Alabama's tourist attractions draw from all eras of the state's history. Mobile antebellum homes reflect Spanish, French or English architectural influences, depending on which European colonial power held sway over the area at the time of construction. Huntsville , where rocket research was conducted during WWII, and which has subsequently become a center of NASA activity -- Alabama's citizens built the Apollo 11 spaceship that landed on the moon -- is the site of the US Space Camp. The limestone caverns of Russell Cave National Monument were inhabited as early as 10,000 BCE and the beaches of Alabama's Gulf Coast Region were formed millions of years ago.
Alabama's modern capital, Montgomery , was the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War era. Nearly a century later, Rosa Parks refused to yield her seat on a Montgomery public bus and the ensuing bus boycott was led by Martin Luther King Jr. in one of his first high profile Civil Rights activities. Today, there are museums and historical sites throughout Alabama dedicated to both the Civil War era and the Civil Rights era. The First White House of the Confederacy is located in Montgomery, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute , in Birmingham .
Alabama's "Black Belt", a region of fertile dark soil, sustained the state's fortunes during the 19th century, when Cotton was King. Towards the close of the 19th century, industrialization took off in steel manufacturing centers like Birmingham, a city founded in 1870 and named in honor of the British steel center. Industrialization accelerated with the manufacturing boom triggered by World War II, and the trend has continued; contemporary Alabama is a center of high tech manufacturing.