No wonder Montgomery, Alabama, was voted Best Historic City in America by USA Today. By standing at the Court Square Fountain in downtown Montgomery, we could turn 360 degrees and face sites of American history from Civil War to Civil Rights. The city is telling its story one historical marker at a time.
In the 1850s, Montgomery was the seventh largest city in the United States with the second largest slave population.
The order for Confederate troops to fire on Fort Sumter, the act that started the American Civil War, was sent by telegram from Montgomery. It was just up the hill from the telegraph office that Jefferson Davis had taken the oath of office as the President of the Confederate States of America.
The Court Square Fountain is the hub of the 360 degrees of Montgomery history. The first time we drove into Montgomery we circled the fountain to find just the right angle for a photograph. We parked the car and stepped out to The Montgomery Bus Boycott plaque pictured above. We took a moment to read it. With traffic sounds, a light breeze, and people relaxing on a bench nearby, tears came. There were no words to describe how we felt. We had just stepped into the reality of history.
In 1965, one of the most powerful marches of the Civil Rights movement circled around the Court Square fountain on its way to the state capitol. Coming from Selma, Alabama, and joined by others along the way, the marchers were there to demand their right to vote.
Blue bicycle racks mark the sites of a self-guided Civil Heritage Trail in the city. Visitors can walk, bike, rent-a-segway, or drive the 3.5 miles that cover American history, from Civil War to Civil Rights.