Montgomery (IPA: /məntˈgəmɜriː/) is the capital, second most populous city, and the fourth most populous metropolitan area in the Southern U.S. state of Alabama, and is the county seat of Montgomery County. It is located southeast of the center of the state, in the Gulf Coastal Plain. The city population was 201,568 as of the 2000 census. Montgomery is the primary city of the Montgomery Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had a 2000 population of 346,528.
The city was incorporated in 1819, as a merger of two towns situated along the Alabama River. It became the state capital in 1846. 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, Mongtomery was a primary site in the African-American Civil Rights Movement, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Selma to Montgomery marches.
Today, 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 and Auburn University-Montgomery, high-tech manufacturing including Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, and cultural attractions like the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.
View of the Capitol in 1857
Alabama State Capitol, Dexter Avenue, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL
The Montgomery area was originally heavily populated by the Alibamu tribe of Native Americans (after which the state is named). By 1800 the Native Americans had been mostly driven out, and white settlers began to permanently occupy the area. From 1800to 1813, settlers continued to move in, but in 1814 two competing businessmen who would lay the foundation of the capital city arrived. Each seeking his fortune on the fertile lands near the river, they constructed separate towns, East Alabama and New Philadelphia, along the Alabama River. Each town was a success, and their proximity to each other quickly caused them to merge. Incorporated in 1819 when Alabama was admitted to the Union, the new city was named for General Richard Montgomery, who died in the American Revolutionary War attempting to capture Quebec City, Canada. Montgomery County, Alabama, was named in memory of Major Lemuel P. Montgomery of Virginia, who fell at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend on March 27, 1814. He was struck in the head by a Redstick musketball, becoming the first man to die in the battle. A statue of Major Montgomery graces the entrance of the Montgomery County Courthouse.
Ray-Branch House, 730 South Court Street, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL
Montgomery was not the first capital of Alabama; it was actually the fifth. The territorial capital of Alabama was St. Stephens, on the Tombigbee River. The state capital was temporarily located in Huntsville after the state's creation in 1819, but was transferred to Cahawba in 1820. Cahawba was considered a less-than-ideal location because of periodic flooding and was abandoned by 1826. The state capital then was moved to Tuscaloosa. In 1846, the capital was permanently located at Montgomery, the legislature likely finding it an ideal location from which to run the state, due to adequate amenities and travel. It has been said that New Philadelphia's founder, Andrew Dexter, the more prominent of the two businessmen whose cities eventually merged into Montgomery, believed so strongly that his town would one day become capital of a new state that he actually reserved a spot for a capitol building. Once the capital was moved to Montgomery, his spot was purchased for that very purpose. From then, Montgomery continued to increase in prosperity and prominence. When Alabama seceded during the Civil War, Montgomery served as the first capital of the Confederate States of America; Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as president on the steps of the Capitol.
Western Railway of Alabama Montgomery Rail Shops, 701 North Perry Street, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL
During the Civil War, Montgomery was left virtually physically undamaged, thanks in part to the Confederate capital having been moved to Richmond, Virginia, early in the war in an effort to keep the war in the north. Alabama's infrastructure, however, was damaged with much the rest of the South. Once the railways had been rebuilt, the city moved its focus toward industrial growth in textiles and agriculture. 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. On March 19, 1910, Montgomery became the winter home of the Wright brothers' Wright Flying School. The men frequented Montgomery and founded several airfields, one of which developed into the Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base after the Wrights began working with the government to produce planes for military use. Montgomery flourished in the years leading up to the Great Depression, having experienced steady population growth. World War II revitalized the city after the Depression, but the city continued to weather some economic hardships.
Winter Building, 2 Dexter Avenue, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL
Civil rights movement in Montgomery
The Dexter Avenue Baptist Church
Reverend Dr. Martin L. King Jr. gained national attention for civil rights issues during his tenure (1954 to 1960) as pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, two blocks from the State Capitol Building. A civil rights memorial has been erected near the still-active church. On December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks became a civil rights heroine in the city by refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. The reaction to this arrest led to the 382-day Montgomery Bus Boycott, which forced the city to desegregate its transit system on December 21, 1956. In 1965, Dr. King's nationally publicized four day march for justice was conducted from Selma to Montgomery.
St. John's Episcopal Church, 113 Madison Avenue, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL
Oliver-Housman House, Wilkerson & Montgomery Streets, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL
On February 7, 1967, a devastating fire broke out at Dale's 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. The fire was reported to have started in the cloakroom, and early efforts to extinguish it by the staff failed. Twenty-five people lost their lives, mainly because the only emergency stair exit, which was next to the cloakroom, was blocked by the fire and because the restaurant was not evacuated promptly. Many prominent local citizens and some visiting teamsters in town for a convention perished. As a result of the national exposure of the tragedy, a nationwide effort to revamp fire code standards was launched.
Jenkins Brick Company, Plant No. 2, Furnace Street, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL
In more recent history, Montgomery has begun to recover from its economic problems of the 20th century. Montgomery is now home to Hyundai Motor Company's first assembly plant in the United States. A revitalization effort has brought a baseball stadium and a riverfront walk to downtown as well as numerous parks and historical attractions. Montgomery public schools were among the first in the nation to receive city-wide Internet access, and the Alabama school system was the first to wire all districts and schools via fiber-optics. In 1994, the 22-floor RSA Tower was constructed, which now houses many prominent tenants, including Raycom Media, the Capital City Club, and Morgan Keegan & Company. Montgomery is also expanding rapidly with plans to build a second bypass system and construction of large residential and commercial developments throughout the city. Montgomery is home to a federal minimum-security prison and to some of the military's most valuable and critical computer systems and is a major supply hub for the military. The city also houses one of the military's key air war colleges. Recently, Montgomery has been focusing on further improving local schools. Also, Montgomery is home to a Fine Arts Museum and the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the fifth largest Shakespearean venue in the world.
The Alabama River at Montgomery in 2004
First White House of the Confederacy
First White House of the Confederacy, 625 Washington Street (moved from Bibb & Lee Stree, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL, West Side View
Downtown Montgomery lies along the southern bank of the Alabama River, about 6 miles (9.7 km) downstream from the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers. The most prominent feature of Montgomery's skyline is the 22-story RSA Tower, built in 1996 by the Retirement Systems of Alabama. Downtown also contains many state and local government buildings, including the Alabama State Capitol. The Capitol is located atop a hill at one end of Dexter Avenue, along which also lies the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was pastor. Both the Capitol and Dexter Baptist Church are listed as National Historic Landmarks by the U.S. Department of the Interior. One block south of the Capitol is the First White House of the Confederacy, the 1835 Italianate-style house in which President Jefferson Davis and family lived while the capitol of the Confederacy was in Montgomery. Montgomery's third National Historic Landmark is Union Station. Train service to Montgomery ceased in 1985, but today Union Station is part of the Riverwalk park development, which also includes an amphitheater, a riverboat dock and Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium. Three blocks east of the Convention Center, Old Alabama Town showcases more than 50 restored buildings from the 19th century. The Riverwalk is part of a larger plan to revamp the downtown area. The plan includes the utilization of urban forestry, infill development, and façade renovation to encourage business and residential growth. A 112,000-square-foot (10,400 m2) Convention Center which was completed in 2007 is expected to further encourage growth in the downtown area.
Union Station in 2008.
Union Station, Water Street, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL
Louisville & Nashville Railroad, Union Station Train Shed, Water Street, opposite Lee Street, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL
South of downtown, across Interstate 85, lies Alabama State University. ASU's campus was built in Colonial Revival architectural style from 1906 until the beginning of World War II. Surrounding ASU are the Garden District, and Cloverdale Historic District. Houses in these areas date from around 1875 until 1949, and are in Late Victorian and Gothic Revival styles. Huntingdon College is on the southwestern edge of Cloverdale. The campus was built in the 1900s in Tudor Revival and Gothic Revival styles. ASU, the Garden District, Cloverdale, and Huntingdon are all listed as National Historic Districts.
Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium
Montgomery's east side is the fastest-growing part of the city. The city's two largest shopping malls, as well as many big-box stores and residential developments are on the east side. The area is also home of the Wynton M. Blount Cultural Park, a 1-square-kilometre (250-acre) park which contains the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.
Figh-Pickett House, 14 Clayton Street, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL
Prattville, 10 miles (16 km) to the northwest is the second largest city in the Montgomery Metropolitan Area. Other area towns are Pike Road to the southeast, Millbrook to the north, and Wetumpka to the northeast.
Garrett-Hatchett House, 313 Catoma Street, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL
Montgomery's central location in Alabama's 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. Today, the city's Gross Metropolitan Product is $12.15billion, representing 8.7% of the Gross State Product of Alabama.
Kenneworth-Moffatt House, 405 South Hull Street, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL
The Wynton M. Blount Cultural Park in east Montgomery is home to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. The Museum's 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, one of only two AZA-accredited zoos in Alabama, has over 500 animals 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.
The Alabama Shakespeare Festival's Carolyn Blount Theatre.
Blount Park is also contains the Alabama Shakespeare Festival's 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. Jubilee CityFest is an annual music festival featuring a variety of performers.
Seibels-Ball-Lanier House, 407 Adams Avenue, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL
There is a rich history of musical performers with roots in Montgomery. 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.
Gerald House, Adams & Lawrence Streets, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL
Montgomery is home of the Montgomery Biscuits baseball team. The Biscuits play in the Class AA Southern League. They are affiliated with the Tampa Bay Rays, and play at Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium. Riverwalk Stadium was the host of the NCAA Division II National Baseball Championship from 2004 until 2007. The championship had previously been played at Paterson Field in Montgomery from 1985 until 2003.
Atlantic Ice & Coal Company, 135 Prince Street, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL
The Navistar LPGA Classic women's golf event is held at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Capitol Hill in nearby Prattville. Garrett Coliseum was the home of the now-defunct Montgomery Bears indoor football team.
Taylor-Ponder-Graves House, 511 South McDonough Street, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL
Montgomery is also the site of sporting events hosted by the area's colleges and universities. The Alabama State University Hornets play in NCAA Division I competition in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The football team plays at the Cramton Bowl and the basketball team play at the Joe L. Reed Acadome. Auburn University Montgomery also fields teams in NAIA competition. The Blue-Gray Football Classic was an annual college football all-star game held from 1938 until 2001.
Sayre-Troy House, Adams & Jefferson Street, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL
Several successful professional athletes hail from Montgomery, including Pro Football Hall of Famer Bart Starr and two-time Olympic gold medalist in track and field Alonzo Babers.
Gilmer-Shorter-Lomax House, 235 South Court Street, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL
Montgomery has been the home of Alabama State University, a historically black university, since the Lincoln Normal University for Teachers relocated from Marion in 1887. Today, ASU enrolls over 5,600 students from 42 U.S. states and 7 countries. Auburn Montgomery in the eastern part of the city operates as a satellite campus of Auburn University, and has an enrollment of 5,123. Montgomery also is home to several private colleges: Faulkner University which has an enrollment of 3500, is a Church of Christ-affiliated school and Huntingdon College is affiliated with the United Methodist Church.
Fitzpatrick-Saffold House, 442 South McDonough Street, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL
Maxwell Air Force Base is the headquarters for Air University, the United States Air Force's center for professional military education. Branches of Air University based in Montgomery include the Squadron Officer School, the Air Command and Staff College, the Air War College, and the Community College of the Air Force.
McBryde-Screws-Tyson House, 423 Mildred Street, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL
Notable natives and residents:
Ralph David Abernathy, minister & civil rights leader
Marlon Anderson, Major League Baseball player
Reggie Barlow, National Football League player, Super Bowl XXXVII champion
Inez Baskin, journalist and civil rights advocate
Caesar Belser, National Football League player, Super Bowl IV champion
Tom Boswell, National Basketball Association player
Brett Butler, actress/comedian
Johnnie Carr, civil rights advocate
Dorothy Tillman, former member of Chicago City Council
Clarence Carter, Blues singer
Nat King Cole, jazz pianist & singer
Johnny Davis, National Football League player, Super Bowl XVI champion
Zelda Fitzgerald, novelist and wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald
Benjamin Fitzpatrick, 11th Governor of Alabama
Eddie Floyd, singer-songwriter
Jim Folsom, Jr., 50th Governor of Alabama
Melvin Franklin, singer in The Temptations
Glenn Howerton, actor
Tarvaris Jackson, National Football League quarterback
Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights advocate
Claude R. Kirk, Jr., Governor of Florida
Harold E. Martin, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist
Frank McIntyre, chief of the Bureau of Insular Affairs, 1912-1929
Charles Moore, photographer
Edgar Nixon, civil rights advocate
Mac Powell, lead vocalist for the Christian band Third Day
Nell Rankin, opera singer
Tommy Shaw, guitarist of Styx
Bart Starr, Pro Football Hall of Famer
Big Mama Thornton, blues singer
Kathryn C. Thornton, astronaut
Hank Williams, Sr., country singer
Michael Young, Emmy winning actor
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Front Hall Facing Front Door
Harris-Smith House, Church & Catoma Streets, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL
Foyer Facing Front Entry
Owens-Teague House, 440 South Perry Street, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL
View From Street
John Murphy House, 22 Bibb Street, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL, Front Hallway
Entry Hall Facing Front Door
Double Doorway To Dining Room
Iron Gate Entry
East Bedroom, Bibb-Goldthwaithe-Arrington House, 203 Church Street, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL
Double Doors Into Parlor, Colonel Charles Teed Pollard House (Mansion), 117 Jefferson Street, Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL
Slave Quarters, Stone-Young-Baggett House, County Road 54 (Old Selma Road), Montgomery, Montgomery County, AL