Birmingham (/ˈbɜːrmɪŋhæm/ BUR-ming-ham) is a city in the north
central region of the
U.S. state of Alabama. With an estimated 2018
population of 209,880, it is the most populous city in
Birmingham is the seat of Jefferson County,
Alabama's most populous and fifth largest county. As of 2018, the
Metropolitan Statistical Area
Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of
1,151,801, making it the most populous in
Alabama and 49th-most
populous in the United States.
Birmingham serves as an important
regional hub and is associated with the Deep South, Piedmont, and
Appalachian regions of the nation.
Birmingham was founded in 1871, during the post-Civil War
Reconstruction era, through the merger of three farm towns, most
notably Elyton. The new city was named for Birmingham, England, the
UK's second largest city and, at the time, a major industrial center.
Alabama city annexed smaller neighbors and developed as an
industrial center, based on mining, the new iron and steel industry,
and rail transport. Most of the original settlers who founded
Birmingham were of English ancestry. The city was developed
as a place where cheap, non-unionized immigrant labor (primarily Irish
and Italian), along with African-American labor from rural Alabama,
could work in the city's steel mills and blast furnaces, giving it a
competitive advantage over unionized industrial cities in the Midwest
Panoramic map of Birmingham's business section from 1903
From its founding through the end of the 1960s,
Birmingham was a
primary industrial center of the southern United States. Its rapid
growth from 1881 through 1920 earned it the nicknames "The Magic City"
Pittsburgh of the South". Its major industries were iron and
steel production. Major components of the railroad industry, rails and
railroad cars, were manufactured in Birmingham. Since the 1860s, the
two primary hubs of railroading in the "Deep South" have been
Birmingham and Atlanta. The economy diversified in the latter half of
the 20th century. Banking, telecommunications, transportation,
electrical power transmission, medical care, college education, and
insurance have become major economic activities.
Birmingham ranks as
one of the largest banking centers in the U.S. Also, it is among the
most important business centers in the Southeast.
In higher education,
Birmingham has been the location of the
Alabama School of Medicine (formerly the Medical College
of Alabama) and the University of
Alabama School of Dentistry since
1947. In 1969, it gained the University of
Alabama at Birmingham, one
of three main campuses of the University of
Alabama System. It is also
home to three private institutions: Samford University,
Birmingham-Southern College, and Miles College. The
has major colleges of medicine, dentistry, optometry, occupational
therapy, physical therapy, pharmacy, law, engineering, and nursing.
The city has three of the state's five law schools: Cumberland School
Birmingham School of Law, and Miles Law School.
also the headquarters of the
Southwestern Athletic Conference
Southwestern Athletic Conference and the
Southeastern Conference, one of the major U.S. collegiate athletic
1.1 Founding and early growth
Birmingham civil rights movement
1.3 Recent history
3.1 Census data
5 Arts and culture
5.3 Other attractions
5.4 Cultural references
7.1 State and federal representation
7.2 Political controversy
10 Urban planning
11.1.2 Public transport
12 Notable people
13 Sister cities
14 See also
17 Further reading
18 External links
See also: Timeline of Birmingham, Alabama
Founding and early growth
L&N rail yard at Birmingham, ca. 1900
Birmingham was founded on June 1, 1871, by the
Elyton Land Company,
whose investors included cotton planters, bankers and railroad
entrepreneurs. It sold lots near the planned crossing of the Alabama
& Chattanooga and South & North
Alabama railroads, including
land that was part of the Benjamin P. Worthington plantation. The
first business at that crossroads was a trading post and country store
operated by Marre and Allen. The site of the railroad crossing was
notable for its proximity to nearby deposits of iron ore, coal, and
limestone – the three main raw materials used in making steel.
Child labor at Avondale Mills in
Birmingham in 1910; photo by Lewis
Birmingham is the only place where significant amounts of all three
minerals can be found in close proximity. From the start
the new city was planned as a center of industry. To emphasize this
point, the city's founders named it in honor of Birmingham, England,
one of the world's premier industrial cities. The growth of the
planned city was impeded by an outbreak of cholera and a Wall Street
crash in 1873. Soon afterward, however, it began to develop at an
The Tennessee Coal and Iron Company (TCI) became the leading steel
producer in the South by 1892. In 1907 U.S.
Steel purchased it and
became the most important political and economic force in Birmingham.
It resisted new industry, however, to keep wage rates
In 1911, the town of
Elyton and several other surrounding towns were
absorbed into Birmingham. From the early 20th century, the city grew
so rapidly it earned the sobriquet "The Magic City". The downtown was
redeveloped from a low-rise commercial and residential district into a
busy grid of neoclassical mid- and high-rise buildings crisscrossed by
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 along the east-west railroad
corridor. This early group of skyscrapers was nicknamed the "Heaviest
Corner on Earth".
Birmingham was hit by the
1916 Irondale earthquake
1916 Irondale earthquake (ML 5.1, intensity
VII (Very strong)). A few buildings in the area were slightly damaged.
The earthquake was felt as far as
Atlanta and neighboring states.
While excluded from the best-paying industrial jobs, African Americans
joined the migration of residents from rural areas to the city, drawn
by economic opportunity.
The Great Depression of the 1930s struck
Birmingham particularly hard,
as the sources of capital fueling the city's growth rapidly dried up
at the same time farm laborers, driven off the land, made their way to
the city in search of work. Hundreds poured into the city, many riding
in empty boxcars. "Hobo jungles" were established in Boyles, the
Twenty-fourth Street Viaduct, Green Springs Bridge, East Thomas, Pratt
City, Carbon Hill and Jasper. In 1934, President Roosevelt
Birmingham the "worst-hit town in the country." New
Deal programs put many city residents to work in WPA and CCC programs,
and they 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 World War II demand for steel followed by a post-war building boom
spurred Birmingham's rapid return to prosperity. Manufacturing
diversified beyond the production of raw materials. Major civic
institutions such as schools, parks, and museums, also expanded in
Despite the city's growing population and wealth,
were markedly underrepresented in the state legislature. Although the
state constitution required redistricting in accordance with changes
in the decennial census, the state legislature did not act until the
1970s when the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision in Reynolds v.
Sims forced it to do so. Birmingham-area voters had sued to force
redistricting, and the Court in its ruling cited the principle of "one
man, one vote". The Court found that the geographic basis of the state
senate, which gave each county one senator, gave undue influence to
rural counties. Representatives of rural counties also had
disproportionate power in the state House of Representatives and had
failed to provide support for infrastructure and other improvements in
urban centers such as Birmingham, having little sympathy for urban
populations. Prior to this time, the
Alabama Legislature (known as the
General Assembly until 1901) ran county governments as extensions of
the state through their legislative delegations.
Birmingham civil rights movement
In the 1950s and 1960s,
Birmingham gained national and international
attention as a center of activity during the Civil Rights Movement.
Based on their members working in mining and industry, in the 1950s
Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan (KKK) chapters had ready access to dynamite
and other bomb materials. Whites unhappy with social changes in the
1950s committed racially motivated bombings of the houses of black
families who moved into new neighborhoods or who were politically
Birmingham the nickname "Bombingham".
Locally, the civil rights movement's activists were led by Fred
Shuttlesworth, a fiery preacher who became legendary for his
fearlessness in the face of such violence. But he found
city officials resistant to making changes for integration or
lessening of Jim Crow.
16th Street Baptist Church, now a National Historic Landmark
A watershed in the civil rights movement occurred in 1963 when
Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern
Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which Shuttlesworth had
co-founded, come to
Birmingham to help end public
Together they launched "Project C" (for "Confrontation"), a massive
non-violent demonstration against the
Jim Crow system. While
imprisoned in April 1963 for having taken part in a nonviolent
protest, Dr. King wrote the now famous "Letter from
a defining treatise in his cause against segregation. During April and
May, daily sit-ins and mass marches organized and led by movement
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, many of them children. King and Bevel filled
the jails with students to keep the demonstrations going.
By September the SCLC and city were negotiating to end an economic
boycott and desegregate stores and other facilities. On a Sunday in
September 1963, a bomb went off at the 16th Street Baptist Church,
killing four black girls. The activists' protests and
national outrage about the police and KKK violence contributed to the
ultimate desegregation of public accommodations in
Birmingham and also
passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In 1998, the
Birmingham Pledge, written by local attorney James Rotch,
was introduced at the Martin Luther King Unity Breakfast. As a
grassroots community commitment to combating racism and prejudice, it
has since been used for programs in all fifty states and in more than
In the 1970s, urban renewal efforts focused around the development of
the University of
Alabama at Birmingham, which has become 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 and the construction of a major downtown
convention center containing a 2,500-seat symphony hall, theater,
19,000-seat arena, and exhibition halls. Birmingham's banking
institutions enjoyed considerable growth as well, and new skyscrapers
were constructed 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
Suburbanization was a national trend. In 1979 Birmingham
Richard Arrington Jr. as its first African-American mayor.
Birmingham skyline at night from atop the
City Federal Building,
July 1, 2015
The population inside Birmingham's city limits has fallen over the
past few decades, due in large part to "white flight" from the city to
the surrounding suburbs and loss of jobs following industrial and
railroad restructuring. The city's formerly most populous ethnic
group, non-Hispanic white, has declined from 57.4 percent
in 1970 to 21.1 percent in 2010. From 340,887 in 1960, the
city's population had decreased to 242,820 in 2000, a loss of about 29
percent. By 2010, Birmingham's population had reached 212,237, its
lowest since the mid-1920s, but the city has since stopped losing
residents. That same period saw a corresponding rise in
the populations of the suburban communities of Hoover, Vestavia Hills,
Alabaster, and Gardendale, none of which was incorporated as a
municipality until after 1950.
New resources have been dedicated in reconstructing the downtown area
into a 24-hour mixed-use district. The market for downtown lofts and
condominiums has increased, while restaurant, retail and cultural
options have expanded. In 2006, the visitors bureau selected "the
diverse city" as a new tag line for the city. In 2011, the
Highland Park neighborhood of
Birmingham was named as a 2011 America's
Great Place by the American Planning Association. In
January 2015, the International World Game Executive Committee
Birmingham as the host for the 2021 World Games.
Recent developments have attracted national media. The New York Times
has praised the city's food scene since
2006. The Washington Post has also
featured stories about the city's cuisine and
neighborhoods. Referring to the city's civil rights
history, Alice Short of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Anyone who cares
about U.S. history should plan a trip here."
Birmingham occupies Jones Valley, flanked by long parallel mountain
ridges (tailing ends of the Appalachian Mountains) running from
northeast to southwest. 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
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 the
Sand Mountain, a lower 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, due east of the heart of the city, is home to
Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve, one of the largest urban nature
reserves in the U.S.
Birmingham is 147 miles (237 km) west of Atlanta, 92 miles
(148 km) north of Montgomery, 147 miles (237 km) northeast
of Meridian, Mississippi, 239 miles (385 km) southeast of
Memphis, 192 miles (309 km) south of Nashville, and 148 miles
(238 km) southwest of Chattanooga, all via Interstate
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has an area of 148.6
square miles (384.9 km2), of which 146.1 square miles
(378.3 km2) are land and 2.5 square miles (6.6 km2), or
1.71%, are water.
Birmingham has numerous suburbs. As with many major areas, most of the
metropolitan population lives outside the city boundaries. In 2007,
the metropolitan area was made up of 7 counties, 102 cities, and 21
school districts. Since then Alabaster and Pelham have
broken away from the Shelby County School System to form their own
school systems. Some analysts argue that the region suffers from
having so many suburbs; companies play jurisdictions against each
other to gain tax and other financial incentives for relocation,
resulting in no net gain in the area's economy.
Suburbs in the Birmingham–Hoover metropolitan area by order of
population (2016 estimates):
Hoover: Pop. 84,978
Vestavia Hills: Pop. 34,688
Alabaster: Pop. 32,948
Bessemer: Pop. 26,511
Homewood: Pop. 25,613
Pelham: Pop. 23,050
Trussville: Pop. 21,422
Mountain Brook: Pop. 20,590
Helena: Pop. 18,673
Center Point: Pop. 16,496
Hueytown: Pop. 15,561
Jasper: Pop. 14,003
Gardendale: Pop. 13,783
Calera: Pop. 13,489
Moody: Pop. 12,823
Irondale: Pop. 12,359
Chelsea: Pop. 12,341
Leeds: Pop. 11,940
Fairfield: Pop. 10,807
Pleasant Grove: Pop. 10,177
Forestdale: Pop. 10,162
Clay: Pop. 9,587
Fultondale: Pop. 9,084
Clanton: Pop. 8,846
Pinson: Pop. 7,426
Montevallo: Pop. 6,723
Oneonta: Pop. 6,699
Main articles: List of tallest buildings in Birmingham,
List of neighborhoods in Birmingham, Alabama
Wells Fargo Tower
454 feet (138 metres)
437 feet (133 metres)
390 feet (120 metres)
390 feet (120 metres)
City Federal Building
325 feet (99 metres)
Alabama Power Headquarters Building
322 feet (98 metres)
Thomas Jefferson Tower
287 feet (87 metres)
John Hand Building
284 feet (87 metres)
283 feet (86 metres)
Birmingham skyline, 2007
Birmingham has a humid subtropical climate, characterized by hot
summers, mild winters, and abundant rainfall. January has a daily mean
temperature of 43.8 °F (6.6 °C), and there is an average
of 47 days annually with a low at or below freezing, and 1.4 where the
high does not surpass freezing. July has a daily mean
temperature of 81.1 °F (27.3 °C); highs reach or exceed
90 °F (32 °C) on 55 days per year and 100 °F
(38 °C) on 2 or 3.
Precipitation is relatively
well-distributed throughout the year, with March the wettest month on
average, and October the driest. Snow occasionally falls during
winter, but many winters pass with no snow or only a trace. However,
10.3 inches (26.2 cm) fell on March 13, 1993, during the 1993
Storm of the Century, which established the highest daily snowfall,
one-storm, and winter season total on record. Average snowfall over
the winter season, based on the 1981–2010 period, is 1.6 in
(4.1 cm), but, for the same period, median monthly snowfall for
each month was zero.
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 (primarily October) features
less rainfall and fewer storms, as well as lower humidity than the
spring, but November and early December represent a secondary severe
Birmingham is in the heart of a
Tornado Alley known as
Dixie Alley due to the high frequency of tornadoes in Central
Alabama. The greater
Birmingham area has been hit by two F5 tornadoes;
one in Birmingham's northern suburbs in 1977, and second in the
western suburbs in 1998. The area was hit by an EF4 tornado which was
part of the 2011 Super Outbreak. In late summer and fall months,
Birmingham experiences occasional tropical storms and hurricanes due
to its proximity to the Central Gulf Coast.
The record high temperature is 107 °F (42 °C), set on July
29, 1930, and the record low is −10 °F
(−23 °C), set on February 13, 1899.
Climate data for
normals,[a] extremes 1895–present)[b]
Record high °F (°C)
Mean maximum °F (°C)
Average high °F (°C)
Average low °F (°C)
Mean minimum °F (°C)
Record low °F (°C)
Average precipitation inches (mm)
Average snowfall inches (cm)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)
Average relative humidity (%)
Mean monthly sunshine hours
Percent possible sunshine
Source: NOAA (relative humidity and sun
Birmingham area is not prone to frequent earthquakes; its
historical activity level is 59% less than the US average.
Earthquakes are generally minor and the
Birmingham area can feel an
earthquake from the Eastern Tennessee Seismic Zone. The magnitude 5.1
Irondale earthquake in 1916 caused damage in the
Birmingham area and
was felt in the neighboring states and as far as the
Carolinas. The 2003
Alabama earthquake centered in
Alabama (magnitude 4.6–4.9) was also felt in the rest
of Alabama, as well as Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina,
and South Carolina.
2018209,880−1.1%U.S. Decennial Census2018
Based on the 2000 census, 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 per
square mile (288.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 62.46%
Black, 35.07% 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, 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 city's 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.
The city's median household income was $31,898, and the median family
income was $38,776. Males had a median income of $36,031 versus
$30,367 for females. The city's per capita income was $19,962. About
22.5% of families and 27.3% of the population were below the poverty
line, including 41.9% of those under the age of 18 and 18.3% of those
age 65 or over.
According to the 2010 census:
73.4% Black/African American
0.2% Native American
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
1.0% Two or more races
2.0% Other races
3.6% Hispanic or Latino (of any race)
Map of racial distribution in Birmingham, 2010 U.S. Census. Each dot
is 25 people: White, Black, Asian, Hispanic or Other (yellow)
St. Paul's Cathedral in downtown Birmingham
Birmingham has hundreds of Christian churches, five synagogues, three
mosques, and two Hindu temples. The Association of Statisticians of
American Religious Bodies published data showing that in 2010, among
metro areas with greater than one million population,
the second highest ratio of Christians, and the greatest ratio of
Protestant adherents, in the U.S.
Southern Baptist Convention
Southern Baptist Convention has 673 congregations and 336,000
members in the
Birmingham metro area. The United Methodists have 196
congregations and 66,759 members. The headquarters of the Presbyterian
Church in America was in
Birmingham until the early 1980s; the PCA has
more than 30 congregations and almost 15,000 members in the Birmingham
metro area, with megachurches such as Briarwood Presbyterian Church.
The National Baptist Convention has 126 congregations and 69,800
The city is home to the
Roman Catholic Diocese of Birmingham, covering
39 counties and comprising 75 parishes and missions as well as seven
Catholic high schools and nineteen elementary schools.
There are also two
Eastern Catholic parishes in Birmingham. The
Catholic television network
EWTN is headquartered in metropolitan
Birmingham. There are three Eastern Orthodox churches in the metro
area, representing the Greek, Russian, and American Orthodox churches.
The mother church of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama, the Cathedral
Church of the Advent is in downtown Birmingham. There is also a
Unitarian Universalist church.
With a crime rate of 85 per one thousand residents,
Birmingham has one
of the highest crime rates in the United States, ranked 20th,
according to a study in 2017 for cities with a population over 25,000.
Neighboring Bessemer also ranks high at 7th. Violent crime
Birmingham increased by 10% from 2014 to 2016. As the third most
violent city in the country, the city's murder, robbery, and
aggravated assault rates are each among the top five of all major U.S.
cities. As in many high crime areas, poverty is relatively common in
Birmingham. Citywide, 31% of residents live in poverty, a higher
poverty rate than all but a dozen other large U.S. cities.
Birmingham was ranked 425th in crime rate in the U.S. for 2012 by CQ
Press. The Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area
(MSA) was ranked as having the 35th highest crime rate in the U.S.,
out of 347 MSAs ranked in 2011 by CQ Press. The Birmingham
metro area crime rate is in line with other southern MSAs such as
Jacksonville and Charlotte. U.S. News & World Report
Birmingham as the third most dangerous city in the nation for
St. Louis were ranked higher). The
A&E Network series
The First 48
The First 48 has filmed episodes with some of
the city's homicide detectives.
See also: List of corporations with a major presence in Birmingham,
Though the steel industry no longer holds the same prominence, steel
production and processing continue to play a key role in the local
Steel products manufacturers American Cast Iron Pipe Company
McWane are based in the city. Several of the nation's
largest steelmakers, including CMC Steel, U.S. Steel, and Nucor, also
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 the city. Vulcan Materials
Company, a major provider of crushed stone, sand, and gravel used in
construction, is also based in Birmingham.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Birmingham's economy was transformed by
investments in biotechnology and medical research at the University of
Birmingham (UAB) and its adjacent hospital. The UAB
Hospital is a
Level I trauma center
Level I trauma center providing health care and
breakthrough medical research. UAB is now the area's largest employer
and the second largest in Alabama, with a workforce of about 23,000 as
of 2016[update]. Health care services providers
Encompass Health (formerly HealthSouth),
Surgical Care Affiliates and
Diagnostic Health Corporation
Diagnostic Health Corporation are also headquartered in the city.
Caremark Rx was founded in the city.
Birmingham is a leading banking center, serving as home to two major
Regions Financial Corporation
Regions Financial Corporation and BBVA Compass. SouthTrust,
another large bank headquartered in Birmingham, was acquired by
Wachovia in 2004. The city still has major operations as one of the
regional headquarters of Wachovia, which itself is now part of Wells
Fargo. In November 2006, Regions Financial merged with AmSouth
Bancorporation, which was also headquartered in Birmingham. They
formed the eighth largest U.S. bank by total assets. Nearly a dozen
smaller banks are also headquartered in the Magic City, such as
Cadence Bank. As of 2009[update], the finance and banking
Birmingham employed 1,870 financial managers, 1,530 loan
officers, 680 securities commodities and financial services sales
agents, 380 financial analysts, 310 financial examiners, 220 credit
analysts, and 130 loan counselors. While
seen major change-ups with its banking industry, it was still the
ninth largest banking hub in the
United States by the amount of
locally headquartered deposits in 2012. A 2014 study found
the city had moved down a spot to the tenth largest banking
City Center in downtown
The telephone company that is now owned by AT&T, which was
BellSouth and before that South Central Bell, which had its
headquarters in Birmingham, has a major nexus in Birmingham, supported
by a skyscraper downtown as well as several large operational center
buildings and a data center.
The insurance companies Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama,
Protective Life, Infinity Property & Casualty, ProAssurance, and
Liberty National have their headquarters in Birmingham, and these
employ a large number of people in Greater Birmingham.
boasts a growing employee presence from truck insurance specialist
Birmingham is also a powerhouse of construction and engineering
companies, including BE&K, Brasfield & Gorrie, Walter Schoel
Engineering Co. and B.L. Harbert International, which routinely are
included in the
Engineering News-Record lists of top design and
international construction firms.
Two of the largest soft-drink bottlers in the United States, each with
more than $500 million in sales per year, are in Birmingham. The
Buffalo Rock Company, founded in 1901, has grown from making ginger
ale to be a major bottler for the Pepsi Cola Company. The Coca-Cola
Bottling Company United, founded in 1902, is the second-largest
bottler of Coca-Cola products in the United States.
Birmingham has seen a noticeable decrease in the number of Fortune 500
companies headquartered in the city, due to mergers, moves, and
buy-outs. In 2000, there were ten
Fortune 500 companies headquartered
in the city, while in 2014 there was only one, Regions Bank.
Birmingham also used to be home to more than 30 publicly traded
companies, but in 2011 there were only 15. The number has
increased since then, but not significantly. Some companies, like
Zoës Kitchen, were founded and operated in Birmingham, but moved
their headquarters before going public, even after saying
they would stay in their home state.
Birmingham has been
on a rebound, though, with the growth of companies like HealthSouth,
Infinity Property and Casualty Corp., and Southern
Birmingham metropolitan area 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 study
published in 2006 by Salary.com determined
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 website bizjournals.com calculated
Birmingham's "combined personal income" (the sum of all money earned
by all residents of an area in a year) at
Birmingham's sales tax, which also applies fully to groceries, stands
at 10 percent and is the highest tax rate of the nation's 100 largest
Although Jefferson County's bankruptcy filing in 2011 was the largest
government bankruptcy in U.S. history,
In 2019, Birmingham's largest public companies by market
Regions Bank (RF, $20.54 billion), Vulcan
Materials (VMC, $17.23 billion), Energen (EGN, $6.8 billion) (Engergen
was acquired by Diamondback Energy Inc in 2018), Encompass Health
Group (formally HealthSouth; EHC, $6.35 billion), and Medical
Properties Trust (MPW, $5.11 billion). All were listed on
the New York Stock Exchange.
Protective Life was bought by the
Japanese company Dai-Ichi in 2015 and removed from public trading. If
Alabama Power was considered independent of the Southern Company
(headquartered in Atlanta), it would be the second largest company in
Birmingham with more than $5.8 billion in revenue in 2015.
In 2019, Birmingham's largest private companies by annual revenue and
employees were Brasfield & Gorrie, LLC ($3.31 billion; 1,210
Coca-Cola Bottling Company United
Coca-Cola Bottling Company United ($2.81 billion, 860
EBSCO Industries ($2.8 billion; 1,556 employees), and
McWane Inc. ($2 billion, 570 employees). Drummond Co, Inc.
(2017 revenue - $2.2 billion; 1,283 employees), O'Neal Industries
(2017 revenue - $2.1 billion; 275 employees), .
Shipt was acquired by the Target Corporation
for $550 million.
Shipt is keeping its headquarters in
Birmingham, though, at the John Hand Building.
Shipt announced that it
would add additional offices in the
Wells Fargo Tower, which will be
re-branded as the
Shipt Tower in 2020.
Shipt will then have its logo
on two prominent high rises in downtown Birmingham.
Arts and culture
Birmingham has a distinctly
Deep South culture and a dynamic Upper
South influence that has molded its culture from its beginning. This
is due to the city's location as the gateway opening to and from both
regions and their influences. Historically,
African Americans from the Black Belt and Whites from across the
state settled this area in large numbers in the 20th century pursuing
jobs in the steel industry, contributing their music and foods to its
Southern nature. In the 1970s the city began to diversify
spurred on by the growth of the University of
Alabama at Birmingham
which attracted many students from out of state as well as
international students. During this period
itself as the most diverse city in
Alabama and the hub of a growing
multi-cultural metropolitan area. This blending of southern cultures
with international flavors is most evident in the city's cosmopolitan
Southside neighborhood. As the city's hub for bohemian culture and a
long frequented nightlife area it is among the most popular and
fastest growing in the city. The presence of UAB helps make it the
city's most racially and ethnically diverse neighborhood.[citation
Birmingham is the cultural and entertainment capital of Alabama, with
numerous art galleries in the area including the
Birmingham Museum of
Art, the largest art museum in the Southeast. Downtown
currently experiencing a cultural and economic rejuvenation, with
several new independent shops and restaurants opening in the area.
Birmingham is home to the state's major ballet, opera and symphony
orchestra companies such as the
Alabama Ballet, Alabama
Birmingham Concert Chorale, and
Alabama Theatre hosts film screenings, concerts and
The historic Lyric Theatre, which was completely renovated and
reopened in 2016, hosts performing arts shows and concerts.
Alys Robinson Stephens Performing Arts Center
Alys Robinson Stephens Performing Arts Center is home to the
Alabama Symphony Orchestra and Opera
Birmingham as well as several
series of concerts and lectures. It is on the campus of the University
Alabama at Birmingham.
Birmingham–Jefferson Convention Complex
Birmingham–Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) houses a theater,
concert hall, exhibition halls, and a sports and concert arena. The
BJCC is home to the
Birmingham Children's Theatre, one of
the oldest and largest children's theatres in the country, and hosts
major concert tours and sporting events. Adjacent to the BJCC is the
Sheraton Birmingham, the largest hotel in the state. A new Westin
Hotel anchors the nearby Uptown entertainment district of downtown
Birmingham, which opened in 2013.
The historic Carver Theatre, home of the
Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame,
offers concerts, plays, jazz classes (free to any resident of the
state of Alabama) and many other events in the Historic 4th Avenue
District, near the
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
Birmingham Public Library, the downtown hub of a 40-branch metro
library system, presents programs for children and adults.
Boutwell Memorial Auditorium (formerly Municipal Auditorium) is at
Oak Mountain Amphitheatre is a large outdoor venue with two stages in
the suburb of Pelham, just south of Birmingham.
Other entertainment venues in the area include:
Red Mountain Theater Company is a local regional theater
Birmingham founded in 1979. The theater puts on a season of
professional musical theater repertoire through the summer and fall
annually. It received national notice for the company's performance of
Newsies at the
Alabama School of Fine Arts and received praise from
Fourteen76 is a local online hub for anything related to
the arts of
Birmingham and surrounding areas. It features local
artists, interviews, journalism coverage of the arts and social
events, as well as a calendar of local art and music related events.
Fair Park Arena on the west side of town hosts
sporting events, local concerts and community programs.
Workplay, in the Southside community, 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.
The 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. Starting
in 2006, the Sidewalk Film Festival became host to the SHOUT Film
Festival, Alabama's first and only LGBTQ film festival.
Wright Center Concert Hall, a 2,500-seat facility at Samford
University, is home to the
Pepper Place, a district that was once made up of manufacturing
facilities and is now home to various businesses, shops, and
restaurants, became a designated entertainment district in February
Birmingham's nightlife is primarily clustered around the Five Points
South, Lakeview, and Avondale districts. In addition, a $55-million
"Uptown" entertainment district is adjacent to the BJCC featuring a
number of restaurants and a Westin hotel.
The Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham maintains
Birmingham365.org, "a one-stop source for finding out
what's going on where around" Birmingham.
See also: List of songs about Birmingham, Alabama
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 include the
Rights Institute, which houses a detailed and emotionally charged
narrative exhibit putting Birmingham's history into the context of the
Civil Rights Movement. It is on
Kelly Ingram Park
Kelly Ingram Park next 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 Arlington Home.
Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame is housed in the historic Carver Theatre
and offers exhibits about the numerous notable jazz musicians from the
state of Alabama.
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 Barber Vintage
Motorsports Museum, which contains the largest collection of
motorcycles in the world; the Iron &
Steel Museum of
Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, near McCalla; and the
Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
Birmingham is home to numerous cultural festivals showcasing music,
films, and regional heritage. The 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 in late
August at eight venues around downtown. Screenings are concentrated at
Alabama Theatre. The
Sloss Furnaces has an annual Halloween
haunted attraction called "Sloss Fright Furnace". During the summer,
Sloss Furnaces hosts an annual music and arts festival known as Sloss
Music and Arts Festival, or Sloss Fest. Since it began in 2015, the
festival has attracted hundreds of national headliners as well as
local bands. In its first year, Sloss Fest had approximately 25,000
attendees over its two-day span.
Another musical festival is the Taste of 4th Avenue Jazz Festival,
presented at the end of August 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.
Birmingham Folk Festival is an annual event held since 2006. It
moved to Avondale Park in 2008. In 2009 the festival featured nine
local bands and three touring "headliner bands".
Joe Minter's African Village in America is a half-acre visionary art
environment near downtown Birmingham.
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
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. The Lebanese Food Festival is
held at St. Elias Maronite Church. Central
Alabama Pride puts on LGBT
events each year, including a festival and parade. Magic
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
Birmingham Public Library, it is an occasion where fans may
meet their favorite authors, buy their books, and hear them read from
and talk about their work. Book signings follow each presentation.
Vulcan statue on top of Red Mountain in Vulcan Park
Vulcan statue is a cast-iron representation of the Roman god of
fire, iron and blacksmiths that is the symbol of Birmingham. The
statue, cast for the 1904
St. Louis Exposition and erected at Vulcan
Park in 1938, stands high above the city looking down from a tower at
the top of Red Mountain. Open to visitors, the tower offers views of
the city below.
Birmingham Zoo is a large regional zoo with more than 700 animals
and a recently opened interactive children's zoo.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens is a 67-acre (270,000-square-metre) 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 complemented
by Hoover's 30-acre (120,000 m2) Aldridge Botanical Gardens, an
ambitious project open since 2002. Aldridge offers a place to stroll,
but is to add unique displays in coming years.
Alabama Splash Adventure (formerly VisionLand and
in Bessemer serves as the
Birmingham area's water and theme park,
featuring numerous slides and water-themed attractions.
Kelly Ingram Park
Kelly Ingram Park is the site of notable civil rights protests and
adjacent to historic 16th Street Baptist Church.
Railroad Park opened
in 2010 in downtown Birmingham's Railroad Reservation District. Oak
Mountain State Park is about 10 miles (16 km) south of
Birmingham. Red Mountain is one of the southernmost wrinkles in the
Appalachian chain, and a scenic drive to the top provides views
reminiscent of the
Great Smoky Mountains
Great Smoky Mountains further north. To the west of
the city is
Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, a 1,500-acre
(6.1 km2) Civil War site which includes the well-preserved ruins
of the Tannehill Iron Furnaces and the John Wesley Hall Grist Mill.
The Summit is an upscale lifestyle center with many stores and
restaurants. It is in Southeast
Birmingham off U.S. Highway 280,
parallel to Interstate 459.
Main article: List of songs about Birmingham, Alabama
The folk song "Down in the Valley", also known as "
contains the lines, "Write me a letter, send it by mail; Send it in
care of the
The song "Sweet Home Alabama" by
Lynyrd Skynyrd contains the line "in
Birmingham they love the governor".
The song "Black Betty" performed by
Lead Belly and Ram Jam, among
others, contains the line "She's from
Birmingham (bam-ba-lam) Way down
in Alabam' (bam-ba-lam)".
Randy Newman wrote a song titled "Birmingham" about a man living in
the city. It was released as a track on his 1974 album Good Old Boys.
Birmingham is mentioned in "Playboy Mommy" by American
Tori Amos and in "Run, Baby, Run" by American
singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow.
The country band Blackhawk recorded the song "Postmarked
Tracy Lawrence and
Ken Mellons each recorded the country song "Paint
Me a Birmingham".
The best known song of the husband and wife band Shovels & Rope is
their original tune, "Birmingham".
Main article: Sports in Birmingham, Alabama
Southern League baseball
Birmingham Legion FC
BBVA Compass Field
Alliance of American Football
Southern Professional Hockey League
Pelham Civic Center
NBA G League
NBA G League Team
NBA G League
Birmingham has no major professional sport franchises. The Birmingham
area is home to the
Birmingham Barons, the AA minor league affiliate
of the Chicago White Sox, which plays at
Regions Field in the
Southside adjacent to Railroad Park. The University of
Birmingham (UAB Blazers) has a popular basketball program and football
program, and Samford University, in Homewood, has
basketball and football teams. The Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in the
suburb of Hoover is home to the
Southeastern Conference Baseball
Tournament which drew more than 108,000 spectators in 2006. There is
also an amateur soccer association, known as La Liga, and the
Birmingham area hosts the
Alabama Alliance basketball teams.
Birmingham was home to the Black Barons, a very successful Negro
League baseball team. The Black Barons played home games at Rickwood
Field, which is still standing in the Rising-West Princeton
neighborhood, and is verified as being the oldest baseball field in
America. Scenes from the movies Cobb (1994),
Soul of the Game (1995)
and 42 (2012) were filmed at Rickwood.
The Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex
The city has had several pro football franchises. The former pro
football team in Birmingham, the
Alabama Outlawz of the X-League
Indoor Football, folded in 2015. Other teams included the two-time
champion WFL franchise the
before the league folded. The city hosted a
USFL franchise, the
Birmingham Stallions, but once again the league folded. A WLAF
Birmingham Fire, was renamed the
Rhein Fire when the
WLAF was renamed NFL Europa, but the league folded altogether in 2007.
A CFL franchise, the
Birmingham Barracudas, played one season and then
folded as the league ended its American franchise experiment. An XFL
Birmingham Thunderbolts, were another instance where
the league folded. In 2018, the Alliance of American Football
Birmingham Iron, which will play in 2019.
Legion Field has hosted several college football
postseason bowl games, including the
Dixie Bowl (1948–49), the Hall
of Fame Classic (1977–85), the
All-American Bowl (1986–90), the
SEC Championship Game
SEC Championship Game (1992–93), the SWAC Championship Game
(1999–2012), the Magic
City Classic (1946–present) and, currently,
Birmingham Bowl (formerly the
BBVA Compass Bowl, 2006–present).
The Southeastern Conference, Southwestern Athletic Conference, and
Gulf South Conference
Gulf South Conference are headquartered in Birmingham.
Legion Field hosted early rounds of Olympic soccer where it
drew record crowds. The field has also hosted men's and women's World
Cup qualifiers and friendlies. A switch from natural grass to an
artificial surface has left the stadium's role as a soccer venue in
Motorsports are very popular in the
Birmingham area and across the
state, and the area is home to numerous annual motorsport races. The
Aaron's 499 &
AMP Energy 500
AMP Energy 500 are
NASCAR Sprint Cup races that
occur in April and October at the
Talladega Superspeedway 50 miles
(80 km) east of Birmingham. The Indy Grand Prix of
Barber Motorsports Park
Barber Motorsports Park road course with Superbike and sports car
Champions Tour has had a regular stop in the
since 1992, with the founding of the Bruno's Memorial Classic, later
renamed the Regions Charity Classic. In 2011 the tournament was
replaced by The Tradition, one of the Champions Tour's five "major"
Birmingham has been selected to host the
World Games in 2021. It will
be the first time an American city has hosted the event since the
World Games were held in Santa Clara, California, in
Birmingham is the home of a professional ice hockey team, the
Birmingham Bulls of the Southern Professional Hockey League. They play
at the Civic Center in nearby Pelham. The
Birmingham Bulls was also
the name of a team that played in the World Hockey Association from
1976 to 1979 and the Central Hockey League from 1979 to 1981. The WHA
Bulls played their home games at the
Birmingham Jefferson Convention
Center. In 1992, another
Birmingham hockey franchise was founded that
used the Bulls name, the
Birmingham Bulls of the East Coast Hockey
League. This franchise was later sold to Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Recreational fishing is popular in the
Birmingham was named "Bass Capital of the
ESPN and Bassmaster magazine. Over the last several
Birmingham has been home to numerous major
fishing tournaments, including the Bass Masters Classic.
Paralympic Training Facility in
Birmingham was a primary
filming location for the 2005 documentary film Murderball, about
wheelchair rugby players.
American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI), at St. Vincent's
Hospital in Birmingham, was founded by Dr. James Andrews in 1987. The
institute's mission is to understand, prevent, and treat
sports-related injuries. ASMI turned
Birmingham into a major medical
destination for professional athletes around the country. Dr. Andrews
has operated on Bo Jackson, Drew Brees, Roger Clemens, John Smoltz,
Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, and Jack Nicklaus, to name a few. His
orthopedics practice is frequently mentioned in books and
Birmingham will be home to a
United Soccer League
United Soccer League team named
Birmingham Legion FC starting in 2019 and an NBA G-League team in
City Council membership
Valerie A. Abbott
James E. Roberson, Jr.
John R. Hilliard
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).
See also: List of Mayors of Birmingham,
Alabama and List of Birmingham
Alabama law, an issue before a city council must be approved by a
two-thirds majority vote. Executive powers are held
entirely by the mayor's office. Birmingham's current mayor is Randall
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
Citizens' Advisory Board, which meets regularly with the mayor,
council, and department heads.
Birmingham is divided into 23
communities, and again into 99 individual neighborhoods with
individual neighborhood associations.
State and federal representation
United States Postal Service operates post offices in Birmingham.
The main post office is at 351 24th Street North in downtown
Birmingham is also the home of the Social
Security Administration's Southeastern Program Service Center. This
center is one of only seven in the
United States that process Social
Security entitlement claims and payments. In addition,
the home of a branch bank of the
Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank.
Birmingham's recent political history has gained national attention.
During his term as mayor,
Larry Langford was arrested on charges of
bribery. Langford was convicted in 2010 of accepting bribes in
exchange for steering $7.1 million in county revenue to a prominent
investment banker. The bribes included $230,000 cash, clothes, and
jewelry. Langford was sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined
$360,000 by a federal judge. The banker, Bill Blount, and a lobbyist,
Al la Pierre, pled guilty and were sentenced to brief prison
William A. Bell
William A. Bell has also been the subject of national
scrutiny. In 2015, the mayor got into a physical altercation with city
councilman Marcus Lundy. The fight sent both men to the
Woodlawn High School, a magnet school
The city is served by the
City Schools system. It is run by
Birmingham Board of Education with a current active enrollment of
30,500 in 62 schools: seven high schools, 13 middle schools, 33
elementary schools, and nine kindergarten-eighth-grade primary
Birmingham Public Library administers 21 branches throughout the city
and is part of a wider system including another 19 suburban branches
in Jefferson County, serving the entire community to provide education
and entertainment for all ages.
Birmingham metropolitan area is the home of numerous
independent school systems, because there has been a great deal of
fragmentation of educational systems in
Alabama and especially
Jefferson County. Some of the school systems only have three to five
schools. The metropolitan area's three largest school systems are the
Jefferson County School System,
City Schools, and the
Shelby County School System. However, there are many smaller school
Birmingham area is reputed to be the home of some of Alabama's
best high schools, colleges and universities. In 2005, the Jefferson
County International Baccalaureate School in Irondale, an eastern
suburb of Birmingham, was rated as the No. 1 high school in America by
Newsweek. The school remains among the nation's top
Mountain Brook High School
Mountain Brook High School placed 250th on the list.
Other area schools that have been rated among America's best in
various publications include Homewood High School, Vestavia Hills High
School, and the
Alabama School of Fine Arts downtown. The metro area
also has three highly regarded private college-preparatory schools:
Saint Rose Academy, in
Birmingham proper; the Altamont School, also in
Birmingham proper; and
Indian Springs School in north Shelby County
Alabama at Birmingham
Noteworthy institutions of higher education in greater Birmingham
include the University of
Alabama at Birmingham, Samford University
(including the Cumberland School of Law),
Birmingham School of Law,
Miles College, the independent Miles Law School, Jefferson State
Community College, Birmingham-Southern College, University of
Montevallo (in Shelby County), Lawson State Community College, and
Virginia College in Birmingham, the largest career college based in
See also: List of newspapers in Alabama, List of television stations
in Alabama, and List of radio stations in Alabama
Birmingham is served by one major newspaper, The
(circulation 150,346), which changed from daily to thrice-weekly
publication on October 1, 2012. The
Birmingham News' Wednesday edition
features six subregional sections named East, Hoover, North, Shelby,
South, and West that cover news stories from those areas. The
newspaper has been awarded two Pulitzer Prizes, in 1991 and 2007. 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 Trussville Tribune (Trussville, Clay and
Pinson), The Western Star (Bessemer) and The Western Tribune
Weld for Birmingham,
Birmingham Weekly and
Press are Birmingham's free alternative publications. The
Birmingham Times, a historic African-American newspaper, also is
Birmingham is served by the city magazine,
Birmingham magazine, owned by The
Birmingham is part of the Birmingham/Anniston/Tuscaloosa television
market. The major television affiliates, most of which have their
transmitters and studios on Red Mountain in Birmingham, are
(Fox), WBIQ 10 (PBS), WVTM 13 (NBC),
WTTO 21 (CW),
WIAT 42 (CBS), WPXH
WBMA-LD 58/68.2 (ABC) and
WABM 68 (MyNetworkTV).
NOAA weather radio station
KIH54 broadcasts weather and hazard
information for the
Birmingham Metropolitan Area.
Major broadcasting companies who own stations in the
include IHeartMedia, SummitMedia, Cumulus Media, and Crawford
Broadcasting. The Rick and Bubba Show, which is syndicated to over 25
stations primarily in the Southeast, originates from Birmingham's
Paul Finebaum sports-talk show, also syndicated and
carried nationwide on Sirius digital radio, originated from WJOX.
Birmingham is home to
EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network), the
world's largest Catholic media outlet and largest religious network of
any kind, broadcasting to about 150 million homes worldwide as of
Birmingham from Railroad Park
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Before the first structure was built in Birmingham, the directors of
Elyton Land Company developed a plan for the city's 1,160 acres
(4.7 km2). The streets were numbered from west to east, leaving
20th 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
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
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
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
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
City Center Master Plan developed by Urban Design
Associates of Pittsburgh, which advocates strongly for more
residential development in the downtown area. The plan also called for
a major park over several blocks of the central railroad reservation:
Railroad Park, which opened in 2010. Along with Ruffner Mountain Park
and Red Mountain Park,
Birmingham ranks first in the
United States for
public green space per resident.
The city of
Birmingham has a higher than average percentage of
households without a car. In 2015, 15.8 percent of Birmingham
households lacked a car, and decreased to 12.3 percent in 2016. The
national average was 8.7 percent in 2016.
Birmingham averaged 1.48
cars per household in 2016, compared to a national average of
Interstate 59 (co-signed with Interstate 20) approaching Interstate
65 in downtown Birmingham
I-222 (proposed connector between I-22 and I-422; direct interchange
cannot be built due to topography)
I-422 (proposed Northern Bypass)
I-459 (Southern Bypass)
The city is served by four Interstate Highways: Interstate 20,
Interstate 65, Interstate 59, and Interstate 22, as well as a southern
bypass expressway Interstate 459, which connects with I-20/59 to the
southwest, with I-65 to the south, I-20 to the east, and I-59 to the
northeast. Beginning in downtown
Birmingham is the Elton B. Stephens
Expressway—the "Red Mountain Expressway" to the southeast—which
carries U.S. Highway 31 and
U.S. Highway 280
U.S. Highway 280 to, through, and over Red
Interstate 22 connects I-65 and Memphis, Tennessee.
Construction has begun on the first segment of I-422, a Northern
Beltline Highway that will serve the suburbs on the opposite side of
Birmingham from I-459.
Birmingham Street Railway in 1903
In the area of metropolitan public transportation,
served by the
Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority
Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority (BJCTA)
bus, trolley, and paratransit system, which from 1985 until 2008 was
branded the Metro Area Express (MAX). BJCTA also operates a "downtown
circulator" service named "D A R T" for Downtown Area Runabout
Transit, which consists of two routes in the central business district
and one in the UAB area, and also operates hourly Airport Shuttle
routes directly from downtown and UAB area hotels to the
airport. Bus service to other cities is provided by
Greyhound Lines. Megabus offers bus service to Atlanta
Birmingham–Shuttlesworth International Airport, 4 miles (6 km)
northeast of downtown, serves more than 3 million passengers
every year. With more than 160 flights daily, the airport offers
flights to 37 cities provided by United Express, Delta Air Lines/Delta
Connection, American Eagle, and Southwest Airlines.
Birmingham is served by three major railroad freight lines: the
Norfolk Southern Company, CSX Transportation, and the BNSF Railway,
together with smaller regional railroads, the
Alabama Warrior Railway
Birmingham Southern Railroad. Amtrak operates one passenger
train, the Crescent, each direction daily.
The water for
Birmingham and the intermediate urbanized area is served
Birmingham Water Works Board (BWWB). A public authority that
was established in 1951, the BWWB serves all of Jefferson, northern
Shelby, and western St. Clair counties. The largest reservoir for BWWB
is Lake Purdy, which is 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
Jefferson County Environmental Services serves the
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 of several
Jefferson County officials. The sewer construction and
bond-swap agreements continue to be a controversial topic in the
Electric power is provided primarily by
Alabama Power, a subsidiary of
the Southern Company. However, some of the surrounding area such as
Bessemer and Cullman are provided power by the 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 the metro area.
Main article: List of people from Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham's Sister Cities program is overseen by the Birmingham
Sister Cities Commission.
Hitachi, Ibaraki, Japan
Pomigliano d'Arco, Naples, Campania, Italy
Anshan, Liaoning, China
Plzeň Region, Czech Republic, since 2005
Liverpool, England, United Kingdom, since October 2015
Winneba, Ghana, since November 15, 2009
Guédiawaye, Senegal, since 2005
Rosh HaAyin, Israel (Friendship City), since 2005
Maebashi, Gunma, Japan (Friendship City)
Chaoyang District, Beijing, China (Friendship City)
Cobán, Guatemala (Partners for the Americas)
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^ Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the highest and lowest
temperature readings during an entire month or year) calculated based
on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.
^ Official records for
Birmingham kept April 1895 to December 1929 at
the Weather Bureau Office and at
Birmingham Int'l since January 1930.
For more information, see Threadex.
^ "2018 U.S. Gazetteer Files".
United States Census Bureau. Retrieved
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See also: Bibliography of the history of Birmingham, Alabama
Arrington, Richard. There's Hope for the World: The Memoir of
Birmingham, Alabama's First
African American Mayor, University of
Alabama Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-8173-1623-5
Berney (1878), "Birmingham", Handbook of Alabama, Mobile: Mobile
Fazio, Michael W. Landscape of Transformations: Architecture and
Birmingham, Alabama. University of Tennessee Press, 2010; examines
Birmingham's architecture and society in the city's rise as an
Bennett, James R. "Historic
Birmingham and Jefferson County",
Historical Publishing Network, second ed, 2010.
Birmingham, Alabamaat's sister projects
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vteMunicipalities and communities of Jefferson County, Alabama, United
StatesCounty seat: BirminghamCities
Footnotes‡This populated place also has portions in an adjacent
county or counties
vteMunicipalities and communities of Shelby County, Alabama, United
StatesCounty seat: ColumbianaCities
Indian Springs Village
Footnotes‡This populated place also has portions in an adjacent
county or counties
vteMayors of cities with populations exceeding 100,000 in Alabama
Randall Woodfin (D)(Birmingham)
Todd Strange (R)(Montgomery)
Tommy Battle (R)(Huntsville)
Sandy Stimpson (R)(Mobile)
Walt Maddox (D)(Tuscaloosa)
vte50 most populous places of Alabama