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Birmingham History, Alabama

Birmingham History – The Industrial Centre

The history of Birmingham, Alabama, is largely dependent in its initial development upon the railroads that started being built in the States. The location of the city was established because it was the site of a major railway crossing and it had the privilege to be the only location in the world where all three raw materials needed for the production of steel (iron ore, coal and limestone) were found at such proximity. Given this fact the city was named Birmingham in honor of the city with the same name in England which was already a major industrial centre, therefore emphasizing the function this new city was bound to have. Being conceived from the start as an industrial centre, Birmingham was struck by cholera in the late 19th century but it soon recovered and started growing at a fast rate.

Birmingham History – The Heaviest Corner on Earth

At the turn of the century Birmingham history saw much improvement, as large, impressive office buildings started being built and the city received a new aura, becoming increasingly busy and imposing. Moreover, this early chain of skyscrapers was named “the heaviest corner on earth”, gaining Birmingham international reputation. During the great depression the city was hit pretty hard because of the lack of funds in the city proper and also due to the fact that more and more farmers started coming to the city in search of work. However, during the war and after Birmingham recovered sooner than Montgomery and Huntsville due to the high steel demand both in construction and in infrastructure, so the aspect of the city grew increasingly pleasant and functional. Cultural institutions also became more and more prosperous, and an important example is the Birmingham Museum of Art, which received several investments and became an important landmark of the city.

Birmingham History – The Diverse City

An important moment in Birmingham history is the struggle the community led in the civil rights battles of the ‘60s for the rights of African-Americans. Martin Luther King, Jr. was invited to the city to empower the African-American movement and Project C (Confrontation) was launched against heavy street battles with the police. More than 3.000 arrests were made during the street fights, most of which were school aged children, but the protesters finally got what they fought for with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Later, the city focused on education and infrastructure, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham soon became an important medical studies centre. New skyscrapers were also built and the economy of the city started to diversify, offering more investment and job opportunities. Population in 2009 was estimated at about 245.000 inhabitants and the new tag line that was chosen for Birmingham by its local council is “the diverse city”.

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