One Great City

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One Great City was the name of a political campaign to unite the various municipalities and unincorporated areas of Jefferson County into under combined metropolitan government. Had it succeeded, the campaign would have resulted in a much larger city, one that reached "from Lake Purdy to Port Birmingham, and from Graysville and Gardendale to the Cahaba River."

The idea took many forms during the mid-20th century. It was voiced in Mayor Art Hanes' inaugural address in November 1961 as a means of boosting economic growth. Most advocates of combining governments played up the economic benefits of eliminating redundancies and competition. Attorney David Vann, who initiated a public legislative campaign in 1970, said that the proposal was "an effort to express as a political reality the true city that we have become...consolidating all of our human, leadership and revenue resources." On the other hand, Councilman Alan Drennen advocated for a merger to avoid the likelihood that "Birmingham by 1980 could be politically controlled and operated by members of the colored race."

The campaign, which went public in 1970, was led by Vann along with business leaders Richard Pizitz, Norman Pless, Donald Brabston and Jim White. The Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and other business groups endorsed the proposal and polls indicated that as much as 65% of Over the Mountain residents favored consolidation, with weaker, but still favorable support in the northern suburbs. Among the plan's opponents were the Jefferson County Mayors Association.

The proposal to hold a county-wide referendum was allowed to die in committee in the Alabama State Senate during the 1971 Alabama legislative session.

See also