In 1873, just two years after its founding, Birmingham, was beset by a cholera epidemic that killed 128 people. The disease spread quickly through the city’s water supply. As the death toll rose, people flooded out of the city. The local economy was devastated by the loss of population and sharp decline in property values, leading city leaders to improve Birmingham’s sanitary systems and water works.

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Encyclopedia of Alabama

Photos courtesy of: Alamy, Birmingham Public Library, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Samford University