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Montgomery ( ) is the capital, second most populous city, and the fourth most populous metropolitan area in the Southern U.S.marker state of Alabamamarker, and is the county seat of Montgomery Countymarker. It is located southeast of the center of the state, in the Gulf Coastal Plain. The city population was 201,568 as of the 2000 census. Montgomery is the primary city of the Montgomery Metropolitan Statistical Areamarker, which had a 2000 population of 346,528, making it the fourth largest in the state.

The city was incorporated in 1819, as a merger of two towns situated along the Alabama River. It became the state capital in 1846. In February 1861, Montgomery was selected as the first capital of the Confederate States of America, until the seat of government moved to Richmond, Virginiamarker in May of that year. During the mid-20th century, Montgomery was a primary site in the African-American Civil Rights Movement, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Selma to Montgomery marches.

Today, in addition to housing many Alabama government agencies, Montgomery has a large military presence due to Maxwell Air Force Basemarker, public universities Alabama State Universitymarker, Troy Universitymarker (Montgomery campus), and Auburn University-Montgomerymarker, private colleges/universities Faulkner Universitymarker, Huntingdon Collegemarker, and ABA-accredited law school Thomas Goode Jones School of Lawmarker, high-tech manufacturing including Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabamamarker, and cultural attractions like the Alabama Shakespeare Festivalmarker and Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.


Prior to European colonization, the left bank of the Alabama River was inhabited by the Alibamu tribe of Native Americans. The Alibamu and the Coushatta who lived on the opposite side the river were adept mound builders. Present-day Montgomery is built on the site of two Alibamu towns: Ikanatchati (or Ecunchatty or Econachatee), meaning "red earth"; and Towassa, built on a bluff called Chunnaanaauga Chatty. The first Europeans to come through central Alabama were Hernando de Soto and his expedition, who came through Ikanatchati and camped for one week in Towassa in 1540.

The next recorded European movements in the area happened well over a century later, when an expedition from Carolina went down the Alabama River in 1697. The first permanent European settler in the Montgomery area was James McQueen, a Scottish trader who came to the area in 1716.

After McQueen's arrival, European immigration to the area was slow in coming; Abraham Mordecai of Pennsylvaniamarker arrived in 1785 and later brought the first cotton gin to Alabama. Following the end of the Creek War in August 1814, the Creek tribes were forced to give the majority of their lands to the U.S., including most of central and southern Alabama.

In 1816, Montgomery Countymarker was formed, and its lands were sold off the next year at the federal land office in Milledgeville, Georgiamarker. The first group of settlers to come to the Montgomery area was headed by General John Scott. The group founded Alabama Town about downstream from present-day downtown. In June 1818, county courts were moved from Fort Jackson to Alabama Town. Soon after, Andrew Dexter founded New Philadelphia, the present-day eastern part of downtown. Dexter envisioned his town would one day grow to prominence; he set aside a hilltop known as "Goat Hill" as the future location for the state capitol building. New Philadelphia soon prospered, and Scott and his associates built a new town adjacent, calling it East Alabama Town. The towns became rivals, but merged on December 3, 1819, and were incorporated as the city of Montgomery.

Due in large part to the cotton trade, the newly united Montgomery grew quickly. In 1822, the city became the county seat, and a new courthouse was built at the present location of Court Square, at the foot of Market Street (now Dexter Avenue). The state capital was moved from Tuscaloosamarker to Montgomery, on January 28, 1846.

As state capital, Montgomery began to have a great influence over state politics, but would also play a prominent role on the national stage. Beginning February 4, 1861, representatives from Alabama, Georgiamarker, Floridamarker, Louisianamarker, Mississippimarker, and South Carolinamarker met in Montgomery to form the Confederate States of America. Montgomery was named the first capital of the nation, and Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as President on the steps of the State Capitolmarker. On April 12, 1865, following the Battle of Selma, Major General James H. Wilson captured Montgomery for the Union.

In 1886 Montgomery became the first city in the United States to install city-wide electric street cars along a system that was nicknamed the Lightning Route. The system made Montgomery one of the first cities to "depopulate" its residential areas at the city center through transportation-facilitated suburban development.

Montgomery was thrust into the spotlight of the early African-American Civil Rights Movement. In December 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The Montgomery Improvement Association was created by Martin Luther King, Jr., then the pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Churchmarker, and E.D. Nixon, a lawyer and local civil rights advocate, to organize the boycott. In June 1956, Judge Frank M. Johnson ruled that Montgomery's bus segregation was illegal. After the Supreme Courtmarker upheld the ruling in November, the city desegregated the bus system, and the boycott was ended. The Greyhound Bus Station on South Court Street was the scene of mob violence during the Freedom ride of May 1961, which led to the desegregation of interstate traffic.

Martin Luther King would return to Montgomery in 1965. Local civil rights leaders in Selmamarker had been protesting Jim Crow laws blocking Blacks from registering to vote. Following the shooting of a man after a civil rights rally, the leaders decided to march to Montgomery to petition Governor George Wallace to allow free voter registration.

In recent years, Montgomery has continued to grow and diversify. The city government is active in restoring the downtown area, and in 2007 adopted a master plan, which included revitalization of Court Square and the riverfront.


Montgomery is located at .According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , of which of it is land and of it (0.52%) is water. The city is built over rolling terrain at an elevation of about above sea level


Downtown Montgomery lies along the southern bank of the Alabama River, about downstream from the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers. The most prominent feature of Montgomery's skyline is the 23-story RSA Towermarker, built in 1996 by the Retirement Systems of Alabama. Downtown also contains many state and local government buildings, including the Alabama State Capitolmarker. The Capitol is located atop a hill at one end of Dexter Avenue, along which also lies the Dexter Avenue Baptist Churchmarker, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was pastor. Both the Capitol and Dexter Baptist Church are listed as National Historic Landmarks by the U.S.marker Department of the Interiormarker. One block south of the Capitol is the First White House of the Confederacymarker, the 1835 Italianate-style house in which President Jefferson Davis and family lived while the capitol of the Confederacy was in Montgomery. Montgomery's third National Historic Landmark is Union Stationmarker. Train service to Montgomery ceased in 1985, but today Union Station is part of the Riverwalk park development, which also includes an amphitheater, a riverboat dock and Riverwalk Stadiummarker. Three blocks east of the Convention Center, Old Alabama Townmarker showcases more than 50 restored buildings from the 19th century. The Riverwalk is part of a larger plan to revamp the downtown area. The plan includes the utilization of urban forestry, infill development, and façade renovation to encourage business and residential growth. A Convention Center which was completed in 2007 is expected to further encourage growth in the downtown area.

South of downtown, across Interstate 85, lies Alabama State Universitymarker. ASU's campus was built in Colonial Revival architectural style from 1906 until the beginning of World War II. Surrounding ASU are the Garden District, and Cloverdale Historic District. Houses in these areas date from around 1875 until 1949, and are in Late Victorian and Gothic Revival styles. Huntingdon Collegemarker is on the southwestern edge of Cloverdale. The campus was built in the 1900s in Tudor Revival and Gothic Revival styles. ASU, the Garden District, Cloverdale, and Huntingdon are all listed as National Historic Districts.

Montgomery's east side is the fastest-growing part of the city. The city's two largest shopping malls, as well as many big-box stores and residential developments are on the east side. The area is also home of the Wynton M. Blount Cultural Park, a park which contains the Alabama Shakespeare Festivalmarker and Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.

Prattvillemarker, to the northwest is the second largest city in the Montgomery Metropolitan Areamarker. Other area towns are Pike Roadmarker to the southeast, Millbrookmarker to the north, and Wetumpkamarker to the northeast.


Historic Capitol Heights

Capitol Heights is one of Montgomery's oldest neighborhoods outside of downtown and was one of the earliest suburban developments in Alabama. Capitol Heights was founded in 1908 as a separate town due east of downtown Montgomery. Initial marketing for the neighborhood advertised its elevation (the highest point in Montgomery today) and the advantage of cool summer breezes on a bluff overlooking Montgomery. The Heights later was connected to downtown Montgomery by one of the first trolley's in America. A large number of homes are Craftsman and many were even purchased out of the Sears Catalog. Capitol Heights was recently recognized as Alabama's best neighborhood to invest in and is on the cusp of significant urban renewal as downtown Montgomery continues its re-birth and many young urban professionals look for quaint bungalows within walking distance of the revitalized downtown.

Old Cloverdale

Old Cloverdale was originally 160 acres of land, purchased by William Graham, from the US government, in 1817. It was partitioned off into buisness and residential areas at the turn of the 20th Century. Old Cloverdale is home to the Capri, Montgomery's only independent theater, a plethora of shops and dinning establishments, and several homes surrounded by European styled gardens.


Montgomery's climate is humid subtropical (Köppen climate classification Cfa). The area experiences short, warm springs and hot, typically humid summers lasting from mid-May to well into September. Autumns are usually during October and November and are mild – from the mid-60s to 70s (degrees Fahrenheit). Winters last from December until February; their severity/coldness varies from year to year, but they are usually moderate, with temperatures rarely dipping below . The highest recorded temperature in Montgomery was , on August 7, 1881. The record low temperature of was reached on January 21, 1985.


As of the census of 2000, there were 201,568 people, 78,384 households, and 51,084 families residing in the city. The 2006 Census Bureau estimate places the population at 201,998.

The population density was 1,297.3 people per square mile (500.9/km²). There were 86,787 housing units at an average density of 558.5/sq mi (215.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 49.63% Black, 47.67% White, 0.25% Native American, 1.06% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.37% from other races, and 0.98% from two or more races. 1.23% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 78,384 households out of which 32.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.4% were married couples living together, 19.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.8% were non-families. 30.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.06. Same-sex couple households comprised 0.4 % of all househoulds.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.9% under the age of 18, 12.1% from 18 to 24, 29.8% from 25 to 44, 20.3% from 45 to 64, and 11.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 88.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $35,627, and the median income for a family was $44,297. Males had a median income of $31,877 versus $25,014 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,385. About 13.9% of families and 17.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.7% of those under age 18 and 13.4% of those age 65 or over.


Montgomery's central location in Alabama's Black Belt makes it a processing hub for crops such as cotton, peanuts, and soybeans. In 1840 Montgomery Countymarker led the state in cotton production, and by 1911, the city processed 160,000-200,000 bales of cotton annually. Montgomery has long had large metal fabrication and lumber production sectors. Due to its location along the Alabama River and extensive rail connections, Montgomery has and continues to be a regional distribution hub for a wide range of industries. Today, the city's Gross Metropolitan Product is $12.15 billion, representing 8.7% of the Gross State Product of Alabama.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data from October 2008, the largest sectors of non-agricultural employment were: Government, 24.3%; Trade, Transportation, and Utilities, 17.3% (including 11.0% in retail trade); Professional and Business Services, 11.9%; Manufacturing, 10.9%; Education and Health Services, 10.0% (including 8.5% in Health Care & Social Assistance); Leisure and Hospitality, 9.2%; Financial Activities, 6.0%, Natural Resources, Mining and Construction, 5.1%; Information, 1.4%; and Other services 4.0%. Unemployment for the same period was 5.7%, 2.5% higher than October 2007. The city also draws in workers from the surrounding area; Montgomery's daytime population rises 17.4% to 239,101.

As of August 2008, Montgomery's largest employers were Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Basemarker (12,280 employees), the State of Alabama (9,500), Montgomery Public Schools (4,524), Baptist Health (4,300), Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabamamarker (3,171), Alfa Insurance (2,568), the City of Montgomery (2,500), 754th Electronics Systems Groupmarker (1,943), Jackson Hospital & Clinic (1,300), and Rheem Water Heaters (1,150). One Fortune 1000 company, Colonial Bancgroup, is headquartered in Montgomery.

According to Pennsylvania State Universitymarker's "Living Wage Calculator", the living wage for the city is $8.02 per hour (or $16,691 per year) for an individual and $25.80 per hour ($53,662 per year) for a family of four. These are slightly higher than the state averages of $7.45 per hour for an individual and $25.36 for a family of four.

Law and government

Montgomery operates under a Mayor-council government system. Mayor Bobby Bright was elected to the United States Congress from Alabama's 2nd congressional district in November 2008. City council president Charles Jinright was the acting mayor until a special election was held on March 10, 2009, to select a permanent successor. Bright was elected mayor in the 1999, having unseated longtime Republican Mayor Emory Folmar. Bright was re-elected in a landslide against challenger Scott Simmons in the 2003 and 2007 municipal elections. After the 2009 special election, Todd Strange was elected mayor by a 53% margin against 5 other candidates.

The city is served by a nine-member city council, which is composed of nine districts of equal size. The city council is responsible for establishing the city of Montgomery's policies.

The current members of the city council are

District 1 - Councillor Jim SpearDistrict 2 - Councillor Charles W. SmithDistrict 3 - Councillor Tracy LarkinDistrict 4 - Councillor David BurketteDistrict 5 - Councillor Cornelius "C.C." CalhounDistrict 6 - Councillor Willie CookDistrict 7 - Councillor Martha RobyDistrict 8 - Councillor Glen Pruitt, Jr.District 9 - Councillor Charles Jinright

On May 10, 2009, City Councillor Martha Roby announced that she would seek the Republican Nomination for Congress in Alabama's Second District in 2010. If she wins the primary, Roby will face former Mayor Bobby Bright.


The Wynton M. Blount Cultural Park in east Montgomery is home to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. The Museum's permanent collections include American art and sculpture, Southern art, master prints from European masters, and collections of porcelain and glass works. The Society of Arts and Crafts operates a co-op gallery for local artists. Montgomery Zoomarker, one of only two AZA-accredited zoos in Alabama, has over 500 animals in of barrier-free habitats. The Hank Williams Museum contains one of the largest collections of Williams memorabilia in the world.

Blount Park is also contains the Alabama Shakespeare Festivalmarker's Carolyn Blount Theatre. The Shakespeare Festival presents year-round performances of both classic plays and performances of local interest, in addition to works of William Shakespeare. The 1200-seat Davis Theatre for the Performing Arts, on the Troy University at Montgomery campus, opened in 1930 and was renovated in 1983. It houses the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra, Alabama Dance Theatre and Montgomery Ballet, as well as other theatrical productions. The Symphony has been performing in Montgomery since 1979. The Capri Theatre in Cloverdale was built in 1941, and today shows independent films. Jubilee CityFest is an annual music festival featuring a variety of performers.

There is a rich history of musical performers with roots in Montgomery. Jazz singer and pianist Nat King Cole, country singer Hank Williams, blues singer Big Mama Thornton, Melvin Franklin of The Temptations, and guitarist Tommy Shaw of Styx are among the many musicians to get their start in Montgomery. Author and artist Zelda Sayre was born in Montgomery. In 1918, she met F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was a soldier stationed at an Army post nearby. The house where they lived is today used as the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum. Poet Sidney Lanier lived in Montgomery and Prattvillemarker immediately after the Civil War, while writing his novel Tiger Lilies.

In addition to being the launching point of Hank Williams Sr.’s career, and the birth place of Nat King Cole, Clarence Carter, and Tommy Shaw, Montgomery as also seen a few of its rock bands achieve national success in recent years. Locals artists Trust Company were signed to Geffen Records in 2002. Hot Rod Circuit formed in Montgomery in 1997 under the name Antidote, but achieved success with Vagrant Records after moving to Connecticutmarker. The Ed Kemper Trio became well known in Montgomery’s local rock music scene from 1997 - 2004, and was the focus of People Will Eat Anything, a music documentary shown at the Capri Theatre in 2004.

Places of worship in Montgomery include the Dexter Avenue Baptist Churchmarker, St. John's Episcopal Churchmarker, Mt.marker Zion AME Zion Churchmarker, and Agudath Israel Etz Ahayemmarker synagogue.


Montgomery is home of the Montgomery Biscuits baseball team. The Biscuits play in the Class AA Southern League. They are affiliated with the Tampa Bay Rays, and play at Montgomery Riverwalk Stadiummarker. Riverwalk Stadium was the host of the NCAA Division II National Baseball Championship from 2004 until 2007. The championship had previously been played at Paterson Fieldmarker in Montgomery from 1985 until 2003.

The Navistar LPGA Classicmarker women's golf event is held at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Capitol Hill in nearby Prattvillemarker. Garrett Coliseum was the home of the now-defunct Montgomery Bears indoor football team.

Montgomery is also the site of sporting events hosted by the area's colleges and universities. The Alabama State Universitymarker Hornets play in NCAA Division I competition in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The football team plays at the Cramton Bowlmarker and the basketball team play at the Joe L.marker Reed Acadomemarker. Auburn University Montgomerymarker also fields teams in NAIA competition. Huntingdon Collegemarker participates at the NCAA Division III level and Faulkner Universitymarker is a member of the NAIA and is a nearby rival of Auburn-Montgomery. The Blue-Gray Football Classic was an annual college football all-star game held from 1938 until 2001.

Several successful professional athletes hail from Montgomery, including Pro Football Hall of Famermarker Bart Starr and two-time Olympic gold medalist in track and field Alonzo Babers.


The city of Montgomery and Montgomery County are served by the Montgomery Public Schools system. As of 2007, there were 32,520 students enrolled in the system, and 2,382 teachers employed. The system manages 32 elementary schools, 10 middle schools, and 4 high schools (G.W.marker Carvermarker, Jeff Davismarker, Robert E.marker Leemarker, and Sidney Laniermarker) as well as 9 magnet schools, 1 alternative school, and 2 special education centers. Montgomery is also home to 28 private schools.

Montgomery has been the home of Alabama State Universitymarker, a historically black university, since the Lincoln Normal University for Teachers relocated from Marionmarker in 1887. Today, ASU enrolls over 5,600 students from 42 U.S. states and 7 countries. Troy Universitymarker maintains a 3,000 student population campus in downtown Montgomery that prominently houses the award-winning Rosa Parks Library and Museum. Troy University is also a worldwide leader in distance learning programs. Auburn Montgomerymarker in the eastern part of the city operates as a satellite campus of Auburn Universitymarker, and has an enrollment of 5,123. Montgomery also is home to several private colleges: Faulkner Universitymarker which has an enrollment of 3,500, is a Church of Christ-affiliated school and Huntingdon Collegemarker has a current student population of 1,000 and is affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

Maxwell Air Force Basemarker is the headquarters for Air University, the United States Air Force's center for professional military education. Branches of Air University based in Montgomery include the Squadron Officer School, the Air Command and Staff Collegemarker, the Air War College, and the Community College of the Air Force.


The morning newspaper, the Montgomery Advertiser, began publication as the The Planter's Gazette in 1829. It is the principal newspaper of central Alabama and is affiliated with the Gannett Corporation. In 1970, then publisher Harold E. Martin won the Pulitzer Prize for special reporting while at the Advertiser. The Alabama Journal was a local afternoon paper from 1899 until April 16, 1993 when it published its last issue before merging with the morning Advertiser.

Montgomery is served by seven local television stations: WNCF 32marker (ABC), WSFA 12marker (NBC), WCOV 20marker (Fox), WBMM 22marker (CW), WAIQ 26 (PBS), WMCF 45marker (TBN), WFRZ 34 (Religious and Educational). In addition, WAKA 8marker (CBS) and WBIH 29marker (independent) are located in Selmamarker, and WIYC 67marker (AMV) is licensed to Troymarker. Montgomery is part of the Montgomery-Selma Designated Market Area, which is ranked 118th nationally by Nielsen Media Research.

The Montgomery area is served by nine AM radio stations: WMSPmarker, WMGYmarker, WNZZmarker, WTBFmarker, WACVmarker, WAPZmarker, WIQRmarker, WLWImarker, and WXVImarker; and nineteen FM stations: WJSP, WAPRmarker, WELLmarker, WLBFmarker, WTSUmarker, WVAS, WLWImarker, WXFX, WQKSmarker, WWMGmarker, WVRVmarker, WJWZmarker, WBAMmarker, WALXmarker, WHHYmarker, WMXSmarker, WHLWmarker, WZHT, and WMRKmarker. Montgomery is ranked 153rd largest by Arbitron.


Two interstate highways run through Montgomery. Interstate 65 is the primary north–south freeway through the city leading between Birminghammarker and Huntsvillemarker to the north and Mobilemarker to the south. Montgomery is the southern terminus of Interstate 85, another north–south freeway (though running east–west in the city), which leads northeast to Atlantamarker. The major surface street thoroughfare is a loop consisting of State Route 152 in the north, U.S. Highway 231 and U.S. Highway 80 in the east, U.S. Highway 82 in the south, and U.S. Highway 31 along the west of the city. The Alabama Department of Transportation is planning the Outer Montgomery Loop to ease traffic congestion in the city. It is planned to connect Interstate 85 near Mt.marker Meigsmarker to U.S. Highway 80 southwest of the city. Montgomery Area Transit System (MATS) provides public transportation with buses serving the city. The system has 32 buses providing an average of 4500 passenger trips daily. MATS ridership has shown steady growth since the system was revamped in 2000; the system served over 1 million passenger trips in 2007. Greyhound Lines operates a terminal in Montgomery for intra-city bus travel.

Montgomery Regional Airportmarker, also known as Dannelly Field, is the major airport serving Montgomery. It serves primarily as an Air National Guard base and for general aviation, but commercial airlines fly to regional connections to Atlantamarker, Dallas-Fort Worth Charlottemarker, and Memphismarker.

Passenger rail service began to Montgomery in 1898, with the opening of Union Stationmarker. Service continued until 1979, when Amtrak terminated its Floridian route. Amtrak returned from 1989 until 1995 with the Gulf Breeze, an extension of the Crescent line.

Sister city

Montgomery has one sister city:


  1. Owen, p. 1038
  2. [1]
  3. [2]
  4. 2000 Census Data on Same-sex couple households

Further reading

  • L. P. Powell (editor), in Historic Towns of the Southern States, (New York, 1900)
  • Jeffry C. Benton (editor) A Sense of Place, Montgomery's Architectural History ( )

External links

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