Birmingham, Alabama, the largest city in the state and the seat of Jefferson County. It is in north-central Alabama near the southern tip of the Appalachians. Birmingham's area is about 100 square miles (259 km2), its elevation 610 feet (186 m) above sea level.
Birmingham is one of the main industrial cities in the South. It has long been known as "the Pittsburgh of the South" because of its iron and steel industry. Local supplies of iron ore, coking coal, and limestone—the essential raw materials for making iron and steel—led to the city's early growth. Other manufacturing activities include food processing, the making of machinery and other fabricated metal products, and printing.
Birmingham is a major hub of the state's railway and highway network, and has a large commercial airport. Three Interstate highways serve the city. Port Birmingham, just west of Birmingham on the Black Warrior River, is linked to the port of Mobile by way of the Black Warrior, Tombigbee, and Mobile rivers.
A 55-foot (17-m) iron statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of forge and fire, stands on a high pedestal on Red Mountain. Arlington, an antebellum mansion featuring period furnishings, is one of Birmingham's leading landmarks and a popular tourist attraction. Other attractions include the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, part of which houses a museum devoted to the struggle for civil rights in the South; the Birmingham Museum of Art; and the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The city has a symphony orchestra, an opera company, and ballet and theater groups. Most of the musical and theatrical productions are held in the Jefferson Civic Center. Birmingham is the home of the Alabama State Fair.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham is the largest institution of higher education in the city. Other institutions include Birmingham-Southern College and Samford University. Miles College is in nearby Fairfield.