History
Mobile was founded in 1702 by Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville, as the first capital of French Louisiana. Many downtown streets still carry their French names, and the square at the city’s center is called Bienville Square. By the time the Americans arrived in Mobile in 1813 to occupy the city, it was already old enough to have passed through French, British and Spanish hands.

Historical Highlights:

Cotton made Mobile a major seaport and commercial center before the Civil War. By 1860, the port handled an annual average of 500,000 bales per year, and cotton remained the major export into the early 1900s.

• The Alabama State Port Authority (www.asdd.com) opened in 1928, transforming Mobile’s waterfront into a modern cargo facility and boosting the city’s ability to attract new national and  international industries.

•  During World War II, Mobile built an average of one ship a week. The war brought dramatic change, as the city’s workforce mushroomed to support the war. Women joined the workforce, many of them working in the shipyards.

• Mobile in the early 1900s was a city focused on its waterfront and poised for a century of major change. The 20th century brought an end to Mobile’s economic dependence on cotton and ushered in an era of industrial growth.

• Completed in 1908, the Van Antwerp Building was Mobile’s first skyscraper. Today, the building is beginning a new life as residential condominiums. The project is one of many new ventures that are returning downtown living to Mobile.

• Closed since the 1970s, the grand Battle House Hotel was for many years the center of Mobile’s social life. The Retirement System of Alabama recently announced plans to renovate the hotel as part of a new office/hotel complex that includes a 32-story office building.

 Raphael Semmes was the Confederacy’s most acclaimed naval hero, and the waterfront statue honoring him is a Mobile landmark. Under his command, the USS Alabama destroyed more ships than any naval vessel before or since.

• From the 1930s, John LeFlore led the struggle for racial equality in Mobile. In 1975, he was elected to the state legislature, Mobile’s first black legislator since Reconstruction.  

• Mobile introduced Mardi Gras to the United States. Mobile’s first parading mystic organization began quite by accident on New Year’s Eve of 1830. After a long and rowdy New Year’s Eve celebration, a group of revelers lead by Michael Krafft decided to parade through the streets at dawn. They broke into a hardware store and gathered rakes, gongs, cowbells and any other object that could be used to make noise to wake their sleeping friends and convince them to join the fun. The next year the group formally organized, and, in honor of their first parade, they called themselves the “Cowbellion de Rakin Society.” For their first 10 years, they paraded on New Year’s Eve in mask and on foot with only a few floats. In 1840, they presented their first tableau pageant based on mythological themes with floats, bands and horses. They staged their first ball in 1852. As other mystic societies formed, the Carnival season gradually expanded from only New Year’s parades to include Mardi Gras parades.

• In 1856, a group of Mobilians who had moved to New Orleans organized their own New Orleans Cowbellions that later became the Krewe of Comus, the first parading society in New Orleans, which, unlike the Cowbellions, paraded on Mardi Gras Day.

• In 1856, a group of Mobilians who had moved to New Orleans organized their own New Orleans Cowbellions that later became the Krewe of Comus, the first parading society in New Orleans, which, unlike the Cowbellions, paraded on Mardi Gras Day.

 • In 1951, the first Senior Bowl game www.seniorbowl.com was played in the newly constructed Ladd Stadium. The game remains the nation’s premiere college all-star bowl and a major NFL scouting event.

• Mobile was named for the Mauvilla Indians who were found within the area of Mobile. Mauvilla means "paddling Indians".

• The first submarine actually used in warfare, the Hunley, was built in Mobile during the Civil War.

 • The Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay is famous for Admiral Farragut's order, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" The battle was fought on August 5, 1864.