With more than 229,000 full time residents, Birmingham is the most populous city in the state of Alabama, followed closely by the capital city of Montgomery. Early in its history, Birmingham was bestowed the nickname "Pittsburgh of the South" because of its rapid expansion and its success in the iron and steel industries. As the years passed, the city's primary economic stimulators changed but it has retained that nickname, as well as the moniker "The Magic City." With a robust business directory and vibrant economy, Birmingham now makes its fame as one of the Southeast's -- and the nation's -- most prosperous banking centers. Birmingham was a pivotol location for the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested and imprisoned in Birmingham while leading nonviolent protests in support of desegregation. During those same protest, more than 3,000 others were arrested and many of them were children. The efforts in Birmingham led in large part to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.Birmingham has a subtropical climate and varied topography. Red Mountain is located just south of downtown Birmingham and the 1,108-acre Red Mountain Park is one of the largest city parks in the country. In recent years, however, the city's urban core has experienced a decline in residency and a spike in crime; Birmingham's murder rate is the seventh highest in the United States. This is due in part to a exodus to the suburbs as people look for less expensive housing and improved educational systems. Efforts are being made to mitigate crime in the city and the unfortunate statistics do not detract from Birmingham's burgeoning arts and entertainment culture. In fact, Birmingham is considered the cultural nexxus of the state, and the Alabama yellowpages indicates several major arts institutions in the city. These include the Birmingam Ballet, the Alabama Ballet, Opera Birmingham and the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.
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