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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bits and Pieces for $50, Alex

Mountain Brook Is One of the 10 Wealthiest Communities in U.S.
I've long heard that the Birmingham suburb of Mountain Brook is one of the wealthiest towns in the United States. Now we have confirmation that "The Brook" is indeed in the top 10.

A survey by University of Montevallo urban geography professor Stephen Higley places Mountain Brook at No. 9, with a mean household income of $210,089.

Three of the four wealthiest communities--Darien, No. 1; Westport, No. 3; and Greenwich, No. 4--are in Fairfield County, Connecticut. No. 2, Lake Forest, is near Chicago. And Nos. 5 and 6--Potomac and McLean--are near Washington, D.C.

Here's a shocker: Beverly Hills, California, did not make the top 50. It was No. 52, with a mean household income of $148,758. Gosh, Jed Clampett might as well have stayed in the Ozarks.

Higley has all kinds of interesting stuff at his Web site, higley1000.com. For example, he examines racial integration in the wealthiest 1,000 places in America. (Heck, I thought the whole idea of living in one of these places is to avoid headaches like racial integration.)

You can check out a detailed analysis of the Birmingham area, along with a look at our wealthiest neighborhoods, here.

Newbies Give Birmingham High Marks
Folks who have lived around Birmingham quite a while tend to pooh-pooh the place. But relative newcomers, those who have lived here less than two years, are high on "The Ham."

That comes from a survey conducted by Samford University marketing students for the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The five greatest strengths of the Birmingham area: (1) Medical community; (2) Southern hospitality; (3) Restaurants; (4) Higher education; (5) Historically rich.

The five greatest weaknesses: (1) Crime; (2) Government officials; (3) Public transportation; (4) Behind the times; (5) Public K-12 education.

Where is knee-jerk Republican voters on that list?

Here is some encouraging news: Only 12 percent of respondents considered racism a major weakness.

"My sense is that the new generation is more bullish, more positive, more aggressive about change in our city," said Betsy Holloway, associate professor of marketing at Samford. Holloway said newcomers and young respondents seemed to be saying "the past is the past, and we're not going to let it dominate the future."

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