Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA) in History


History & Foreign Language

Committee Chair

Paul Beezley


This paper examines the founding and development of the city of Birmingham, Alabama, focusing on the establishment and growth of its earliest, most vital infrastructure: railroads and waterworks. Early chapters explain how and why the city came to be carved from the wilderness, while later chapters describe how railroads and waterworks facilities made it possible for a set of frontier farms and villages- isolated, with no nearby river- to rapidly grow into a booming industrial metropolis. Analyzing the actions of Birmingham’s founder- the Elyton Land Company- and those of its subsidiaries- the Birmingham Water Works Company and the Highland Avenue and Belt Railroad Company- establishes that all three companies had dramatic positive effects on the city’s growth and prosperity, while being motivated by profit as well as the public good.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.