1959 was the 88th year after the founding of the city of Birmingham.
- March 1: The light cruiser USS Birmingham (CL-62) was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register.
- March 5: The Birmingham Zoning Board denied a request by Republic Steel to rezone a section of Red Mountain above Valley View Drive to "heavy industrial" to allow for strip mining.
- May 12: Residents of Homewood and Mountain Brook voted against merging with the City of Birmingham in the 1959 Homewood Mountain Brook annexation referendum.
- June 17: Killough Springs was annexed into Birmingham by a vote of residents held the previous day.
- August 19: The Birmingham City Commission rejected a request by the Birmingham Downtown Improvement Association to contribute funding toward a traffic study for a route over or through Red Mountain.
- September 27: Shelby Memorial Hospital was dedicated on with Alabama Senator Lister Hill and Congressman Armistead Selden in attendance.
- October 5–10: The 1959 Alabama State Fair was held at the Alabama State Fairgrounds.
- November 12: The USS Birmingham (CL-62) was sold for scrap.
- November 15: Actor Raymond Burr was made an honorary Birmingham Police captain during a visit promoting Christmas seals.
- December 12: The Shower of Stars featured Fabian, The Fleetwoods, The Browns, Floyd Robinson and Bobby Lee Trammell.
- The Birmingham Board of Education acquired the property for its future Birmingham Board of Education Administration Building on Park Place by condemnation, causing the landowner to sue.
- The Birmingham Civic Ballet Guild was formed.
- The Birmingham Festival of Arts celebrated America in the New World.
- The Birmingham Metropolitan Audit continued to be conducted.
- A live Christmas tree was planted in Linn Park.
- The town of Margaret in St Clair County was incorporated.
- The Jimmy Morgan Zoo traded a pair of Siberian Tiger cubs for a pair of Siamese "black panthers" (melanistic leopards).
- Mama Petite, a hippopotamus, was captured and brought to the Jimmy Morgan Zoo.
- The end of the Vestavia Hills Shopping Center grand opening events featured an appearance of Esther Williams.
- The rock group The Ramrods was formed by five Woodlawn High School students.
- February 5: Women's clothier New Williams opened their Five Points West location.
- May 22: Fun-O-Rama opened at the Roebuck Plaza Shopping Center.
- August 20: Hill's Food Stores opened a store on Hueytown Road in Hueytown.
- September 19: Holiday Bowl opened in Bessemer.
- October 10: The Flying G Savers' Club held its kickoff event.
- Milton Andrews succeeded B. Roper Dial as president of The Club.
- Italian restaurant Armando's opened in Homewood.
- Berney's Drug Store moved to its second location.
- Bromberg's opened a second location in Mountain Brook Village.
- The first Catfish King restaurant opened.
- Metal fabricator Cullman Products Corporation was founded.
- Fife's Restaurant opened.
- Jefferson Federal Savings & Loan remodeled it's downtown headquarters in the combined Jackson Building and Jemison Building, and opened its Roebuck Shopping Center branch.
- John's Photo Service opened the first color film lab in Alabama at its newly-constructed Vanderbilt Road location.
- Martin & Associates was founded by Billy Martin.
- Mazer moved to moved to 41st Street South in Avondale.
- Pioneer Cafeteria opened its first location on Parkway East near the Gadsden Highway.
- Sam and Isadore Pizitz sold the Pizitz of Tuscaloosa chain to John S. Jemison and Associates.
- The first Sherer's Drive-In opened near Jasper.
- The J.W. Valentine Company purchased the Siluria Mills.
- Hugh Massey Jr founded Massey's Corral next door to his grandfather's mercantile store.
- Lucian Simonetti and Fred Russo purchased the Quarterback Drive-In near Legion Field and renamed it the Tide & Tiger.
- Western Supermarkets opened a new location in Mountain Brook Village.
- The Pink Rose Cafe opened at 1616 4th Avenue North.
Civil Rights Movement
- February 5: Asbury Howard was assaulted by a gauntlet of white men after a bond hearing at the Bessemer Courthouse.
- July: At the request of Fred Shuttlesworth, Mamie Brown and Nims Gay founded the ACMHR Choir.
- November 23: Judge Seybourn H. Lynne again dismissed the Baldwins lawsuit to integrate Birmingham Terminal Station.
- Kermit Johnson became superintendent of the Jefferson County Board of Education.
- Mountain Brook established its own school system.
- The UAB School of Medicine founded its division of gastroenterology with Basil Hirschowitz as director.
- January 19: John Patterson succeeded Jim Folsom, Sr as Governor of Alabama.
- Albert Boutwell succeeded William Hardwick as Lieutenant Governor of Alabama.
- Samuel Burr succeeded David Hamilton as Mayor of Mountain Brook.
- Red Walker succeeded Chuck Harris as Shelby County Sheriff.
- Betty Jensen became the first female officer of the Birmingham Police Department.
- The Gardendale Public Library was established in the office of the chief of police.
- Benny Marshall succeeded Zipp Newman as sports editor for The Birmingham News.
- March 15: The Birmingham Genealogical Society was organized.
- May 5: The Greater Birmingham Foundation was founded.
- December 7: Leonard Nimoy starred in a Town & Gown Theatre production of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" at Clark Memorial Theatre.
- The Ball of Roses was established by the Ballet Guild of Birmingham.
- June 27: Sister Mary Joseph made her solemn profession.
- July 1: Joseph Raya became an associate priest of the Madonna House Apostolate in Combermere, Ontario, Canada.
- October 2: St Theresa Catholic Church in Leeds was raised from a mission to a parish with Reverend Desmond Regan as resident pastor.
- A 1921 pipe organ was installed in Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
- Seymour Atlas became rabbi of Knesseth Israel Congregation.
- South Highland Presbyterian Church began broadcasting its services on local radio.
- Sidney Ziff succeeded Max Kimerling as president of Temple Beth-El.
- October 3: Aubie first appeared on a football program.
- November 28: Alabama Crimson Tide football team won the Iron Bowl 10-0.
- December 19: Alabama lost the Liberty Bowl to Penn State.
- Auburn Tigers football under coach Shug Jordan went 7–3 for the season.
- Bobby Bowden succeeded Virgil C. Ledbetter as the head football coach of Howard College.
- Sam Hairston made the Western League's All-Star Team.
- The University of Alabama debuted its elephant in a red A logo.
- Tom Briskey was forced out as directory of the Birmingham Zoo.
- Mitty Collier won Al Benson's talent show for six straight weeks, gaining a slot on a bill with B. B. King and Etta James as a prize.
- Kenneth Daniel was promoted to vice-president for engineering and purchases of ACIPCO.
- Cooper Green was promoted to Executive Vice President of Alabama Power and joined the company's Board of Directors.
- Bob Moody took the job as a conceptual artist for NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.
- Architect William Poole joined the firm of Pembleton and Mims as an associate.
- William Powell left the U.S. Army Reserves.
- Sculptor John Rhoden concluded his four-year world tour.
- Mack Russell left Birmingham for Atlanta after a promotion by Wilby-Kincey.
- Ezra Sims made his professional debut on a Composers Forum program in New York.
- Ted Tibbs accepted a position at Howard College.
- Jim Woodward joined the Bessemer Police Department.
- January 10: Larry McReynolds, racing analyst and NASCAR crew chief
- January 13: Steve Skipper, sports artist
- January 26: Bonita Carter, police shooting victim
- March 7: Albert Hall, baseball player
- March 24: Emmit King, sprinter
- April 22: Terry Francona, baseball manager
- May: Linda Hall, attorney
- May 3: Rodney Huntley, warden and community activist
- May 20: Henry Carter, Bessemer Police Department
- June 8: Britt Burns, baseball player
- June 13: Jennifer Chandler, Olympic diver
- July 25: Barry Mask, state representative
- July 26: Rick Bragg, writer
- August 28: Don Stewart, visual artist
- September 17: Frank Cummings, cartoonist
- October 20: Don Heinkel, baseball player and doctor
- November 7: Mac Underwood, accountant and Birmingham Water Works general manager
- December 6: Lawrence Conaway, pastor
- December 12: Mike Anderson, college basketball coach
- December 22: Gene Hallman, CEO of Eventive Sports
- December 25: Norm Reilly, UAB Associate Athletic Director
- December 27: Andre Tippett, football player
- December 29: Eric Essix, jazz guitarist and bandleader
- Guillermo Castro, chef and restauranteur
- Mike Clements, football coach
- L. Scott Coogler, judge
- Cornelius Cummings, pastor
- Anthony Farley, police chief
- Robbie Fearn, actor and environmentalist
- Emanuel Ford, community activist
- Chris Giles, college basketball player and coach
- Ronald Gray, engineer
- Mike Grissom, teacher
- Mark Hall, police chief
- Charles Hart, veterinarian and Mayor of Clay
- Hezekiah Jackson, businessman and community activist
- Bill Johnson, city councilor
- Matt Kimbrell, musician
- Russell Ledbetter, fire chief
- Rica Lewis-Payton, VA medical center director
- Bert Miller, city councilor
- Vijay Misra, doctor
- D. C. Moon, punk musician
- Stan Pate, real estate developer
- Wanda Radford, minister
- Keith Rice, investigator
- Anne Ruisi, journalist
- Jimmy Snow, chef and business owner
- Cedric Stevens, police deputy chief
- David Stiles, educator
- Daniel Wallace, novelist
- T. C. Cannon from the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor's degree.
- William Christenberry from the University of Alabama with a master's degree in fine arts.
- John Claypool from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with a doctorate of theology.
- John Cross from Virginia Union University with a master's of divinity.
- Charles Crowder from Auburn University with a bachelor's degree.
- Ted Galloway from the University of Alabama with a bachelor's degree.
- Gail Godwin from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill with a B.A. in journalism.
- Douglas E. Jones with a Ph. D. from Louisiana State University.
- A. D. King from Morehouse College.
- Dannetta K. Thornton Owens from Fisk University with a bachelor's degree in modern foreign languages.
- Scott Vowell, bachelor of science at Auburn University
- Steve Williams, bachelor's degree in finance at the University of Alabama
- September 19: Steve Williams to Rosemary Hoover.
- Choreographer Richard Englund to ballerina Gage Bush.
- Cleveland Hammonds to the former Yvonne Parks.
- Maryon Pittman Mullins and Joshua Mullins.
- Reporter Andrew Glaze and Dorothy Elliott.
- "Sigma Delta Chi" award for the most outstanding editorial cartoon of the year: Charles Brooks
- Miss Alabama: Betty Lindstrom
- Mr Crestwood: Carl Salter
- Monday Morning Quarterback Club Coach of the Year: Thompson Reynolds
- January 6: Octavus Roy Cohen, author
- March 27: Joseph Lacey, former Pratt City Mayor
- May: Harold Blach, retailer
- June 24: Jimmy Hitchcock, football and baseball player
- November 29: Lawrence Minter, Elmwood Cemetery caretaker
- December 1: Avery Parrish, jazz pianist
- Toney Carnaggio, restaurateur
- E. E. Forbes, businessman
- Hugh Martin Sr, architect
- Louis Pizitz, merchant
- Porgy and Bess film, featuring the singing voice of Loulie Jean Norman
- The first section of Interstate 65, between Kimberly and Cullman, opened.
- The Americanization of Emily E.P. Dutton by William Bradford Huie
- Wolf Whistle and Other Stories by William Bradford Huie
- The Origin and Development of Secondary Education for Negroes in the Metropolitan Area of Birmingham Alabama by Charles A. Brown Jr
- 1918 3rd Avenue North remodeling
- Berney's Drug Store
- Berry Elementary School
- Blach's women's fashion floor
- Capri Apartments near Caldwell Park
- Greater Guiding Light Missionary Baptist Church sanctuary
- Green Springs Plaza (6th Street)
- Holiday Bowl
- Homewood Fire Station No. 2
- Jackson Building redesign
- Jemison Building redesign
- John's Photo Service's Vanderbilt Road location
- John's Restaurant renovations and remodeling
- Kessler Building renovations
- Memorial Garden at the rear of the Birmingham Museum of Art
- Oliver Elementary School
- Ollie's Barbecue addition
- Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church
- Pilgrim Church ("Blue Roof" building) on Montclair Road
- Seibert Hall at Samford University
- Shelby Memorial Hospital
- St Bernadette Church on Georgia Road
- Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham (original location)
- Vestavia Hills Shopping Center
- Vulcan's pedestal repairs
- Oscar Wells Memorial Building for the Birmingham Museum of Art
- "Are You Willing, Willie?" by Marion Worth
- "Handy Man" by Jimmy Jones
- My Eyes Have Seen album by Odetta
The Goldstein building in 1959
Portrait of Charles Brooks by Hubert Harper in 1959
Portrait of Hubert Harper by Charles Brooks in 1959
In 1959, Alaska and Hawaii were admitted as the 49th & 50th states. The Cuban Revolution ended with Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement taking power. A chartered plane carrying musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper and pilot Roger Peterson crashed, killing all aboard. American Airlines Flight 320, departing New York City, crashed into the East River, killing 65 of the 73 people on board. Lee Petty won the first Daytona 500. The Barbie doll debuted. NASA announced its selection of seven military pilots to become the first U.S. astronauts. The Saint Lawrence Seaway opened. Explorer 6 sent the first picture of Earth from orbit. The Antarctic Treaty sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve and bans military activity on that continent. Pantyhose debuted on the open market.
Notable books published in 1959 included The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White, Psycho by Robert Bloch, Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie, The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon, Goldfinger by Ian Fleming, Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, A Separate Peace by John Knowles, The Ugly American by William J. Lederer and Eugene L. Burdick, The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut, Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth which won the National Book Award for Fiction, and Advise and Consent by Allen Drury which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. New drama that debuted included A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry.
The top music hits of 1959 included "Stagger Lee" by Lloyd Price, "Venus" by Frankie Avalon, "Come Softly to Me" by The Fleetwoods, "The Battle of New Orleans" by Johnny Horton which won Grammy Awards for both Song of the Year and Best Country & Western Performance, "Lonely Boy" by Paul Anka, "The Three Bells" by The Browns, and "Mack the Knife" by Bobby Darin which won Record of the Year. Bobby Darin was also named Best New Artist. Album of the Year went to Frank Sinatra for Come Dance with Me!, who also netted the Grammy for Best Vocal Performance, Male. Ella Fitzgerald won Best Vocal Performance, Female.
Top grossing films in 1959 included Ben-Hur, Sleeping Beauty (re-release), Some Like It Hot, Imitation of Life, and Operation Petticoat. Ben-Hur won Best Picture, Best Director (William Wyler), and Best Actor (Charlton Heston) at the Academy Awards. Best Actress went to Simone Signoret for Room at the Top.
Television shows that debuted in 1959 included Rawhide, The Bell Telephone Hour, Bonanza, The Twilight Zone, Dennis the Menace, Hawaiian Eye, and The Untouchables. Long-running shows that ended included Your Hit Parade, Dragnet, and Mickey Mouse Club.
Notable births in 1959 included actor Clancy Brown; NASCAR driver Mark Martin; tennis player John McEnroe; actor Tom Arnold; rapper Flavor Flav; singer Irene Cara; actor David Hyde Pierce; musician Brian Setzer; actress Emma Thompson; singer Sheena Easton; video game designer Peter Molyneux; singer Morrissey; wrestler Kevin Nash; actor Kevin Spacey; basketball player Magic Johnson; spiritualist David Koresh; actor Jason Alexander; actor Jack Wagner; television personality and producer Simon Cowell; singer Marie Osmond; Sarah, Duchess of York; comedy musician "Weird Al" Yankovic; television host Nancy Grace; singer Bryan Adams; and comedian Tracey Ullman.
Notable deaths included film director Cecil B. DeMille, musicians The Big Bopper, Buddy Holly, & Ritchie Valens, comedian Lou Costello, writer Raymond Chandler, architect Frank Lloyd Wright, actor George Reeves, actress Ethel Barrymore, singer Billie Holiday, writer Preston Sturges, sculptor Jacob Epstein, actor Errol Flynn, boxer Max Baer, and tennis player Molla Mallory.
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