Move over Birmingham, you’re not the biggest city in Alabama anymore

Published 9:10 pm Friday, August 13, 2021

Huntsville has overtaken Birmingham as Alabama’s largest city, according to new Census numbers.

Huntsville is now slightly more populous than Birmingham, according to U.S. Census numbers released Thursday. Huntsville has a population of 215,006. Birmingham, which had long been Alabama’s largest city, has a population of 200,733.

However, the Birmingham metro area remains the largest in the state. The Birmingham-Hoover Metro Statistical Area has 1.1 million people, while the Huntsville Metro Area has 491,723.

Huntsville, nicknamed the Rocket City for its historical ties to the space industry, has seen rapid growth over the last ten years partly fueled by the tech and manufacturing sectors. The population of the city has jumped by 19% since 2010.

“I’m proud that the great things we have going on in Huntsville have grown our city,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle wrote in a tweet. “To tell the truth, we’re more focused on being the best than the biggest. That is what my team and I are going to continue to work on every day.”

Birmingham got the nickname the Magic City for its rapid growth and had long been Alabama’s largest city. Much of the recent growth around Birmingham has been concentrated in the surrounding suburban areas, rather than in the city itself.

“Growth in any city is good for Alabama, good for Birmingham and for our metro region,” Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin said in a statement in response to media questions about the change to being Alabama’s second-largest city. He said city officials plan to analyze the data.

“Birmingham is the nucleus of the state’s largest metro population and economic center. The Magic City continues to evolve as a diverse urban center and leader in regional growth. Our strength as a medical center, emerging hub for tech start-ups and logistics center keeps Birmingham positioned for positive growth in the future,” Woodfin said.

Montgomery is Alabama’s third-largest city with a population of 200,603.