During my short stint in Alabama, Mobile has probably been my favorite city. The mesh of gardens, historic homes, squares, fountains, bars, and downtown reminded me of a cross between Savannah and New Orleans. Mobile is the northernmost city on the Gulf of Mexico, and its flora and culture express the merging of two worlds: North America meets the Gulf/Caribbean, northern climate meets tropical, and Protestant meets Catholic.
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Mobile was founded by a young Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville in 1700. Soon after, the tradition of the Mardi Gras carnival began in 1711, which was a celebration that marked the beginning of Lent, the day before Ash Wednesday.
Mobile had been the original capital city of the French Louisiana territory, but its location made locals wary of destruction by hurricane. The capital was then moved to New Orleans in 1718, and the celebration followed. However, Mobile is still very proud of their Mardi Gras history and celebrates it every year (in a big way). While wandering up and down the oak-lined streets, you can look up and find festival beads sparkling in the branches during any time of the year.
Bienville Square (est. 1850) is a popular historic park in the center of downtown Mobile. So popular, it was even the site where Theodore Roosevelt spoke in 1905 to advocate for the Panama Canal and explain its importance to the city of Mobile.
The square was named after Mobile's founder, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville. Originally, the square property was the site of Mobile's old Spanish Hospital, but around the 1820s, it began to be used as a public gathering space. From then forward, the square's popularity increased. It was able to survive several economic downturns and periods of neglect. Currently, the park is admired for its large cast iron fountain, huge gazebo, and shady oaks. It also hosts several art and music festivals.
The pink Malaga Inn. If you look closely, you will see the crest that is displayed on any historic building in the area.
The Oakleigh Garden Historic District is the main historic district in Mobile. The neighborhood and its residents proudly boast of their preservation efforts, and celebrate with various block parties throughout the year. I was most impressed with their restoration of a large home that was made in to a retirement home for the elderly. The Oakleigh District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. It is originally centered on Washington Square. The district covers 1,453 acres and contains 288 buildings. The buildings range in age from the 1820s to the 1940s with most in a variety of 19th-century architectural styles.
Posts are a combination of my own research, visits, and conversations, plus various information found around the web. I try to provide sources, but if you have specific questions, feel free to ask!