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Birmingham ( BUR-ming-ham) is a city in the north central region of the U.S. state of Alabama. Birmingham is the seat of Jefferson County, Alabama's most populous and fifth largest county by area. As of 2018, the Birmingham-Hoover metropolitan area had a population of 1,151,801, making it the most populous in Alabama and 49th-most populous in the United States. Birmingham serves as an important regional hub and is associated with the Deep South, Piedmont, and Appalachian regions of the nation. Birmingham was founded in 1871, during the post-Civil War Reconstruction period, through the merger of three pre-existing farm towns, notably, former Elyton. It grew from there, annexing many more of its smaller neighbors, into an industrial and railroad transportation center with a focus on mining, the iron and steel industry, and railroading. Birmingham was named for Birmingham, England, UK; one of that nation's major industrial cities. Most of the original settlers who founded Birmingham were of English ancestry. In one writer's view, the city was planned as a place where cheap, non-unionized, and African-American labor from rural Alabama could be employed in the city's steel mills and blast furnaces, giving it a competitive advantage over industrial cities in the Midwest and Northeast.From its founding through the end of the 1960s, Birmingham was a primary industrial center of the South. The pace of Birmingham's growth during the period from 1881 through 1920 earned its nicknames The Magic City and The Pittsburgh of the South. Much like Pittsburgh, Birmingham's major industries were iron and steel production, plus a major component of the railroading industry, where rails and railroad cars were both manufactured in Birmingham. In the field of railroading, the two primary hubs of railroading in the Deep South were nearby Atlanta and Birmingham, beginning in the 1860s and continuing through to the present day. The economy diversified during the later half of the twentieth century. Though the manufacturing industry maintains a strong presence in Birmingham, other businesses and industries such as banking, telecommunications, transportation, electrical power transmission, medical care, college education, and insurance have risen in stature. Mining in the Birmingham area is no longer a major industry with the exception of coal mining. 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 United States. In addition, the Birmingham area serves as headquarters to one Fortune 500 company: Regions Financial, along with five other Fortune 1000 companies. In higher education, Birmingham has been the location of the University of Alabama School of Medicine (formerly the Medical College of Alabama) and the University of Alabama School of Dentistry since 1947. Since that time it has also obtained a campus of the University of Alabama, University of Alabama at Birmingham (founded circa 1969), one of three main campuses of the University of Alabama System. It is also home to three private institutions: Samford University, Birmingham-Southern College, and Miles College. Between these colleges and universities, the Birmingham area has major colleges of medicine, dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, law, engineering, and nursing. The city has three of the state's five law schools: Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham School of Law, and Miles Law School. Birmingham is also the headquarters of the Southeastern Conference, one of the major U.S. collegiate athletic conferences.
Columbus is a city in and the county seat of Lowndes County, on the eastern border of Mississippi, United States, located primarily east, but also north and northeast of the Tombigbee River, which is also part of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. It is approximately 146 miles (235 km) northeast of Jackson, 92 miles (148 km) north of Meridian, 63 miles (101 km) south of Tupelo, 60 miles (97 km) northwest of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and 120 miles (193 km) west of Birmingham, Alabama.The population was 25,944 at the 2000 census and 23,640 in 2010. The population in 2019 was estimated to be 23,573. Columbus is the principal city of the Columbus Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is part of the larger Columbus-West Point Combined Statistical Area. Columbus is also part of the area of Mississippi called The Golden Triangle, consisting of Columbus, West Point and Starkville, in the counties of Lowndes, Clay and Oktibbeha.
Shelby County is located in the central portion of the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2020 census the population was 223,024. The county seat is Columbiana. The largest city is Alabaster. The county is named in honor of Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky from 1792 to 1796 and again from 1812 to 1816. Shelby County is included in the Birmingham–Hoover, AL Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Selma is a city in and the county seat of Dallas County, in the Black Belt region of south central Alabama and extending to the west. Located on the banks of the Alabama River, the city has a population of 20,756 as of the 2010 census. About 80% of the population is African-American. Selma was a trading center and market town during the antebellum years of King Cotton in the South. It was also an important armaments-manufacturing and iron shipbuilding center for the Confederacy during the Civil War, surrounded by miles of earthen fortifications. The Confederate forces were defeated during the Battle of Selma, in the final full month of the war. In modern times, the city is best known for the 1960s civil rights movement and the Selma to Montgomery marches, beginning with "Bloody Sunday" in 1965 and ending with 25,000 people entering Montgomery at the end of the last march to press for voting rights. This activism generated national attention for social justice and that summer, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed by Congress to authorize federal oversight and enforcement of constitutional rights of all American citizens. Due to agriculture and industry decline, Selma has lost about a third of its peak population in the 1960s. The city now is focusing its income on tourism for its major influence in civil rights and desegregation. Selma is also one of Alabama's poorest cities with an average income of $35,500, which is 30% less than the state average. Selma also has a high poverty rate with one in every three residents in Selma being in poverty.