Mobile (city)

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Mobile: Recreation


Visitors to Mobile may want to stop at the Fort Conde Welcome Center at 150 Royal Street in the Church Street East district. Built between 1724 and 1735, the brick fort was demolished 100 years later. The site was discovered during freeway excavations in the 1970s, and using original plans archived in France, the city undertook a partial reconstruction of the fort, which was dedicated in 1976. Today, a video presentation about Mobile and interactive video screens offer a glimpse of the many sightseeing opportunities that abound in this historic city. Visitors may tour Fort Conde accompanied by costumed guides who will fire period muskets and cannons.

Mobile's colorful heritage has also been preserved in other historic districts. Near Fort Conde, the Conde Charlotte Museum has been furnished in the various styles of Mobile's past eras. Among other historic sites in the Church Street East district are the Bishop Portier House, a Creole cottage from the 1830s, and townhouses dating from the 1850s and 1860s. The Oakleigh Garden historic district, a group of nineteenth-century Gulf Coast and Victorian cottages, centers around Oakleigh, an 1830s residence on 3.5 acres enhanced by azaleas and moss-covered oak trees. The nearby Cox-Deasy house, a good example of Creole Cottage Style, can also be toured.

Seven miles from Mobile Bay, near Spring Hill College, the Spring Hill historic district features mansions dating from the 1850s. The 1855 Bragg Mitchell Mansion on Spring Hill Avenue is a handsome antebellum mansion open to the public. The nine-block area known as De Tonti Square historic district consists of elegant townhouses, built in a variety of styles between 1840 and 1900, which are illuminated by the neighborhood's antique gas lights. The 1860 Italianate Richards-DAR House is splendidly furnished and boasts iron lace porches and beautiful gardens. Included on the National Register of Historic Places are Mobile's Church Street Graveyard and Magnolia Cemetery, which contain headstones and funerary monuments from the earliest days of the area's history.

At Mobile's Battleship Alabama Memorial Park, the USS Alabama, the World War II submarine USS Drum, and the Aircraft Pavilion can be toured. The park also features a nature observatory. The Mobile Botanical Gardens, adjacent to Langan Municipal Park, presents 100 acres of azaleas, camellias, magnolias, roses, and other native and exotic plants. Twenty miles south of Mobile, the 900-acre Bellingrath Gardens estate dazzles sightseers with 65 acres of landscaped flowers, trees, shrubs, and flowering bushes surrounding a luxurious home; 200 species of birds frequent the gardens. Bayou La Batre, a fishing and shipbuilding community near Mobile, affords visitors many sightseeing opportunities, especially during the festivities connected with the annual blessing of the fleet. When Dauphin Island, two miles off the coast of Mobile County where Mobile Bay meets the Gulf of Mexico, was discovered by the Le Moyne brothers in 1699, it was found to be the site of burial grounds termed Indian shell mounds. The island also features Fort Gaines and lovely gulf beaches. Fort Morgan on the tip of Gulf Shores Island is another remaining Confederate fort.

Arts and Culture

Among the community theater groups in Mobile are the Mobile Theatre Guild, the Joe Jefferson Players, and the Chickasaw Civic Theatre. Children's theater is presented by Mobile's Youth Theatre at the Playhouse in the Park. Mobile's colleges and universities also mount stage productions. Mobile audiences enjoy music performed during annual visits of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra. The Mobile Chamber Music Society and the Mobile Symphony also sponsor concerts. The Mobile Symphony Youth Orchestra completed its first season in 2000-2001 under the auspices of the Mobile Symphony. The following year, a new acoustical shell created a new listening experience for symphony-goers. Mobile Symphony and Mobile Opera jointly purchased a building to be used for rehearsals, teaching studios, and administrative offices; renovations were completed in 2002, and the center opened as the Josephine Larkins Music Center. During warm weather in downtown Mobile a weekly concert series entertains at lunch time on Bienville Square, while pops concerts can be heard in the city's parks. The renovated 1,900-seat Saenger Theatre offers up theater and musical productions. The Mobile Ballet brings exciting dance presentations to the area; its dance school educates residents from toddlers to pre-professionals. The Alabama Contemporary Dance Company trains local dancers and brings contemporary dance to the city.

Mobile's municipal museum system maintains three facilities: the Museum of Mobile, Carlen House, and the Phoenix Fire House Museum. The Museum of Mobile moved to the Old City Hall in fall 2000, where it showcases furniture, silver, arms, ship models, documents, and historical records; its former location will serve as a new Mardi Gras Museum. Carlen House is a Creole cottage where period crafts such as spinning, weaving, and quilting are demonstrated. The Phoenix Fire House Museum is devoted to the city's fire fighting history.

The Mobile Museum of Art is located west of downtown and houses a collection of more than 6,000 pieces spanning more than 2,000 years of culture, including paintings, prints, sculpture, lithographs, silver, quilts, porcelain, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century southern furnishings, and African art. The museum reopened in 2002 after undergoing an expansion costing $15 million, which brought the gallery's exhibition space to 95,000 square feet.

At the University of South Alabama the Museum Gallery Complex consists of Toulon House, a former plantation home built in 1828; Seamen's Bethel, built in 1860 and now serving as a theater; and the Isaac Max Townhouse, dating from 1870.

The Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center and IMAX Dome Theater features exhibits that let visitors explore aquatic life and human science, and games and puzzles that demonstrate scientific concepts and stimulate problem-solving skills.

Festivals and Holidays

Rooted in ancient Grecian and Roman celebrations and adapted to fit the Christian Church's calendar, Mardi Gras is an outpouring of revelry that precedes the penitential Lenten period observed for 40 days prior to Easter. Mardi Gras practices are thought to have been brought to the first Mobile settlement by its French colonists around 1700, and were later enhanced with traditions added by Spanish and subsequent settlers. Resumed after the Civil War, Mobile's Mardi Gras today is observed with two weeks of balls, floats and parades, costumes, music from bands and minstrels, and pageantry. Mardis Gras is celebrated in Mobile with a variety of citywide events.

Also in late winter, Mobile celebrates its Azalea Trail Festival, when 37 miles of azalea shrubs in bloom throughout Mobile are marked out on two driving routes that afford trail followers a spectacular floral display. The festival also includes a 10-kilometer footrace, a historic homes tour, and other events. Spring events in Mobile include the Festival of Flowers on the campus of Spring Hill College, and the Blakeley Battle Festival reenactment commemorating the last major Civil War land battle. In June, 52 contestants in the America's Junior Miss program compete in Mobile for college scholarships and other prizes.

Proximity to the Gulf of Mexico inspires summer events in and around Mobile. Among these is the Blessing of the Fleet in neighboring Bayou La Batre, where fishing boats are decorated for a water parade, arts and crafts are displayed, live crabs are raced, and seafood and gumbo are served in abundance. During the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo held for a weekend on nearby Dauphin Island, anglers test their skills against each other and such prize fish as shark and blue marlin. In September the Fall Outdoor Arts and Crafts Fair also includes music, food, and games.

October's National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores promises seafood contests, a parade, an arts and crafts show, dancing, fireworks, boat racing, and a ten-kilometer footrace. Also in October, the Greater Gulf State Fair features exhibits of commercial, cultural, leisure, military, and agricultural interest. October 2005's BayFest Festival expected a draw of 200,000 for its annual 3-day continuous-music festival. The Mobile International Festival in November showcases food and customs of more than 30 countries. Seasonal celebrations at Mobile's historic locations in December are followed by festivities surrounding January's Senior Bowl, a yearly football event that draws national attention.

Sports for the Spectator

Sports enthusiasts can view a wide range of sporting events in the Mobile area, which annually hosts the Alabama-Mississippi All Star Classic high school football competition. Collegiate sports played in Mobile include baseball, basketball, and wrestling. Ladd-Peebles Stadium hosts the annual GMAC Bowl, started in 1999.

Each January the nation's top-ranking college seniors meet in the city to play football in the prestigious Senior Bowl. The post-season competition, televised nationally, showcases upcoming talent and attracts scouts, coaches, and management representing professional football. Stock car racing and dog racing at Mobile Greyhound Park are also on view in the Mobile area. Mobile's AA baseball team, the Mobile BayBears, entertain fans at the Hank Aaron Stadium.

Sports for the Participant

The city of Mobile maintains 85 facilities that provide a variety of sports activities and opportunities. Langan Park's 700 acres surrounding a 40-acre lake offer golf, tennis, baseball, bicycling, paddle boating, and picnicking. Bowling alleys, skating rinks, swimming pools, and many tennis and basketball courts throughout Mobile add to the city's active life. Mobile's Magnolia Grove Golf Course is a stop on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, the largest golf course construction project ever attempted with a total of 378 holes over 18 courses throughout the state.

Mobile's residents and visitors can engage in many activities on or in adjacent water bodies. The city's proximity to the Gulf of Mexico is appreciated by bird watchers, who have an opportunity to view many migratory species crossing the gulf, as well as an abundance of local species. Sailing, wind surfing, canoeing, kayaking, water-skiing, swimming, and scuba diving are common on the area's rivers, on Mobile Bay, and on the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf Yachting Association sponsors a variety of racing events around the Gulf Coast. At nearby Gulf State Park, 6,150 acres of park land include a 2 mile stretch of sandy beach, a beach front lodge, cabins, a campground, a swimming pool, two freshwater lakes for skiing, canoeing, sailing, and fishing, and facilities for tennis, cycling, and golf. Among the Gulf area's other sites for sporting activities are Dauphin Island and Pleasure Island.

Fishing and hunting are also popular pursuits in the Mobile area. Freshwater fishing on such waterways as Dog River, Mobile River, the Tennessee-Tombigbee system, and the Tensaw River yield catches of bream, bass, and perch. Saltwater fishing from piers or banks on the Mobile Bay or the gulf brings in trout, flounder, and Spanish mackerel. Deep-sea fishing can be chartered in the Mobile area, yielding land sharks, snapper, amberjack, and sailfish. Hunters in the Mobile area bag waterfowl and game such as deer and wild turkey.

Shopping and Dining

Shopping venues in the Mobile area range from regional malls to specialty boutiques. A district of shops surrounds restored Fort Conde, and recent developments to the downtown waterfront area have brought about new entertainment, restaurant and shopping options. The Bel Air shopping mall also features a food court offering a variety of ethnic and American foods. Mobile restaurants take full advantage of the area's abundant seafood, including gulf and bay shrimp, oysters, soft-shell crab, blue crab, red snapper, flounder, mullet, and trout. Among Mobile's other regional specialties are Creole and Cajun menus, Caribbean dishes such as West Indies salad, and traditional Southern fare such as catfish and barbecue. Ethnic dining is also available at establishments featuring European, Oriental, and Mexican menus.

Visitor Information: Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, 451 Government Street, Mobile AL 36652; telephone (800)422-6951 or (251)433-6951. Mobile Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau, PO Box 204, Mobile AL 36601; telephone (800)5-MOBILE or (251)208-2000

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Mobile: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Benefiting from abundant natural resources, a diversified work force, and a prime location, Mobile enjoyed steady economic expansion throughout the twentieth century. Since 1990 the city has had its healthiest economy in decades, based on factors such as tax revenue, Port of Mobile tonnage, total employment, and residential sales.

Medicine and research, aerospace, retail trade, services, construction, and manufacturing are among Mobile's major businesses. From 1993 to 2003, 87 new companies were created and 399 existing companies were expanded, resulting in 13,983 new jobs. The city's fastest-growing jobs are those in tourism and services.

Austal USA, a joint venture between its parent company in Australia and Mobile's Bender Shipbuilding and Repair Company, will bring 600 new jobs to the area in 2005 and 2006. Austal USA broke ground in early 2005 on a new shipbuilding facility created for design and construction of a new U.S. Navy ship. Also in early 2005 construction began on a new aircraft facility adjacent to the Mobile Regional Airport. EADS CASA North America will occupy the 13,000 square foot center when it relocates its aircraft service and support operation from Chantilly, Virginia to Mobile. An April 2004 article in the Mobile Register quoted Carl Ferguson, director of the University of Alabama's Center for Business and Economic Research, as saying that Mobile added 1,700 new jobs from February 2003 to February 2004. The same article offers that the 2004 opening of Carnival Cruise Lines' Mobile operation will not only create direct jobs, but will create more jobs in the port area by spurring new restaurants, shops, and tourist attractions.

Items and goods produced: wood pulp and paper, aircraft engines, aluminum, chemicals and paints, cement, apparel, pumps, batteries, ship-related items, rayon fibers, bakery products

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

Local programs

The Mobile Chamber of Commerce serves as a regional economic development agency, coordinating with city, county and private partners. According to the Chamber, both local and state incentives are available to help firms reduce initial capital costs, develop a labor force, and lessen long term tax burdens.

State programs

Alabama boasts a progressive state business environment as demonstrated by its comprehensive right-to-work laws, one-stop environmental permitting, and a positive state and local government attitude toward new and expanding business. Tax rates are competitive; for example, employers who provide or sponsor an approved basic skills education program qualify to receive a 20 percent credit on state corporate income tax liability. Parts of Mobile have been designated as part of the Alabama Enterprise Zone Program, which helps attract new business to Alabama with tax breaks to those operating within the zone. Information about these incentives and Alabama's state-of-the art industrial training programs is available through the Alabama Development Office.

Job training programs

Top business executives in Alabama applaud the state's Industrial Development Training Program, which supports local businesses by doing everything from advertising, to processing job applications, to training and delivering employees. In Mobile, the Center for Workforce Development (CWD) was launched in January 2000 in response to business community needs for better-trained workers. The CWD's purpose is to form strategic alliances in workforce development with area business, education, and community leaders. These alliances are designed to foster improvements in the quality of Mobile's workforce and ensure that the region remains competitive in a global economy.

Development Projects

The Museum of Mobile expanded in 2000 and moved next door to the Exploreum in the Southern Market/Old City Hall on Royal Street. After massive renovations in the late 1990s and early in the new century, the city of Mobile's waterfront and downtown areas were rebuilt into a venue of cultural, tourist, and entertainment outlets named Mobile Landing. In addition to a host of new restaurants, a waterfront and concert park and the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center and IMAX Theater have sprung up. In 2004, Carnival Cruise Lines opened for business with a one-year contract to sail its massive cruise ship, the 1,452-passenger Holiday, out of Mobile Bay. The ship leaves the new $20 million Mobile Alabama Cruise Terminal on four- and five-night cruises to Mexico and is expected to help boost what is already a $500 million tourism industry. The Maritime Center, slated to open in May 2006, will offer interactive exhibits, programs, and ferry rides.

In 2000 the Mobile Public Library began work on a multimillion-dollar expansion. Plans were underway in 2004 for expanding the Main Library from 20,000 to more than 63,000 square feet at a projected cost of $7.5 million. By that year, construction had begun on the 58,457 square foot West Regional Library on Grelot Road at a projected cost of $10.8 million, and the new Toulminville Branch opened after construction was completed at a cost of $2 million.

In 2005, funding was still being secured and plans were underway for the University of South Alabama's $100-million USA Cancer Research Institute (USACRI). The 100,000 square foot center will focus on both research and treatment, and is expected to be completed in 2006.

In private investments, in 2001 Ipsco Inc. completed construction of a new plate mill in Mobile County. The steel mill, which cost $425 million to build, generates 1.25 million tons of steel annually and employs 450 people. The company selected Mobile County because of its highly skilled workforce, competitive power rates, good tax practices, and transportation logistics.

Economic Development Information: Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, 451 Government Street, Mobile, AL 36652; telephone (251)433-6951; fax (251)432-1143; email [email protected] Alabama Development Office, Neal Wade, Director, 401 Adams Avenue, 6th Floor, Montgomery, AL 36130; telephone (800)248-0033; email [email protected]

Commercial Shipping

Mobile, long recognized as a prime port location, experienced a period of strong growth in the 1990s that continued into the new century. The Port of Mobile is one of the largest deepwater ports in the United States, served by more than 130 steamship lines providing substantial shipping capabilities connected to 376 inland dock facilities. Mobile also boasts two huge ship repair businesses and numerous barge repair companies; more than 300 private firms work to support the maritime industry in Mobile. Mobile's importance as the center of a far-reaching distribution network is further enhanced by the Brookley Complex, a designated Foreign Trade Zone. The 1,700-acre trade and industrial complex is operated by the Mobile Airport Authority and provides connections to air, rail, waterway, and interstate transportation. Sixty-five motor freight lines are certified to transport interstate shipments to and from the Mobile area.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Alabama is a right-to-work state and ranks below half the states in its percentage of nonagricultural union membership. Employment opportunities are plentiful and diverse in Mobile. In the 10-year span from 1993 to 2003, nearly 14,000 new jobs were created by new or expanding companies in the Mobile area.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Mobile metropolitan area labor force, 2003 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 224,400

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 15,600

manufacturing: 20,500

trade, transportation and utilities: 49,900

information: 3,000

financial activities: 12,300

professional and business services: 25,900

educational and health services: 54,400

leisure and hospitality: 22,900

other services: 12,600

government: 36,000

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $14.75

Unemployment rate: 6.0% (November 2004)

Largest employers Number of employees
Mobile County School System 7,187
Univ. of South Alabama and USA Health System 4,972
Mobile Infirmary Medical Center 3,500
City of Mobile 2,466
Providence Hospital 2,307
County of Mobile 1,700
ST Mobile Aerospace Engineering 1,500
Springhill Memorial Hospital 1,400
Winn Dixie Food Stores 1,052

Cost of Living

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Mobile area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $213,394

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 88.3 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: Ranges from 2.0% to 5.0%

State sales tax rate: 4.0%

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 4.0% (city); 1.0% (county)

Property tax rate: $56.50 total for city, county, and state per $1000 assessed valuation; assessment rate, 10% for residential, 20% for commercial (2005)

Economic Information: Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, 451 Government Street, PO Box 2187, Mobile, AL 36652; telephone (251)433-6951; Fax (251)432-1143; email [email protected]

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Mobile: History

French Establish First Settlement

Represented on maps as early as 1507, the Gulf of Mexico inlet now known as Mobile Bay was navigated by European seafarers in 1519 when ships under the command of Spanish Admiral Alonso Alvaraz de Pineda sought a safe harbor in which to undertake repairs. The bay area was not really explored, however, until 1558. It was included in the vast region that was claimed for France's King Louis XIV and was named Louisiana by French explorer Robert Cavelier de La Salle in 1682. France authorized two brothers, Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville and Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, to explore territories in Louisiana, and they arrived at the gulf inlet that is now called Mobile Bay in 1699. The area was subsequently considered crucial to establishing French occupation of Louisiana and the brothers were ordered to colonize the region, which was inhabited by the Mobile, or Maubila, tribe. In 1702 Bienville established Fort Louis de la Mobilenamed to honor France's king and to acknowledge the native tribeat Twenty Seven Mile Bluff on the banks of the Mobile River, just north of present-day Mobile. It was the first French town in the gulf region.

The settlement, which consisted of the log fort, Creole houses, a church, a hospital, a marketplace with shops, and a well, served as the capital of the vast Louisiana Territory. Women joined the community in 1704. When river flooding forced the colony to abandon Fort Louis de la Mobile in 1711, the settlement's four hundred inhabitants moved downstream to a new site protected by a wooden fort at the river's mouth on Mobile Bay. During this era, pelts, furs, wax, and tallow were transported down river to where the bay meets the gulf for transfer to ocean-going vessels. This settlement retained the name Mobile and remained the capital of the Louisiana Territory until New Orleans assumed that title in 1720. That same year Mobile renamed its fort Fort Conde. A brick structure later replaced the original fort.

Mobile Becomes Part of the United States

Mobile continued to serve as an important center for diplomatic dealings with the neighboring tribal inhabitants. France ceded its territory east of the Mississippi River to Britain in 1763, and that year, taking possession of Fort Conde, the British renamed it Fort Charlotte. Two years later Mobile was the site of the Great Choctaw-Chickasaw Congress held among tribal leaders and British officials.

When Spain, at war with Britain, captured Mobile in 1779, the area traded in cotton and indigo and supported sawmills and brickyards. After two decades of Spanish rule, the region was returned to France, who sold the Louisiana Territory to the United States in 1803. It was not until after the War of 1812, however, that U.S. influence began to be felt in the region. The Bank of Mobile was established in 1818, Mobile was incorporated as a city shortly after Alabama attained statehood in 1819, and Fort Charlotte was dismantled in 1820.

Explosion Destroys City

Mobile's population by 1822 had reached nearly 3,000 people, a figure that subsequently quadrupled in less than two decades. As steamboats made upstream transportation possible, Mobile served as an important port for distributing goods brought in by ocean-going vessels as well as for exporting cotton and lumber. By the 1850s Mobile was the South's second largest cotton port, following New Orleans. Although tested by fires and yellow fever epidemics, Mobile's prosperity by mid-century was secure. In 1861, recognizing the nation's deep political and social division, Alabama seceded from the United States as the Republic of Alabama, and joined other southern states to form the Confederacy.

Mobile was particularly valuable to the South because of its location on the Gulf of Mexico. The city maintained trade with Europe and the West Indies while constructing the first submarine used in warfare. But in 1864 during the Battle of Mobile Bay, Union forces, urged on by Admiral David Farragut's famous rallying cry, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!," defeated Confederate troops and captured southern strongholds around Mobile. Still, Mobile was the only major southern port unoccupied by Yankee troops during the Civil War. At the war's end a tremendous ammunitions explosion in Mobile left massive destruction. The Battle of Mobile rendered the navies of the world obsolete as the era of the wooden ship had ended.

Mobile Emerges Triumphant

The city's post-Civil War recovery was aided by port-related activity; the shipping channel was deepened and shipbuilding increased. In the 1870s, Mobile began to serve as a major center for the importation of Brazilian coffee. Railroad expansion also contributed to Mobile's emergence as a major distribution center. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the city's port underwent further development and modernization, and in the 1920s the Alabama State Docks were conceived and realized as a means of providing and maintaining adequate port facilities. Mobile's shipbuilding contributed to the war efforts during World War I, and in the 1940s the city's shipyards were packed with shifts of workers welding hulls for World War II naval operations.

While Mobile found itself weathering the violent racial tensions that swept the nation in the 1960s, the city was and is often the site of damaging tropical storms. Mobile sustained heavy losses after hurricane Camille hit the Gulf Coast in 1969, destroying a total of $1.5 billion worth of property along the coast and claiming 250 lives in Mobile. Ten years later hurricane Frederic was especially brutal for the city, with property damage in Mobile mounting to $1 billion. In 2004, hurricane Ivan attacked the Gulf Coast, leaving Mobile another hefty bill.

An economically diverse community, Mobile now counts oil and gas reserves, discovered in the 1970s, among its economic resources. The city continues to benefit from port activities and is also a center for manufacturing. The area produces chemicals, steel, wood pulp and paper products, furniture, rayon fibers, and clothing, and is a growing center for medical care, research, and education. Tourists and conventioneers enjoy the city's Creole charm and nearby coastal beaches. Mobile's long-term French and Spanish heritage make it unique in Alabama and places the city among the elite urban centers of the South. In 2002, Mobile celebrated its 300th birthday with events around the city.

Historical Information: Historic Mobile Preservation Society, 300 Oakleigh Place, Mobile, AL 36606; telephone (251)432-6161. Bienville Historical Society, The Center for Gulf Studies Library, 606 Government Street, Mobile, AL 36602; telephone (205)457-5242

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Mobile: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

The Mobile County Public School System is the oldest in the state and encompasses five separate school districts. The system educates 65,000 students and employs more than 7,000 people. The school system completed the largest building program in its history with the opening of Spencer Elementary School in the fall of 1999. Spencer Elementary was the last project in the Phase I Building Program that consisted of one high school, two middle schools, five elementary schools, and six additions to existing elementary schools. The school system then began another aggressive building program that includes several new elementary schools. In 2001, voters passed a bond to increase funding for the school system.; currently the systems' budget exceeds $400 million yearly.

The school system, the Mobile Chamber of Commerce, and area businesses and training organizations work together to provide vocational training for Mobile students. Programs include Family and Consumer Sciences Education; Health Science; Agriscience and Technology; Business/Marketing Education; Career/Technical Cooperative Education; Career Technology; and the School-to-Work program. One of the few of its kind, the Environmental Studies Center offers more than 500 acres of woodlands and teaches students and the community about the natural environment.

The following is a summary of data regarding Mobile's public schools as of the 20022003 fiscal year.

Total enrollment: 65,000

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 55

middle schools: 16

senior high schools: 14

other: 15 magnet, vocational and other

Student/teacher ratio: 16:1

Teacher salaries (2004-05)

minimum: $29,538

maximum: $48,832

Funding per pupil: $3,955

In addition to the many parochial and private schools in Mobile county, the Alabama School of Mathematics and Science is a residential high school educating sophomores, juniors, and seniors in advanced studies of math, science, and technology.

Public Schools Information: Mobile County Schools, PO Box 1327, Mobile, AL 36633; telephone (251)221-4000

Colleges and Universities

Two private institutions and one state-supported school offer college degrees in the Mobile area. The University of South Alabama is a state school that offers bachelor's and master's degrees and enrolls more than 13,000 students. The University of Mobile, a private institution, is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Church. Spring Hill College is a private Catholic institution. Mobile is also served by three technical and trade schools, including an aviation school; a branch of Montgomery's Faulkner University offering 2-year degrees; and four campuses of Bishop State Community College.

Libraries and Research Centers

The Mobile Public Library maintains seven branches, bookmobiles, and a collection of more than 400,000 volumes, as well as CDs, films, and tapes. In 2005 major renovations were underway of the library's main branch, bringing about a temporary location move to the Mobile Civic Center's Expo Hall. Much of the material in the library's special collections focuses on regional history. The system's specialized libraries in the area maintain holdings on fine arts, banking and finance, law, sports, and health sciences.

Research centers in the Mobile area include mineralization and primate research laboratories at the University of South Alabama, which also supports a Center for Business and Economic Research. On nearby Dauphin Island, 22 Alabama universities and colleges maintain a Sea Lab research complex for marine studies. Paper and pollution are among the subjects studied at the Erling Riis Research Laboratory. When completed in 2006, the University of South Alabama's new USA Cancer Research Institute (USACRI) is expected to serve an estimated 2.5 million people in 42 Gulf Coast counties of Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida.

Public Library Information: Mobile Public Library, 700 Government St., Mobile, AL 36602-1403; telephone (251)208-7106

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Mobile: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents

1980: 444,000

1990: 476,923

2000: 540,258

Percent change, 19902000: 13.3%

U.S. rank in 1980: 74th

U.S. rank in 1990: Not reported

U.S. rank in 2000: 78th

City Residents

1980: 200,452

1990: 199,973

2000: 198,915

2003 estimate: 193,464

Percent change, 19902000: -.3%

U.S. rank in 1980: 72nd

U.S. rank in 1990: 79th (State rank: 2nd)

U.S. rank in 2000: 105th (State rank: 3rd)

Density: 1,687.1 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 100,251

Black or African American: 92,068

American Indian and Alaska Native: 487

Asian: 3,022

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 52

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 2,828

Other: 1,046

Percent of residents born in state: 72.7% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 14,480

Population 5 to 9 years old: 15,100

Population 10 to 14 years old: 14,495

Population 15 to 19 years old: 14,754

Population 20 to 24 years old: 15,387

Population 25 to 34 years old: 27,076

Population 35 to 44 years old: 28,613

Population 45 to 54 years old: 25,207

Population 55 to 59 years old: 8,830

Population 60 to 64 years old: 7,700

Population 65 to 74 years old: 13,778

Population 75 to 84 years old: 9,968

Population 85 years and older: 3,527

Median age: 34.3 years

Births (2002)

Total number: 5,830

Deaths (2002)

Total number: 3,929 (of which, 60 were infants under the age of 1 year)

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $18,072

Median household income: $31,445

Total households: 78,548

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 13,142

$10,000 to $14,999: 7,145

$15,000 to $24,999: 12,026

$25,000 to $34,999: 10,400

$35,000 to $49,999: 12,155

$50,000 to $74,999: 12,450

$75,000 to $99,999: 5,211

$100,000 to $149,999: 3,597

$150,000 to $199,999: 1,055

$200,000 or more: 1,367

Percent of families below poverty level: 17.9% (63.3% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 17,949

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Mobile: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

Mobile's largest-circulation newspaper is The Mobile Register, Alabama's oldest newspaper, dating back to 1813. The Mobile Press combines with the Register on weekends and prints as The Mobile Press Register. Two African-American-oriented newspapers, the Mobile Beacon and The New Times, are published in Mobile. Other publications focus on industry, education, and Christian themes.

Television and Radio

Mobile is served by five local television stations and receives broadcasts from other stations originating in Pensacola, Florida, and Huntsville, Alabama. Mobile's 6 AM radio stations broadcast a range of rock and roll, contemporary, and country and western music as well as religious and news programming. The city's 8 FM radio stations program classical, jazz, popular, easy listening, urban, and progressive music.

Media Information: The Mobile Register, 304 Government Street, PO Box 2488, Mobile, AL 36630; telephone (251)219-5400

Mobile Online

Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel. Available

Alabama Development Office. Available

City of Mobile home page. Available

Mobile Bay Convention and Visitor's Bureau. Available

Mobile Chamber of Commerce. Available

Mobile County Public Schools. Available

Mobile Museum of Art. Available

Mobile Public Library. Available

Mobile Register. Available

Selected Bibliography

Bergeron, Arthur W., Jr., Confederate Mobile (Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 1991)

Pride, Richard A., The Confession of Dorothy Danner: Telling a Life. (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1995)

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Mobile: Introduction
Mobile: Geography and Climate
Mobile: History
Mobile: Population Profile
Mobile: Municipal Government
Mobile: Economy
Mobile: Education and Research
Mobile: Health Care
Mobile: Recreation
Mobile: Convention Facilities
Mobile: Transportation
Mobile: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1702 (incorporated 1819)

Head Official: Mayor Michael C. Dow (N-P) (since 1989)

City Population

1980: 200,452

1990: 199,973

2000: 198,915

2003 estimate: 193,464

Percent change, 19902000: -.3%

U.S. rank in 1980: 72nd

U.S. rank in 1990: 79th

U.S. rank in 2000: 105th (State rank: 3rd)

Metropolitan Area Population

1980: 444,000

1990: 476,923

2000: 540,258

Percent change, 19902000: 13.3%

U.S. rank in 1980: 74th

U.S. rank in 1990: Not reported

U.S. rank in 2000: 78th

Area: 118 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 211 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 68° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 66 inches

Major Economic Sectors: Wholesale and retail trade, services, government

Unemployment rate: 6.0% (November 2004)

Per Capita Income: $18,072 (1999)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 17,949

Major Colleges and Universities: University of South Alabama, University of Mobile, Spring Hill College

Daily Newspaper: The Mobile Register

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Mobile: Introduction

Mobile, Alabama's oldest and third largest city, is also the state's only seaport, serving as a major industrial, shipping, and shipbuilding center. Located on the Mobile River at the head of the Gulf of Mexico's Mobile Bay, it was an important maritime site during the Civil War and both world wars. The area that is now Mobile was France's first Gulf Coast settlement, and except for St. Augustine, Florida, it is the oldest Latin town east of Mexico. Also settled by Spanish and British populations during its colorful early years, Mobile has preserved its historic sites and architecture, as well as its Creole culture and traditions, and so retains much of the rich heritage of the American South while remaining substantially different from inland communities. Money magazine consistently rates Mobile in the top 100 best metropolitan areas in which to live in the United States. In the 1990s the city underwent a $168 million revitalization of its waterfront and downtown areas. Today's Mobile, while steeped in the heritage of a genuinely Southern past, continues to move forward as a truly modern city.

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Mobile: Geography and Climate

Mobile is located at the mouth of the Mobile River in southwest Alabama and stands at the head of Mobile Bay, 31 miles inland from where the bay meets the Gulf of Mexico.

Mobile is one of the nation's wettest cities. Rainfall occurs fairly evenly throughout the year. Summers are hot and muggy; winters are mild. Mobile averages only nineteen days each year at or below freezing temperatures. Average annual snowfall is less than half an inch.

The city is occasionally threatened by hurricanes from the Gulf of Mexico and the West Indies. In 2004, hurricane Ivan wreaked havoc on Mobile and surrounding areas.

Area: 118.0 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 211 feet above sea level

Average Temperatures: January, 51° F; July, 82° F; average annual temperature, 68° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 66 inches

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Mobile: Transportation

Approaching the City

The Mobile Regional Airport is located approximately 14 miles from downtown Mobile. Air travelers are served by Delta, Northwest Airlines, Continental Express, and U.S. Airways. The Downtown Airport at Brookley is a 1,700-acre transportation terminal favored by private and corporate planes for its proximity to downtown Mobile, which is only four minutes away by car. Motorists may reach Mobile via two interstate highways, I-10 and I-65, and by U.S. highways 31, 43, 45, 90, and 98. A $100 million interstate spur completed in 1995 connects I-65 and I-10 in downtown Mobile. In addition, several state roads head into the city. Amtrak provides passenger rail service between Mobile and New Orleans, Atlanta, and New York.

Traveling in the City

The Mobile Metro Transit Authority operates more than twenty local bus routes to serve the area's transit needs. The Transit Authority also operates an electric-run trolley through downtown Mobile, Monday through Friday. The LoDa moda! makes 22 stops to downtown businesses, parks, hotels, and city buildings, and is free of charge.