Central region home to football, civil rights pioneers

Slicing a broad block of the center of the state, the Central region is known for the state’s two largest universities - the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa (pop. 80,000) and Auburn University in Auburn, AL - as well as the metropolitan area of Montgomery.

Of course, country back roads in this region can take you to roadside markets, town festivals and events and those small towns that recall another era.

Heard of Bear Bryant? Or Roll Tide? Those are two common topics among Crimson Tide faithful in Tuscaloosa. The discussion really heats up when someone mentions Auburn in the same breath.

It is in this region that the Civil Rights movement was born. In Selma, this movement is recognized with a National Voting Rights Museum; in Montgomery, you can visit the Civil Rights Memorial.

Montgomery (metro pop. 315,000) is the state capital, an emerging software engineering community and home to Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base. Recently, Montgomery landed the first U.S.-based Hyundai automobile manufacturing plant. The first cars will roll off the assembly line in 2005 and the plant is estimated to employ 2,000 and have a $1 billion economic impact to the region.

As it is in much of the South, don’t expect to move to Alabama and then try to change customs and ways of life. Alabama residents are simultaneously proud and protective of their way of life - the local activities and family-oriented events, as well as the museums, outdoor recreation and outstanding golf. In 1998, Money magazine recognized this lifestyle by naming Montgomery as one of the best medium-sized U.S. cities to live in.