"On January 26, 1871, ten men met in the Montgomery, Alabama,
banking office of Josiah Morris and organized the Elyton Land Company.
The Company's purpose was clearly stated in its by-laws: 'The city to be
built by the Elyton Land Company, near Elyton, in the County of
Jefferson, State of Alabama, shall be called
Carolyn Green Satterfield, Historic Sites of Jefferson County, Alabama

General Ulysses S. Grant accepted Robert E. Lee's surrender at the Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia on Palm Sunday, April 9, 1865. Six years later, still on the heels of the Confederate defeat, the first city of the New South was born.

When the junction of the Alabama & Chattanooga Railroad and the South & North Railroad was completed in Jefferson County, Alabama, home to rich deposits of iron ore, limestone, and coal, it was clear that a new intensely industrial economy was ready to emerge. Banker Josiah Morris paid Jefferson County landowners approximately $100,000 for a parcel of property and formed the Elyton Land Company on December 8, 1870.

The next month, Elyton's ten shareholders (Josiah Morris, Samuel Tate, Campbell Wallace, Henry M. Caldwell, Bolling Hall, James N. Gilmer, Benjamin P. Worthington, William F. Nabers, William S. Mudd, and the Virginian Colonel James R. Powell) gathered at Morris Bank in Montgomery, Alabama, and selected Powell as president of the company. After debating such city names as Mudd Town, Powellton, Milnerville, and Morriston, the group eventually settled on the name "Birmingham," after one of Britain's great industrial cities, which Powell had recently visited.

The first auction for lots in the new city was held on June 1, 1871.

Since that time, Birmingham has grown from an industrial to a service-based economy, from a simple railroad crossing rich with mineral deposits to the largest city in the state of Alabama. But the rapid growth of the "Magic City" was not without its growing pains; racial disharmony in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s led to protests and demonstrations by disenfranchised African Americans, which in turn were met with retaliatory murders, bombings, and mass imprisonments.

Today, Birmingham is probably the most progressive city in Alabama. Home to some of history's worst civil rights abuses, the city's racist past is very much an embarrassment to those who live here. But Birmingham's distinction as the "birthplace of the civil rights movement" is a source of deep pride for many people, because although many horrible bigots and racists once called Birmingham their home, so too did many of the heroes who emerged to fight discrimination and inequality not just in Alabama, but across the South and throughout the United States.

Birmingham's largest employer is the University of Alabama at Birmingham, an urban commuter college best known for its medical school and research facilities. Together, the UAB college and hospital employ approximately 9% of the Birmingham work force.

"As the morning mist rises slowly from Shades Valley...
The tall stacks of [the abandoned Sloss Furnace] emit no smoke;
gone is the hot-orange molten iron pouring into waiting sand molds,
a remembrance for four generations of Jefferson County residents.
To the west lies the city, the new city of the New South, Birmingham,
a 'Magic City' that rose from a cornfield upon a foundation of iron and
steel... Birmingham, which survived depressions and racial violence,
is today a city of concrete and steel pillars shooting heavenward from
the valley floor, its modern cubes of multi-storied mirrored glass
reflecting the sunrise back into the green hills and the red mountain."

Leah Rawls Atkins, The Valley and the Hills

As of the 2000 census, Birmingham's population is estimated at 242,820 people (8.7% lower than in 1990) and accounts for approximately 5.5% of Alabama's population as a whole. Among Birmingham residents, approximately 46% are men and 54% are women, with the median age hovering around 34 years old. Additional statistics you might find interesting:

Demographic information:
(As of the 2000 census)

Racial Makeup
Total Population			242,820
White				24.1%
Black or African American		73.5%
American Indian or Alaska Native	0.2%
Asian				0.8%
Some other race			0.6%
Two or more races			0.8%

Total Households			98,782
Married-couple families		31.1%
Female householder (no husband)	24.6%
Nonfamily households		40.0%

Average Household Size		2.37
Average Family Size		3.09

Employment & Income
Civilian labor force		110,697
Employed				89%
Unemployed			11%

Median Household Income		$26,735
Per Capita Income			$15,663

Families below poverty level	36.1%
Individuals below poverty level	24.7%

Geographic information:
(According to The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2003)

Temperature and Precipitation
Average High Temperature		73°F
Average Low Temperature		51°F
Average Annual Precipitation	54.1 inches

Location and Elevation
Latitude				33° 31' 14"
Longitude				86° 48' 9"
Area				149.9 square miles
Population Density			1,620 per square mile
Average Elevation			636 feet

Famous People from Birmingham

Not by any means an exhaustive list, but here are a few notable Birminghamians:

Courtney Cox Arquette, actress (Friends)

John Badham, film producer (Saturday Night Fever, WarGames, E. T.)

Charles Barkley, NBA Hall of Fame

Amber Benson, actress ("Tara" from Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Bobby Bowden, Florida State football coach

Nell Carter, gospel singer and television star

Fannie Flagg, comedian and author (Fried Green Tomatoes)

Louise Fletcher, actress (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)

Vonetta Flowers, first African American to earn a gold medal in the Winter Olympics

Rebecca Gilman, playwright

Emmylou Harris, Grammy Award-winning singer

Bo Jackson, Heisman Trophy winner

Kate Jackson, actress (Charlie's Angels, Scarecrow and Mrs. King)

Eddie Kendricks, original lead singer of The Temptations

Chuck Leavell, keyboardist for The Rolling Stones

Rebecca Luker, Broadway performer (The Music Man, The Sound of Music, The Secret Garden)

Robert R. McCammon, author

Phil Mulkey, olympic decathlete

Howell Raines, New York Times Executive Editor

Condileeza Rice, National Security Director for George W. Bush

Wayne Rogers, actor (Trapper John from M*A*S*H)

Fred Shuttlesworth, civil rights activist

Bart Starr, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback

Margaret Tutwiler, United States Ambassador to Morocco

E. O. Wilson, Yale University professor and author

John Zimmerman, olympic ice skater and gold medalist

1. Leah Rawls Atkins, The Valley and the Hills: An Illustrated History of Birmingham and Jefferson County. (ISBN: 0-89781-482-7)
2. Carolyn Green Satterfield, Historic Sites of Jefferson County, Alabama. Birmingham: 1976.
3. Elizabeth H. Cobbs and Petric J. Smith, Long Time Coming. (ISBN: 1-881548-10-4)
4. World Almanac Education Group, The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2003. (ISBN: 088687-882-9)
5. http://factfinder.census.gov (28 Jan 2003)
6. http://www.birminghamchamber.com/living/quick_facts/quick_facts.htm (28 Jan 2003)

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