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Mobile, Alabama

Mobile, Alabama
From top: Pincus Building, Old City Hall and Southern Market, Fort Condé, Barton Academy, Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, and the skyline of downtown Mobile from the Mobile River.
From top: Pincus Building, Old City Hall and Southern Market, Fort Condé, Barton Academy, Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, and the skyline of downtown Mobile from the Mobile River.
Flag of Mobile
Official seal of Mobile
Nickname(s): "The Port City", "Azalea City", "The City of Six Flags"
Location in Mobile County and the state of Alabama
Location in Mobile County and the state of Alabama
Mobile is located in Alabama
Location in Alabama.
Country United States of America
State Alabama
County Mobile
Founded 1702
Incorporated (town) January 20, 1814[1]
Incorporated (city) December 17, 1819[2]
 • Mayor William S.'Sandy' Stimpson[3][4]
 • City 413 km2 (159.4 sq mi)
 • Land 305 km2 (117.9 sq mi)
 • Water 107 km2 (41.5 sq mi)
Elevation(lowest)[5] 3 m (10 ft)
Population (2010)[6]
 • City 195,111
 • Estimate (2013)[7] 194,899
 • Rank US: 122nd
 • Density 651.4/km2 (1,687.2/sq mi)
 • Urban 326,183 (US: 115th)
 • Metro 414,079 (US: 127th)
Demonym Mobilian
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP Codes
Area code(s) 251
FIPS code 01-50000
GNIS feature ID 0155153
Interstate Spurs
U.S. Routes
Waterways Mobile River
Seaports Port of Mobile
Website City of Mobile

Mobile ( ) is the county seat of Mobile County, Alabama. The population within the city limits was 195,111 as of the 2010 United States Census,[9] making it the third most populous city in the State of Alabama, the most populous in Mobile County, and the largest municipality on the Gulf Coast between New Orleans, Louisiana, and St. Petersburg, Florida.

Alabama's only saltwater port, Mobile is located at the head of the Mobile Bay and the north-central Gulf Coast.[10] The Port of Mobile has always played a key role in the economic health of the city beginning with the city as a key trading center between the French and Native Americans down to its current role as the 12th-largest port in the United States.[11][12] Mobile is the principal municipality of the Mobile Metropolitan Statistical Area, a region of 412,992 residents which is composed solely of Mobile County and is the third-largest metropolitan statistical area in the state.[9][13] Mobile is the largest city in the Mobile-DaphneFairhope CSA, with a total population of 604,726, the second largest in the state.[14] As of 2011, the population within a 60-mile (100 km) radius of Mobile is 1,262,907.[15]

Mobile began as the first capital of colonial French Louisiana in 1702. During its first 100 years, Mobile was a colony of France, then Britain, and lastly Spain. Mobile first became a part of the United States of America in 1813, with the annexation of West Florida under President James Madison. It then left that union in 1861 when Alabama joined the Confederate States of America, which collapsed in 1865.[16]

As one of the mystic society, known elsewhere as a krewe, to celebrate with a parade in the United States, beginning in 1830.[19]


  • Etymology 1
  • History 2
    • Colonial 2.1
    • 19th century 2.2
    • 20th century 2.3
  • Geography and climate 3
    • Geography 3.1
    • Neighborhoods 3.2
    • Climate 3.3
      • Christmas Day tornado 3.3.1
  • Culture 4
    • Carnival and Mardi Gras 4.1
    • Archives and libraries 4.2
    • Arts and entertainment 4.3
  • Tourism 5
    • Museums 5.1
    • Parks and other attractions 5.2
    • Historic architecture 5.3
  • Demographics 6
  • Government 7
  • Education 8
    • Public facilities 8.1
    • Private facilities 8.2
    • Tertiary 8.3
    • Primary and secondary 8.4
      • Undergraduate and postgraduate 8.4.1
      • Community college 8.4.2
      • Vocational 8.4.3
  • Healthcare 9
  • Economy 10
    • Unemployment 10.1
    • Major industry 10.2
      • Port of Mobile 10.2.1
      • Shipyards 10.2.2
      • Brookley Aeroplex 10.2.3
      • ThyssenKrupp 10.2.4
    • Top employers 10.3
  • Transportation 11
    • Air 11.1
    • Rail 11.2
    • Roadways 11.3
    • Water 11.4
  • Media 12
    • Print 12.1
    • Television 12.2
    • Radio 12.3
  • Sports 13
    • Football 13.1
    • Baseball 13.2
    • Basketball 13.3
    • Other sports and facilities 13.4
  • Sister cities 14
  • See also 15
  • References 16
  • Further reading 17


The city gained its name from the Mobile tribe that the French colonists found in the area of Mobile Bay.[20] Although debated by Alabama historians, they may have been descendants of the Native American tribe whose small fortress town, Mabila, was used to conceal several thousand native warriors in preparation for an attack on the expedition of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1540.[21] The Mobile tribe, along with the Tohomé, obtained permission from the colonists, about seven years after the founding of the Mobile settlement, to settle near the fort.[22][23]



The European settlement of Mobile, then known as Fort Louis de la Louisiane, started in 1702, at Twenty-seven Mile Bluff on the Mobile River, as the first capital of the French colony of Louisiana. It was founded by French Canadian brothers Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville and Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, to establish control over France's Louisiana claims. Bienville was made governor of French Louisiana in 1701. Mobile's Roman Catholic parish was established on July 20, 1703, by Jean-Baptiste de la Croix de Chevrières de Saint-Vallier, Bishop of Quebec.[24] The parish was the first established on the Gulf Coast of the United States.[24] In 1704 the ship Pélican delivered 23 French women to the colony, along with yellow fever which passengers had contracted at a stop in Havana.[25] Though most of the "Pélican girls" recovered, numerous colonists and neighboring Native Americans died from the illness.[25] This early period was also the occasion of the arrival of the first African slaves, transported aboard a French supply ship from Saint-Domingue.[25] The population of the colony fluctuated over the next few years, growing to 279 persons by 1708, yet descending to 178 persons two years later due to disease.[24]

Mobile and Fort Condé in 1725.

These additional outbreaks of disease and a series of floods caused Bienville to order the town relocated several miles downriver to its present location at the confluence of the Mobile River and Mobile Bay in 1711.[26] A new earth and palisade Fort Louis was constructed at the new site during this time.[27] By 1712, when Antoine Crozat took over administration of the colony by royal appointment, the colony boasted a population of 400 persons. The capital of Louisiana was moved to Biloxi in 1720,[27] leaving Mobile in the role of military and trading center. In 1723 the construction of a new brick fort with a stone foundation began[27] and it was renamed Fort Condé in honor of Louis Henri, Duc de Bourbon and prince of Condé.[28]

In 1763, the

  • Thomason, Michael, ed. Mobile: the new history of Alabama's first city (University of Alabama Press, 2001)
  • Cox, Isaac Joslin. The West Florida conroversy, 1798-1813: a study in American diplomacy ( The Johns Hopkins Press, 1918) online
  • Gould, Elizabeth Barrett. From Fort to Port: An Architectural History of Mobile, Alabama, 1711-1918 (University of Alabama Press, 1988)
  • Kinser, Samuel, and Norman Magden. Carnival, American Style: Mardi Gras at New Orleans and Mobile (University of Chicago Press, 1990.)
  • Kirkland, Scotty E. "Pink Sheets and Black Ballots: Politics and Civil Rights in Mobile, Alabama, 1945-1985." MA Thesis University of South Alabama online
  • Pride, Richard Alan. The Political Use of Racial Narratives: School Desegregation in Mobile, Alabama, 1954-97 (University of Illinois Press, 2002)

Further reading

  1. ^ "An Act to provide for Government of the Town of Mobile. —Passed January 20, 1814." (Google Books). A Digest of the Laws of the State of Alabama: Containing The Statutes and Resolutions in Force at the end of the General Assembly in January, 1823. Published by Ginn & Curtis, J. & J. Harper, Printers, New-York, 1828. Title 62. Chapter XII. Pages 780-781.
  2. ^ "An Act to incorporate the City of Mobile. —Passed December 17, 1819." (Google Books). A Digest of the Laws of the State of Alabama: Containing The Statutes and Resolutions in Force at the end of the General Assembly in January, 1823. Published by Ginn & Curtis, J. & J. Harper, Printers, New-York, 1828. Title 62. Chapter XVI. Pages 784-791.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b "Mobile Alabama". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved October 19, 2007. 
  6. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  7. ^ a b "Population Estimates".  
  8. ^ "Zip Code Lookup". USPS. Retrieved October 23, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c "United States Census Bureau Delivers Alabama's 2010 Census Population Totals, Including First Look at Race and Hispanic Origin Data for Legislative Redistricting". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 15, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Mobile Alabama". "Britannica Online". Retrieved October 19, 2007. 
  11. ^ Drechsel, Emanuel. Mobilian Jargon: Linguistic and Sociohistorical Aspects of a Native American Pidgin. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. ISBN 0-19-824033-3
  12. ^ a b "Waterborne Commerce Statistics: Calendar Year 2010". United States Army Corps of Engineers. Retrieved November 23, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Population of Metropolitan Statistical Areas". United States Census Bureau 2009 MSA Populations. Retrieved October 19, 2007. 
  14. ^ "Population of Combined Statistical Areas". United States Census Bureau 2012 CSA Populations. Retrieved December 1, 2007. 
  15. ^ "Mobile Bay Industry Profile". Decision Data Systems. Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  16. ^ "United States History". Retrieved May 5, 2007. 
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  19. ^ a b c "Mobile Mardi Gras Timeline". "The Museum of Mobile". Retrieved November 14, 2007. 
  20. ^ Thomason, Michael. Mobile : the new history of Alabama's first city, pages 17–20. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8173-1065-7
  21. ^ Thomason, Michael. Mobile : the new history of Alabama's first city, pages 12–13. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8173-1065-7
  22. ^ Thomason, Michael. Mobile : the new history of Alabama's first city, pages 20, 24. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8173-1065-7
  23. ^ "The Old Mobile Project Newsletter" (PDF). "University of South Alabama Center for Archaeological Studies". Retrieved November 19, 2007. 
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  25. ^ a b c Thomason, Michael. Mobile : the new history of Alabama's first city,pages 20–21. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8173-1065-7
  26. ^ Thomason, Michael. Mobile : the new history of Alabama's first city,pages 17–27. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8173-1065-7
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  174. ^ "Tenants". Brookley Aeroplex. Retrieved June 30, 2012. 
  175. ^ Melissa Nelson-Gabriel (July 2, 2012). "Airbus to Build 1st US Assembly Plant in Alabama". Associated Press. Retrieved July 2, 2012. 
  176. ^ "Airbus confirms its first US factory to build A320 jet". BBC News. July 2, 2012. Retrieved July 2, 2012. 
  177. ^ Nicola Clark. "EADS to Build United States Assembly Line for Airbus A320". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 July 2012. 
  178. ^ "Airbus Appoints Program Manager for its Mobile Assembly Line". Airbus. Retrieved February 7, 2013. 
  179. ^ "ThyssenKrupp Steel and Stainless USA". ThyssenKrupp. Retrieved July 24, 2010. 
  180. ^ Cloos, Paul. Mobile County wins ThyssenKrupp plant Press-Register May 11, 2007.
  181. ^ "ThyssenKrupp considers sale of steel mills in Mobile and Brazil (Update)". Press-Register. May 15, 2012. Retrieved July 2, 2012. 
  182. ^ "New owners of ThyssenKrupp stainless steel division plan visit in June". Press-Register. May 31, 2012. Retrieved July 2, 2012. 
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  186. ^ Amtrak (September 2, 2005). "Modified Amtrak Service to and from the Gulf Coast to be in Effect Until Further Notice". Retrieved December 6, 2007. 
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  192. ^ "Carnival Elation Cruises | Elation Cruise Ship | Carnival Cruise Line". 2012-01-06. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  193. ^ Brian Lyman (September 17, 2009). to Mobile; could carry 170,000 passengers a year"Elation"Carnival Cruise Lines to deploy . Press Register. 
  194. ^ Chad Petri (January 19, 2012). "For Rent: The Alabama Cruise Terminal". WKRG News 5. Media General Communications Holdings. Retrieved November 23, 2012. 
  195. ^ Sharp, John (March 1, 2013). "City of Mobile to charge cruise line $74,855 for docking of Carnival Triumph". Press-Register. Retrieved March 23, 2013. 
  196. ^ Sharp, John (February 14, 2013). "Alabama port executive explains Carnival Triumph docking into terminal and potential costs to Carnival". Press-Register. Retrieved March 23, 2013. 
  197. ^ Sharp, John (July 7, 2013). "More than 4,500 passengers and crew aboard Carnival Conquest arrive into Mobile".  
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  206. ^ "Ladd-Peebles Stadium". Archived from the original on March 14, 2007. Retrieved April 23, 2007. 
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  210. ^ "Proposal for NCAA-Football at USA". "University of South Alabama". Retrieved April 3, 2012. 
  211. ^ "Hank Aaron Stadium". "Mobile Bay Bears". Retrieved October 18, 2007. 
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  213. ^ "Magnolia Grove". Retrieved May 5, 2007. 
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  216. ^ "Azalea Trail Run". Retrieved May 5, 2007. 
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  220. ^ "Mobile's Sister Cities". 


See also

Mobile has registered sister city arrangements with the following cities:[217]

Sister cities

Mobile is home to the Azalea Trail Run, which races through historic midtown and downtown Mobile. This 10k run has been an annual event since 1978.[215] The Azalea Trail Run is one of the premier 10k road races in the United States, attracting runners from all over the world.[216]

For golfers, Magnolia Grove, part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, has 36 holes. The Falls course was recently named the best par 3 course in America.[213] The Mitchell Company Tournament of Champions was played annually at Magnolia Grove from 1999 through 2007. The Mobile Bay LPGA Classic took its place in 2008, also held at Mobile's Magnolia Grove.[214]

The public Mobile Tennis Center includes over 50 courts, all lighted and hard-court.[212]

Other sports and facilities

South Alabama basketball is a respected mid-major, regularly competing for the Sun Belt Conference championship. They play their home games at the Mitchell Center.


Mobile's Hank Aaron Stadium is the home of the Mobile BayBears minor league baseball team.[211] South Alabama baseball also has a proud tradition, producing professional stars such as Luis Gonzalez, Juan Pierre, Jon Lieber, Adam Lind, and David Freese.


The University of South Alabama in Mobile established a football team in 2007, which went undefeated in its 2009 inaugural season. Their program will move to Division I/FBS in 2013 as a member of the Sun Belt Conference. It currently plays at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.[210]

Since 1988, Ladd-Peebles Stadium has hosted the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic. The top graduating high school seniors from their respective states compete each June.[209]

The GoDaddy Bowl, originally known as the Mobile Alabama Bowl and later the GMAC Bowl, has been played at Ladd-Peebles Stadium since 1999. It features opponents from the Sun Belt and Mid-American conferences.[208]

Ladd-Peebles Stadium has been home to the Senior Bowl since 1951, featuring the best college seniors in NCAA football.[207]

Mobile is the home of Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The football stadium opened in 1948. With a current capacity of 40,646, Ladd-Peebles Stadium is the fourth-largest stadium in the state.[206]


Entrance to the Mitchell Center at the University of South Alabama.
The first South Alabama Jaguars football game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.


Fourteen FM radio stations transmit from Mobile: WAVH, WBHY, WBLX, WDLT, WHIL, WKSJ, WKSJ-HD2, WLVM, WMXC, WMXC-HD2, WQUA, WRKH, WRKH-HD2, and WZEW . Nine AM radio stations transmit from Mobile: WBHY, WERM, WGOK, WIJD, WLPR, WMOB, WNGL, WNTM, and WXQW. The content ranges from Christian Contemporary to Hip hop to Top 40.[204] Arbitron ranks Mobile's radio market as 93rd in the United States as of autumn 2007.[205]


Mobile is served locally by a number of over-the-air television stations. These include WKRG 5 (CBS), WALA 10 (Fox), WPMI 15 (NBC), WMPV 21 (religious), WDPM 23 (religious), WEIQ 42 (PBS), and WFNA 55 (CW).[202] The region is also served by WEAR 3 (ABC), WSRE 31 (PBS), WHBR 34 (religious), WFGX 35 (MyNetworkTV), WJTC 44 (independent), WFBD 48 (America One), WPAN 53 (Jewelry Television), and WAWD 58 (independent), all out of the Pensacola, Florida area.[202] Mobile is part of the Mobile–Pensacola–Fort Walton Beach designated market area, as defined by Nielsen Media Research. It ranked 61st in the nation for the 2007–08 television season.[203]


Mobile's Press-Register is Alabama's oldest active newspaper, first published in 1813.[198] The paper focuses on Mobile and Baldwin counties and the city of Mobile, but also serves southwestern Alabama and southeastern Mississippi.[198] Mobile's alternative newspaper is the Lagniappe.[199] The Mobile area's local magazine is Mobile Bay Monthly.[200] The Mobile Beacon is an alternative focusing on the African-American communities of Mobile. Mod Mobilian is a website with a focus on cultured living in Mobile.[201]



The city was formerly a home port for cruise ships from Carnival Cruise Lines.[192] The first cruise ship to call the port home was the Holiday, which left the city in November 2009 so that a larger and newer ship could take its place. The Carnival Fantasy operated from Mobile from then until the Carnival Elation arrived in May 2010.[193] In early 2011, Carnival announced that despite fully booked cruises the company would cease operations from Mobile in October 2011. This cessation of cruise service left the city with an annual debt service of around two million dollars related to the terminal.[194] Although Carnival Cruise Lines no longer operates from the city, the Carnival Triumph was towed into the port following a crippling engine room fire.[195] It was the largest cruise ship to ever dock at the cruise terminal in Mobile,[196] although it was later eclipsed by the Carnival Conquest, which docked in Mobile when the Port of New Orleans was temporarily closed;[197] larger commercial ships routinely arrive at the Port of Mobile.

The Port of Mobile has public, deepwater terminals with direct access to 1,500 miles (2,400 km) of inland and intracoastal waterways serving the Great Lakes, the Ohio and Tennessee river valleys (via the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway), and the Gulf of Mexico.[185] The Alabama State Port Authority owns and operates the public terminals at the Port of Mobile.[185] The public terminals handle containerized, bulk, breakbulk, roll-on/roll-off, and heavy-lift cargoes.[185] The port is also home to private bulk terminal operators, as well as a number of highly specialized shipbuilding and repair companies with two of the largest floating dry docks on the Gulf Coast.[185]


Mobile's public transportation is the Wave Transit System which features buses with 18 fixed routes and neighborhood service.[189] Baylinc is a public transportation bus service provided by the Baldwin Rural Transit System in cooperation with the Wave Transit System that provides service between eastern Baldwin County and downtown Mobile. Baylinc operates Monday through Friday.[190] Greyhound Lines provides intercity bus service between Mobile and many locations throughout the United States. Mobile is served by several taxi and limousine services.[191]

Two major Jubilee Parkway to Spanish Fort and Daphne. US 98 leaves downtown through the Bankhead Tunnel under the river, onto Blakeley Island, and then over the bay across the Battleship Parkway into Spanish Fort, Alabama. US 90 travels over the Cochrane–Africatown USA Bridge to the north of downtown onto Blakeley Island where it becomes co-routed with US 98.[188]


Mobile is served by four Class I railroads, including the Canadian National Railway (CNR), CSX Transportation (CSX), the Kansas City Southern Railway (KCS), and the Norfolk Southern Railway (NS).[185] The Alabama and Gulf Coast Railway (AGR), a Class III railroad, links Mobile to the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) at Amory, Mississippi. These converge at the Port of Mobile, which provides intermodal freight transport service to companies engaged in importing and exporting. Other railroads include the CG Railway (CGR), a rail ship service to Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, and the Terminal Railway Alabama State Docks (TASD), a switching railroad.[185] The city was served by Amtrak's Sunset Limited passenger train service until 2005, when the service was suspended due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina.[186][187]


Local airline passengers are served by the Delta Connection, with service to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and Memphis International Airport; and US Airways Express, with service to Charlotte/Douglas International Airport.[184] The Mobile Downtown Airport at the Brookley Aeroplex serves corporate, cargo, and private aircraft.[184]

Interior of the eastbound George Wallace Tunnel under the Mobile River.
The old Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Passenger Terminal houses the Mobile Area Transportation Authority.



Rank Employer Number of
Percentage of
total employment
1 Mobile County Public School System 7,795 4.58%
2 Infirmary Health Systems 5,460 3.21%
3 University of South Alabama 5,300 3.12%
4 Walmart 2,920 1.72%
5 Austal USA 3,000 1.47%
6 Providence Hospital 2,350 1.38%
7 City of Mobile 2,100 1.23%
8 ST Aerospace Mobile 1,500 0.88%
9 County of Mobile 1,460 0.86%
10 Springhill Medical Center 1,320 0.78%

According to Mobile's 2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city during 2011 were:[170][183]

Shelby Hall, College of Engineering and the School of Computer and Information Sciences, at the University of South Alabama.

Top employers

The company put both its carbon mill in Calvert and a steel slab-making unit in Rio de Janeiro up for sale in May 2012, citing rising production costs and a worldwide decrease in demand.[181] ThyssenKrupp's stainless steel division, Inoxum, including the stainless portion of the Calvert plant, was sold to Finnish stainless steel company Outokumpu Oyi in 2012.[182]

German technology conglomerate ThyssenKrupp broke ground on a $4.65 billion combined stainless and carbon steel processing facility in Calvert, a few miles north of Mobile, in 2007. It was originally projected to eventually employ 2,700 people. The facility became operational in July 2010.[179][180]


Plans for an Airbus A320 family aircraft assembly plant in Mobile were formally announced by Airbus CEO Fabrice Brégier from the Mobile Convention Center on July 2, 2012. The plans include a $600 million factory at the Brookley Aeroplex for the assembly of the A319, A320 and A321 aircraft. It is planned to employ up roughly 1,000 full-time workers when fully operational. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2013, with it becoming operable by 2015 and producing up to 50 aircraft per year by 2017.[175][176] The assembly plant is the company's first factory to be built within the United States.[177] It was announced on February 1, 2013 that Airbus had hired Alabama-based Hoar Construction to oversee construction of the facility.[178]

The Brookley Aeroplex is an industrial complex and airport located 3 miles (5 km) south of the central business district of the city. It is currently the largest industrial and transportation complex in the region with over 70 companies, many of which are aerospace, spread over 1,650 acres (668 ha).[173] Notable employers at Brookley include Airbus North America Engineering (Airbus Military North America's facilities are at the Mobile Regional Airport), ST Aerospace Mobile (a division of ST Engineering), and Continental Motors.[174]

Brookley Aeroplex

Atlantic Marine operated a major shipyard at the former Alabama Drydock and Shipbuilding Company site on Pinto Island. It was acquired by British defense conglomerate BAE Systems in May 2010 for $352 million. Doing business as BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards, the company continues to operate the site as a full-service shipyard, employing approximately 600 workers with plans to expand.[156][171][172]

Shipbuilding began to make a major comeback in Mobile in 1999 with the founding of Austal USA.[168] A subsidiary of the Australian company Austal, it expanded its production facility for United States defense and commercial aluminum shipbuilding on Blakeley Island in 2005.[169] Austal announced in October 2012, after winning a new defense contract and completing another 30,000 square feet (2,800 m2) building within their complex on the island, that it will expand from a workforce of 3,000 workers to 4,500 employees.[170]


Mobile's Alabama State Docks underwent the largest expansion in its history by expanding its container processing and storage facility and increasing container storage at the docks by over 1,000% at a cost of over $300 million, thus positioning Mobile for rapid container processing growth.[166] Despite the expansion of its container capabilities and the addition of two massive new cranes, the port went from 9th largest to the 12th largest by tonnage in the nation from 2008 to 2010.[12][167]

Port of Mobile

Airbus Mobile Engineering Center at the Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile.
The USNS Spearhead (JHSV-1), another Austal USA-built ship, being prepared for its christening in the BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards floating drydock in September 2011. The Spearhead is the first ship of the Spearhead class Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV).
The roll-out of the USS Coronado (LCS-4) at Austal USA shipyards on the Mobile River in January 2011.

Major industry

The United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) for the Mobile Metropolitan Statistical Area was 7.5% for July 2013, compared with an unadjusted rate of 6.6% for Alabama as a whole and 7.4% for the entire nation.[165]


Defunct companies that were founded or based in Mobile included Alabama Drydock and Shipbuilding Company, Delchamps, and Gayfers.[156][157][158] Current companies that were formerly based in the city include Checkers, Minolta-QMS, Morrison's, and the Waterman Steamship Corporation.[159][160] In additional to those discussed below, AlwaysHD, Foosackly's, Integrity Media, and Volkert, Inc. are currently headquartered out of Mobile.[161][162][163][164]

Aerospace, steel, ship building, retail, services, construction, medicine, and manufacturing are Mobile's major industries. After experiencing economic decline for several decades, Mobile's economy began to rebound in the late 1980s. Between 1993 and 2003 roughly 13,983 new jobs were created as 87 new companies were founded and 399 existing companies were expanded.[155]

Port of Mobile at Chickasaw Creek.


The city has a broad array of outpatient surgical centers, emergency clinics, home health care services, assisted-living facilities and skilled nursing facilities.[150][154]

BayPointe Hospital and Children's Residential Services, with 94-beds, is the only psychiatric hospital in the city. It houses a residential unit for children, an acute unit for children and adolescents, and an age-segregated involuntary hospital unit for adults undergoing evaluation ordered by the Mobile Probate Court.[153]

Mobile Infirmary Medical Center operated Infirmary West, formerly Knollwood Hospital, with 100 acute care beds, but closed the facility at the end of October 2012 due to declining revenues.[152]

Additionally, the University of South Alabama operates the University of South Alabama Children's and Women's Hospital with 219 beds, dedicated exclusively to the care of women and minors.[150] In 2008, the University of South Alabama opened the USA Mitchell Cancer Center Institute. The center is home to the first academic cancer research center in the central Gulf Coast region.[151]

Mobile Infirmary Medical Center has 704 beds and is the largest nonprofit hospital in the state. It was founded in 1910. Providence Hospital has 349 beds. It was founded in 1854 by the Daughters of Charity from Emmitsburg, Maryland. The University of South Alabama Medical Center has 346 beds. Its roots go back to 1830 with the old city-owned Mobile City Hospital and associated medical school. A teaching hospital, it has Mobile’s only level I trauma center and regional burn center. Springhill Medical Center, with 252 beds, was founded in 1975. It is Mobile's only for-profit facility.[150]

Mobile serves the central Gulf Coast as a regional center for medicine, with over 850 physicians and 175 dentists. There are four major medical centers within the city limits.

Providence Hospital in 2009.
Mobile Infirmary Medical Center in 2009.


Several post-secondary, vocational-type institutions have a campus in Mobile. These include the Alabama Institute Of Real Estate, American Academy Of Hypnosis, Bealle School Of Real Estate, Charles Academy Of Beauty Culture, Fortis College, Virginia College, ITT Technical Institute, Remington College and White And Sons Barber College.[141]


Bishop State Community College, founded in 1927, is a public, historically African American, community college. Bishop State has four campuses in Mobile and offers a wide array of associate degrees.[149]

Community college

The University of Mobile is a four-year private Baptist-affiliated university in the neighboring city of Prichard that was founded in 1961. It consists of the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business, School of Christian Studies, School of Education, the School of Leadership Development, and the School of Nursing.[148]

Spring Hill College, chartered in 1830, was the first Catholic college in the southeastern United States and is the third oldest Jesuit college in the country.[145] This four-year private college offers graduate programs in Business Administration, Education, Liberal Arts, Nursing (MSN), and Theological Studies.[146] Undergraduate divisions and programs include the Division of Business, the Communications/Arts Division, International Studies, Inter-divisional Studies, the Language and Literature Division, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Philosophy and Theology, Political Science, the Sciences Division, the Social Sciences Division, and the Teacher Education Division.[147]

Faulkner University is a four-year private Church of Christ-affiliated university based in Montgomery, Alabama. The Mobile campus was established in 1975 and offers bachelor's degrees in Business Administration, Management of Human Resources, and Criminal Justice.[143] It also offers associate degrees in Business Administration, Business Information Systems, Computer & Information Science, Criminal Justice, Informatics, Legal Studies, Arts, and Science.[144]

The University of South Alabama is a public, doctoral-level university established in 1963. The university is composed of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Mitchell College of Business, the College of Education, the College of Engineering, the College of Medicine, the Doctor of Pharmacy Program, the College of Nursing, the School of Computing, and the School of Continuing Education and Special Programs.[142]

Undergraduate and postgraduate

Major colleges and universities in Mobile that are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools include the University of South Alabama, Spring Hill College, the University of Mobile, Faulkner University, and Bishop State Community College.[141]

Primary and secondary


Mobile also has a large number of private schools, most of them being parochial in nature. Many of these belong to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mobile. The private Catholic institutions include McGill-Toolen Catholic High School (1896), Corpus Christi School, Little Flower Catholic School (1934), Most Pure Heart of Mary Catholic School (1900), Saint Dominic School (1961), Saint Ignatius School (1952), Saint Mary Catholic School (1867), Saint Pius X Catholic School (1957), and Saint Vincent DePaul Catholic School (1976).[139] Notable private Protestant institutions include St. Paul's Episcopal School (1947), Mobile Christian School (1961), St. Lukes Episcopal School (1961), Cottage Hill Baptist School System (1961), Faith Academy (1967), and Trinity Lutheran School (1955).[139] UMS-Wright Preparatory School is an independent co-educational preparatory school.[139] It assumed its current configuration in 1988, when the University Military School (founded 1893) and the Julius T. Wright School for Girls (1923) merged to form UMS-Wright.[140]

Private facilities

Public schools in Mobile are operated by the Mobile County Public School System. The Mobile County Public School System has an enrollment of over 65,000 students, employs approximately 8,500 public school employees, and had a budget in 2005–2006 of $617,162,616.[137] The State of Alabama operates the Alabama School of Mathematics and Science on Dauphin Street in Mobile, which boards advanced Alabama high school students. It was founded in 1989 to identify, challenge, and educate future leaders.[138]

Public facilities

The Business Technology Center and clock tower at Bishop State Community College.
Administration building at Spring Hill College.
The Tholos at the University of South Alabama.
Murphy High School in Midtown, originally Mobile High School. It is one of the seventeen high schools run by the Mobile County Public School System.


As of November 2013, the seven member city council is been made up of Fredrick Richardson, Jr. from District 1, Levon Manzie from District 2, C.J. Small from District 3, John C. Williams from District 4, Joel Daves from District 5, Bess Rich from District 6, and Gina Gregory from District 7.[136]

The first mayor elected under the new system was Arthur R. Outlaw, who served his second term as mayor from 1985–1989. His first term had been under the old system, from 1967–1968. Mike Dow defeated Outlaw in the 1989 election and went on to serve as mayor for four terms, from 1989–2005. His "The String of Pearls" initiative, a series of projects designed to trigger redevelopment of the city's core, is credited with restoring much of downtown Mobile. Upon his retirement, Dow endorsed Sam Jones as his successor. Sam Jones was elected in 2005 as the first African American mayor of Mobile. He was re-elected for a second term in 2009 without opposition.[135] His administration continued the focus on downtown redevelopment and bringing industries to the city. He ran for a third term in 2013 but was beaten by Sandy Stimpson. Stimpson took office on November 4, 2013.

Since 1985 the government of Mobile has consisted of a mayor and a seven member city council.[133] The mayor is elected at-large and the council members are elected from each of the seven city council districts. A supermajority of five votes is required to conduct council business. This form of city government was chosen by the voters after the previous form of government, which used three city commissioners who were elected at-large, was ruled to substantially dilute the minority vote in the 1975 case Bolden v. City of Mobile.[134] Municipal elections are held every four years.

Government Plaza in Mobile, seat of government for the city and the county.


The age distribution of the population in 2010 consisted of 6.7% under the age of five years, 75.9% over 18, and 13.7% over 65.[131] The median age was 35.7 years.[131] The male population was 47.0% and the female population was 53.0%.[131] The median income for a household in the city was $37,056 for 2006 to 2010. The per capita income for the city was $22,401.[128]

The 2010 census indicated that there were 78,959 households, out of which 21,073 had children under the age of 18 living with them, 28,073 were married couples living together, 17,037 had a female householder with no husband present, 3,579 had a male householder with no wife present, and 30,270 were non-families.[131] 25,439 of all households were made up of individuals and 8,477 had someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older.[131] The racial makeup of the city was 50.6% Black or African American, 45.0% White, 0.3% Native American, 1.8% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 0.9% from other races, 1.4% from two or more races, and 2.4% of the population were Latino.[131] Non-Hispanic Whites were 43.9% of the population in 2010,[128] down from 62.1% in 1980.[129] The average household size was 2.4 and the average family size was 3.07.[131] Estimated same-sex couple households comprised 0.3% of all households in 2010.[132]

The 2010 United States Census determined that there were 195,111 people residing within the city limits of Mobile.[131] Mobile is the center of Alabama's second-largest metropolitan area, which consists of all of Mobile County. Metropolitan Mobile is estimated to have a population of 413,936 in 2012.

Map showing the city's average number of inhabitants per square mile of land in 2000.
Racial composition 2010[128] 1990[129] 1970[129] 1940[129]
White 45.0% 59.6% 64.3% 63.0%
—Non-Hispanic 43.9% 58.9% 63.5%[130] n/a
Black or African American 50.6% 38.9% 35.4% 36.9%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 2.4% 1.0% 0.9%[130] n/a
Asian 1.8% 1.0% 0.1% -


The city has several historic cemeteries that were established shortly after the colonial era. They replaced the colonial Campo Santo, of which no trace remains. The Church Street Graveyard contains above-ground tombs and monuments spread over 4 acres (2 ha) and was founded in 1819, during the height of yellow fever epidemics.[120] The nearby 120-acre (49 ha) Magnolia Cemetery was established in 1836 and served as Mobile's primary burial site during the 19th and early 20th centuries, with approximately 80,000 burials.[121] It features tombs and many intricately carved monuments and statues.[122][123] The Catholic Cemetery was established in 1848 by the Archdiocese of Mobile and covers more than 150 acres (61 ha). It contains plots for the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, Little Sisters of the Poor, Sisters of Charity, and Sisters of Mercy, in addition to many other historically significant burials.[124] Mobile's Jewish community dates back to the 1820s and the city has two historic Jewish cemeteries, Sha'arai Shomayim Cemetery and Ahavas Chesed Cemetery. Sha'arai Shomayim is the older of the two.[125]

The old United States Marine Hospital, restored and adapted for reuse by the Mobile County Health Department.
[105] style.Mission Revival is an example of the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Passenger Terminal in the city. The Egyptian Revival architecture is the only surviving example of Scottish Rite Temple style. The Queen Anne is a good example of the Shepard House style and was built by a successful 19th-century African American businesswoman. The Italianate is an example of the Hunter House is a Greek Revival fire station, built in 1851. The Washington Firehouse No. 5 hospital buildings that predate the Civil War. The Greek Revival are both restored United States Marine Hospital and the Mobile City Hospital in the city. The Creole cottages are two of the many surviving examples of Carlen House and the Bishop Portier House is a historic Greek Revival school building and local landmark on Government Street. The Barton Academy

Mobile has a number of historic structures spread throughout the city. Some of Mobile's historic churches include Christ Church Cathedral, the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Emanuel AME Church, Government Street Presbyterian Church, St. Louis Street Missionary Baptist Church, State Street AME Zion Church, Stone Street Baptist Church, Trinity Episcopal Church, St. Francis Street Methodist Church, Saint Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Saint Matthew's Catholic Church, Saint Paul's Episcopal Chapel, and Saint Vincent de Paul. The Sodality Chapel and St. Joseph's Chapel at Spring Hill College are two historic churches on that campus. Two historic Roman Catholic convents survive, the Convent and Academy of the Visitation and the Convent of Mercy.[105]

Mobile has antebellum architectural examples of Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, and Creole cottage. Later architectural styles found in the city include the various Victorian types, shotgun types, Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, Beaux-Arts and many others. The city currently has nine major historic districts: Old Dauphin Way, Oakleigh Garden, Lower Dauphin Street, Leinkauf, De Tonti Square, Church Street East, Ashland Place, Campground, and Midtown.[105]

A house within the De Tonti Square Historic District.

Historic architecture

Mobile has more than 45 public parks within its limits, with some that are of special note.[116] Bienville Square is a historic park in the Lower Dauphin Street Historic District. It assumed its current form in 1850 and is named for Mobile's founder, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville.[117] It was once a principal gathering place for the citizens of the city and remains popular today. Cathedral Square is a one-block performing arts park, also in the Lower Dauphin Street Historic District, that is overlooked by the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.[118] Fort Conde is a reconstruction of the city's original Fort Condé, built on the original fort's footprint. It serves as the official welcome center and colonial-era living history museum.[27] Spanish Plaza is a downtown park that honors the Spanish phase of the city between 1780 and 1813. It features the Arches of Friendship, a fountain presented to Mobile by the city of Málaga, Spain.[119] Langan Park, the largest of the parks at 720 acres (291 ha), features lakes, natural spaces, and contains the Mobile Museum of Art, Azalea City Golf Course, Mobile Botanical Gardens and Playhouse in the Park.[116][116]

The Mobile Botanical Gardens feature a variety of flora spread over 100 acres (40 ha). It contains the Millie McConnell Rhododendron Garden with 1,000 evergreen and native azaleas and the 30-acre (12 ha) Longleaf Pine Habitat.[111] Bellingrath Gardens and Home, located on Fowl River, is a 65-acre (26 ha) botanical garden and historic 10,500-square-foot (975 m2) mansion that dates to the 1930s.[112] The 5 Rivers Delta Resource Center is a facility that allows visitors to learn about and access the Mobile, Tensaw, Apalachee, Middle, Blakeley, and Spanish rivers.[113] It was established to serve as an easily accessible gateway to the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta.[114] In addition to offering several boat and adventure tours, it contains a small theater; exhibit hall; meeting facilities; walking trails; a canoe and kayak landing.[115]

Ketchum Fountain in the center of Bienville Square.

Parks and other attractions

The Mobile Medical Museum is housed in the historic French colonial-style Vincent-Doan House (1827). It features artifacts and resources that chronicle the long history of medicine in Mobile.[106] The Phoenix Fire Museum is located in the restored Phoenix Volunteer Fire Company Number 6 building and features the history of fire companies in Mobile from their organization in 1838.[107] The Mobile Police Department Museum features exhibits that chronicle the history of law enforcement in Mobile.[108] The Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center is a non-profit science center located in downtown. It features permanent and traveling exhibits, an IMAX dome theater, a digital 3D virtual theater, and a hands-on chemistry laboratory.[109] The Dauphin Island Sea Lab is located south of the city, on Dauphin Island near the mouth of Mobile Bay. It houses the Estuarium, an aquarium which illustrates the four habitats of the Mobile Bay ecosystem: the river delta, bay, barrier islands and Gulf of Mexico.[110]

The Vincent-Doan House, home to the Mobile Medical Museum. It is one of the oldest surviving houses in the city.

Mobile is home to a variety of museums. Fort Gaines (1821), and Historic Blakeley State Park all figure predominantly in local American Civil War history.[105]



The Mobile Arts Council is an umbrella organization for the arts in Mobile. It was founded in 1955 as a project of the Junior League of Mobile with the mission to increase cooperation among artistic and cultural organizations in the area and to provide a forum for problems in art, music, theater, and literature.

The Mobile Theatre Guild is a nonprofit community theatre that has served the city since 1947. It is a member of the Mobile Arts Council, the Alabama Conference of Theatre and Speech, the Southeastern Theatre Conference, and the American Association of Community Theatres.[96] Mobile is also host to the Joe Jefferson Players, Alabama's oldest continually running community theatre. The group was named in honor of the famous comedic actor Joe Jefferson, who spend part of his teenage years in Mobile. The Players debuted their first production on December 17, 1947.[97] Drama Camp Productions and Sunny Side Theater is Mobile's home for children's theater and fun. The group began doing summer camps in 2002, expanded to a year-round facility in 2008 and recently moved into the Azalea City Center for the Arts, a community of drama, music, art, photography, and dance teachers. The group has produced Broadway shows including "Miracle on 34th Street," "Honk," "Fame," and "Hairspray."

The city hosts BayFest, an annual three-day music festival with more than 125 live musical acts on multiple stages spread throughout downtown.[94] The event was attended by more than 200,000 people and generated in excess of $38 million for the city's economy during its 2011 season.[95]

The Mobile Civic Center contains three facilities under one roof. The 400,000 sq ft (37,161 m2) building has an arena, a theater and an exposition hall. It is the primary concert venue for the city and hosts a wide variety of events. It is home to the Mobile Opera and the Mobile Ballet.[18] The 60-year old Mobile Opera averages about 1,200 attendees per performance.[92] A wide variety of events are held at Mobile's Arthur C. Outlaw Convention Center. It contains a 100,000 sq ft (9,290 m2) exhibit hall, a 15,000 sq ft (1,394 m2) grand ballroom, and sixteen meeting rooms.[93]

The Mobile Civic Center in 2007.

The Centre for the Living Arts is an organization that operates the historic Saenger Theatre and Space 301, a contemporary art gallery. The Saenger Theatre opened in 1927 as a movie palace. Today it is a performing arts center and serves as a small concert venue for the city. It is home to the Mobile Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Scott Speck.[90] Space 301 Gallery and Studio was initially housed adjacent to the Saenger, but moved to its own space in 2008. The 93,000 sq ft (8,640 m2) building, donated to the Centre by the Press-Register after its relocation to a new modern facility, underwent a $5.2 million renovation and redesign prior to opening.[91]

The Mobile Museum of Art features permanent exhibits that span several centuries of art and culture. The museum was expanded in 2002 to approximately 95,000 square feet (8,826 m2).[88] The permanent exhibits include the African and Asian Collection Gallery, Altmayer Gallery (American art), Katharine C. Cochrane Gallery of American Fine Art, Maisel European Gallery, Riddick Glass Gallery, Smith Crafts Gallery, and the Ann B. Hearin Gallery (contemporary works).[89]

The Mobile Museum of Art in 2010.

Arts and entertainment

The National African American Archives and Museum features the history of African-American participation in Mardi Gras, authentic artifacts from the era of slavery, and portraits and biographies of famous African-Americans.[82] The University of South Alabama Archives houses primary source material relating to the history of Mobile and southern Alabama, as well as the university's history. The archives are located on the ground floor of the USA Spring Hill Campus and are open to the general public.[83] The Mobile Municipal Archives contains the extant records of the City of Mobile, dating from the city's creation as a municipality by the Mississippi Territory in 1814. The majority of the original records of Mobile's colonial history, spanning the years 1702 through 1813, are housed in Paris, London, Seville, and Madrid.[84] The Mobile Genealogical Society Library and Media Center is located at the Holy Family Catholic Church and School complex. It features handwritten manuscripts and published materials for use in genealogical research.[85] The Mobile Public Library system serves Mobile and consists of eight branches across Mobile County, featuring its own large local history and genealogy division housed in a facility next to the newly restored and enlarged Ben May Main Library on Government Street.[86] The Saint Ignatius Archives, Museum and Theological Research Library contains primary sources, artifacts, documents, photographs and publications that pertain to the history of Saint Ignatius Church and School, the Catholic history of the city, and the history of the Roman Catholic Church.[87]

The Ben May Main Library on Government Street.

Archives and libraries

Carnival celebrations in Mobile were canceled during the American Civil War. In 1866 Joe Cain revived the Mardi Gras parades when he paraded through the city streets on Fat Tuesday while costumed as a fictional Chickasaw chief named Slacabamorinico. He celebrated the day in front of the occupying Union Army troops.[81] The year 2002 saw Mobile's Tricentennial celebrated with parades that represented all of Mobile's mystic societies.[80]

In 1830 Mobile's Cowbellion de Rakin Society was the first formally organized and masked mystic society in the United States to celebrate with a parade.[19][78] The Cowbellions got their start when Michael Krafft, a cotton factor from Pennsylvania, began a parade with rakes, hoes, and cowbells.[78] The Cowbellians introduced horse-drawn floats to the parades in 1840 with a parade entitled, "Heathen Gods and Goddesses".[80] The Striker's Independent Society was formed in 1843 and is the oldest surviving mystic society in the United States.[80]

Knights of Revelry parade on Royal Street in 2010.

Mobile first celebrated Carnival in 1703 when colonial French settlers began the Old World celebration at the Old Mobile Site site, prior to the 1711 relocation to the current site.[19] Mobile's first Carnival society was established in 1711 with the Boeuf Gras Society (Fatted Ox Society).[80]

Carnival balls in the city may be scheduled as early as November, with the parades beginning after January 5.[76][77] Carnival celebrations end at midnight on Mardi Gras, signifying Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.[78] In Mobile, locals often use the term Mardi Gras as a shorthand to refer to the entire Carnival season, although this is a misnomer. During the Carnival season the mystic societies build colorful floats and parade throughout downtown with masked society members tossing small gifts, known as throws, to parade spectators.[79] The mystic societies, which in essence are exclusive private clubs, also give formal masquerade balls, usually invitation only, and oriented to adults.[77]

Order of Inca night parade in 2009.

Carnival and Mardi Gras

Mobile is home to an array of cultural influences with its mixed French, Spanish, Creole and Catholic heritage, in addition to British and African, distinguishing it from all other cities in the state of Alabama. The annual Carnival celebration is perhaps the best illustration of this. Mobile is the birthplace of Mardi Gras in the United States and has the oldest celebration, dating to the early 18th century during the French colonial period.[73] Carnival in Mobile evolved over the course of 300 years from a beginning as a sedate French Catholic tradition into the mainstream multi-week celebration that today bridges a spectrum of cultures.[74] Mobile's official cultural ambassadors are the Azalea Trail Maids, meant to embody the ideals of Southern hospitality.[75]

The Azalea Trail Maids on the campus of Spring Hill College.


On December 25, 2012, at 4:54 pm, a large wedge tornado touched down in the city.[71] The tornado rapidly intensified as it moved north-northeast at speeds of up to 50 mph (80 km/h). The path took the tornado into Midtown, causing damage or destruction to at least 100 structures. The heaviest damage to houses was along Carlen Street, Rickarby Place, Dauphin Street, Old Shell Road, Margaret Street, Silverwood Street, and Springhill Avenue. In addition to residential structures, the tornado caused significant damage to the Carmelite Monastery, Little Flower Catholic Church, commercial real estate along Airport Boulevard and Government Street in the Midtown at the Loop neighborhood, Murphy High School, Trinity Episcopal Church, Springhill Avenue Temple, and Mobile Infirmary Hospital before moving into the neighboring city of Prichard.[71] The tornado was classified as an EF2 tornado by the National Weather Service on December 26.[71] The path taken through the city was just a short distance east of the path taken just days earlier, on December 20, by an EF1 tornado which had touched down near Davidson High School and followed a path that ended in Prichard.[72] Initial damage estimates for insured and uninsured ranged from $140 to $150 million.

A house on Springhill Avenue destroyed in the Christmas Day, 2012, tornado

Christmas Day tornado

Climate data for Mobile, Alabama (Mobile Regional Airport, 1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 83
Average high °F (°C) 60.8
Average low °F (°C) 40.0
Record low °F (°C) 3
Precipitation inches (mm) 5.64
Snowfall inches (cm) 0.1
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 9.9 8.7 8.6 7.0 8.1 11.8 14.7 13.4 8.8 6.9 7.9 9.1 114.9
Mean monthly sunshine hours 158 155 211 255 300 287 246 254 233 254 193 145 2,691
Source #1: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,[68] Weather Channel (extremes)[69]
Source #2: Danish Meteorological Institute (sun, 1931–1960)[70]

Mobile is occasionally affected by major tropical storms and hurricanes.[18] The city suffered a major natural disaster on the night of September 12, 1979 when category-3 Hurricane Frederic passed over the heart of the city. The storm caused tremendous damage to Mobile and the surrounding area.[65] Mobile had moderate damage from Hurricane Opal on October 4, 1995 and Hurricane Ivan on September 16, 2004.[66] Mobile also suffered millions of dollars in damage from Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005. A storm surge of 11.45 feet (3.49 m), topped by higher waves, damaged eastern sections of the city with extensive flooding in downtown, the Battleship Parkway, and the elevated Jubilee Parkway.[67]

A 2007 study by WeatherBill, Inc. determined that Mobile is the wettest city in the contiguous 48 states, with 66.3 inches (1,680 mm) of average annual rainfall over a 30-year period.[63] Mobile averages 120 days per year with at least 0.01 inches (0.3 mm) of rain. Snow is rare in Mobile, with its last snowfall on January 27, 2014.[64]

Flooding at the federal courthouse on Saint Joseph Street, three blocks from the waterfront, during Hurricane Katrina in 2005

Mobile's geographical location on the Gulf of Mexico provides a mild subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), with hot, humid summers and mild, rainy winters. The record low temperature was −1 °F (−18 °C), set on February 13, 1899, and the record high was 105 °F (41 °C), set on August 29, 2000.[61][62]


Mobile has a number of notable historic neighborhoods. These include Ashland Place, Campground, Church Street East, De Tonti Square, Leinkauf, Lower Dauphin Street, Midtown, Oakleigh Garden, Old Dauphin Way, Spring Hill, and Toulminville.[58][59][60]


Mobile is located at 30°40'46" North, 88°6'12" West (30.679523, −88.103280),[55] in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Alabama. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 159.4 square miles (413 km2), with 117.9 square miles (305 km2) of it being land, and 41.5 square miles (107.5 km2), or 26.1% of the total, being covered by water.[56] The elevation in Mobile ranges from 10 feet (3 m) on Water Street in downtown[5] to 211 feet (64 m) at the Mobile Regional Airport.[57]


A Tudor Revival-style house in Ashland Place.

Geography and climate

Beginning in the late 1980s, newly elected mayor Mike Dow and the city council began an effort termed the "String of Pearls Initiative" to make Mobile into a competitive city.[53] The city initiated construction of numerous new facilities and projects, and the restoration of hundreds of historic downtown buildings and homes.[53] City and county leaders also made efforts to attract new business ventures to the area.[54]

The Alabama legislature passed the Cater Act in 1949 allowing cities and counties to set up industrial development boards (IDB) to issue municipal bonds as incentives to attract new industry into their local areas. The city of Mobile did not establish a Cater Act board until 1962. George E. McNally, Mobile's first Republican mayor since Reconstruction, was the driving force behind its creation. The existing Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, considering itself better qualified to attract new businesses and industry to the area, saw the new IDB as a serious rival. After several years of political squabbling, the Chamber of Commerce emerged victorious. While McNally's IDB prompted the Chamber of Commerce to become more proactive in attracting new industry, the chamber effectively shut Mobile city government out of economic development decisions.[52]

Downtown in 2008, as seen from Cooper Riverside Park. Buildings include (L to R): Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel, RSA–BankTrust Building, Arthur C. Outlaw Convention Center, and the RSA Battle House Tower.

Mobile's economy was dealt a severe blow in 1969 with the closing of Brookley Air Force Base. The closing left 10% of the workforce without employment. This and other factors ushered in a period of economic depression that lasted through the 1970s.

In 1963 three African-American students brought a case against the Mobile County School Board for being denied admission to Murphy High School.[51] The court ordered that the three students be admitted to Murphy for the 1964 school year, leading to the desegregation of Mobile County's school system.[51] The Civil Rights Movement led to the end of legal racial segregation with passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The years after World War II brought about changes in Mobile's social structure and economy. Replacing shipbuilding as a primary economic force, the paper and chemical industries began to expand, and most of the old military bases were converted to civilian uses. Following the war, African Americans stepped up their efforts to achieve equal rights and social justice. The police force and Spring Hill College were integrated during the 1950s. Unlike the rest of the state, buses and lunch counters had been voluntarily desegregated by the early 1960s.[50]

World War II led to a massive military effort causing a considerable increase in Mobile's population, largely due to the massive influx of workers coming to Mobile to work in the shipyards and at the Brookley Army Air Field.[50] Between 1940 and 1943, more than 89,000 people moved into Mobile to work for war effort industries.[50] Mobile was one of eighteen United States cities producing Liberty ships. Its Alabama Drydock and Shipbuilding Company (ADDSCO) supported the war effort by producing ships faster than the Axis powers could sink them. ADDSCO also churned out a copious number of T2 tankers for the War Department.[50] Gulf Shipbuilding Corporation, a subsidiary of Waterman Steamship Corporation, focused on building freighters, Fletcher class destroyers, and minesweepers.[50]

The SS Hat Creek, a T2 tanker completed by Alabama Drydock and Shipbuilding Company in 1943. The company built 102 of these oil tankers during the war.
A Liberty ship of the type built at Alabama Drydock and Shipbuilding Company during World War II. 20 were completed in Mobile.

The red imported fire ant was first introduced into the United States via the Port of Mobile. Sometime in the late 1930s they came ashore off of South American cargo ships, where they lived in the soil used as ballast on those ships.[49]

During this time, social justice and race relations in Mobile worsened, however.[48] In 1902 the city government passed Mobile's first segregation ordinance, one that segregated the city streetcars. It legislated what had been informal practice, enforced by convention.[48] Mobile's African-American population responded to this with a two-month boycott, but the law was not repealed.[48] After this, Mobile's de facto segregation was increasingly replaced with legislated segregation as whites imposed Jim Crow laws to maintain dominance.[48]

The turn of the 20th century brought the Progressive Era to Mobile and saw Mobile's economic structure evolve, along with a significant increase in population.[48] The population increased from around 40,000 in 1900 to 60,000 by 1920.[48] During this time the city received $3 million in federal grants for harbor improvements to deepen the shipping channels in the harbor.[48] During and after World War I, manufacturing became increasingly vital to Mobile's economic health, with shipbuilding and steel production being two of the most important.[48]

Van Antwerp Building, completed in 1907.

20th century

Federal Reconstruction in Mobile began after the Civil War and effectively ended in 1874 when the local Democrats gained control of the city government.[46] The last quarter of the 19th century was a time of economic depression and municipal insolvency for Mobile. One example can be provided by the value of Mobile's exports during this period of depression. The value of exports leaving the city fell from $9 million in 1878 to $3 million in 1882.[47]

On May 25, 1865, the city suffered great loss when some three hundred people died as a result of an explosion at a federal ammunition depot on Beauregard Street. The explosion left a 30-foot (9 m) deep hole at the depot's location, sunk ships docked on the Mobile River, and the resulting fires destroyed the northern portion of the city.[45]

Mobile Cotton Exchange and Chamber of Commerce building, completed in 1886.

During the American Civil War, Mobile was a Confederate city. The first submarine to successfully sink an enemy ship, the H. L. Hunley, was built in Mobile.[43] One of the most famous naval engagements of the war was the Battle of Mobile Bay, resulting in the Union taking possession of Mobile Bay on August 5, 1864.[44] On April 12, 1865, three days after Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, the city surrendered to the Union army to avoid destruction after Union victories at nearby Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely.[44]

By 1853, there were fifty Jewish families living in Mobile, including Philip Phillips, an attorney who was elected to the Alabama State Legislature and then to the United States Congress.[40] By 1860 Mobile's population within the city limits had reached 29,258 people; it was the 27th largest city in the United States and 4th largest in what would soon be the Confederate States of America.[41] The free population in the whole of Mobile County, including the city, consisted of 29,754 citizens, of which 1195 were free people of color.[42] Additionally, 1785 slave owners held 11,376 people in bondage, for a total county population of 41,130 people.[42]

Steamboats bound for inland Alabama and Mississippi being loaded at Mobile's dockyards.

With the economy so focused on one crop, Mobile's fortunes were always tied to those of cotton, and the city weathered many financial crises.[36] Though Mobile had a relatively small slave-owning population compared to the inland plantation areas, it was the slave-trading center of the state until surpassed by Montgomery in the 1850s.[38] The last slaves to enter the United States were brought to Mobile on the slave ship Clotilde; among them was Cudjoe Lewis, who in the 1920s was the last survivor of the slave trade.[39]

From the 1830s onward, Mobile expanded into a city of commerce with a primary focus on the cotton trade. A building boom was underway by the mid-1830s, with the building of some of the most elaborate structures the city had ever seen up to that point. This was cut short in part by the Panic of 1837 and yellow fever epidemics.[37] The waterfront was developed with wharves, terminal facilities, and fireproof brick warehouses.[36] The exports of cotton grew in proportion to the amounts being produced in the Black Belt; by 1840 Mobile was second only to New Orleans in cotton exports in the nation.[36]

By the time Mobile was included in the Mississippi Territory in 1813, the population had dwindled to roughly 300 people.[36] The city was included in the Alabama Territory in 1817, after Mississippi gained statehood. Alabama was granted statehood in 1819; Mobile's population had increased to 809 by that time.[36] As the river frontage areas of Alabama and Mississippi were settled by farmers and the plantation economy became established, Mobile's population exploded. It came to be settled by attorneys, cotton factors, doctors, merchants and other professionals seeking to capitalize on trade with these upriver areas.[36] Mobile was well situated for trade, as its location tied it to a river system that served as the principal navigational access for most of Alabama and a large part of Mississippi. By 1822 the city's population was 2800.[36]

HABS photo of the Southern Hotel on Water Street, completed in 1837. (destroyed during urban renewal)

19th century

While the British were dealing with their rebellious colonists along the Atlantic coast, the Spanish entered the war as an ally of France in 1779. They took the opportunity to order Bernardo de Galvez, Governor of Louisiana, on an expedition east to retake Florida.[34] He captured Mobile during the Battle of Fort Charlotte in 1780, as part of this campaign. The Spanish wished to eliminate any British threat to their Louisiana colony, which they had received from France in the 1763 Treaty of Paris.[33] Their actions were condoned by the revolting American colonies, partially evidenced by the presence of Oliver Pollack, representative of the American Continental Congress, and due to the fact that Mobile and West Florida, for the most part, remained loyal to the British Crown.[33][34] The fort was renamed Fortaleza Carlota, with the Spanish holding Mobile as a part of Spanish West Florida until 1813, when it was seized by United States General James Wilkinson during the War of 1812.[35]

The British were eager not to lose any useful inhabitants and promised religious tolerance to the French colonists, ultimately 112 French Mobilians remained in the colony.[31] The first permanent Jewish presence in Mobile began in 1763 as a result of the new religious tolerance. Jews had not been allowed to officially reside in colonial French Louisiana due to the Code Noir, a decree passed by France's King Louis XIV in 1685 that forbade the exercise of any religion other than Roman Catholicism, and ordered all Jews out of France's colonies. Most of these colonial era Jews in Mobile were merchants and traders, and added to the commercial development of Mobile.[32] In 1766 the population was estimated to be 860, though the town's borders were smaller than they had been during the French colonial efforts.[31] During the American Revolutionary War, West Florida and Mobile became a refuge for loyalists fleeing the other colonies.[33]

Bastion of the Fort Condé reconstruction.


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