA crime statistics are not nearly as high. 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. Adding these stats in, the Bham MSA crime rate is in line with several low crime southern MSA such as Jacksonville, FL, and Charlotte, NC. Recently the A&E sitcom, "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.

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 state. 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, Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival and Opera Birmingham.

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. Birminghamtrends is Birmingham's Online Guide to the City's Nightlife. Birmingham also has a very popular local music scene that has made the city a breeding ground for some of the nation's best musicians.

Birmingham has its own Orange Lodge. Birmingham "Sons of William" LOL 1003 was instituted as a Lodge in January 2004. The man behind the formation of this lodge was Rev Paul Zahl. The lodge has a close relationship with Maghera "Sons of William" LOL 209 from Northern Ireland. The members of the Birmingham Lodge have travelled to Northern Ireland to participate in the Annual "Twelfth" parade.

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

Birmingham is home to numerous cultural festivals that feature music, films, and regional heritage. City Stages is a world-renowned music festival that takes place in Birmingham's Linn Park on Father's Day weekend. It offers three days of music from all genres on 11 stages. 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. 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 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.

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.

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 Hoover Gazette.

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, The 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.

Visitors and tourists can watch City Vision TV to find out where to eat, shop, and sight see around the Magic City. City Vision TV is a new, but growing, local station available in most hotel rooms throughout Greater Birmingham.

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Mobile, Alabama

Mobile County Alabama Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Mobile Highlighted.svg

Mobile (IPA: /moʊˈbiːl/) is the third most populous city in the Southern U.S. state of Alabama and is the county seat of Mobile County. It is located on the central Gulf Coast of the United States. The population within the city limits was 198,915 during the 2000 census. Mobile is the principal municipality of the Mobile Metropolitan Statistical Area, a region of 399,843 residents which is composed solely of Mobile County and is the second largest MSA in the state. Mobile is included in the Mobile-Daphne-Fairhope Combined Statistical Area with a total population of 540,258, the second largest CSA in the state.

Mobile began as the first capital of colonial French Louisiana in 1702. The city gained its name from the Native American Mobilian tribe that the French colonists found in the area of Mobile Bay. During its first 100 years, Mobile was a colony for France, then Britain, and lastly Spain. Mobile first became a part of the United States of America in 1813, left the United States with Alabama in 1861 to become a part of the Confederate States of America, and then returned to the United States in 1865.

Located at the junction of the Mobile River and Mobile Bay on the northern Gulf of Mexico, the city is the only seaport in Alabama. The Port of Mobile has always played a key role in the economic health of the city beginning with the city as a key trading center between the French and Native Americans down to its current role as the 10th largest port in the United States.

As one of the Gulf Coast's cultural centers, Mobile houses several art museums, a symphony orchestra, a professional opera, a professional ballet company, and a large concentration of historic architecture. Mobile is known for having the oldest organized Carnival celebrations in the United States, dating to its early colonial period. It was also host to the first formally organized Carnival mystic society or krewe in the United States, dating to 1830. People from Mobile are known as Mobilians.

The settlement of Mobile, then known as Fort Louis de la Louisiane, was first established in 1702, at Twenty-seven Mile Bluff on the Mobile River, as the first capital of the French colony of Louisiana. It was founded by French Canadian brothers Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville and Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, in order to establish control over France's Louisiana claims with Bienville having been made governor of French Louisiana in 1701. Mobile’s Roman Catholic parish was established on 20 July 1703, by Jean-Baptiste de la Croix de Chevrières de Saint-Vallier, Bishop of Quebec. The parish was the first established on the Gulf Coast of the United States. The year 1704 saw the arrival of 23 women to the colony aboard the Pélican, along with yellow fever introduced to the ship in Havana. Though most of the "Pélican girls" recovered, a large number of the existing colonists and the neighboring Native Americans died from the illness. This early period also saw the arrival of the first African slaves aboard a French supply ship from Saint-Domingue. The population of the colony fluctuated over the next few years, growing to 279 persons by 1708 yet descending to 178 persons two years later due to disease.

These additional outbreaks of disease and a series of floods caused Bienville to order the town relocated several miles downriver to its present location at the confluence of the Mobile River and Mobile Bay in 1711. A new earth and palisade Fort Louis was constructed at the new site during this time. By 1712, when Antoine Crozat took over administration of the colony by royal appointment, the colony boasted a population of 400 persons. The capital of Louisiana was moved to Biloxi in 1720, leaving Mobile in the role of military and trading center. In 1723 the construction of a new brick fort with a stone foundation began and it was renamed Fort Condé in honor of Louis Henri, Duc de Bourbon and prince of Condé.

In 1763, the Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the French and Indian War. The treaty ceded Mobile and the surrounding territory to the Kingdom of Great Britain, and it was made a part of the expanded British West Florida colony. The British changed the name of Fort Condé to Fort Charlotte, after Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, King George III's queen. The British were eager not to lose any useful inhabitants and promised religious tolerance to the French colonists, ultimately 112 French Mobilians remained in the colony. In 1766 the population was estimated to be 860, though the town's borders were smaller than they had been during the French colonial efforts. During the American Revolutionary War, West Florida and Mobile became a refuge for loyalists fleeing the other colonies.

The Spanish captured Mobile during the Battle of Fort Charlotte in 1780. They wished to eliminate any British threat to their Louisiana colony, which they had received from France in 1763s Treaty of Paris. Their actions were also condoned by the revolting American colonies due to the fact that West Florida, for the most part, remained loyal to the British Crown. The fort was renamed Fortaleza Carlota, with the Spanish holding Mobile as a part of Spanish West Florida until 1813, when it was seized by the U.S. General James Wilkinson during the War of 1812.

When Mobile was made a part of the Mississippi Territory in 1813, the population had dwindled to roughly 300 people. The city was included in the Alabama Territory in 1817, after Mississippi gained statehood. Alabama was granted statehood in 1819 and Mobile's population had increased to 809 by that time. As the inland areas of Alabama and Mississippi were settled by farmers and the plantation economy became established, Mobile's population exploded. It came to be settled by merchants, attorneys, mechanics, doctors and others seeking to capitalize on trade with these upriver areas. With its location at the mouth of the Mobile River, a river system that served as the principal navigational access for most of Alabama and a large part of Mississippi, Mobile was well situated for this purpose. By 1822 the population was 2800.

From the 1830s onward Mobile expanded into a city of commerce with a primary focus on the cotton trade. The waterfront was developed with wharves, terminal facilities, and fire-proof brick warehouses. The exports of cotton grew in proportion to the amounts being produced in the Black Belt and by 1840 Mobile was second only to New Orleans in cotton exports in the nation. With the economy so focused on this one crop, Mobile's fortunes were always tied to those of cotton and the city weathered many financial crises during this period. Though Mobile had a relatively small slave owning population itself compared to the inland areas, it was the slave-trading center of the state until surpassed by Montgomery in the 1850s. By 1860 Mobile's population within the city limits had reached 29,258 people, it was the 27th largest city in the United States and 4th largest in what would soon be the Confederate States of America. The population in the whole of Mobile County, including the city, consisted of 29,754 free citizens, of which 1195 were African American. Additionally, there were 1785 slave owners, holding 11,376 slaves, for a total county population of 41,130 people.

During the American Civil War, Mobile was a Confederate city. The first submarine to successfully sink an enemy ship, the H. L. Hunley, was built in Mobile. One of the most famous naval engagements of the war was the Battle of Mobile Bay, resulting in the Union taking possession of Mobile Bay on 5 August 1864. On 12 April 1865, 3 days after the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Courthouse, the city of Mobile surrendered to the Union army to avoid destruction following the Union victories at the Battle of Spanish Fort and the Battle of Fort Blakely. Ironically, on 25 May 1865, the city suffered loss when some three hundred people died as a result of an explosion at a federal ammunition depot on Beauregard Street. The explosion left a 30-foot (9 m) deep hole at the depot's location, sunk ships docked on the Mobile River, and the resulting fires destroyed the northern portion of the city.

Federal Reconstruction in Mobile began after the Civil War and effectively ended in 1874 when the local Democrats gained control of the city government. The last quarter of the 19th century was a time of economic depression and municipal insolvency for Mobile. One example can be provided by the value of Mobile's exports during this period of depression. The value of exports leaving the city fell from $9 million in 1878 to $3 million in 1882.

The turn of the century brought the Progressive Era to Mobile and saw Mobile's economic structure evolve along with a significant increase in population. The population increased from around 40,000 in 1900 to 60,000 by 1920. During this time the city received $3 million in federal grants for harbor improvements, which drastically deepened the shipping channels in the harbor. During and after World War I manufacturing became increasingly vital to Mobile's economic health with shipbuilding and steel production being two of the most important. During this time social equality and race relations in Mobile worsened, however. In 1902 the city government passed Mobile's first segregation ordinance, one that segregated the city streetcars. Mobile's African American population responded to this with a two-month boycott which was ultimately unsuccessful. After this, Mobile's de facto segregation would increasingly be replaced with legislated segregation.

World War II led to a massive military effort causing a considerable increase in Mobile's population, largely due to the huge influx of workers coming into Mobile to work in the shipyards and at the Brookley Army Air Field. Between 1940 and 1943, more than 89,000 people moved into Mobile to work for war effort industries. Mobile was one of eighteen U.S. cities producing Liberty ships at its Alabama Drydock and Shipbuilding Company to support the war effort by producing ships faster than the Axis powers could sink them. Gulf Shipbuilding Corporation, a subsidiary of Waterman Steamship Corporation, focused on building freighters, Fletcher class destroyers, and minesweepers.

The years after World War II brought about changes in Mobile's social structure and economy. Instead of shipbuilding being a primary economic force, the paper and chemical industries began to take over and most of the old military bases were converted to civilian uses. This period saw the end of racial segregation with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Though many in Mobile had considered the city to be tolerant and racially accommodating compared to other cities in the South, with the police force and one local college becoming integrated in the 1950s and the voluntary desegregation of buses and lunch counters by the early 1960s, Mobile's African American citizens were not nearly as content with the status quo as some believed. In 1963 three African American students brought a case against the Mobile County School Board for being denied admission to Murphy High School. The court ordered that the three students be admitted to Murphy for the 1964 school year, leading to the desegregation of Mobile County's school system.

Mobile's economy took a large hit in late 1960s with the closing of Brookley Air Force Base. This and other factors ushered in a period of economic depression that lasted through the 1970s. Beginning in the late 1980s, the city council and mayor began an effort termed the "String of Pearls Initiative" to make Mobile into a competitive, urban city. This effort would see the building of numerous new facilities and projects around the city and the restoration of hundreds of other historic downtown buildings and homes. This period also saw a reduction in the rate of violent crime and a concerted effort by city and county leaders to attract new business ventures to the area. The effort continues into the present with new city government leadership. Shipbuilding began to make a major comeback in Mobile with the founding in 1999 of Austal USA, a joint venture of Australian shipbuilder, Austal, and Bender Shipbuilding.

Mobile is located at 30°40'46" North, 88°6'12" West (30.679523, -88.103280), in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Alabama. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 412.9 km² (159.4 mi²). 305.4 km² (117.9 mi²) of it is land and 107.6 km² (41.5 mi²) of it is water. The elevation in Mobile ranges from 10 ft (3 m) on Water Street in downtown to 211 ft (64 m) at the Mobile Regional Airport.

Mobile's geographical location on the Gulf of Mexico provides a mild subtropical climate, with an average annual temperature of 67.5 °F (20 °C). Normal average January through December temperatures range from 40 °F (4 °C) minimum and 91 °F (33 °C) maximum. Mobile has hot, humid summers and mild, rainy winters. A 2007 study by WeatherBill, Inc. determined that Mobile is the wettest city in the contiguous 48 states, with 67 inches (170 cm) of average annual rainfall. Mobile averages 59 rainy days per year. Snow is rare in Mobile, with the last snowfall being on 18 December 1996.

Being on the Gulf, Mobile is occasionally affected by major tropical storms and hurricanes. Mobile suffered a major natural disaster on the night of 12 September 1979 when Category 3 Hurricane Frederic passed over the heart of the city. The storm caused tremendous damage to Mobile and the surrounding area. Mobile received moderate damage from Hurricane Opal on 4 October 1995 and Hurricane Ivan on 16 September 2004. Mobile also received moderate damage from Hurricane Katrina on 29 August 2005. A storm surge of 11.45 feet (3.49 m) damaged eastern sections of Mobile and caused extensive flooding in downtown.

Mobile is home to an array of cultural influences with its French, British, Spanish, African, Creole and Catholic heritage distinguishing it from all other cities in the state of Alabama. The annual Carnival celebration is perhaps the best illustration of this. Carnival in Mobile has evolved over the course of 300 years from a sedate French Catholic tradition into a mainstream multi-week celebration across the spectrum of cultures.

Mobile's Carnival celebrations start as early as November with several balls, with the parades usually beginning after January 5. Carnival celebrations end promptly at the stroke of midnight on Mardi Gras, signaling the beginning of Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent. Mardi Gras, though literally meaning Fat Tuesday and thus the last day of the Carnival season, is normally used locally to refer to the entire Carnival season. During this time Mobile's mystic societies build colorful Carnival floats and parade throughout downtown with masked society members tossing small gifts, known as throws, to the parade spectators. Mobile's mystic societies also give formal masquerade balls, which are almost always invitation only and are oriented to adults.

Mobile first celebrated Carnival in 1703 when French settlers began the festivities at the Old Mobile Site. Mobile's first Carnival society began in 1711 with the Boeuf Gras Society (Fatted Ox Society). Mobile's Cowbellion de Rakin Society was the first formally organized and masked mystic society in the United States to celebrate with a parade in 1830. The Cowbellions got their start when a cotton factor from Pennsylvania, Michael Krafft, began a parade with rakes, hoes, and cowbells. The Cowbellians introduced horse-drawn floats to the parades in 1840 with a parade entitled, “Heathen Gods and Goddesses. The Striker's Independent Society was formed in 1843 and is the oldest remaining mystic society in the United States. Carnival celebrations in Mobile were canceled during the American Civil War. Mardi Gras parades were revived by Joe Cain in 1866 when he paraded through the city streets on Fat Tuesday while costumed as a fictional Chickasaw chief named Slacabamorinico, irreverently celebrating the day in front of the occupying Union Army troops. The year 2002 saw Mobile's Tricentennial celebrated with parades that represented all of Mobile's mystic societies.

In 2009, Mardi Gras in Mobile reached the 1,000,000 attendee milestone during the 5-day Mardi Gras celebration for the first time in the city's history.

The National African American Archives and Museum features the history of "Colored Carnival", African American participation in Mobile's Mardi Gras, authentic artifacts from the era of slavery, and portraits and biographies of famous African Americans. The University of South Alabama Archives houses primary source material relating to the history of Mobile and southern Alabama as well as the university's history. The archives are located on the ground floor of the USA Spring Hill Campus and are open to the general public. The Mobile Municipal Archives contains the extant records of the City of Mobile, dating from the city's creation as a municipality by the Mississippi Territory in 1814. The majority of the original records of Mobile's colonial history (1702-1813) are housed in Paris, London, Seville, and Madrid. The Mobile Genealogical Society Library and Media Center is located at the Holy Family Catholic Church and School complex and features written and published materials for use in genealogical research. The Mobile Public Library system serves Mobile and consists of eight branches across Mobile County, featuring its own large local history and genealogy division housed in a facility next to the newly restored and enlarged Ben May Main Library on Government Street. The Saint Ignatius Archives, Museum and Theological Research Library contains primary sources, artifacts, documents, photographs and publications that pertain to the history of Saint Ignatius Church and School, the Catholic history of the city, and the history of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Mobile Museum of Art features European, Non-Western, American, and Decorative Arts collections. The Saenger Theatre of Mobile was opened in 1927 and is a modern dynamic performing arts center. It is home to the Mobile Symphony and Space 301, a contemporary art gallery. It also serves as a small concert venue for the city. The Mobile Civic Center contains three facilities under one roof. The 400,000 sq ft (37,161 m2) building has an arena, a theater and an exposition hall. It is the primary concert venue for the city and hosts a wide variety of events. It is home to the Mobile Opera and the Mobile Ballet. The 60-year old Mobile Opera averages about 1,200 attendees per performance. A wide variety of events are held at Mobile's Arthur C. Outlaw Convention Center. It contains a 100,000 sq ft (9,290 m2) exhibit hall, a 15,000 sq ft (1,394 m2) grand ballroom, and sixteen meeting rooms. Additionally, the city is host to BayFest, an annual three day music festival with over 125 live musical acts on nine stages.

Mobile is home to a variety of museums. Battleship Memorial Park is a military park on the shore of Mobile Bay and features the World War II era battleship USS Alabama (BB-60), the World War II era submarine USS Drum (SS-228), Korean War and Vietnam War Memorials, and a variety of historical military equipment. The Museum of Mobile chronicles 300 years of Mobile history and material culture and is housed in the historic Old City Hall (1857). The Oakleigh Historic Complex features three house museums that interpret the lives of people from three levels of Mobile society in the mid-19th century. The Mobile Carnival Museum, which houses the city's Mardi Gras history and memorabilia, documents the variety of floats, costumes, and displays seen during the history of the festival season. The Bragg-Mitchell Mansion (1855), Richards DAR House (1860), and the Conde-Charlotte House (1822) are historic antebellum house museums. Fort Morgan, Fort Gaines, and Historic Blakeley State Park figure into local American Civil War history. The Mobile Medical Museum is housed in the historic Vincent-Doan House (1827) and features artifacts and resources that chronicle the history of medicine in Mobile. The Phoenix Fire Museum is located in the restored Phoenix Volunteer Fire Company Number 6 building and features the history of fire companies in Mobile from their organization in 1838. The Mobile Police Department Museum features exhibits that chronicle the history of law enforcement in Mobile. The Gulf Coast Exploreum is a non-profit science center located in downtown. It features permanent and traveling exhibits, an IMAX dome theater, a digital 3D virtual theater, and a hands-on chemistry laboratory. The Dauphin Island Sea Lab is located south of the city near the mouth of Mobile Bay. It houses the Estuarium, an aquarium which illustrates the four habitats of the Mobile Bay ecosystem: the river delta, bay, barrier islands and Gulf of Mexico.

The Mobile Botanical Gardens feature a variety of flora spread over 100 acres (40 ha). It contains the Millie McConnell Rhododendron Garden with 1,000 evergreen and native azaleas and the 30-acre (12 ha) Longleaf Pine Habitat. The Bellingrath Gardens and Home are located on Fowl River and contain 65 acres (26 ha) of landscaped gardens and a 10,500 sq ft (975 m2) mansion dating to the 1930s. The 5 Rivers Delta Resource Center is a new facility for exploring the Mobile, Spanish, Tensaw, Appalachee, and Blakeley River delta.

Mobile has more than 45 public parks with some that are of special interest. Bienville Square is a historic park dating to 1850 in the Lower Dauphin Street Historic District and is named for Mobile’s founder, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville. This park was once a principle gathering place for the citizens of the city and remains popular today. Cathedral Square is a performing arts park in the Lower Dauphin Street Historic District overlooked by the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Fort Condé is a reconstruction of the original Fort Condé, built on the old fort's footprint. It is the city’s official welcome center and living history museum. Spanish Plaza is a downtown park that honors the Spanish occupation of the city between 1780 and 1813. It features the "Arches of Friendship", a fountain presented to Mobile by the city of Málaga, Spain. Langan Park is a 720-acre (291 ha) municipal park that features lakes and natural spaces. It is home to the Mobile Museum of Art, Azalea City Golf Course, Mobile Botanical Gardens and Playhouse in the Park.

Mobile has antebellum architectural examples of Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, and Creole cottage. Later architectural styles found in the city include the various Victorian types, shotgun types, Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, Beaux-Arts and many others. The city currently has nine major historic districts consisting of Old Dauphin Way, Oakleigh Garden, Lower Dauphin Street, Leinkauf, De Tonti Square, Church Street East, Ashland Place, Campground, and Midtown.

Mobile has a number of historic structures spread throughout the city. Some of Mobile's historic churches include Christ Church Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Emanuel AME Church, Government Street Presbyterian Church, St. Louis Street Missionary Baptist Church, State Street AME Zion Church, Stone Street Baptist Church, and Trinity Episcopal Church. Two historic Roman Catholic convents survive, the Convent and Academy of the Visitation and the Convent of Mercy. Barton Academy is a historic Greek Revival school building and local landmark on Government Street. The Bishop Portier House and the Carlen House are two of the many surviving examples of Creole cottages in the city. The Mobile City Hospital and the United States Marine Hospital are both restored Greek Revival hospital buildings that predate the Civil War. The Washington Firehouse No. 5 is a Greek Revival fire station, built in 1851. The Hunter House is an example of the Italianate style and was built by a successful 19th century African American businesswoman. The Shepard House is a good example of the Queen Anne style. The Scottish Rite Temple is the only surviving example of Egyptian Revival architecture in the city. The Gulf, Mobile, and Ohio Passenger Terminal is an example of the Mission Revival style.

The city has several historic cemeteries that were established after the colonial era. They replaced Mobile's colonial Campo Santo, of which no traces remain. The Church Street Graveyard contains above-ground tombs and monuments spread over 4 acres (2 ha) and was founded in 1819, during the height of the yellow fever epidemics. The nearby 120-acre (49 ha) Magnolia Cemetery was established in 1836 and was Mobile's primary burial site during the 19th century with approximately 80,000 burials. It features tombs and many intricately carved monuments and statues. The Catholic Cemetery was established in 1848 by the Archdiocese of Mobile and covers more than 150 acres (61 ha). It contains plots for the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, Little Sisters of the Poor, Sisters of Charity, and Sisters of Mercy, in addition to many other historically significant burials. Mobile's Jewish community dates back to the 1820s and the city has two historic Jewish cemeteries, Ahavas Chesed Cemetery and Sha'arai Shomayim Cemetery.

The 2000 census determined that there were 198,915 people residing within the city limits. Mobile is the center of Alabama's second-largest metropolitan area, which consists of all of Mobile County. Metropolitan Mobile (MSA) had a population of 399,843 as of 2000 census.

There were 73,057 households out of which 22,225 had children under the age of 18 living with them, 29,963 were married couples living together, 15,360 had a female householder with no husband present, 3,488 had a male householder with no wife present, and 24,246 were non-families. 20,957 of all households were made up of individuals and 7,994 had someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The racial makeup of the city was 48.2% White, 47.9% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American, 1.8% Asian, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 0.5% from other races, 0.9% from two or more races, and 1.2% of the population were Latino. The average household size was 2.59 and the average family size was 3.23.

The population was spread out with 7.1% under the age of 5, 73.6% over 18, and 13.4% over 65. The median age was 35.6 years. The male population was 47.6% and the female population was 52.4%. The median income for a household in the city was $37,439, and the median income for a family was $45,217. The per capita income for the city was $21,612. 21.3% of the population and 17.6% of families were below the poverty line.

Since 1985 the government of Mobile has consisted of a mayor and a seven member city council. The mayor is elected at-large and the council members are elected from each of the seven city council districts. A supermajority of five votes is required to conduct council business. This form of city government was chosen by the voters after the previous form of government, which used three city commissioners who were elected at-large, was ruled to substantially dilute the African American vote in the 1975 case Bolden v. City of Mobile. Municipal elections are held every four years.

The current mayor, Sam Jones, was elected in September 2005 and is the first African American mayor of Mobile. As of January 2006, the city council is composed of Fredrick Richardson, Jr. from District 1, William Carroll from District 2, Clinton Johnson from District 3, John C. Williams from District 4, Reggie Copeland, Sr. from District 5, Connie Hudson from District 6, and Gina Gregory from District 7. Reggie Copeland, Sr. is currently serving as Council President with Fredrick Richardson, Jr. serving as Council Vice President.

In January 2008, the city hired EDSA, an urban design firm, to create a new comprehensive master plan for the downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods. The planning area is bordered on the east by the Mobile River, to the south by Interstate 10 and Duval Street, to the west by Houston Street and to the north by Three Mile Creek and the neighborhoods north of Martin Luther King Avenue.

Public schools in Mobile are operated by the Mobile County Public School System. The Mobile County Public School System has an enrollment of over 65,000 students, employs approximately 8,500 public school employees, and had a budget in 2005-2006 of $617,162,616. The State of Alabama operates the Alabama School of Mathematics and Science on Dauphin Street in Mobile, which boards advanced Alabama high school students. It was founded in 1989 to identify, challenge, and educate future leaders.

Mobile also has a large number of private schools, most of them being parochial in nature. Many of these belong to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mobile. The private Catholic institutions include McGill-Toolen Catholic High School (1896), Corpus Christi School, Little Flower Catholic School (1934), Most Pure Heart of Mary Catholic School (1900), Saint Dominic School (1961), Saint Ignatius School (1952), Saint Mary Catholic School (1867), Saint Pius X Catholic School (1957), and Saint Vincent DePaul Catholic School (1976). The private Protestant institutions include St. Paul's Episcopal School (1947), Mobile Christian School (1961), St. Lukes Episcopal School (1961), Faith Academy (1967), and the Cottage Hill Baptist School System (1970), which operates Cottage Hill Baptist School and Cottage Hill Christian Academy. UMS-Wright Preparatory School (1893) is an independent, non-religious, co-educational preparatory school.

Colleges and universities in Mobile include the University of South Alabama, Spring Hill College, the University of Mobile, Faulkner University, and Bishop State Community College.

The University of South Alabama is a public, doctoral-level university established in 1963. The university is composed of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Mitchell College of Business, the College of Education, the College of Engineering, the College of Medicine, the Doctor of Pharmacy Program, the College of Nursing, the School of Computer and Information Sciences, and the School of Continuing Education and Special Programs.

Bishop State Community College, founded in 1927, is a historically African American community college. Bishop State has four campuses in Mobile and offers a wide array of associate degrees.

Faulkner University is a four-year private Church of Christ-affiliated university based in Montgomery, Alabama. The Mobile campus was established in 1975 and offers bachelor's degrees in Business Administration, Management of Human Resources, and Criminal Justice. It also offers associate degrees in Business Administration, Business Information Systems, Computer & Information Science, Criminal Justice, Informatics, Legal Studies, Arts, and Science.

Spring Hill College, chartered in 1830, was the first Catholic college in the southeastern U.S. and is the third oldest Jesuit college in the country. This four-year private college offers graduate programs in Business Administration, Education, Liberal Arts, Nursing (MSN), and Theological Studies. Undergraduate divisions and programs include the Division of Business, the Communications/Arts Division, International Studies, Interdivisional Studies, the Language and Literature Division, Nursing (BSN), Philosophy and Theology, Political Science, the Sciences Division, the Social Sciences Division, and the Teacher Education Division.

The University of Mobile is a four-year private Baptist-affiliated university that was founded in 1961. It consists of the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business, School of Christian Studies, School of Education, the School of Leadership Development, and the School of Nursing.

Mobile serves the central Gulf Coast as a regional center for medicine. The city is served by over 850 physicians and 175 dentists. There are four major medical centers within the city limits: Mobile Infirmary Medical Center with 704 beds, Springhill Medical Center with 252 beds, Providence Hospital with 349 beds, and the University of South Alabama Medical Center with 346 beds and a level I trauma center. Additionally, the University of South Alabama also operates USA Children's & Women's Hospital with 219 beds, dedicated exclusively to the care of children and women, and Mobile Infirmary Medical Center operates Infirmary West with 100 acute care beds. In 2008, the University of South Alabama opened the USA Mitchell Cancer Center Institute. The center is home to the first academic cancer research center in the Gulf Coast region. BayPointe Hospital and Children’s Residential Services is a 94-bed psychiatric hospital that houses a residential unit for children, an acute unit for children and adolescents, and an involuntary hospital unit for adults undergoing evaluation ordered by the Mobile Probate Court. The city has a broad array of outpatient surgical centers, emergency clinics, home health care services, assisted-living facilities and skilled nursing facilities.

Aerospace, retail, services, construction, medicine, and manufacturing are Mobile's major industries. After experiencing economic decline for several decades, Mobile's economy began to rebound in the late 1980s. Between 1993 and 2003 13,983 new jobs were created as 87 new companies were founded and 399 existing companies were expanded. 1,700 new jobs were created from February 2003 to February 2004. Following the global economic downturn, the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated Mobile's unemployment rate at 7.8% in January 2009.

Mobile's Alabama State Docks underwent the largest expansion in its history by expanding its container processing and storage facility and increasing container storage at the docks by over 1,000% at a cost of over $300 million, thus positioning Mobile for rapid container processing growth. As of 2006, the Port of Mobile was the 10th largest by tonnage in the United States.

In 2005 Austal USA, based in Mobile, expanded their production facility for US defense and commercial aluminium shipbuilding. Austal announced in late December upon winning another multi billion dollar defense contract it will yet again expand its facilities in downtown. In 2007 German steel manufacturer ThyssenKrupp announced plans for a $4.2 billion steel mill, which upon completion in late 2009, will become the largest steel plant in the world with over 1,200 acres under roof at 7.7 million square feet. The new plant is currently under construction in northern Mobile County. Company officials state that 2,700 permanent jobs will be added to the local economy.

The Brookley Complex, also known as the Mobile Downtown Airport, is an industrial complex and airport located 3 miles (5 km) south of the central business district of the city. It is currently the largest industrial and transportation complex in the region with over 100 companies, many of which are aerospace, and 4000 employees on 1,700 acres (688 ha). Brookley includes the largest private employer in Mobile County, Mobile Aerospace Engineering, a subsidiary of Singapore Technologies Engineering.

Local airline passengers are served by the Mobile Regional Airport which directly connects to five major hub airports: Charlotte, Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, and Memphis. It is served by American Airlines, Continental Express, Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlink and US Airways Express. The Brookley Complex serves corporate, cargo and private cargo aircraft.

Mobile is served by seven railroads. Five of these are Class I railroads and include the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), Canadian National Railway (CNR), CSX Transportation (CSX), the Kansas City Southern Railway (KCS), and the Norfolk Southern Railway (NS). All five of these converge at the Port of Mobile, which provides intermodal freight transport service to companies engaged in importing and exporting. Mobile is also served by a switching railroad, the Terminal Railway of Alabama State Docks (TASD). The seventh railroad is the Central Gulf Railroad, which is a rail ship service to Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz in Mexico. The city was served by Amtrak's Sunset Limited passenger train service until 2005, when the service was suspended due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

Two major interstate highways and a spur converge in Mobile. Interstate 10 runs northeast to southwest across the city while Interstate 65 starts in Mobile at Interstate 10 and runs north. Interstate 165 connects to Interstate 65 north of the city in Prichard and joins Interstate 10 in downtown Mobile. Mobile is well served by many major highway systems. United States Highways US 31, US 43, US 45, US 90 and US 98 radiate from Mobile traveling east, west, and north. Mobile has three routes east across the Mobile River and Mobile Bay into neighboring Baldwin County, Alabama. Interstate 10 leaves downtown through the George Wallace Tunnel under the river and then over the bay across the Jubilee Parkway to Spanish Fort/Daphne. US 98 leaves downtown through the Bankhead Tunnel under the river onto Blakeley Island and then over the bay across the Battleship Parkway into Spanish Fort, Alabama. US 90 travels over the Cochrane-Africatown USA Bridge to the north of downtown onto Blakeley Island where it becomes co-routed with US 98.

Mobile's public transportation is the Wave Transit System which features buses with 18 fixed routes and neighborhood service. The Wave Transit System also operates the Moda! electric trolley service in downtown Mobile with 22 stops Monday through Saturday. Baylinc is a public transportation bus service provided by the Baldwin Rural Transit System in cooperation with the Wave Transit System that provides service between eastern Baldwin County and downtown Mobile. Baylinc operates Monday through Friday. Greyhound Lines provides intercity bus service between Mobile and many locations throughout the United States. Mobile is served by several taxi and limousine services.

The Port of Mobile has public, deepwater terminals with direct access to 1,500 miles (2,400 km) of inland and intracoastal waterways serving the Great Lakes, the Ohio and Tennessee river valleys (via the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway), and the Gulf of Mexico. The Alabama State Port Authority owns and operates the public terminals at the Port of Mobile. The public terminals handle containerized, bulk, breakbulk, roll-on/roll-off, and heavy lift cargoes. The port is also home to private bulk terminal operators, as well as a number of highly specialized shipbuilding and repair companies with two of the largest floating dry docks on the Gulf Coast.

The city is home port for Carnival Cruise Lines' MS Holiday cruise ship which sails on four and five day itineraries through the Western Caribbean from the Alabama Cruise Terminal on Water Street. The Holiday will be discontinued in mid-2009, with the Fantasy replacing it.

Mobile's first and only web-based interactive cultured-living portal is The Mobilian.

Mobile's Press-Register is Alabama's oldest active newspaper, dating back to 1813. The paper focuses on Mobile and Baldwin counties and the city of Mobile, but also serves southwestern Alabama and southeastern Mississippi. Mobile's alternative newspaper is the Lagniappe. The Mobile area's local magazine is Mobile Bay Monthly.

Mobile is served locally by four television stations: WPMI 15 (NBC), WKRG 5 (CBS), WALA 10 (FOX), and WBPG 55 (CW). The regional area is also served by WEAR 3 (ABC) and WJTC 44, an independent station. They are both based in Pensacola, Florida. Mobile is included in the Mobile-Pensacola-Fort Walton Beach designated market area, as defined by Nielsen Media Research, and is ranked 61st in the United States for the 2007-08 television season.

Thirteen FM radio stations transmit from Mobile: WABB-FM, WAVH, WBHY, WBLX, WDLT, WHIL, WKSJ, WKSJ-HD2, WMXC, WMXC-HD2, WQUA, WRKH, and WRKH-HD2. Nine AM radio stations transmit from Mobile: WABB, WBHY, WGOK, WIJD, WLPR, WLVV, WMOB, WNTM, and WXQW. The content ranges from Christian Contemporary to Hip hop to Top 40. Arbitron ranks Mobile's radio market as 93rd in the United States as of autumn 2007.

Mobile is the home of Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The football stadium opened in 1948. With a current capacity of 40,646, Ladd-Peebles Stadium is the 4th largest stadium in the state. Ladd-Peebles Stadium has been home to the Senior Bowl since 1951, featuring the best college seniors in NCAA football. The GMAC Bowl has been played since 1999 featuring opponents from the Mid-American Conference and Conference USA. Since 1988, Ladd-Peebles Stadium has hosted the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic. The top graduating high school seniors from their respective states compete each June. The public Mobile Tennis Center includes over 50 courts, all lighted and hard-court. For golfers, Magnolia Grove, part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, has 36 holes. The Falls course was recently named the best par 3 course in America. Since 1999, the LPGA Tournament of Champions has been played annually at Magnolia Grove. The Crossings course is home of this tournament. Beginning in 2008, the Bell Micro LPGA Classic will also be held in Mobile. Mobile is also home to the Azalea Trail Run, which races through historic midtown and downtown Mobile. This 10k run has been an annual event since 1978. The Azalea Trail Run is one of the premier 10k road races in the U.S., attracting runners from all over the world. Mobile's Hank Aaron Stadium is the home of the Mobile BayBears minor league baseball team. As of December 2007, Mobile's University of South Alabama approved a NCAA Football program to be played at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

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Source : Wikipedia