|Country United States|
Population 201,332 (2013)
Area 156.19 sq mi
Mayor Todd Strange (R)
|Points of interest Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, First White House of the Confederacy, Civil Rights Memorial, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Alabama State Capitol|
Colleges and Universities Auburn University at Montgomery, Alabama State University, Faulkner University, Huntingdon College, H Councill Trenholm State Technical College
Montgomery is the capital of the U.S. state of Alabama and is the county seat of Montgomery County. Named for Richard Montgomery, it is located on the Alabama River, in the Gulf Coastal Plain. As of the 2010 Census, Montgomery had a population of 205,764. It is the second-largest city in Alabama, after Birmingham, and the 103rd largest in the United States. The Montgomery Metropolitan Statistical Area had a 2010 estimated population of 374,536. It is the fourth-largest in the state and 136th among United States metropolitan areas.
Map of Montgomery, Alabama
The city was incorporated in 1819, as a merger of two towns situated along the Alabama River. It became the state capital in 1846, representing the shift of power to the south-central area with the growth of cotton as a commodity crop of the Black Belt and Mobiles rise as a mercantile port. In February 1861, Montgomery was selected as the first capital of the Confederate States of America, until the seat of government moved to Richmond, Virginia, in May of that year. During the mid-20th century, Montgomery was a major site of events in the African-American Civil Rights Movement, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Selma to Montgomery marches.
In addition to housing many Alabama government agencies, Montgomery has a large military presence due to Maxwell Air Force Base; public universities Alabama State University, Troy University (Montgomery campus), and Auburn University at Montgomery; private colleges/universities Faulkner University and Huntingdon College; high-tech manufacturing, including Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama; and cultural attractions such as the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.
Two ships of the United States Navy have been named after the city, including USS Montgomery (LCS-8).
Montgomery has won several national awards including being voted Best Historic City by USA Today, being named an All-America City in 2014 by the National Civic League, and being named the happiest city in Alabama. Montgomery has also been recognized nationally for its successful, and ongoing downtown revitalization and new urbanism projects with Montgomery having been one of the first cities in the nation to implement Smart Code Zoning.
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 descended from the Mississippian culture, which had built massive earthwork mounds as part of their society about 950–1250 AD. They spoke mutually intelligible Muskogean languages, which were closely related. Present-day Montgomery is built on the site of two Alibamu towns: Ikanatchati (Ekanchattee or Ecunchatty or Econachatee), meaning "red earth;" and Towassa, built on a bluff called Chunnaanaauga Chatty. The first Europeans to travel through central Alabama were Hernando de Soto and his expedition, who went through Ikanatchati and camped for one week in Towassa in 1540.
The next recorded European encounter occurred more than 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 Scots trader who settled there in 1716. He married a high-status woman in the Coushatta or Alabama tribe. Their mixed-race children were considered Muskogean, as both tribes had a matrilineal system of property and descent. The children gained status in their mothers clan.
In 1785, Abraham Mordecai, a war veteran from a Sephardic Jewish family of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, established a trading post. The Coushatta and Alabama had gradually moved south and west after the French defeat by the British in 1763 in the Seven Years War. They moved to parts of present-day Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, then areas of Spanish rule, which they thought more favorable than British-held areas. By the time Mordecai arrived, Creek had settled in the area, under pressure from Cherokee and Iroquois warfare to the north. Mordecai married a Creek woman. When her people had to cede most of their lands after the 1813-14 Creek War, she joined them in removal. Mordecai brought the first cotton gin to Alabama.
The Upper Creek were able to discourage most European-American immigration until after the conclusion of the Creek War. Following their defeat by General Andrew Jackson in August 1814, the Creek tribes were forced to cede 23 million acres to the United States, including remaining land in todays Georgia and most of todays central and southern Alabama. In 1816, the Mississippi Territory (1798-1817) organized Montgomery County, and its lands were sold off the next year at the Federal land office in Milledgeville, Georgia.
The first group of European-American settlers to come to the Montgomery area was headed by General John Scott. The group founded Alabama Town about 2 miles (3 km) downstream on the Alabama River from present-day downtown. In June 1818, county courts were moved from Fort Jackson to Alabama Town. Soon after, Andrew Dexter, Jr., founded New Philadelphia, the present-day eastern part of downtown. He envisioned a prominent future for his town; he set aside a hilltop known as "Goat Hill" as the future site of the state capitol building. New Philadelphia soon prospered, and Scott and his associates built a new town adjacent, calling it East Alabama Town. Originally rivals, the towns merged on December 3, 1819, and were incorporated as the town of Montgomery.
Driven by the revenues of the cotton trade, the newly united Montgomery grew quickly. In 1822, the city became the county seat. 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 Tuscaloosa to Montgomery, on January 28, 1846.
As state capital, Montgomery began to influence state politics, and it would also play a prominent role on the national stage. Beginning February 4, 1861, representatives from Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina met in Montgomery, host of the Southern Convention, 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 Capitol. 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 transit-facilitated suburban development.
According to the historian David Beito of the University of Alabama, African Americans in Montgomery "nurtured the modern civil rights movement." On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Martin Luther King, Jr., then the pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, and E.D. Nixon, a local civil rights advocate, founded the Montgomery Improvement Association to organize the boycott. In June 1956, the US District Court Judge Frank M. Johnson ruled that Montgomerys bus racial segregation was unconstitutional. After the US Supreme Court upheld the ruling in November, the city desegregated the bus system, and the boycott was ended. Opponents organized mob violence with police collaboration at the Greyhound Bus Station during the Freedom Ride of May 1961. Outraged national reaction resulted in the desegregation of interstate public transportation.
Martin Luther King returned to Montgomery in 1965. Local civil rights leaders in Selma had been protesting Jim Crow laws that prevented 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. The violence they encountered contributed to Congressional passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to enforce the rights of African Americans and other minorities to vote.
On February 7, 1967, a devastating fire broke out at Dales Penthouse, a restaurant and lounge on the top floor of the Walter Bragg Smith apartment building (now called Capital Towers) at 7 Clayton Street downtown. Twenty-six people lost their lives.
In recent years, Montgomery has grown and diversified its economy. Active in downtown revitalization, the city adopted a master plan in 2007; it includes the revitalization of Court Square and the riverfront. Many other projects under construction include the revitalization of Historic Dexter Avenue, pedestrian and infastructure improvements along the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail, and the construction of a new environmental park on West Fairview Avenue.
Montgomery is located at 32°21?42?N 86°16?45?W. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 156.2 square miles (405 km2), of which 155.4 square miles (402 km2) of it is land and 0.8 square miles (2.1 km2) of it (0.52%) is water. The city is built over rolling terrain at an elevation of about 220 feet (67 m) above sea level
Montgomerys central location in Alabamas Black Belt makes it a processing hub for crops such as cotton, peanuts, and soybeans. In 1840 Montgomery County 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 and has diversified its economy in recent years with increased employment in sectors such as healthcare, business, government, and manufacturing. Today, the citys Gross Metropolitan Product is $12.15 billion, representing 8.7% of the Gross State Product of Alabama.
Montgomery has one of the biggest arts scenes of any mid-sized city in America. The Wynton M. Blount Cultural Park in east Montgomery is home to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. The Museums 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 Zoo has over 500 animals, from five different continents, in 40 acres (0.16 km2) of barrier-free habitats. The Hank Williams Museum contains one of the largest collections of Williams memorabilia in the world. Also Montgomery is home to the Museum of Alabama which serves as the official state history museum and is located inside the Alabama Department of Archives and History building downtown. This museum recently over went an over 10 million dollar renovation and expansion, and features many new exhibits and displays.
Blount Park also contains the Alabama Shakespeare Festivals 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. The 1800 seat state of the art Montgomery Performing Arts Center opened inside the newly renovated convention center downtown in 2007 and is host to everything from Broadway plays to concerts and has hosted big names such as BB King, Gregg Allman, and Merle Haggard.
There is a rich history of musical performers with roots in Montgomery. Grammy Award winning recording artist Toni Tennille of the famed duo The Captain and Tennille. 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 Prattville 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 birthplace of Nat King Cole, Clarence Carter, and Tommy Shaw, Montgomery has 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 Connecticut. The Ed Kemper Trio became well known in Montgomery’s local rock music scene from 1997 to 2004, and was the focus of People Will Eat Anything, a music documentary shown at the Capri Theatre in 2004.
In popular culture
The award-winning 2014 film, Selma, features a filmed-on-location reenactment of the end of the Selma to Montgomery march.