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Birmingham ( , ) is the largest city in the state of Alabamamarker in the United Statesmarker. It is the county seat of Jefferson Countymarker and includes part of Shelby Countymarker. According to a 2007 estimate, the city had a population of 229,800. The Birmingham-Hoovermarker Metropolitan Area, as of the 2008 census estimates, has a population of 1,198,932. It is also the largest city in the Birmingham-Hoover-Cullmanmarker Combined Statistical Area, colloquially known as Greater Birminghammarker, which contains roughly one quarter of the population of Alabama.

Birmingham was founded in 1871, just after the American Civil War, as an industrial enterprise. It was named after Birminghammarker, 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 Pittsburghmarker in the north, Birmingham's major industries were iron and steel production.

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

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.

History

Founding and early growth

Panorama of Birmingham, Alabama c.1916


Birmingham was founded on June 1, 1871, by cotton gin promoters who sold lots near the planned crossing of the Alabama & Chattanooga and South & North Alabama railroads. The first business at that crossroads was the trading post and country store 's. 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 proximity. From the start the new city was planned as a great center of industry. The founders borrowed the name of Birminghammarker, one of Englandmarker'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 Streetmarker 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 Song of The South" 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 Earthmarker". 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'smarker tower and Oak Mountain State Parkmarker.

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 Artmarker, were able to expand their scope.

Birmingham Civil Rights Movement

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

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

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

Recent history



In the 1970s urban renewal efforts focused around the development of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, which developed into a major medical and research center. In 1971 Birmingham celebrated its centennial with a round of public works improvements, including the upgrading of Vulcan Parkmarker. 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 Pointmarker incorporated its self as a new city in 2002, which caused the population to drop to 227,690. Also, the growth of Birmingham's suburbs over that same period 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.

Geography and climate

Geography



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

Red Mountainmarker 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 Brookmarker, Vestavia Hillsmarker, Homewoodmarker, and Hoovermarker. 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 Mountainmarker, located due east of the heart of the city, is home to Ruffner Mountain Nature Center, one of the largest urban nature reserves in the United States.

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

Climate

Climate of Birmingham, Alabama
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.

Monthly Normal and Record High and Low Temperatures
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Rec High °F (°C) 81 (27.2) 83 (28.3) 89 (31.7) 92 (33.3) 99 (37.2) 102 (38.9) 106 (41.1) 103 (39.4) 100 (37.8) 94 (34.4) 85 (29.4) 80 (26.7)
Norm High °F (°C) 53.2 (11.8) 58.6 (14.8) 68.5 (20.3) 74.1 (23.4) 82.6 (28.1) 87.8 (31.0) 90.8 (32.7) 90.7 (32.6) 87.9 (31.1) 74.9 (23.8) 65.5 (18.6) 57.0 (13.9)
Norm Low °F (°C) 31.8 (-0.1) 34.6 (1.6) 42.4 (5.8) 48.4 (9.1) 57.6 (14.2) 65.4 (18.6) 69.7 (20.9) 69.4 (20.8) 64.6 (18.1) 51.9 (11.1) 42.6 (5.9) 34.8 (1.6)
Rec Low °F (°C) -6 (-21.1) 3 (-16.1) 2 (-16.7) 26 (-3.3) 35 (1.7) 42 (5.6) 51 (10.6) 51 (10.6) 37 (2.8) 27 (-2.8) 5 (-15.0) 1 (-17.2)
Precip (in) 5.45 4.21 6.1 4.67 4.83 3.78 5.09 3.48 4.05 3.23 4.63 4.47
Source: USTravelWeather.com [12747]


Government

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

By Alabama law, an issue before a city council must be approved by a two-thirds majority vote (Act No. 452, Ala. Acts 1955, as supplemented by Act No. 294, Ala. Acts 1965.). Executive powers are held entirely by the mayor's office. The most recent mayor of Birmingham is Larry Langford, who was voted into office in 2007. On October 28, 2009, Langford was removed from his office after being convicted on 60 federal counts of corruption, and city council president Roderick Royal has taken the position temporarily, after a brief stint by Carole Smitherman as acting mayor.

Current City Council Membership
District Representative Position
1 Joel Montgomery
2 Carol Duncan
3 Valerie A. Abbott
4 Maxine Parker
5 Johnathan Austin
6 Carole Smitherman
7 James J. Roberson, Jr.
8 Steven Hoyt President Pro-Tem / Acting President
9 Roderick Royal President / Acting Mayor


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.

State and Federal representation

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

Economy

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

Night skyline of Birmingham, Alabama
In the 1970s and 1980s, Birmingham's economy was transformed by investments in bio-technology and medical research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and its adjacent hospital. The UAB Hospitalmarker 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, ProAssurance and Liberty National among others, are headquartered in Birmingham and employ a large number of people in Greater Birmingham.

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

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 Bottling Company, United also has a bottling plant near the airport and is based in Birmingham.

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.

Infrastructure

Education

The city of Birmingham is served by the Birmingham City Schools system. It is run by the Birmingham Board of Education with a current active enrollment of 30,500 in 67 schools: 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 high schools and post-secondary colleges and universities. In 2005, the Jefferson County International Baccalaureate Schoolmarker 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 Schoolmarker placed 250 on the list. Other local schools that have been rated among America's best in various publications include Vestavia Hills High Schoolmarker and the Alabama School of Fine Artsmarker located downtown. The metro area also has two highly regarded prep schools: The Altamont Schoolmarker, located in Birmingham proper, and Indian Springs Schoolmarker in north Shelby County near Pelham.

Institutions of Higher Education



Planning

Before the first structure was built in Birmingham, the plan of the city was laid out over a total of 1,160 acres (4.7 km²) by the directors of the Elyton Land Co. The streets were numbered from west to east, leaving Twentieth Street to form the central spine of downtown, anchored on the north by Capital Park and stretching into the slopes of Red Mountainmarker 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 Fairfieldmarker) 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 Pittsburghmarker, 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 Parkmarker, and the proposed Red Mountain Parkmarker, Birmingham would rank first in the United States for public green space per resident.

Notable buildings

Birmingham, Alabama skyline


Tallest buildings
Name Stories Height
Wachovia Towermarker 34 454 ft (138 m)
Regions-Harbert Plazamarker 32 437 ft (133 m)
AT&T City Centermarker 30 390 ft (119 m)
Regions Centermarker 30 390 ft (119 m)
City Federal Buildingmarker 27 325 ft (99 m)
Leer Towermarker 20 287 ft (87 m)
John Hand Buildingmarker 20 284 ft (87 m)
Daniel Buildingmarker 20 283 ft (86 m)


Transportation

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

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

Birmingham is served by three major freight railroads. Norfolk Southern, CSX Transportation, and BNSF Railway all have major classification yards in the metro area. Smaller regional railroads such as the Jefferson Western and Birmingham Southern also serve Birmingham's freight customers. Amtrak's Crescent connects Birmingham with the cities of New Yorkmarker, Philadelphiamarker, Baltimoremarker, Washingtonmarker, Greensboromarker, Charlottemarker, Atlantamarker and New Orleansmarker. The Birmingham Amtrak Stationmarker is situated at 1819 Morris Avenue.

Utilities

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

Electric power is provided primarily by Southern Company-subsidiary, Alabama Power. However, some of the surrounding area such as Bessemermarker and Cullmanmarker are provided by TVA. Bessemermarker also operates its own water and sewer system[12748]. Natural gas is provided by Alagasco, although some metro area cities operate their own natural gas services. The local telecommunications are provided by AT&T. Cable television service is provided by Bright House Networks within the cities of Birmingham and Irondale, and Charter Communications in the rest of metro area.

People and culture

Demographics

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.

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

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

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

Surrounding suburbs

Suburbs are listed in order of population.



Crime

Crime is a challenge in the City of 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 series, "The First 48" has filmed episodes with some of the city's Homicide detectives.

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

Culture

Birmingham is the cultural and entertainment capital of Alabama with its numerous art galleries in the area and home to Birmingham Museum of Art, the largest art museum in the 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, and Opera Birmingham.




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


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

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

Attractions, events, and recreation

Museums



Birmingham is home to several museums. The largest is the Birmingham Museum of Artmarker, which is also the largest municipal art museum in the Southeast. The area's history museums includes Birmingham Civil Rights Institutemarker, 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 Parkmarker adjacent to the 16th Street Baptist Churchmarker.

Other history museums include the Southern Museum of Flightmarker, Bessemer Hall of History, Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmarkmarker, Alabama Museum of Health Sciencesmarker, and the Arlington Homemarker.

The McWane Science Centermarker 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 Famemarker, the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museummarker, with the largest collection of motorcycles in the world, the Iron & Steel Museum of Alabama at Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Parkmarker near McCallamarker, the Alabama Sports Hall of Famemarker, and the Talladega Superspeedwaymarker International Motorsports Hall of Fame museum.

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

Festivals

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

Fountain at Linn Park in downtown Birmingham, Alabama during Magic City Art Connection celebration.
Another musical festival is the Taste of 4th Avenue Jazz Festival, presented at the end of September each year, concurrent with the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival. This all day festival features national and local jazz acts. In 2007, the festival drew an estimated 6,000 people.

The Birmingham Folk Festival ( annual event), presented on October 11, 2009, from 10am-9pm, featuring 9 local bands and 3 touring "headliner bands".[www.birminghamfolkfestival.com]

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. [12749]. Magic City Brewfest is an annual festival benefiting local grassroots organization, Free the Hops, and focusing on craft beer.

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

Other attractions

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

Sports



Minor League teams

Birmingham Barons
Club Sport Founded League Venue

Baseball 1885 Southern League: South Division Regions Parkmarker


Other area sport facilities include:

Media

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

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

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

Birmingham is part of the Birmingham/Anniston/Tuscaloosa television market, which is the nation's 40th largest. The major television affiliates are WBRCmarker 6 (Fox), WBIQ 10 (PBS), WVTMmarker 13 (NBC), WTTOmarker 21 (CW), WBMA 33/40 (ABC), WIATmarker 42 (CBS), WPXHmarker 44 (ION), and WABMmarker 68 (MyNetworkTV).

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

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

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


Other

Notable natives

Sister cities

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


References

  1. Nunnelley, William A. (1991) Bull Connor. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. ISBN 0817304959
  2. Thomson, Ken (1988) " Birmingham Participation". Citizen Participation Project at the Lincoln Filene Center at Tufts University. CPN.org - accessed May 5, 2009
  3. " Post Office Location - Birmingham." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on May 5, 2009.
  4. McGraw-Hill Construction Engineering News-Record; 2008 Top Design Firms
  5. McGraw-Hill Construction Engineering News-Record; 2007 Top International Contractors
  6. Birmingham Weekly Whitmire, Kyle. Making a Mayor: Birmingham Crime. Birmingham Weekly blog; September 7, 2007
  7. Al.com FBI statistics suggest the need for new crime-fighting strategies and technologies for Birmingham. The Birmingham News; Opinion; January 10, 2008.


External links




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