Montgomery, Alabama


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Montgomery Business Signs

Before Europeans arrived in North America, there were two Native American tribes settled along the Alabama River.  Both of these tribes were descended from the Mississippian culture.  The Coushatta settled on the right bank, while on the left bank were the Alibamu tribe.  Modern day Montgomery was built on the site of two Alibamu towns: Ikanatcchati (Ekanchattee or Ecunchatty or Econachatee), which translates to ‘red earth’, and Towassa.

General John Scott led the first group of European-American settlers to the area.  They founded Alabama Town along the Alabama River in June of 1818.  Alabama Town and adjacent East Alabama Town merged on December 3rd, 1819 into Montgomery.  Montgomery was named after American Revolutionary War General Richard Montgomery, who had perished leading the botched 1775 invasion of Canada.

Today, according to a 2014 US census bureau estimate, Montgomery has a population of 200,481 people.  This makes it the 114th most populous city in America, and the second largest city in Alabama, after Birmingham.  The Montgomery metropolitan statistical area, according to that same 2014 report, has a population of 373,141 people.  This makes the Montgomery metropolitan statistical area the 141st most populous metropolitan statistical area in the US.

Montgomery has benefited from being a central location along the ‘Black Belt’ region of Alabama.  ‘Black Belt’ was named for two reasons: it refers to the region’s rich, black topsoil, but more importantly it also refers to the African-American slaves and later sharecroppers who worked on its farms.

The largest employers in the city of Montgomery today, however, are the Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, which is responsible for 12,280 employees, and the State of Alabama, which employees 9,500 people.  Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, which was built in 1910, is part of Air Education and Training Command (AETC) and garrisons the 42nd Air Base Wing.

Montgomery is the capital of Alabama, and as such, is the site of the Alabama State House.  This state house, which was built in 1963, houses the Alabama Senate and the Alabama House of Representatives.  Indeed, Montgomery has often been a political hotbed.  It even served as the capital of the Confederacy for a brief moment, prior to it being moved to Richmond.  During the 20th century era of the Civil Right’s Movement, Montgomery played a pivotal role.  It was the site of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the latter half of the violently suppressed Selma to Montgomery marches.

The city of Montgomery has hosted the annual Alabama Shakespeare Festival since 1972.  This festival, permanently housed in the Carolyn Blount Theatre, puts on 6-9 productions each year, including three Shakespearian works.  The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts was established in 1930 and includes examples of 19th and 20th century American paintings and sculpture, Southern regional art, Old Master prints, and decorative arts in its permanent collection.

Montgomery’s professional sports scene is small, but does include one team: Class AA Southern League’s Montgomery Biscuits baseball team.  The Biscuits have been an affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays since 1999, and play their home games at Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium.  (Incidentally, Riverwalk Stadium hosted the NCAA Division II National Baseball Championship from 2004 to 2007.)  The Biscuits have two league titles to their name.

Do you own a small business in the Montgomery area?  Thinking about it?  These resources might help you:

Apply for a Business License in Montgomery

Montgomery Business Development Corporation

Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce

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