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BIRMINGHAM

BIRMINGHAM, a city and the county-seat of Jefferson county, Alabama, U.S.A., in the north-central part of the state, 96 m. N.W. of Montgomery, at an altitude of 600 ft. It is served by the Southern, the Louisville & Nashville, the Seaboard Air Line, the Central of Georgia, the Alabama Great Southern (of the Queen & Crescent Route), the Illinois Central, the Atlanta, Birmingham & Atlantic, the Birmingham Southern (for freight only), and the Kansas City, Memphis & Birmingham (Frisco system) railways. Pop. (1890) 26,178; (1900) 38,415, of whom 16,575 were of negro descent, and 1776 were foreign-born; (1910) 132,685. Birmingham is situated in Jones Valley, between two mountains which lie south-east and north-west of the city. Its streets are wide and well constructed, and there are sixteen public parks, three of which, East Lake, Lakeview and Capitol, are particularly attractive. Among the principal buildings are the First National bank, the immense Union station and the Saint Vincent hospital; besides several fine office and school buildings (including the beautiful manual training high school) and churches. Although the state constitution restricts municipal investments, a Waring or “Separate” sewage system has been established. The most important educational institutions are the Birmingham medical college and college of pharmacy; the Birmingham dental college; a school of art and a conservatory of music. At East Lake station, in the north-east of the city, is Howard College (Baptist; founded at Marion, Perry county, in 1841 as an academy; granted first collegiate degrees in 1848; opened in East Lake in 1887); and 2 m. west of the city is the North Alabama Conference College (Methodist Episcopal South), opened in 1897.

Birmingham, situated in an immensely rich iron, coal and limestone region, is the principal manufacturing centre in the state, and the most important centre for the production and manufacture of iron in the southern states. In the decade 1890-1900 the value of the products of Birmingham’s manufactories increased 78.9% from $7,064,248 to $12,581,066; in 1900 establishments under the “factory system” produced goods valued at $8,599,418, in 1905 at $7,592,958, a decrease of 11.7%.

Immediately outside the city limits in 1905 there were many large manufactories, including the repair shops of the Southern railroad; iron and steel, car wheels and cotton-oil were among the products of the suburban factories. In Jefferson county there were in 1900 more than 300 mining and manufacturing establishments, engaged, chiefly, in the production of iron, coal and coke, and a majority of these are in Birmingham and its suburban towns. A short distance south of the city is Red Mountain, 25 m. long and about 225 ft. high, rich in hematite iron ore; valuable limestone deposits are found some 30 m. distant, and in the vicinity are three great coalfields, the Warrior, the Coosa and the Cahaba. These natural advantages make possible the production of pig iron at an unusually low cost. In 1900 the Birmingham district produced six-sevenths of the total pig iron exported from the United States, and in 1902 nine-tenths of Alabama’s coal, coke and pig iron; in 1905 Jefferson county produced 67.5% of the total iron and steel product of the state, and 62.5% of the pig iron produced by the state. The first steel plant in the southern states was established at Birmingham in 1897; in 1902, at Ensley, one of the suburbs, there were 10 furnaces controlled by one company. The city has also a large trade in cotton, the annual receipts averaging about 100,000 bales. Among the manufactures are cotton goods, cotton-seed oil, yarn, furniture and machinery. Birmingham also has important lumber interests.

The city is a product of the industrial transformation in the southern states since the Civil War. In 1870 the site was a cotton field, where two railways, the South & North, and the Alabama & Chattanooga, now part respectively of the Louisville & Nashville and the Southern System, met, 2 m. from Elyton. In 1871 a land company, promoted by railway officials, founded Birmingham. Within four months the population was 1200; by 1873 it was 2500; in 1880 it was 3086; and in 1890 it had reached 26,178.

BIRMINGHAM, a city and a municipal, county, and parliamentary borough, the metropolis of one of the greatest industrial districts in England. Pop. (1901) 522,204. It lies in the north-west of Warwickshire, but its suburbs extend into Staffordshire on the north and west, and into Worcestershire on the south. It is 113 m. north-west from London by the London & North-Western railway, lying on the loop line between Rugby and Stafford; it is also served by the northern line of the Great Western, and by the north and west (Derby-Bristol) line of the Midland railway.

Site.—Birmingham, built upon the New Red Sandstone, is situated in the valleys of the Rea and other small feeders of the river Tame, near their sources, and upon the rising ground between these valleys. The site is, therefore, boldly undulating, varying from 200 to 600 ft. above sea-level, steadily rising towards the north and west, while the well-marked line of the Lickey hills skirts the site on the south-west, extending thence south-eastward. From the high ground to the south-east Birmingham thus presents the appearance of a vast semicircular amphitheatre, the masses of houses broken by innumerable factory-chimneys; the whole scene conveying a remarkable impression of a community of untiring industrial activity. The area of the town is nearly 20 sq. m., the greatest length from north to south 7 m., and the greatest breadth about 4 m. Yet Birmingham is a fraction only of an industrial district, of which it forms the south-eastern extremity, which itself resembles one vast city, and embraces such famous manufacturing towns as Dudley, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Wednesbury and many others. This is the district commonly known as the “Black Country,” which forms part of the South Staffordshire industrial district. Birmingham, however, does not lie actually within the “Black Country” properly so-called.

Streets and Buildings.—The plan of the town, as dictated by the site, is irregular; the streets are mostly winding, and often somewhat narrow. In the centre are several fine thoroughfares, containing nearly all the most important buildings. New Street, Corporation Street and Colmore Row are the chief of these. At the western end of New Street is a fine group of buildings, including the council house and art gallery, the town hall and post office. The council house and art gallery, begun in 1874 and completed in 1881, is in Renaissance style, and the material is Darley Dale, Spinkwell and Wrexham stone. The entrance is surmounted with a pediment filled with groups of excellent sculpture. The erection of that part which forms the art gallery was the work of the gas committee, to whom the council granted the site on condition that they would build such a gallery over their own office, the council having no powers at the time to raise the required funds. The art gallery contains a fine collection of modern paintings, including masterpieces of David Cox, Millais, Hunt, Henry Moore, Albert Moore, Briton-Riviere and Burne-Jones. In the industrial hall are rich stores of Oriental metal work, Limoges enamel, English and foreign glass and Japanese ceramics. In the side galleries are various textiles, and Persian, Rhodian, Grès de Flandres and other pottery. There is a remarkable collection of Wedgwood. Notable also is the collection of arms, which is probably the most complete in existence. The purchase of pictures has been made from time to time by means of an art gallery purchase fund of £12,000, privately contributed and placed under the control of the corporation. Many valuable works of art are the gift of individuals. In 1906 plans were obtained for additional municipal offices and another art gallery on a site on the opposite side of Edmund Street from the council house. The town hall, completed in 1850, is severely classic, modelled upon a Greek temple. The lower stage consists of a plinth or basement, 23 ft. high, upon which is reared a facade of peripteral character, with eight Corinthian columns (36 ft. high) at the two principal fronts, and thirteen columns on each side. These columns (imitated from those of the temple of Jupiter Stator at Rome) support a bold and enriched cornice, finished at each end with a lofty pediment and entablature. The exterior of the hall is built of Anglesea marble. The interior consists chiefly of a regularly-built room,