Moments of Note
occurring in the month of FEBRUARY
After Alabama became a state in 1820, traffic to the port of Mobile increased. By 1822, piracy of ships in the Gulf of Mexico became such a problem, insurance companies in the northeast threatened to stop insuring the cargos of ships traveling to the Gulf Coast ports or charged exorbitant prices.
Philadelphia Inquirer, February 23, 1822
By the 1830's the port of Mobile emerged as a significant shipping destination in the national chain of commerce. The city grew quickly. It’s official population quadrupled in one decade. Yet it was a transient population composed mainly of young businessmen involved in trade, keeping temporary residences close to the port but traveling frequently between ports and remaining in the north during the summer months. It was difficult therefore for the city government to maintain a stable economy. Safety, sanitation and infrastructure lagged behind.
By the end of the decade Mobile was gaining note as a welcoming city due to a few architectural achievements, the beauty of its live oaks, and the unique lining of the streets with oyster shells which not only kept them dry but created a clean, sparkling white appearance on sunny days. Oysters were prevalent at the port and Mobile became synonymous with fresh oysters by the end of the century.
“Our friend, R.O. Randall returned from Mobile on Friday, looking remarkably well. The fresh oysters had a wonderful effect on him.”
Gadsden Times, February 20, 1873
Mobile Waterfront, 1839
Mobile's population grew so quickly in the 1830's, safety and sanitation lagged behind and the city's waterfront gained a reputation for lawlessness.