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History of Mobile, Alabama

One of the oldest cities in the United States, Mobile is the seat of Mobile County in the southwestern corner of Alabama along Interstate Highway 10, on the banks of the Mobile River. As a port city, its influences were shaped by the varied cargoes and exotic travelers that constantly passed through. Founded in 1702 as Fort Louis de la Mobile, the city was ruled by the French (1702-1762). In 1723, the French built Fort Conde for the settlement's defense. The current Fort Conde, about one third of the original fort, recreated in 4/5ths scale, opened on July 4, 1976, as part of Mobile’s U.S. Bicentennial celebration. After the French, the English (1763-1780) ruled, and then the Spanish did until 1814 when it became a U.S. possession. For almost the next half century, Mobile enjoyed prosperity as the second largest international seaport on the Gulf Coast. Progress was based upon cotton, shipped downriver by flatboat or steamboat from cotton growing centers in Mississippi and Alabama. During this period Mobile was declared an archdiocese of the Catholic Church. The Jesuit Order of the Catholic Church established Spring Hill College, one of the oldest Catholic schools in the country, in 1830. The Mobile & Ohio Railroad, connecting Mobile with Columbus, Kentucky and passing through Atmore, Alabama, along the Florida border, was completed just in time for the Civil War. The Museum of Mobile is located in the 1850 Southern Market/Old City Hall, built during the antebellum era. In 1860, the Clotilde, the last known ship to arrive in the Americas with a cargo of slaves, was abandoned by its captain near Mobile. Many of the slaves escaped and founded their own community on the banks of the Mobile River, which became known as Africatown. The members of this community retained their African customs and language well into the 20th century. The city, fortified and held by the Confederates, was blockaded during the Civil War by Farragut's "West Gulf Blockading Squadron." The Battle of Mobile Bay, in August 1864, was a Union victory, but the city held out for another nine months. The harbor was reconstructed after the war. In the years that followed, especially during World War II, ship-building became a major industry. Workers from distant areas moved into the city to fill jobs on the waterfront and many stayed after the war's conclusion. The city formally twinned with the Japanese city of Ichihara on November 10, 1993. Museums abound in Mobile. Mobile's official house museum is Oakleigh, operated by the Historic Mobile Preservation Society. Nearby is the Cox-Deasy Creole House Museum, built around 1850. The USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park highlights several ships of the U.S. Navy, which have carried this famous name. The Mobile Museum of Art in Langan Park is a service of the City of Mobile. The Gulf Coast Exploreum is a regional science center providing interactive exhibits and big screen movies. The Mobile Regional Airport, also known as Brookley Field, traces its aviation history 10 years before Kitty Hawk, to a time when a local inventor used the site for heavier-than-air flight experiments. The University of Southern Alabama, founded in 1963, is one of Alabama's fastest growing universities. Mobile also is served by Bishop State Community College. Mobile Infirmary Medical Center has been providing medical services to local residents since 1910.