Cities Near Birmingham, AL
Local city information for Birmingham, AL
(, ) is the largest city in the U.S. state of Alabama and is the county seat of Jefferson County. It also includes part of Shelby County. The population of the city was 229,800 according to the 2007 estimate. The Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area, as of the 2008 census estimates, has a population of 1,117,608. It is also the largest city in the Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman Combined Statistical Area, colloquially known as Greater Birmingham, which contains roughly one quarter of the population of Alabama. If nearby counties Tuscaloosa, Etowah, Talladega, & Calhoun are added to the Greater Birmingham population it would exceed over 1.7 million as of 2008.
Birmingham was founded in 1871, just after the U.S. Civil War, as an industrial enterprise. It was named after Birmingham, one of the UK's major industrial cities.
Through the middle of the 20th century, Birmingham was the primary industrial center of the Southern United States. The astonishing pace of Birmingham's growth through the turn of the century earned it the nicknames "The Magic City"
and "The Pittsburgh of the South"
. Much like Pittsburgh in the north, Birmingham's major industries centered around iron and steel production.
Over the course of the 20th century, the city's economy diversified. Though the manufacturing industry maintains a strong presence in Birmingham, other industries such as banking, insurance, medicine, publishing, and biotechnology have risen in stature. Birmingham has been recognized as one of the top cities for income growth in the United States South with a significant increase in per capita income since 1990.
Today, Birmingham ranks as one of the most important business centers in the Southeastern United States and is also one of the largest banking centers in the U.S. In addition, the Birmingham area serves as headquarters to one Fortune 500 company: Regions Financial. Five Fortune 1000 companies are headquartered in Birmingham.
Birmingham occupies Jones Valley, flanked by long parallel mountain ridges (the tailing ends of the Appalachian foothills) running from north-east to south-west. The valley is drained by small creeks (Village Creek, Valley Creek) which flow into the Black Warrior River. The valley was bisected by the principal railroad corridor, along which most of the early manufacturing operations began.
Red 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 Valley, Shades Mountain and beyond, was largely shielded from the industrial smoke and rough streets of the industrial city. This is the setting for Birmingham's more affluent suburbs of Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, Homewood, and Hoover. South of Shades Valley is the Cahaba River basin, one of the most diverse river ecosystems in America.
Sand Mountain, a smaller ridge, flanks the city to the north and divides Jones Valley from much more rugged land to the north. The Louisville and Nashville Railroad (now CSX Transportation) enters the valley through Boyles Gap, a prominent gap in the long low ridge.
Ruffner Mountain, located due east of the heart of the city, is home to Ruffner Mountain Nature Center, one of the largest urban nature reserves in the United States.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 151.9 square miles (393.5 km²), of which, 149.9 square miles (388.3 km²) of it is land and 2.0 square miles (5.3 km²) of it (1.34%) is water.
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