Birmingham is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Alabama and the county seat of Jefferson County. The city's population was 212,237 in the 2010 United States Census. In the 2010 US Census, the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of about 1,128,047, which is approximately one-quarter of Alabama's population.Birmingham was founded in 1871, during the post-Civil War Reconstruction period, through the merger of three pre-existing farm towns, notably, former Elyton. It was named for Birmingham, England, one of the UK's major industrial cities. The Alabama city annexed smaller neighbors and developed as an industrial and railroad transportation center, based on mining, the new iron and steel industry, and railroading. Most of the original settlers who founded Birmingham were of English ancestry. The city was developed as a place where cheap, non-unionized, and African-American labor from rural Alabama could be employed in the city's steel mills and blast furnaces, giving it a competitive advantage over unionized industrial cities in the Midwest and Northeast.