49 Things You Probably Didn′t Know About MobileMobilians were getting their beads out for Mardi Gras years before New Orleanians were even thinking about it.
1. Mobilians used to throw boxes of Cracker Jack from their Mardi Gras floats but switched to MoonPies in the early 1970s because they're safer, with no sharp edges.
Source: Flickr user lisabrewster2. In fact, this tasty treat is so beloved that Mobile rings in the New Year by dropping a giant MoonPie instead of a ball. 3. It's where one of the first videos to go viral on YouTube was shot in 2006, a local news report about a sighting of what became known as the Crichton Leprechaun. 4. The West Indies Salad doesn't come from the West Indies. This simple but delicious concoction of crabmeat, onion, and vinegar was invented in Mobile.
Source: Flickr user ralph and jenny5. Mobile Bay is one of the few places in the world where jubilees occur, a rare natural phenomena where bottom-dwelling sea life casts itself into the shallows on occasion. Locals scoop up the bounty in buckets for their dinner table. 6. "Bear" Bryant coached his first game as Alabama's head coach in 1958 at Mobile's Ladd Stadium, as it was called then. The Crimson Tide lost to L.S.U. 13-3 and the bleachers collapsed.
Source: Flickr user RebelNation19477. The city's police horses of the mounted patrol unit go to Mardi Gras school to learn how to handle sudden noises and large crowds, and they get diplomas upon graduation. 8. In 1963, Alabama schoolchildren helped to raise the funds to have the USS Alabama moved from Seattle to Mobile. As part of the reward for their efforts they received a card with no expiration allowing them admission to the ship and its museum. Some of those former kids still show up to Battleship Park to redeem their cards.
Source: Flickr user midwestnerd9. The famous battle cry, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" was bellowed in the waters of Mobile Bay by Union Admiral David G. Farragut in 1864 during the Battle of Mobile Bay. 10. In the classic film “To Kill a Mockingbird," when Gregory Peck says “Why, the gardens at Bellingrath have nothing to compare with your flowers” to a neighbor he's referring to Mobile's Bellingrath Gardens.
Source: Flickr user MadMarlin11. The nighttime scenes in the film "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" weren't filmed outside. They were shot inside a giant hangar in Mobile that was converted to a sound stage for the filming of the movie.
Source: Flickr user bugie.de12. National Geographic has named Mobile one of the best places to live in the U.S., citing it as one of the "The Next Great Adventure Towns." 13. Newbies take notice: Mobile is pronounced 'mo-beel' and not like the word you use to describe a cellular device. 14. Interstate 10 passes directly UNDERNEATH one of Mobile's most notable attractions, Fort Conde, home to the city's welcome center. Fort Conde is above the I-10 tunnel on the west side of the Mobile River.
Source: Wikimedia Commons user Altairisfar15. Mobile is much older than the state it's a part of. It was first settled in 1702, 117 years before Alabama became a state. 16. Though everyone in Mobile already knows this, those from outside the area are surprised to learn that the flags of six nations and republics have flown over the city since its founding: France, Spain, Great Britain, the Alabama Republic, the Confederate States of America and the United States. 17. It rains more in Mobile than it does in Seattle.
Source: Flickr user au_tiger0118. The oldest continually operating business in town is a newspaper. The Mobile Press-Register was founded in 1813. It's also the oldest active newspaper in Alabama. 19. Jimmy Buffett wasn't born in Mobile, but it's where he grew up and graduated from a Catholic boys school.
Source: Flickr user Bruce Tuten20. It's possible to travel by boat from the Port of Mobile to the Great Lakes entirely on inland waterways. 21. Mobile, as well as all of Alabama, used to be a part of the Mississippi Territory. 22. According to the 1860 U.S. Census, there were 1,195 "free people of color" in Mobile County a year before the outbreak of the Civil War. 23. The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, one of Mobile's most awe-inspiring structures, took 15 years to construct. Groundbreaking was in 1835 and it opened in 1850.
Source: Wikimedia Commons user Altairisfar24. The red fire ant that infests much of the U.S. was introduced to the country through the Port of Mobile sometime in the 1930s. They came off of South American cargo ships. 25. Six U.S. Presidents—Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and Barack Obama—have visited Mobile County while in office. 26. Bel Air Mall, which opened in 1967, is the oldest, still-active enclosed shopping mall in Alabama. 27. Mobile was home to the first Mardi Gras celebrations in the New World in the very early 1700s, long before New Orleans.
Source: Wikimedia Commons user Altairisfar28. It's home to the world's largest public tennis facility, the Mobile Tennis Center, which contains over 50 courts. 29. Azaleas, the flowers Mobile is famous for, first came to the city from France in 1754. 30. Old Shell Road got its name from being originally paved with the crushed fragments of old sea shells. 31. Five members of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame are from Mobile—Hank Aaron, Billy Williams, Willie McCovey, Satchel Paige and Ozzie Smith. That's more than any other city except Chicago and New York.
Source: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons32. Hank Aaron's brother, Tommie, was also born in Mobile and played major league baseball. The siblings were the first to appear together in a League Championship Series and also held the record for the most home runs for a pair of siblings in the MLB. 33. The first combat submarine to ever sink a warship in battle, the H.L. Hunley, was built in Mobile in the early 1860s. 34. The Mobile-Tensaw River Delta, of which Mobile is a part, is the second largest delta in the U.S.
Source: USEPA Environmental-Protection-Agency via Wikipedia35. Mobile has three four-year colleges with mascots that are animals not native to the area—the ram, the badger and the jaguar. 36. Spring Hill College was the first Catholic college in the Southeast. 37. The Saenger Theatre was once part of a chain of 320 theaters in the first half of the 20th century. 38. In 1970 the University of South Alabama saved the Saenger Theatre from the wrecking ball by purchasing it. 39. Many of the oak trees in historic and shady Bienville Square were planted by one of Mobile's former mayors in 1847. 40. Bob Dylan, Cher, Dolly Parton, Robert Palmer, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Jr., Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Jerry Reed have all sung about Mobile in song. 41. Before he became mega famous, a young Elvis Presley performed at the Greater Gulf State Fair in Mobile in 1955.
Source: Flickr user akfoto42. During World War II the population of Mobile more than doubled in three years due to the influx of people coming to work in the shipyards. 43. The Port of Mobile is the only deep-water port in Alabama and one of the Top 10 ports in the U.S. by tonnage. 44. Mobile Bay was the first body of water in the new world to be accurately charted... in 1519.
Source: John LaTourrette via Wikimedia Commons45. Every school kid in Alabama has been to "the Mighty A" at least once. That's the USS Alabama, which is permanently docked at Battleship Memorial Park. It's impossible to grow up in the Heart of Dixie without taking a field trip there. 46. The Battle House, a classic Old South hotel downtown, isn't named after the Battle of Mobile Bay or the USS Alabama battleship close by, it's named after the Battle family that opened the original hotel in 1852. 47. Jabba the Hutt's sail barge was built in Mobile, or at least something that looks a helluva lot like it—the Littoral combat ship.
Source: Flickr user SurfaceWarriors48. It's not all about shipbuilding, shipping and seafaring anymore. The aerospace industry is also huge in Mobile. Welcome to town, Airbus!
Source: Wikimedia Commons user Rammerjammer49. Mobile has quite a few nicknames: the Port City, the Azalea City, the City of Six Flags, the Home of Mardi Gras and Mob-Town. The latter is a relatively new moniker mainly used by rappers and hip-hoppers. What’s your favorite Mobile fun fact? Tell us in the comments below!