Located in Jefferson County southeast of Birmingham, Mountain Brook was incorporated in 1942. It has a council/manager form of government and was the first city in the state to operate under that system. The city does have a mayor, but the city manager supervises city operations.
Mountain Brook, more formally called Mountain Brook City, arose from the Mountain Brook Estates community that was developed in the 1920s by Robert Jemison Jr., a successful real estate developer. He created Mountain Brook on the Shades Valley side of Red Mountain with an eye toward preserving the natural surroundings and environment for the enjoyment of the future residents, most of whom were likely to be wealthy Birmingham business leaders and their families. It was reportedly named, according to one account, after the Mountain Brook Store in Blount County. Jemison sold shares to individuals in Mountain Brook Estates, which enabled them to choose lots. The community was restricted to whites. Jemison also limited the types of businesses permitted to move into the community, forbidding hospitals, auto garages, veterinary services, and most businesses considered noisy or malodorous. Lacking access to the area's streetcar network, residents relied on automobiles, and the development was noted at the time for its paved roads and access to utilities, except for sewer services, which arrived many years later. After focusing on housing development in the community, Jemison turned his attention to building recreation centers, high-end retail shopping, schools, and the Mountain Brook Club. Many of the facilities and homes were constructed in the English Tudor style, with Italianate, French Norman farmhouse, Georgian, and Federal Revival styles being popular among the larger estates as well. One of the more noted early amenities was the Mountain Brook Riding Academy, which had a blacksmith shop and 60 stalls.
In the 1920s, the development suffered from the economic effects of the Great Depression, as nearby Birmingham was severely affected by the downturn. Some shareholders were forced to sell their shares, lots went undeveloped, and homes were boarded up. As Birmingham recovered during World War II, so did Mountain Brook, incorporating in 1942. Currently home to many Birmingham finance, education, healthcare, and administrative professionals and executives, Mountain Brook remains one of the wealthiest communities in Alabama.
According to the 2010 Census, the population of Mountain Brook was 20,413. Of that number, approximately 97.8 percent of the population reported itself as white, 1.0 percent as Hispanic or Latino, 1.0 percent as black, 0.9 percent as Asian, and 0.1 percent as American Indian and Alaska Native. The city's median household income was $130,095, and per capita income was $73,289.
The workforce in present-day Mountain Brook is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (23.7 percent)
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (21.0 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (18.1 percent)
· Retail trade (10.4 percent)
· Manufacturing (5.1 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services (4.7 percent)
· Construction (4.2 percent)
· Wholesale trade (4.2 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (3.7 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (2.0 percent)
· Information (1.3 percent)
· Public administration (1.2 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (0.4 percent)
Public education in Mountain Brook is administered by Mountain Brook Schools. The system oversees four elementary schools, one junior high, and one senior high school. The system serves approximately 4,050 students and employs 315 teachers.
As a suburb of Birmingham, Mountain Brook is close to some of the state's major institutions of higher learning; University of Alabama at Birmingham, Samford University, and Birmingham-Southern College. In addition, the historically black Miles College and Miles Law School, Birmingham School of Law, Jefferson State Community College, and Lawson State Community College provide other educational opportunities in the Mountain Brook vicinity. Southeastern Bible College, a nondenominational four-year college, also is located nearby.
Mountain Brook lies within an area bounded by Interstate 459 to the south and east, interstates 20 and 59 to the north, and U.S. Route 280 and State Route 38 to the south and west. Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport is located just a few miles to the north.
Events and Places of Interest
The private Birmingham Country Club and Mountain Brook Club offer golf, swimming, tennis, and social activities for members. Nearby is Highland Park Golf Course, an 18-hole public facility. Just to the southwest is the Birmingham Zoo, and Crestline Park, Erskine Ramsay Park, and the Birmingham Botanical Gardens are located nearby. Within the city are Crestline Tot Lot, Jemison Park, Overton Park, Irondale Furnace Park, Canterbury Park, and an athletic complex located adjacent to Mountain Brook High School.
The Mountain Brook Art Association hosts an annual art show, typically in April at Crestline Elementary school featuring the
two-dimensional works of local artists, and the city hosts a holiday parade in early December.
Barefield, Marilyn Davis. A History of Mountain Brook, Alabama & Incidentally of Shades Valley. Birmingham: Southern University Press, 1989.
Jefferson County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Jefferson County. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2002.
Published September 23, 2011
Last updated March 15, 2013