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, city, England

Birmingham (bûrˈmĭngəm), city and metropolitan borough (2021 city pop. 2,606,374; metropolitan area est. pop 1,100,000), central England. The city is equidistant from Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, and London, England's main ports, and near the Black Country iron and coal deposits; it was connected to the Staffordshire mines by the Birmingham Canal in the 18th cent. Birmingham is Britain's second largest city (in both area and population) and is the center of water, road, and rail transportation in the Midlands. The chief industries are the manufacture of automobiles and bicycles and their components and accessories. Other products include electrical equipment, paint, guns, and a wide variety of metal products. However, manufacturing, which once dominated the economy, has been replaced by service jobs in retail and tourism.

By the 15th cent., Birmingham was a market town with a large leather and wool trade; by the 16th cent. it was also known for its many metalworks. In the English Civil War the town was captured by the royalists. Birmingham's industrial development and population growth accelerated in the 17th and 18th cent. In 1762, Matthew Boulton and James Watt founded the Soho metalworks, where they designed and built steam engines. Joseph Priestley, the discoverer of oxygen, lived for a time in Birmingham. In 1791 a mob, incensed at his radical religious and political views, burned his home.

The town was enfranchised by the Reform Bill of 1832 (see under Reform Acts) and was incorporated in 1838. John Bright represented it in Parliament from 1857 to 1889. During the 1870s, while Joseph Chamberlain was mayor, Birmingham underwent a large program of municipal improvements, including slum clearance and the development of gas and water works. Birmingham was among the first English localities to have a municipal bank, a comprehensive water-supply system, and development planning. The area of the city was enlarged in 1891 and again in 1911 under the Greater Birmingham scheme.

Birmingham was severely damaged in World War II. Subsequent rebuilding resulted in modernization, especially of the city center. Notable buildings include the town hall, built in 1834, modeled after the temple of Castor and Pollux in Rome; the 18th-century baroque-style Cathedral of St. Philip; and the 19th-century Cathedral of St. Chad, the first Roman Catholic cathedral to be built in England after the Reformation. Bull Ring, in the center of Birmingham, is the site of the city's oldest market. Also in the center of the city is the Univ. of Aston. The Univ. of Birmingham is in the suburb of Edgbaston, as is the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, a Roman Catholic shrine that was formerly the parish house of John Henry Cardinal Newman. There is a museum and art gallery (noted for its pre-Raphaelite collection) and a museum of science and industry. Annual music festivals date from 1768, and Birmingham has a noted symphony orchestra and ballet company. The city library includes an excellent Shakespeare collection.


, cities, United States
Birmingham (bûrˈmĭnghămˌ) 1 City (2020 pop. 200,733), seat of Jefferson co., N central Ala., in the Jones Valley near the southern end of the Appalachian system; founded and inc. 1871. The city was long a leading iron and steel center, the “Pittsburgh of the South.” Industry has diversified since the 1970s to include textiles, chemicals, automotive parts, and aircraft production. Health-care services, commerce, banking, insurance, research, and government are also important. A leading “New South” city, Birmingham developed rapidly with the expansion of railroads and, connected with the Gulf of Mexico by canal, became a trade and communications center. The city was the scene of unrest during the civil-rights struggles of the 1960s; on Sept. 15, 1963, four young black girls were killed in a church bombing. In 1979 the city elected its first African-American mayor. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute includes a museum, archives of the period, and research facilities; the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument (est. 2017) commemorates the struggle for integration. Local educational institutions include the Univ. of Alabama Medical Center, Birmingham-Southern College, Miles College, and Samford Univ. Overlooking the city, on nearby Red Mt., is a huge iron statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of the forge. 2 City (2020 pop. 21,607), Oakland co., SE Mich., on the River Rouge; settled 1819, inc. as a village 1864, as a city 1933. It is largely residential.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city in Great Britain, located in central England, in the county of Yorkshire. Population, 1,075,000 (1968). Situated on the Birmingham plateau.

The first mention of a settlement on the site of Birmingham dates back to the 11th century. Since the 13th century it has been famous for its fairs. By the 16th century it had become a center for the manufacture of metal products. During the English Bourgeois Revolution (Civil War) of the 17th century, Birmingham supported Parliament. In 1830 a bourgeois organization arose (the so-called Birmingham Political Union) which played an important role in the struggle for the Parliamentary Reform Act of 1832. The Chartist Convention of 1839 was held in Birmingham. In July 1839 the bourgeoisie of Birmingham provoked clashes between the workers on the one hand and the police and troops on the other. Since the beginning of the 20th century there has been a rapid growth of war plants in the city. During World War II it was subjected to considerable damage as a result of raids by the German fascist air force.

Birmingham is an industrial city. It is the nucleus of the western Midlands conurbation and an important transportation hub. It is one of the world’s major cities; more than 50 percent of its gainfully employed population works in industry. The basic branches of industry are ferrous metallurgy (now mostly converted), which grew up on the sites in south Staffordshire basin where iron ore and coal were discovered, and the production of metal articles. Machine building was developed on the basis of these industries. Birmingham is the largest center in the country for machine building and metal processing. (These industries employ more than two-thirds of the city’s industrial workers.) The most important branch of industry is the automobile industry, which is comprised of automobile-assembly plants of the British Motor Corporation, including the Austin firm in the suburb of Longbridge and the Morris firm. There are enterprises engaged in manufacturing automotive and aviation engines in addition to auxiliary plants. Closely linked to this chief branch is the rubber industry, including the production of tires (the Dunlop plant) and electrical engineering, although the latter also has independent branches (plants of the Lucas and General Electric companies). There is a considerable machine-tool industry in Birmingham, as well as production of railroad equipment and cars and a military industry. The processing of nonferrous metals takes place on a large scale (one-sixth of the employment in the country). Birmingham has long been famous for its jewelry products.

Characteristic of Birmingham is the combination of the modern architecture of the municipal center, reconstructed after World War II (1939–45), with the old, industrial-residential quarters surrounding it—the jewelers and weapons’ makers. New multistoried factories were built (where each floor or part of it is leased to small, old enterprises and workshops), as well as multistoried commercial buildings and residential complexes, the public trade center known as the Bull Ring (dating from 1960), and the buildings of the university (1966–67). Among the old structures are the Gothic Church of St. Martin (13th century), the cathedral (1710–15), and the city hall (1832–52), all in the style of classicism, and the neo-Gothic St. Chad Cathedral (1839–41).

Birmingham is one of the principal centers for technical education (the university and engineering colleges). There is a Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. an industrial city in central England, in Birmingham unitary authority, in the West Midlands: the second largest city in Great Britain; two cathedrals; three universities (1900, 1966, 1992). Pop.: 970 892 (2001)
2. a unitary authority in central England, in the West Midlands. Pop.: 992 100 (2003 est.). Area: 283 sq. km (109 sq. miles)
3. an industrial city in N central Alabama: rich local deposits of coal, iron ore, and other minerals. Pop.: 236 620 (2003 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
This year, LoveBrum has announced that charitable organisations in Birmingham will now have the opportunity to apply for up to [pounds sterling]15,000 through LoveBrum's Community Impact Fund, which aims to support projects working to overcome the challenges Birmingham is facing, particularly those tackling homelessness and the poverty gap.
THE FABULOUS BORDELLOS: Blake's at The Custard House, Blake Lane, Birmingham. 0121 773 1883.
Marketing Birmingham, which operates leisure tourism programme Visit Birmingham, is working with partners to build on the rising tourism market, raising the city's profile overseas as a tourism destination through targeted campaigns and key trade shows.
The Birmingham Award Program is an annual awards program, honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Birmingham area.
The Nucor CEO also indicated that current Birmingham president and former Nucor executive John Correnti would not be invited to remain part of the resulting combined management team.
In April 1963, five months before the girls' deaths, King and other civil rights leaders brought their nonviolent protests to Birmingham. They hoped to draw national attention to the discrimination and violence.
David Bintley, artistic director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, staged Prospect for his company, supplying linking bits of choreography that had eluded Bedells and her colleagues.
"We have always been portrayed as being culturally intolerant, but here in Birmingham we've had things like gay parades and the annual Apollo drag ball for years without an incident.
Across from the church is the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, opened in 1992.
Thirty years ago, Birmingham was seen by many as the Johannesburg of the United States.
He had a dark side and a bright side, yet, sadly, in the conflict that makes up a central part of this work, the spring, 1963 desegregation campaign in Birmingham, we see the traits that not only helped fuel his drive for worldwide fame, but also hurt innocent people: deceit, megalomania, promiscuity, cynical pragmatism.