Montgomery is a major city and the capital of the U.S. state of Alabama and the county seat of Montgomery County. Named for Richard Montgomery, it is located on the Alabama River, in the Gulf Coastal Plain. It is the second-largest city in Alabama, after Birmingham, and is the 115th largest in the United States. It is the fourth-largest in the state and 136th among United States metropolitan areas. The city was incorporated in 1819 as a merger of two towns situated along the Alabama River. It became the state capital in 1846, representing the shift of power to the south-central area with the growth of cotton as a commodity crop of the Black Belt and the rise of Mobile as a mercantile port on the Gulf Coast. In February 1861, Montgomery was selected as the first capital of the Confederate States of America, until the seat of government moved to Richmond, Virginia, in May of that year.
In addition to housing many Alabama government agencies, Montgomery has a large military presence due to Maxwell Air Force Base; public universities Alabama State University, Troy University (Montgomery campus), and Auburn University at Montgomery; private colleges/universities Faulkner University and Huntingdon College; high-tech manufacturing, including Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama; and cultural attractions such as the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. Two ships of the United States Navy have been named after the city, including USS Montgomery. Montgomery has won several national awards: Best Historic City by USA Today, All-America City in 2014 by the National Civic League, “Top City For Job Growth” in 2014 by ziprecruiter.com, and the ‘happiest city in Alabama.’ Montgomery has also been recognized nationally for its downtown revitalization and new urbanism projects. It was one of the first cities in the nation to implement Smart Code Zoning.
Montgomery has more than 1600 acres of parkland, which are maintained and operated by the City of Montgomery Parks and Recreation Department. The department also operates 24 community centers, a skate park, two golf courses (Lagoon Park and Gateway Park), Cramton Bowl Stadium and Multiplex, two tennis centers (Lagoon Park and O’Conner), 65 playgrounds, 90 baseball/softball fields, 24 soccer fields including the Emory Folmar Soccer Facility, and one riverboat. Currently a new environmental park is under construction along West Fairview Avenue close to Interstate 65.