Montgomery is the capital and second most populous city of the U.S. state of Alabama and the county seat of Montgomery County. Montgomery is notable for its historic involvement during the Civil War, for being the first capital of the Confederacy, and for being a primary site in the Civil Rights Movement, including the famous Montgomery Bus Boycott
The Montgomery area was originally heavily populated by the Alibamu Native Americans (after which the state is named). By the year 1800 the Native Americans had been mostly driven off, and white settlers began to permanently reoccupy the area. From 1800 to 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 was a success, and their proximity to each other quickly caused them to merge. Incorporated together 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, 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 shot 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, located at 251 S. Lawrence St.
Soon after Montgomery and Alabama had been founded, Montgomery became a central stagecoach station and link to the railroad leading from New York to New Orleans. It was also a prominent steamboat port along the Alabama River and was known for producing cotton. 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 Alabama's incorporation 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, and the state capital was moved to Tuscaloosa. In 1846, the capital was finally moved to Montgomery, the legislature likely finding it an ideal location from which to run the state, thanks 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 that point on, Montgomery continued to increase in prosperity and prominence in the United States. When the state seceded during the Civil War, Montgomery served as the first capital of the Confederate States of America; Jefferson Davis was inaugurated on the steps of the Capitol. It had at the time a well-educated, well-off, and financially influential population.
During the Civil War, Montgomery was left virtually physically undamaged, thanks in part to the Confederate capital having been moved to Richmond, Virginia, early on in the war, in an effort to keep the war in the north. Alabama's infrastructure was, however, 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. 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 AFB after the Wrights began working with the government to produce planes for military use. Montomery flourished in the years leading up to the Great Depression, having experienced steady population growth. WWII revitalized the city after the Depression, but the city continued to weather some economic hardships. During this time, however, there were some noticeable highlights: for example, Montgomery became the first city in the world to install electric street cars. Montgomery, Alabama, was a central location in the American Civil Rights Movement.
Rev. 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 march for justice was conducted from Selma, to Montgomery.
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 and Co. 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 the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and Fine Arts Museum, the fifth largest museum in the world. Lately, it has also gotten a lot of mainstream television, radio, and internet attention because of entrepreneur/entertainer Sammy Stephens and his world famous Flea Market Montgomery commercial.
The population density was 500.9/km² (1,297.3/mi²). There were 86,787 housing units at an average density of 215.7/km² (558.5/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 49.63% Black, 47.67% White, 0.25% Native American, 1.06% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.37% from other races, and 0.98% from two or more races. 1.23% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 78,384 households out of which 32.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.4% were married couples living together, 19.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.8% were non-families. 30.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.06.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.9% under the age of 18, 12.1% from 18 to 24, 29.8% from 25 to 44, 20.3% from 45 to 64, and 11.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 88.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $35,627, and the median income for a family was $44,297. Males had a median income of $31,877 versus $25,014 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,385. About 13.9% of families and 17.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.7% of those under age 18 and 13.4% of those age 65 or over.
Job Highlights of 2006: Montgomery was recently labeled one of the best places to locate technology jobs in America; considering pay and cost of living.
Montgomery is home to a variety of colleges and universities, including: