Birmingham (bûrˈmĭnghămˌ) [key] 1 City (1990 pop. 265,968), seat of Jefferson co., N central Ala., in the Jones Valley near the southern end of the Appalachian system; founded and inc. 1871. The largest city in the state, it was long a leading iron and steel center, the "Pittsburgh of the South." Industry has diversified since the 1970s to include textiles, chemicals, automotive parts, and aircraft production. Health-care services, commerce, banking, insurance, research, and government are also important. A leading "New South" city, Birmingham developed rapidly with the expansion of railroads and, connected with the Gulf of Mexico by canal, became a trade and communications center. The city was the scene of unrest during the civil-rights struggles of the 1960s; on Sept. 15, 1963, four young black girls were killed in a church bombing. In 1979 the city elected its first African-American mayor. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, comprising a museum, archives of the period, and research facilities, opened in 1992. Local educational institutions include the Univ. of Alabama Medical Center, Birmingham-Southern College, Miles College, and Samford Univ. Overlooking the city, on nearby Red Mt., is a huge iron statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of the forge. 2 City (1990 pop. 19,997), Oakland co., SE Mich., on the River Rouge; settled 1819, inc. as a village 1864, as a city 1933. It is largely residential.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: U.S. Political Geography