Mobile is steeped in history, with an eclectic and colorful mix of cultural, religious, and ethnic influences from the French, Spanish, Creole, British, and African heritages that make it unlike any other city in Alabama. Nine major historic districts include Old Dauphin Way, Oakleigh Garden, Lower Dauphin Street, Leinkauf, De Tonti Square, Church Street East, Ashland Place, Campground, and Midtown. Antebellum architecture features Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, and Creole cottage. Later styles include Victorian, Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, Beaux-Arts, and more.
Mobile started as small French outpost. Today, a scaled-down replica of 18th-century stronghold Fort Conde stands as a reminder of how the French colony defended Mobile Bay against invaders for almost 100 years. With the modern skyline of Mobile in the background, visitors can tour the museum and grounds, watch a movie overview of the area, pick up maps, brochures, and guidebooks, and get helpful advice from a knowledgeable staff and costumed guides at the official Mobile Bay Welcome Center. It is a perfect place to begin a Mobile adventure.
Mobile's main industries are aerospace, retail, services, construction, manufacturing, and medicine. The city's population is 195,111 and is at the center of the state's second-largest metropolitan area (with a total Mobile County population of 414,079).
Mobile's annual Carnival is the oldest in the country, making Mobile the birthplace of Mardi Gras – a distinction that residents mention at every opportunity. That's how proud they are of their family-friendly extravaganza when the city opens its feather-bedecked arms to the world for one of the all-time greatest parties in the south. Canceled during the Civil War, Mardi Gras parades were revived by Joe Cain in 1866 when he dressed as a fictional Chickasaw chief and walked the city streets on Fat Tuesday. The most elaborate parades take place in the last two weeks before Ash Wednesday, when krewes, or organizations, sponsor and build floats from which plastic beads, wooden or tin doubloons, candy, Moon Pies, toys, and other "throws" are tossed to the cheering crowds.
As the only seaport in Alabama, waterways are a way of life in Mobile. The city has enjoyed a "waterfront rebirth" to which outdoor enthusiasts flock every year. The Alabama Scenic River Trail is made up of the Alabama, Coosa, Tensaw, Cahaba, and Tennessee rivers and the Mobile-Tensaw Delta and Terrapin, Hatchett, and Weogufka Creeks. It is the nation's longest one-state river trail, attracting paddlers, boaters, fishermen, campers, photographers, and birders from across the country. And where there's water there's seafood. Platters of fresh Gulf shrimp, fish, and oysters, along with prime beef, barbecue, grits, and soul food in waterfront restaurants, sidewalk cafes, and neighborhood bistros tempt diners at every turn.
With such a rich history, visitor attractions abound in a variety of innovative museums, historic homes and churches, and exciting educational activities. The fascinating 90-mile Civil War Trail stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to north Mobile County and documents the Battle of the Bay in 1864. The Museum of Mobile celebrates more than 300 years of history, culture, heritage, and diversity in permanent and traveling exhibits. The poignant African American Heritage Trail reminds visitors of Mobile's past: the early Creoles of African descent; survivors from the last slave ship to enter the United States in 1860; and newly freed slaves who worshipped and built the oldest churches in Alabama – all enhancing an understanding of African Americans' role in Mobile history, which should never be forgotten.