Most of us knew Alabama as a laid back Southern state that hosts the infamous Rocket City of Huntsville and the sparkling beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. Alabama, however, is more than what is portrayed in the movies and other media. From a primarily agricultural state, it has evolved over the decades, it has diversified its interest into automotive, management, manufacturing, mineral extraction, finance, and aerospace.
State Capital: Montgomery.
Alabama is bordered by Tennessee to the North, the Gulf of Mexico to the South, Georgia to the East and Mississippi to the West. It is considered as the 13th largest state in America with a land area of 52,419 square miles. According to the US Census Bureau’s estimate, Alabama has a population of 4,863,300 in 2016 making it the 24th most densely populated state in the United States.
Throughout history, the state has been known by many monikers including- the Cotton State and the Heart of Dixie. Montgomery is Alabama’s capital, while Birmingham is the largest city regarding population.
Alabama is believed to have first been discovered in 1519 when Spanish explorers arrived in what is now Mobile Bay. In 1702, the first recorded European settlement was established at the Fort Louis de la Mobile by French settlers.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Alabama was one of the centers of the civil rights movement with unforgettable stories such as the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955-56 and the so-called “Freedom March” that went on from Selma to Montgomery in 1965.
While some parts of Alabama are industrialized, it remains today as one of America’s food baskets renowned for producing different agricultural products such as corn, vegetables, poultry, soybeans, wheat, cattle, cotton, peanuts, hogs and other livestock.
The Main Cities in Alabama
Alabama’s diverse geography, ranging from sandy beaches to forested mountains, also boasts numerous large cities. Below are the top 10 largest cities in the state of Alabama and the number of people inhabiting them according to the 2010 national census:
1. Birmingham (pop: 212,237)
2. Montgomery (pop: 205,764)
3. Mobile (pop: 195,111)
4. Huntsville (pop: 180,105)
5. Tuscaloosa (pop: 90,468)
6. Hoover (pop: 81,619)
7. Dothan (pop: 65,496)
8. Decatur (pop: 55,683)
9. Auburn (pop: 53,380)
10. Madison (pop: 42,938)
Stunning Architecture in Alabama
The southern state is home to many different types of architectural wonders from interesting museums, traditional churches, charismatic theaters, and historic courthouses; just to name a few.
Much of the architectural designs in Alabama make use of decorative grates to cope with the state’s various waterways. Roughly 3.2-percent of Alabama’s area is made out of the water. In fact, the state has the second-biggest inland waterway system in the country.
Below are some of the most eye-catching architectural marvels in Alabama:
1. Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Mobile
2. Montgomery Mall in Montgomery
3. St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman
4. Alabama Theatre in Birmingham
5. Hargis Hall / Auburn University in Auburn
Famous Landmarks in Alabama
Alabama has its fair share of amazing tourist spots and landmarks. Tourism in this southern state is booming with an estimated 20 million visitors each year; over 100,000 of whom are foreign tourists. Below are some of Alabama’s most visited landmarks:
1. Baptist Church in 16th Street, Birmingham
During the civil rights movement, it served as the site for rallies and mass meetings. In 1963, the church was bombed killing four girls attending Sunday school. The tragedy added more flames to the movement. Today, however, Alabama is more peaceful and has upheld equality among its residents regardless of their color.
2. USS Alabama (BB-60) in Mobile
This historic battleship was commissioned in 1942 and has fought into some of the most crucial naval battles during the Second World War. It retired in 1962 and is currently displayed in Mobile Bay. In 1986, the ship was listed as one of the National Historic Landmarks.
3. Union Station in Montgomery
Built by the Louisville and Nashville Railroad in 1898, this former train station now serves as Montgomery’s Visitor Center. It is also one of the most remarkable national landmarks in the state.
4. Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay
The star-shaped masonry fort is a historic site as it has seen the days of the American Civil War. Named after the Revolutionary hero Daniel Morgan, the fort has been named as a National Historic Landmark since 1960. Sadly though, it is also one of the country’s ten most endangered battle sites, according to the Civil War Preservation Trust.
5. Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery
Located on Capitol Hill, the Alabama State Capitol is considered as the First Confederate Capitol. The building served as the seat of power during the time of the Confederate States of America in 1851. Architecturally, the capital has a Greek Revival Style with some influences from Beaux-Arts.
Tallest Buildings in Alabama
The urban areas in Alabama hold some of the tallest structures in the state. Many of the tallest buildings in Alabama are located in the cities of Birmingham and Mobile. Other cities such as Montgomery, Orange Beach, and Florence also have buildings of at least 100 feet high. Many of these buildings have a modern design complete with an elegant façade and stylish drain covers.
Below are the tallest buildings in Alabama:
1. RSA Battle House Tower in Mobile (35 stories; 745 feet)
2. Wells Fargo Tower in Birmingham (34 stories; 454 feet)
3. Regions- Harbert Plaza in Birmingham (32 stories; 437 feet)
4. RSA-Bank Trust Building in Mobile (34 stories; 424 feet)
5. RSA Tower in Montgomery (22 stories; 397 feet)
6. AT&T City Center in Birmingham (30 stories; 391 feet)
7. Regions Center in Birmingham (30 stories; 390 feet)
8. Turquoise Place I in Orange Beach (30 stories; 377 feet)
9. Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel (28 stories; 374 feet)
10. Saturn V Dynamic Test Stand (31 stories; 360 feet)
In conclusion, Alabama is a mixture of the old and the new; the traditional and the modern. While it has moved on from just being an agricultural state and marched into a more modern outlook, some places are still rooted in the past for today’s generation to relish.
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