With nicknames such as the 'Cotton State' and 'Heart of Dixie,' there is no denying that Alabama is the true south. Florida and the Gulf of Mexico are below the state border and Tennessee is just north. Alabama has somewhat of a history of economic hardship which began during the Civil War with an increased dependence on agriculture. Economic growth eventually began again after World War II. Many homes in Alabama are traditional, 4-bedroom homes.
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The largest cities in Alabama include Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile, and Huntsville. Birmingham is located in the Jones Valley, which contains long parallel mountain ranges. South of downtown is Red Mountain, which is where the city's major television and radio broadcast towers are lined. Birmingham has a great deal of suburbs, and most of the metropolitan area actually lives outside the city. The suburbs with the largest populations include Hoover, Vestavia Hills, Alabaster, Bessemer, and Homewood. The downtown Birmingham skyline has a number of noteworthy buildings. The tallest ones are the Wells Fargo Tower, the Regions-Harbert Plaza, and the AT&T City Center. Birmingham is also the entertainment and cultural capital of the state and is known for its number of art galleries and museums. As restaurants and independent shops open in downtown Birmingham, the city is experiencing a rejuvenation in its local economy.