Birmingham "Quick Facts"

Greater Birmingham

*Metro Birmingham population: 921,106 (4-county area); 986,000(6 counties); 1,100,000 (7counties).

*2.7 million people live within 100 miles of Birmingham.

*The city’s temperate climate allows a 239 day growing season, resulting in an extended spring and fall.

*The nation’s 15th fastest-growing county (1997) is in metro Birmingham: Shelby County.

*A 32 page section on the "Magic City" was run in Traditional Home, the nation’s best selling upscale design publication with a monthly circulation of 950,000, marking only the second time in its history that they’ve done a feature on a city (Seattle was the other). "Birmingham is a design jewel and an anomaly, the most unexpected and amazing Southern city this magazine has ever visited. The surprises just didn’t stop." Traditional Home, March, 2005

*A monthly business magazine for executives of companies actively looking for a place to expand or relocate their facilities within the next one to three years, has released its 7th annual "America's 50 Hottest Cities" ranking. Metropolitan Birmingham ranks #15 for 2005, ahead of Salt Lake City, Chicago, Miami, Memphis and Raleigh-Durham, among others. "Some cities are well-prepared to attract and retain businesses," said Ken Krizner, managing editor of Expansion Management. "They have logistical advantages, a high quality of life, available work force, and a favorable tax and political climate. These 50 Hottest Cities have a built-in advantage when companies look to site a new manufacturing or distribution facility, or headquarters operation." Expansion Management, January, 2005

*Birmingham is the 7th best U. S. city for blacks to live, work and play. "Birmingham boasts the highest percentage of African American homeowners, 58%, of any of the top ten cities in America for blacks." Black Enterprise magazine, June 29, 2004.

*Birmingham’s water quality received an "A" ranking (only 13 of 101 cities nationwide were as highly ranked and none higher; 7 cities failed including Houston, Las Vegas and Wichita) by a joint study of the Environmental Quality Institute at UNC, Rutgers University and the National Defense Institute, Men’s Health, January, 2004.

History

*Birmingham is a relatively young city. It was founded in 1871 - AFTER the Civil War.

* Because of the rare abundance of the three ingredients necessary to make iron and steel - coal, iron ore and limestone - Birmingham grew rapidly during its early years, earning it the nickname, "The Magic City."

*Birmingham is the only place in the world where all the ingredients for making iron is present: coal, iron ore, limestone and dolomite – all within a 10 mile radius

*Birmingham’s Annual Veteran’s Day Parade is the oldest (established in 1947, seven years before Veteran’s Day was declared a national holiday) and the largest in the nation.

*Birmingham’s role in the Civil Rights Revolution in the 1960’s placed it "at the center of the most significant domestic drama of the 20th century" Newsweek Magazine, fall, 2001.

*The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute chronicles Birmingham’ s central role in America’s civil rights movement and its emergence as an international prototype for the progress of human rights.

Lifestyle

*According to Partners for Livable Communities, a Washington, DC based organization founded in 1977, Birmingham ranked as one of the best places to live in America in 2004. Birmingham ranked in the Top 11 best mid sized cities in which to live. "Partners bestows a ‘seal of approval’ on cities that "have set a shining example of what cities should strive for, throughout the United States and the world." The Birmingham News, April 13, 2004.

*Birmingham has been proclaimed "America’s Most Livable City" by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Additionally. Newsweek magazine named Birmingham, "One of America’s Top 10 Cities" in which to live.

*In a comparison study of 354 metro areas in North America, Birmingham ranked in the top 10% for quality of life, according to Places Rated Almanac, 2000. In this same study, Birmingham’s health care ranked #5 in the United States.

*Birmingham is listed among the 150 most affordable cities in the US and is praised as a city "that hasn’t lost its Southern soul." Birmingham, home to six Fortune 500 companies, is given high marks for its diverse residents and housing prices that "are affordable but appreciating quickly." Birmingham was the only Alabama city listed in the book, which does not rank the cities in any specific order. Life 2.0: How People Across America are Transforming Their Lives by Finding the Where of Their Happiness, Rich Karlgaard, July, 2004

*Birmingham rated #1 in the nation in Health by Ladies Home Journal in its issue of "The Best Cities," April, 2002

*Alabama ranks #3 in the nation in most runners per capita, according to Runner’s World magazine, November, 2001.

*Birmingham as a preferred retirement destination? "Move to a state with no death tax. A growing number of retirees are relocating to Alabama, California, Florida and Nevada to pass up to 16 percent more of their estates on to their heirs." Robert Powell, CBSmarketwatch.com (as reported in The Week, April 16, 2004.)

Civic Minded

*Birmingham is legendary for the commitment and sacrifice of its community volunteers. The United Way of Central Alabama’s Alexis de Tocqueville Society (donors of $10,000+) is the 11th largest in America, out of 279 such societies nationwide. Source: United Way of Central Alabama, October, 2003.

*Civitan International was founded in Birmingham in 1920 and maintains its home office here. Birmingham is headquarters for Civitan International.

Attractions

Arts

*Birmingham’s Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival was named one of "ten fantastic film festival vacations" along with New Orleans, Austin and San Diego. Film Festival Today, Spring, 2003.

*Birmingham’s Festival of Arts is the oldest continuously operating arts festival in the nation.

*Magic City Art Connection was ranked 12th in the nation among all outdoor juried art festivals, Sunshine Artist Magazine, 2001.

*The Birmingham Museum of Art is the largest city-owned museum in the Southeast,, housing the most comprehensive permanent collection of art in the Southeast.

*Birmingham is home to the nationally acclaimed Alabama Symphony and Alabama Ballet.

*The Club’s multi-colored dance floor was Director John Badham’s inspiration for a key icon in the definitive movie of the 70’s, Saturday Night Fever, starring John Travolta.

*The Alabama School of Fine Arts is the nation’s only state-supported school of its kind with grades 7-12. Mikhail Baryshnikov called the school, "...one of the top three schools in the country for teaching ballet"

*Birmingham’s McWane Center is the largest science center in a four-state region and boasts the world’s most advanced theatre audio system. Sonics Associates, an Imax Corporation subsidiary which makes sound systems for Imax worldwide, is based in Birmingham.

*Birmingham’s annual "Miss Apollo Pageant" began in 1975 and is now the 2nd oldest continuously running drag queen festival in the nation. (Black & White, September, 2002.)

*Birmingham is one of only four "music maker markets" in the country, establishing musical trends for the entire nation, Dennis Leonard, Fox 6 Television.

Dining

*Highlands: A Bar and Grill, was ranked by Gourmet Magazine as the #5 restaurant in America. October, 2001

*Hot and Hot Fish Club was named "Great Neighborhood Restaurant in the South" in the September, 2002 issue of Bon Appetit.

Nightlife

*Ten Bars Worth Flying For: "Some watering holes are worth the airfare alone. Herewith is a farflung guide to some of the best drinking spots in the world." This article lists ten top bars in the world, including bars in Cairo, Montreal, Tokyo, Venice, Havana, New Orleans and New York City. Birmingham’s "The Garage" is rated #2 overall for its eclectic, authentic charm. GQ Magazine, April, 2003.

Parks and Recreation

*We’re #1! Following U. S. Steel’s donation of $1 million plus a commitment to sell land at a $9.5 million discount, a 1,108 acre tract has been put together by the Black Warrior-Cahaba Rivers Land Trust that will result in the establishment of Red Mountain Park. This large park will extend for 4.5 miles along ridgetop and adjacent lands in southwestern Birmingham. With the creation of this park, according to the Trust for Public Land, Birmingham will have 17.9 acres of public green space per 1,000 residents, ahead of top ranked Minneapolis with 14.3 acres per 1,000 residents. The Birmingham News, January 28, 2005.

*Birmingham’s Ruffner Mountain, with 1,000 acres and 11+ miles of hiking trails, is larger than NYC’s Central Park and is the 2nd largest urban nature preserve in the nation. (Second only to Portland, Oregon’s 4,000 acre city park.)

*A fine chain of lakes surround Birmingham in every direction for recreation and lake homes.

*Vulcan is the largest iron figure ever cast and is second in size only to the Statue of Liberty in the United States of America.

Sports

* Birmingham is home to the nation’s oldest existing baseball park, Rickwood Field which opened in August, 1910. Among those who played there: Jackie Robinson, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Satchel Paige. Lou Gehrig, Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Josh Gibson, Reggie Jackson, Pie Traynor, Vida Blue, ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson, Dizzy Dean, José Canseco, Rollie Fingers and Bo Jackson.

*Birmingham’s Lakeshore Foundation is a world leader in athletics and recreation for the physically disabled. It’s also a major training site for wheelchair tennis, basketball and weightlifting events for the Paralympics.

*Birmingham set attendance records as host for 11 soccer games during the 1996 summer Olympics.

*Birmingham is headquarters for the Southeastern AND Southwestern Athletic conferences.

*Abracadabra was the name famed Birmingham surgeon Jim Andrews gave his yacht in the 2000 America’s Cup races in Auckland, New Zealand.

*Birmingham is a leading center for golf enthusiasts. Jack Nicklaus, Pete Dye, Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Donald Ross, Hubert Green, Bob Cupp, Tom Fazio and Jerry Pate have all designed courses located in metro Birmingham.

*Bruno’s annual PGA Senior Golf Tour Tournament ranked #1 Senior Tour event, Sports Illustrated, 2001.

*The Barber Motorsports Park near Leeds is considered the "Augusta National" of racing and the home of the Porsche Driving Experience, a $1,500 a day driving school for auto enthusiasts. At the heart of the park is a 2.3 mile long, 45 foot wide road course. "Without a doubt, (the Barber Motorsports Park is) the most beautiful and demanding facility in North America" said Hurley Haywood, five time winner of the 24 Hours of Daytona and 3 time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance races. The Birmingham News, October 29, 2002. (The Porsche Driving Experience School moved here from Road Atlanta and Sebring, Florida, Black & White, February 12, 2003.) "When it comes to road courses, this is going to become the spiritual home to the sport" said Roger Edmondson, president of the Grand American Road Racing Series, The Birmingham News, March 13, 2003.

*Barber has built a four-story, 144,000 square-foot facility for his 850-piece collection of vintage motorcycles and automobiles. Over the last three decades, Barber has amassed the largest collection of motorcycles in the world, representing 125 manufacturers from 17 nations with vintage models dating back to 1904. Portions of the Barber collection have recently been on display at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and Bilbao, Spain, as well as at Chicago's Field Museum. The Barber Motorcycle Racing team success on the racing circuit includes seven national championships over the past 10 years. Many racing legends have already made a pilgrimage to this motorcycle Mecca, and it is fair to say that Barber's collection is far more renowned outside the state than within.

*Barber acquired this new site near Leeds in 2000, near the intersection of Interstates 20 and 459. Three years and $50 million later, the Barber Vintage Motorsports Park is the largest philanthropic effort ever undertaken in the state of Alabama. While the centerpiece of the park is the road course, the museum also houses an impressive machine and racing shop, a motorsports library, a 72-seat audio/visual theater, and a fourth-floor banquet site. Television cameras posted at each corner of the track will broadcast races to the museum, which also overlooks the track's eighth turn.

The track's European design provides the challenge of elevation changes with a mix of both right- and left-hand turns. There are no grandstands or bleachers; instead, fans will watch races from grassy hills and wooded areas adjacent to the track. For large races, a tram will operate along the ring road that surrounds the course, allowing patrons easy passage to a variety of spectator sites. Barber promises that 85 percent of the track can be viewed from any of these areas. Coolers, blankets, and umbrellas are welcome, and a low-power transmitter will broadcast race information to anyone with a radio.

*The Barber Motorsports Park has already secured the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, May 16 – 18, 2003, AMA Superbike Championship in September, 2003, Black & White, February 12, 2003.

Economy

*Although Birmingham emerged as the South’s industrial center, its economy today is very diversified:
-85% of the area’s jobs are non-manufacturing.
-The largest sector of employment is health care (9%), followed by telecommunications/engineering.
-The largest single employer is the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) with approximately 15,000 employees.
-After Charlotte, NC, Birmingham is the South’s leading financial center with headquarters to three of the nation’s top 40 banks in deposits and assets.

Income

* A national study conducted using the latest Bureau of Economic Analysis income figures ranked the Birmingham – Hoover Metropolitan Area’s income growth rate the fastest in the entire South and seventh in the United States over a 20 year period. The study analyzed per capita personal income growth between 1982 and 2002 and ranked the U.S. metropolitan areas income growth over a 20, 15, 10 and 5 year period. American City Business Journals (ACBJ), July 8, 2004

*Birmingham ranks #5 in the nation for high growth companies in cities of population of 750,000 – 1 million (Source: National Commission on Entrepreneurship, 2001)

* "Alabama received the "2004 State of the Year" award from Southern Business and Development Magazine. According to the magazine, Alabama ranked first among 17 southern states in terms of job growth and economic development.’ Current Developments, November/December 2004

*Birmingham ranked 4th in the nation in investments from European nations in 2003, with $274 million being invested here. A nationwide survey by Expansion Management, a monthly business magazine, June, 2003

Banking

*Birmingham banks Compass Bancshares and AmSouth Bancorp made Forbes magazine's list of the 400 best big companies in the nation based on high rankings for corporate practices, sales and earnings growth, stock performance and other areas. Forbes magazine, January 9, 2006

*AmSouth Bancorp was listed in U.S. Banker magazine among the "Top 20 All-Star" banks. Also ranked AmSouth's CFO Beth Mooney fifth among CFO's in banking. U.S. Banker magazine, January 9, 2006

*Despite the Wachovia buyout of SouthTrust, Birmingham remains a major banking center. It is home to 3 of the Top 50 banks in America with a total of 22 banks employing over 14,000 (even after the Wachovia job eliminations) and combined total assets of $187 billion. Randy Haines, Compass Bank president, at the Business Outlook Conference, January 12, 2005

*Birmingham’s Regions Financial Corporation merged with Memphis-based Union Planters Corporation in a $6 billion deal, vaulting Regions to 12th in the nation in deposits ($55.9 billion) and #1 in the South in deposits, ahead of Bank of America and Sun Trust. Regions now has 5.1 million customers in 1,400 branches across a 15 state territory. The Birmingham News, January 24, 2004.

Headquarters

*Confederate Motorcycles, a maker for the rich and famous, moved its headquarters from New Orleans to Birmingham in December 2005. The Magic City is also home to its design and assembly.

*Birmingham is headquarters to Saks, Inc., the nation’s fourth-largest department store chain. Saks, Inc., operates 330 stores in 24 states.

*Birmingham is headquarters for the American Fertility Institute.

*Birmingham is headquarters to Southern Progress which produces magazines such as Southern Living, Cooking Light, and Cottage Living-named 2005 Start-up of the Year by Adweek magazine.

*Hoffman Media, a publishing company, is headquartered in Birmingham and produces nine publications including Cooking with Paula Deen and Southern Lady magazines.

*HealthSouth Corp. is world-renowned for its expertise in treating sports-related injuries. Among the patients who have been treated here are Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman, Bo Jackson, Jane Fonda, Jack Nicklaus and members of the Saudi Arabian Royal Family. The Birmingham-based American Sports Medicine Institute is devoted to research and education in sports-related injuries.

*EWTN, the global Catholic television network, is headquartered in Birmingham. The sprawling media empire offers programming for Canada, Europe, the Pacific Rim and, just recently, a satellite service aimed at India and Africa. December 14, 2002, The Birmingham News.

Businesses

*The Birmingham metro area squeezed into the top 10 "Hottest Cities" in America for plant relocation, moving up five spots from last year. The ranking is conducted annually by Expansion Management magazine. The magazine surveyed more than 80 site-location consultants, asking them to list their top city choices for relocating and expanding manufacturing companies. The consultants were asked to take into consideration such factors as the business climate, work-force quality, operating costs, incentive programs and the ease of working with local political and economic development officials. Expansion Management magazine, January-February 2006

*Diversity Business ranked Birmingham's Mayer Electric Supply Co. No. 5 in a list of the nation's top 500 women-owned businesses. Ram Tool & Supply was No. 23 and Rainbow Technology was listed at No. 212.

*Four Birmingham companies named to Forbes' list of the nation's largest private companies: Ebsco Industries (the highest Alabama company on the list). McWane Inc, O'Neal Steele and Brasfield & Gorrie. Forbes magazine, November, 2005.

*Birmingham ranked the 3rd best mid-size city in the U.S. for entrepreneurs in 2005 by Entrepreneurs.com and NPRC.

*In the recent book, The 100 Best Companies to Work for in America, three were based in Birmingham: BE&K (a construction design engineering firm), Energen (Ala. Gas Corp.) and ACIPCO (American Cast Iron Pipe Co.). Few cities had three such companies, and no city had more than three.

*Birmingham ranked 10th among U. S. cities on the annual list of Fortune 500 companies, Fortune Magazine, April, 2001.

*Birmingham ranked #8 in the nation as the best place for the future success of your business. Cognetics, September, 2002

*Birmingham is the ‘Third Hottest Metro Area for Business Growth," according to a 1997 study by Cambridge, MA,-based Cognetics, Inc.

*Bromberg’s, founded in 1836, is the 5th oldest privately held company in America, announced at the Chamber’s Annual Small Business Week Awards Dinner, May 8, 2003.

*Birmingham’s Masonry Arts has been chosen to do all the exterior stonework cladding on the Pentagon in Washington, following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

* Birmingham’s Bayer Advanced has entered Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses Parade for the past 5 years; spent $170,000 on their 2002 entry. Previously they have won the coveted Fantasy Trophy (twice), the Queen's Trophy and the Animation Trophy over the past four years. The Birmingham News, December 30, 2004

*Brasfield & Gorrie does more healthcare construction than any other general contractor in the nation, Modern Healthcare magazine’s 2001 Annual Survey.

*Five Birmingham construction firms are listed in its top 12 companies in the nation in health care construction, including Brasfield & Gorrie at #1. [The other four were Robins & Morton Group (#3), Brice Building Company (#7), Hoar Construction (#8) and Doster Construction (#12.)] Modern Healthcare, March, 2002.

*Birmingham’s Buffalo Rock Ginger Ale and Dale’s Seasoning Sauce have been ranked #35 and #55 respectively in the top 100 foodstuffs of the nation, Saveur Magazine, January – February, 2002.

*Birmingham’s Crown Automotive is the only dealer in a four state region to sell the ultra luxury Maybach Mercedes, priced at $400,000+, Brett McBrayer, Birmingham Auto Dealers Association, October, 2003

*UAB’s Kirklin Clinic was designed by world-renowned architect I.M. Pei.

Automotive Industry

*During the past decade, the top three most significant business investments in a 17-state region from Virginia to Texas were Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Hyundai, all located in Alabama and all favorably impacting the Birmingham region’s economy. Southern Business and Development, October, 2002.

*In 1995, Mercedes Benz chose a site 30 minutes from downtown Birmingham for its first assembly plant outside of Germany to build the M-Class vehicle. The plant has been so successful that in 2001, officials announced a $600 million expansion of the plant and a doubling of its workforce to 4,000.

*Honda Corporation chose a site 45 minutes east of Birmingham’s city limits for its new 1.7 million square foot assembly plant. The $440 million plant rolled out its first vehicle (the 2002 Odyssey minivan) on November 14, 2001. 1,500 employees began work there and an announcement was made in December, 2001 that an additional $140 million was being invested, adding another 800 jobs. In July, 2002, due largely to the popularity of the Odyssey, Honda announced a doubling of the existing plant, investing an additional $425 million, creating an additional 2,000 jobs.

Honda announced that, beginning with the 2005 model this fall, it was shifting all its North American production of the Odyssey minivan to Alabama, producing 300,000 vehicles and engines per year. This will take Honda’s total investment here to around $1 billion. Honda currently employs 3,000 and will grow to 4,300 employees on two production lines at the Lincoln plant, The Birmingham News, January 5, 2004

*Honda’s plan to double its plant capacity was the top business project in the country in 2002. (Plants, Sites & Parks magazine, fall, 2002)

*According to the June, 2001 issue of Business Facilities, Alabama ranked 8th among all states for automotive growth.

Healthcare

*There are 22 hospitals in metro Birmingham and more people are employed in the health care sector than in any other.

University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)

  1. It is the world’s top kidney transplant center (Birmingham News, September 14, 2002)
  2. boasts the only Comprehensive Cancer Center in the Southeast
  3. with the September, 2002 announcement of a $13 million grant from National Cancer Institute, UAB becomes "one of the nation’s top two or three brain cancer research centers," Dr. Stephen Rosenfeld, UAB professor of neurology.
  4. Is one of 11 sites nationally to receive significant federal funding to build high security labs for research on the world’s most deadly microbes. UAB received $15.9 million for a three story Regional Biocontainment Laboratory which will be used to develop vaccines, drugs and tests for emerging infections such as SARS and West Nile and for defense against deadly viruses that could be used in bioterrorist attacks. The Birmingham News, September 30, 2003.
  5. In 2003 its overall economic impact was nearly $2.5 billion and it generated the equivalent of 53,018 full time jobs. The Birmingham News, December 14, 2003
  6. It ranks 16th nationally in NIH funding for research, trailing only Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill in the Southeast, and is aiming to crack the Top Ten by 2010 (The Birmingham News, May 1, 2002 & October 3, 2003 & Jan 15, 2004.)
  7. In 2004, U. S. News & World Report placed a record 14 of University Hospital’s programs in their annual "America’s Best Hospitals" issue. Rheumatology was ranked #6 in the nation. Among the other programs ranked were cardiology and cardiac surgery (13th), kidney disease (13th), cancer (19th), rehabilitation (23rd), respiratory disorders (28th), geriatrics (29th), orthopedics (34th) and hormonal disorders (41st) in the nation. New UAB programs ranked for the first time this year were urology, neurology and neurosurgery and digestive disorders. "This is a landmark year for the hospital and we are so proud. UAB is consistently included in this defining list of the nation’s top hospitals" said Mary Nash, executive director of UAB Hospital. The Birmingham News, July 3, 2004.
  8. Payroll for its 16,000 employees is more than $600 million.
  9. In April, 2002, it broke ground for a $90 million, 340,000 square foot Shelby Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Building that will create 1,400 high paying jobs and $100 million in additional research funding each year when it opens in 2005. It increases research space at UAB by 25%. This is part of UAB’s plan to move into the Top 10 of research institutions in the nation by 2010.
  10. UAB’s medical center is ranked #3 in the nation (behind only Mayo Clinic and Mass. General) in overall quality of health care (Source: The Best in Medicine).

Education

*In a ranking of the top 1,000 high schools nationwide, Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School (with 325 students) was named the top public high school in the nation. The ranking was based on the number of students who took Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate tests in 2004, divided by the number of seniors. Additionally, Alabama School of the Fine Arts ranked 61 (down from 4th in the nation a year ago) and Mountain Brook High School ranked 248. Newsweek Magazine, May 7, 2005

*Samford University was ranked the 3rd best university in the South in the U.S. News & World Report 2006 rankings of America’s best colleges. Samford has been ranked in the top 10 for 16 consecutive years.

*The Alabama School of Fine Arts is the nation’s only state-supported school of its kind with grades 7-12. Mikail Bárishnykov called the school, "...one of the top three schools in the country for teaching ballet"

*USA TODAY rated ASFA among the nation’s top 10 (not 10% but one of the top ten) public high schools in America in 2000.

*Birmingham ranked 18th in the nation in the 2004 "Most Literate Cities" study, ahead of such cities as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. The criteria were: education level of residents, number of magazines and journals published, newspaper circulation and number of booksellers. University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, 2004 (as reported in The Birmingham News, December 28, 2004.)

Technology and Research

*Birmingham leads the nation in AIDS research funding by the National Institutes of Health.

* Birmingham’s "Southern Research Institute is the leading private research institute in the country--probably in the world--in the field of drug discovery and development," Arthur D. Broom, professor of medicinal chemistry at the University of Utah, Chemical & Engineering News, October 18, 2004

*Apple’s i-Pod has captured the minds and hearts of music consumers world-wide. Birmingham’s Push Design (Lloyd Cooper) developed the iTalk for Apple, which turns iPods into digital voice recorders. MacWorld, November, 2004

*Birmingham is the 41st most wired city in the U.S., according to Yahoo, Internet Life, April, 2002.

*The nation’s first commercial building provided with fiber optics was in Birmingham: AmSouth Bank. (Source: Mickey Harbin, BellSouth.)

Media

*The first nationally televised night college football game was at Legion Field in 1969 (University of Alabama 33, University of Mississippi 32)

*Birmingham is headquarters of the world’s first Educational Television Network.

*EWTN, also based in Birmingham, is the world’s largest Catholic satellite broadcast network.

*Birmingham’s media market ranking is 39th - larger than that of Memphis, Buffalo, San Antonio or New Orleans. This "Designated Market Area" (DMA) encompasses 1.7 million people.

*Two and a half years ago, Birmingham’s Will Pearson put out the first issue of Mental Floss, an intelligent, eclectic mix of stories, arcane facts and trivia on any topic imaginable, has become a hit magazine nationwide. Its been featured in a Friends episode and is now featured every Wednesday night on CNN Headline News. The Birmingham News, November 6, 2003

* Birmingham is a leading publishing and media center, home to Southern Progress Corporation and Oxmoor House Publishing Company. Among magazines published in the Birmingham area: Southern Living - the nation’s most successful regional magazine - Southern Accents, Cooking Light (the nation’s largest food magazine) and Progressive Farmer.

*Hoffman Media publishes several nationally distributed magazines in Birmingham, including Southern Lady, Just CrossStitch and Tea Time.

Famous Birminghamians

  1. Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State, "America’s face to the world" President George W. Bush.
  2. Deidre Downs, Samford graduate and Pelham native, won the Miss America title on September 18, 2004.
  3. Ruben Studdard, winning singer of Fox Network’s American Idol competition, captured the hearts of the nation in the spring of 2003.
  4. Bo Bice, runner-up winner of Fox Network’s American Idol competition in 2005.
  5. Courtney Cox Arquette, star of Friends.
  6. Emmylou Harris, Grammy Award-winning Nashville recording star.
  7. Kate Jackson, original Charlie’s Angel, Scarecrow and Mrs. King.
  8. Alma (Mrs. Colin) Powell
  9. Bart Starr, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback
  10. Vonetta Flowers, Olympic Gold Medalist and first black to earn a gold medal in the Winter Olympics.
  11. Margaret Tutwiler, highest ranking female member of the George H. W. Bush administration (assistant secretary of state for public affairs), former United States Ambassador to Morocco and immediate past (4/04) Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy --- chiefly, the one person in America responsible for promoting a positive image of our nation overseas. Ms. Tutwiler has joined the New York Stock Exchange as of May, 2004.
  12. Charles Barkley, NBA Hall of Fame
  13. Broadway Star Rebecca Luker (The Music Man, The Sound of Music, Show Boat, The Secret Garden and in August, 2002, Clara in Stephen Sondheim’s "Passion.")
  14. Bo Jackson, Heisman Trophy Winner and two sport all-star
  15. Dr. Larry DeLucas, Space Shuttle scientist and UAB crystallographer (Space Shuttle Captain Tom Mattingly is from Birmingham’s West End)
  16. Wayne Rogers, Trapper John from M*A*S*H
  17. Louise Fletcher, Academy Award winning actress from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
  18. Dr. E. O. Wilson of Yale University, author of The Diversity of Life, universally considered the father of biodiversity (and the person who coined the word) and winner of two Pulitzer Prizes.
  19. Angela Davis, 1960’s radical black activist and philosopher, forever connected with the Black Panthers and SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), onetime U. S. vice presidential candidate for Communist Party.
  20. John Badham, Hollywood director of Saturday Night Fever, War Games, Blue Thunder and Short Circuit, Stakeout and Bird on a Wire..
  21. Don Logan, Time/AOL, Inc. CEO.
  22. Fannie Flagg, comedienne, author and screenplay writer (Fried Green Tomatoes, etc.)
  23. Rebecca Gilman, award winning playwright, author of "Spinning Into Butter" and "Boy Meets Girl."
  24. Howell Raines, former Executive Editor of the New York Times and Pulitzer Prize winner.
  25. Bobby Bowden, Florida State football coach, closing in on becoming the winningest coach in college football history.
  26. Alan Hunter, original MTV VJ and 1980’s cultural icon
  27. Heather Whitestone, former Miss America
  28. Mary Badham, Oscar nominee for her role as Scout in "To Kill A Mockingbird"
  29. Amber Benson, "Tara" in the hit television series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  30. John Zimmerman, first place in pairs skating (with partner Kyoko Ina) in the 2002 U. S. Championships, fifth place in the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics and Bronze Medalist in the 2002 World Figure Skating Championships in Nagano, Japan.
  31. Phil Mulkey, Olympian and former world record holder in the decathlon.
  32. Chuck Leavell, keyboardist for the Rolling Stones.
  33. Hubert Green, professional golfer and winner of the PGA and U. S. Open.
  34. Diane McWhorter, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Carry Me Home, the definitive tome on Birmingham’s role in the Civil Rights Era.
  35. Richard North Patterson, best selling author of Degree of Guilt, Silent Witness, The Safe Place, Protect & Defend, Balance of Power.
  36. Robert R. McCammon, international best selling horror novelist, author of Boy’s Life, Swan Song, Speaks the Nightbird; his novels have won more awards from the Horror Writers of America than any other writer.
  37. James Redfield, author of the best selling The Celestine Prophecy.
  38. Sena Jeter Naslund, author of the best selling Ahab’s Wife and Four Spirits.
  39. Daniel Wallace, author of Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions and a hit movie nationwide in 2004.
  40. Eric F. Wieschaus, won a share of the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1995.
  41. Pat Sullivan, winner of the Heisman Trophy.
  42. Michelle Scarborough, the new star of Donald Trump’s hit tv show "The Apprentice" in 2005.

Notable deceased personalities include:

  1. Eddie Kendricks, original lead singer of The Temptations.
  2. Charles O. Finley, the colorful, innovative owner of the Oakland A’s who introduced multi-colored uniforms, the designated hitter and night games to the World Series.
  3. Paul "Bear" Bryant, Alabama’s legendary football coach, is buried in Birmingham’s Elmwood Cemetery.
  4. Nell Carter, gospel singer and television star of Different Strokes.
  5. Dorothy Love Coates, renowned local singer who made the city a highly acclaimed pipeline for exporting gospel music to the world.
  6. Dr. John W. Kirklin, cardiac surgery pioneer who revolutionized cardiovascular surgery and performed the world’s first series of open-heart operations using a heart-lung machine. Also the author of more than 700 publications, including the textbook, Cardiac Surgery, which remains the premier reference text in the field. He died April 21, 2004.

As Yet Unverified Claims:

*HealthSouth’s spinoff, Surgical Care Affiliates, is the largest operator of freestanding surgery centers in the nation with 209 facilities in 37 states, The Birmingham News reported September 1, 2002.

Healthsouth began construction on what they are calling "the world’s first digital hospital," a $225 million technological showplace. The hospital broke ground in December, 2001 at HealthSouth headquarters on Highway 280. It will include such high tech features as computer touch screens, electronic medical records storage, digital imaging instead of Xrays and a wireless communications systems allowing doctors and nurses to review patients’ vital signs and records.

*The first office park in the world was established in Birmingham at Mountain Brook Office Park in 1953 by N. H. Waters and Ervin Jackson. Their concept, considered radical at the time, was that office workers deserved their own parking areas just as workers at industrial plants.

*The first offstreet parking for a shopping center in the world was established by Shepherd- Sloss Realty at the current site of the Western Supermarket on Highland Avenue.

*The Birmingham Children’s Theatre is the largest children’s theatre company in the world.

*Talledega Motor Speedway is the world’s longest closed racetrack.

*When Saunder’s Leasing was established in Birmingham in 1916, it was the nation’s first car rental agency.