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With dreams of building a vast steel production operation, Memphis planter Enoch Ensley founded a city in the wooded valley at the heart of Jefferson County, Alabama. He named the city Ensley, after himself, and established the Ensley Land Company to acquire and develop 4,000 acres for industrial facilities and a town. As field workers left their farms to work in steel mills and businesses sprang up on the valley floor, Ensley became a diverse place of hopes and desires. A strong community of churches, businesses, civic clubs, and neighborhoods developed around the factories and railroads. Jazz music was the social thread of Ensley's African American community, known as Tuxedo Junction. Musicians such as Erskine Hawkins famously mastered the style. The annexation of Ensley into Birmingham established the "Magic City" as the largest and wealthiest in Alabama and the heart of the Southern steel manufacturing economy.
Author Bio: Author David B. Fleming earned his bachelor of arts in history and his master's degree in public private management. Coauthor Mary Allison Haynie has all but her dissertation for a doctorate in public history and holds a master's degree in historical administration. Alabama natives with careers in historic preservation, Fleming and Haynie have a deep appreciation for the rich heritage of the area.
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