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About Mobile

Mobile (IPA: [moʊˈbiːl]) (pronunciation) is the third most populous city in the U.S. state of Alabama[2] and is the county seat of Mobile County. The population of the city was 192,830 according to the 2006 estimate.[1] It is the principal city of the Mobile Metropolitan Area (MSA), which has a July 1, 2006 census estimated population of 404,157. Mobile is a part of the Mobile-Daphne-Fairhope Combined Statistical Area (CSA) which has a population 588,246 as of the 2006 census estimates.

Mobile skyline 2007

 

The city's name is derived from the presence of the Mobile (Mauvile or Maubila) Indians in the area at the time of founding. [3] Mobile is the only saltwater port in Alabama. Located along the northwest shore of Mobile Bay, the city began as the first capital of colonial French Louisiana in 1702. Over the past 300 years, Mobile has officially flown six flags, including France, Britain, Spain, the Republic of Alabama (1861), the Confederacy, and the United States. [4]

Economy

Aerial view of the port of Mobile
Aerial view of the port of Mobile

Over the past 5 years, Mobile is undergoing its greatest economic expansion in history. With numerous local, national, and even international companies funneling over $9 billion into the city. Bringing its GMP to 22 Billion and has the potential getting as high as over 200 Billion making Mobile one of the top 10 Most Prosperus cities in the U.S. Mobile has seen job growth of nearly 22% in just the past 5 years with projections of an additional increase of more than 32% in the next 3 years, mainly due in part of the ThyssenKrupp steel plant and state dock expansions. Mobile has seen its average wages surge over 30% since January 2004 mainly due in part to the Katrina disaster in late 2005 which forced employers to increase wages to remain competitive. Mobile's unemployment rate is 5.1% and has been rapidly free falling for 2 years straight. Due to the numerous new industries coming online in Mobile over the next three to five years, Mobile is projected to have an unemployment rate of less than 2.0% by the 4th quarter of 2010.

Homebuilding in Mobile increased over 15% from 2005 to 2007, and while it began to level off in early 2007, due to the ThyssenKrupp announcement, new home construction is projected to once again reach double digit increases by the end of 2007.

Mobile's Alabama State Docks is currently undergoing the largest expansion in its history by expanding its container processing and storage facility and increasing container storage at the docks by over 1,000%. [16] Mobile is also in the race to become home to the nations largest military contract in history, a $200+ Billion air force tanker project which would generate over 5,000 high paying jobs in Mobile, pushing the city to very front of becoming the nations most prosperous city. The rapidly growing auto industry in Alabama has resulted in over 2,800 new jobs created in Mobile.

Since the Katrina disaster, Mobile has seen a housing boom of more than 3,500 new homes built in only the past 20 months, exceeding even the post World War II boom of the late 1940s.

Since 1852, the Battle House hotel has been a fixture of the Mobile landscape. Although the original hotel was destroyed in a fire in 1905, it was rebuilt and has remained a Mobile area landmark. It was the location of President Woodrow Wilson's famous speech in 1913 where he declared that the US would never again fight in a foreign war of aggression. In 1974, the hotel went vacant, as much of downtown was doing at the time.

In 2001, the Mobile City Council approved a deal with the Retirement Systems of Alabama for a complete restoration of the historic hotel, as well as construction of the Battle House Tower, a 35-story, 745-foot (227 m) tall skyscraper which is the tallest building in Alabama. [17]

In 2007, German steel manufacturer ThyssenKrupp announced plans for a $4.2 billion steel mill. The new plant will be built north of the city in Mount Vernon, Alabama. Officials say 29,000 people will be employed during construction and an additional 2,700 permanent jobs will be added. [18]

The Battle House Project is the crowning achievement of the "String of Pearls" initiative undertaken by the administration of former Mayor Mike Dow (1989-2005), which saw the construction of the Arthur Outlaw Convention Center and the Cruise Ship Terminal, the approval of the soon to be constructed Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico, and the complete rebirth of Dauphin Street, Mobile's historic commercial corridor.

Other projects in the works include a number of high-rise condominium towers on Water Street in the heart of the downtown waterfront, as well as the construction of a historic Mardi Gras themed city park in downtown and a brand new state of the art federal courthouse. Large commercial ventures are in the works for the metropolitan area.

Arts & Entertainment

Mobile's art and history museums include the Mobile Museum of Art, Oakleigh Historic Complex displaying historic buildings and homes, Museum of Mobile, Battleship Memorial Park which includes an aircraft pavilion and the USS Drum (SS-228) submarine. The Dauphin Island Sea Lab is located south of the city near the mouth of Mobile Bay. The Magee Farm and Home site is a must for those interested in American Civil War history. The Bragg-Mitchell House is an integral part of local history. The Conde-Charlotte House is another historical home. Other unique museums include Mobile Medical Museum, Phoenix Fire Museum, Mobile Police Museum, St. Ignatius Archives and Museum. [19] The city hosts a 60-year old Opera company which averages about 1,200 in attendance through the year. The Mobile Opera also supports the Rose Palmai-Tenser Scholarship Competition which is held in late May. [20]

Mobile is host to such national events as the Senior Bowl football game (January), the Senior Bowl 10K, which is the national 10K road race championship, the Azalea Trail Run 10K race (March) and the America's Junior Miss Pageant (June). [21]

The city is home port for Carnival Cruise Lines' MS Holiday cruise ship which sails on four and five day itineraries through the Western Caribbean.

Culture

Mobile has cultural offerings for many tastes. The Gulf Coast Exploreum offers exhibitions on a variety of topics. Coupled with the IMAX theater the downtown location served thousands during the 2007 exhibition of "A Day in Pompeii." Officials say visitors have been recorded from 48 states and several international destinations. The Exploreum may see attendance top 127,000 which was the figure hit by the "China!" exhibit in 2002. [22]

The Mobile Carnival Museum, which houses the city's Mardi Gras history and memorabilia, is designed to document the variety of floats and displays seen during the festival season [23]

The National African American Archives is located in the former Davis Avenue branch of the Mobile Public Library. That facility served as "the only library for Negroes from 1932 until the mid-1960s." [24].

The historic Saenger Theatre of Mobile was opened in 1927 as part of a chain of theaters across the nation. The building is designed similar to European opera houses. The interior was designed in a Greek mythology style with thought given to Mobile's coastal location [25] Other cultural sites include the Mobile Arts Council, the Mobile Opera, Mobile Symphony, and the Mobile Ballet. [26]

In 2007, the historic Battle House was reopened in Mobile after falling into disuse for over 30 years. The hotel, built in 1908, is part of a project overseen by the Retirement Systems of Alabama which included construction of the RSA Tower, now the tallest building in Alabama at 745 ft (227 m).[27] The Battle House, located in the downtown section of Mobile features suites up to $1,500 per night. [28] [29]

Mardi Gras

Main articles: Mardi Gras and Mardi Gras in Mobile.

Mobile claims to have celebrated Mardi Gras first in 1703 when settlers first began the festivities at the Old Mobile Site. It is also known as a family-friendly celebration especially in contrast to the celebration in New Orleans.[30] According to organizers, this celebration lasts for nearly two weeks and culminates on Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent. Mardi Gras, they say, must be experienced to be fully understood and Mobile is the perfect place. [31]

Media

The Press-Register of Mobile is Alabama's oldest active newspaper, dating back to 1813;[32] The paper focuses on Mobile and Baldwin Counties and the city of Mobile, but also serves southwest Alabama and in nearby areas of Mississippi.[32] Mobile's alternative newspaper is the Lagniappe.

The Mobile area is served by Mobile Bay Monthly magazine.

Mobile is served locally by WPMI (NBC), WKRG (CBS), and WALA (FOX) television stations. The regional area is also served by WEAR (ABC) based in Pensacola, Florida. WJTC, also known as UTV 44, is an independent station serving Mobile and Pensacola.

The Mobile area is served by 12 FM radio stations, including independently owned AAA station WZEW (92/The ZEW) for listeners of delta blues alternative jam & mainstream, FM sports station WNSP (Sports Radio 105.5), country stations WKSJ (95KSJ) and WYOK (KICKS 104.1), adult contemporary WMXC (Lite Mix 99.9), classical music station WHIL, classic rock WRKH (96.1 The Rocket), and Top-40 WABB. Both WBLX and WDLT serve the area's African-American community. Notable AM radio stations include news/talk WNTM and gospel WGOK.

Some of the local radio stations streaming on the Internet include WMXC, WZEW, WKSJ, and WRKH. Meanwhile, many local radio stations have begun HD broadcasts. As of June 2007, three HD stations have also added HD-2 programming (a separate program available on a sub-channel to the main station). The formats for these stations are: Smooth Jazz on WMXC-HD2 (99.9-2), Classic Country on WKSJ-HD2 (94.9-2), and a Top-40 format featuring brand-new music at WRKH-HD2 (96.1-2). Programming for the HD-2 stations is currently provided by Format Lab. Consumers must have an HD radio to receive any station's HD or HD-2 broadcasts.

Popular culture

Mobile is the subject or location for several films, songs and books including Under Siege (filmed on the USS Alabama), Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jimmy Buffett's "Stars fell on Alabama" and Richard Bradford's novel Red Sky at Morning. Bob Dylan recorded his song "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again" for the album Blonde on Blonde in 1966.

Maurice Richards (born September 2, 1983 in Mobile, Alabama), best known by the stage name Rich Boy is an American rapper. He is famous for his debut single "Throw Some D's". His debut album Rich Boy was released in early 2007.

Education

Public schools in Mobile are operated by the Mobile County Public School System. The Mobile school system recently finished a $175 million new construction project in 2005, the largest such school construction project for any city in Alabama's history.

The State of Alabama operates the Alabama School of Mathematics and Science, which boards advanced Alabama high school students.

In addition to the public school system, there are also a large number of private institutions, most of them belonging to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mobile, most notably, McGill-Toolen Catholic High, as well as private college preparatory schools, including St. Paul's Episcopal School,UMS-Wright Preparatory School, Mobile Christian School, Faith Academy and Cottage Hill Christian Academy.

The Mobile Public Library system serves Mobile and consists of eight branches across Mobile County.

Mobile is home to the University of South Alabama, Bishop State Community College, Spring Hill College and the University of Mobile.

External links

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