Birmingham är en stad i Jefferson County i den amerikanska delstaten Alabama. År 2010 hade staden 212 237 invånare. I storstadsområdet Birmingham-Hoover metropolitan area var invånarantalet vid samma tid omkring 1 128 047 personer.
The city was founded in 1871, during the post-Civil War Reconstruction period, through the merger of three pre-existing farm towns, notably, former Elyton. It grew from there, annexing many more of its smaller neighbors, into an industrial and railroad transportation center with a focus on mining, the iron and steel industry, and railroading. Birmingham was named for Birmingham, England, UK; one of that nation’s major industrial cities. Most of the original settlers who founded Birmingham were of English ancestry. In one writer’s view, the city was planned as a place where cheap, non-unionized, and African-American labor from rural Alabama could be employed in the city’s steel mills and blast furnaces, giving it a competitive advantage over industrial cities in the Midwest and Northeast.
From its founding through the end of the 1960s, the city was a primary industrial center of the South. The pace of Birmingham’s growth during the period from 1881 through 1920 earned its nicknames The Magic City and The Pittsburgh of the South. Much like Pittsburgh, Birmingham’s major industries were iron and steel production, plus a major component of the railroading industry, where rails and railroad cars were both manufactured in Birmingham. In the field of railroading, the two primary hubs of railroading in the Deep South were nearby Atlanta and Birmingham, beginning in the 1860s and continuing through to the present day. The economy diversified during the later half of the twentieth century. Though the manufacturing industry maintains a strong presence in Birmingham, other businesses and industries such as banking, telecommunications, transportation, electrical power transmission, medical care, college education, and insurance have risen in stature. Mining in the Birmingham area is no longer a major industry with the exception of coal mining. Birmingham ranks as one of the most important business centers in the Southeastern United States and is also one of the largest banking centers in the United States. In addition, the Birmingham area serves as headquarters to one Fortune 500 company: Regions Financial, along with five other Fortune 1000 companies.
In higher education, Birmingham has been the location of the University of Alabama School of Medicine (formerly the Medical College of Alabama) and the University of Alabama School of Dentistry since 1947. Since that time it has also obtained a campus of the University of Alabama, University of Alabama at Birmingham (founded circa 1969), one of three main campuses of the University of Alabama System. It is also home to three private institutions: Samford University, Birmingham-Southern College, and Miles College. Between these colleges and universities, the Birmingham area has major colleges of medicine, dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, law, engineering, and nursing. The city has three of the state’s five law schools: Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham School of Law, and Miles Law School. Birmingham is also the headquarters of the Southeastern Conference, one of the major U.S. collegiate athletic conferences.
Opera in Birmingham
Opera Birmingham, the only professional opera company in Northern and Central Alabama, has entertained audiences for over 55 years. From its humble beginnings in 1955 to its 50th anniversary in 2005 and beyond, Opera Birmingham has produced world-class operatic productions and concerts that have been hailed by critics and loved by audiences.
Opera Birmingham began in 1955 as the Birmingham Civic Opera. Under the leadership of Martha Dick McClung, director of Opera Theater at Birmingham-Southern College, the company’s first production was Smetana’s The Bartered Bride, followed by Puccini’s Madama Butterfly the following year. Since then, the Opera has produced over 50 different operas, and has brought hundreds of the best operatic performers from all over the world to Birmingham’s artistic doorstep.
After merging with Southern Regional Opera in 1986, the company became Birmingham Opera Theater for its 1987 season, and finally Opera Birmingham in 1996. The current General Director, Keith A. Wolfe, will lead the Opera into its sixth decade.