The famous explorer, Hernando DeSoto, passed near the region that was to become Montgomery as early as 1540. In 1819 (just 11 days before Alabama was admitted to the Union), the towns of Alabama Town and New Philadelphia joined together to become Montgomery. The name was chosen to honor Major Richard Montgomery of the Revolutionary War. In1861, Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as the President of the Confederacy at the state capitol building. Interestingly, this is also where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at the conclusion of the famous Selma-to-Montgomery march.
Perhaps the best place to start a discovery of Montgomery is at historic Union Station, which houses the visitor center. One will soon discover that a premier attraction is Old Alabama Town, located in the center of historic Montgomery, and occupying about six blocks. Remarkably, this diverse grouping of over 40 restored 19th and 20th century homes reflect a diverse class status, and everyday life as an Alabamian. For even more interesting architecture, visit Montgomery's Lower Commerce Street Historic District which sports an array of buildings designed in the Victorian style.
Those with children, or anyone who enjoys wildlife, should not pass by the opportunity to experience the amazing Montgomery Zoo, which features over 700 animals from five continents. A train ride will help those with a sense of adventure experience the animals in their natural "barrier free" environment. Another great find is the Mann Wildlife Learning Museum. This unique museum is packed full of interactive presentations of North American Wildlife. No doubt, this is another sure-hit with children.
Several sites in Montgomery highlight the civil rights movement. Montgomery's Civil Rights Memorial was the first of its kind in the US. The memorial details the struggles and achievements that peppered the civil rights movement, and lists the names of dozens of people who died for the cause. The Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church is understandably proud to note that the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. served as its pastor for six years, and orchestrated the Montgomery bus boycott from here. A guided tour of the church is well worth one's time. The Rosa Parks Library and Museum pays special tribute to the incredibly strong Rosa Parks, who refused to relinquish her bus seat to a white passenger. The museum sweeps visitors back in time through pictures, a replica of the bus, and video footage.
Montgomery is home to one of the most respected Shakespeare Festivals in the world. The professional cast performs year-round, entertaining visitors with more than 400 productions per year, including three works of William Shakespeare, and works of several famous southern play writers.
Montgomery is located at the intersection of Interstates 85 and 65, approximately 90 miles southeast of Birmingham.