Birmingham is a city located in Jefferson County, Alabama. With a 2020 population of 208,940, it is the largest city in Alabama and the 111th largest city in the United States. Birmingham is currently declining at a rate of -0.22% annually and its population has decreased by -1.55% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 212,237 in 2010. Birmingham reached it's highest population of 340,887 in 1960. Spanning over 149 miles, Birmingham has a population density of 1,430 people per square mile.
The average household income in Birmingham is $51,555 with a poverty rate of 27.23%. The median rental costs in recent years comes to $797 per month, and the median house value is $89,200. The median age in Birmingham is 35.8 years, 33.8 years for males, and 37.8 years for females. For every 100 females there are 88.2 males.
The city was founded in 1871 and was once one of the primary industrial centers of the United States’ southern region. Today, while its industries have changed, it remains one of the country’s most important business and banking centers in the US.
The city is not just ethnically diverse but also is very diverse when it comes to religion. It is the site of many Christian churches, as well as mosques, Hindu temples, and synagogues. The city has the highest ratio of Protestant followers in the country based on 2010 data.
The city also has a very high rate of crime and was ranked 20th in the country based on the highest crime rates. Violent crime has continued to rise over the last few years, particularly in low-income areas. The city is ranked the third most violent in the US.
Birmingham Population Growth
The city of Birmingham saw population growth through its earliest years, but since the 1970s has posted population losses in every 10-year census. Most recently, the population dropped by over 12% between 2000 and 2010. Estimates from 2017 show that some growth has occurred since the last census in 2010. The high crime rates have contributed to the falling population numbers. “White flight” has also occurred as people move from the city to the suburbs following the loss of jobs. Birmingham’s plans to revitalize the city could contribute to future population growth, and the current numbers showing that it’s on the upswing again could be a positive sign for this Alabama city.
Birmingham was founded in 1871 through the merger of three farm towns. In its earliest years, it became a center for railroad transportation and mining, iron and steel industries. It was developed primarily to use immigrants for cheap labor, whereas other cities at this time were unionized. The city was named after Birmingham, England, which at the time was a leading industrial city.
The city began growing at a rapid rate, although a cholera outbreak and the stock market crash – both which occurred in the 1800s – did slow growth temporarily. However, the early 1900s saw extensive growth and the city became known as “The Magic City.” The Great Depression brought about another set of challenges for Birmingham. As its industries were struggling, farm laborers also flooded the city in hopes of finding employment. It was so bad that the president said that Birmingham was the “worst-hit town” in the US.
However, Birmingham bounced back fairly quickly as demand for steel during World War II boosted the economy. It was during this time that the city’s manufacturing sector also grew, while schools, parks, and museums were erected around the area. The city faced more controversy during the 1950s and 1960s when racially-charged bombings occurred to the homes of black families, and Birmingham became known as “Bombingham.” Martin Luther King, Jr. came to the city to take part in a non-violent demonstration and was jailed in the city, where he wrote the “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”
In more recent years, the city has focused on urban-renewal efforts and has upgraded its city center, developed the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and has completed other improvements throughout the city. The downtown area is in the process of being reconstructed, bringing in new housing, retail, restaurant and cultural options to bring in new residents and visitors. It has also become a leading business and banking center in the US.