LONDON – Britain's second-largest city, Birmingham, has a new skyline — only it belongs to its Alabama namesake. Birmingham City Council distributed 720,000 leaflets that praised residents for exceeding recycling targets, carrying a message that read: "Thank You Birmingham." The message appeared stamped across a photograph of the city's skyline. But the photo was not of Birmingham, England, but of Birmingham, Alabama.
It's the second time British officials have mistakenly used images of Birmingham, Alabama. Three lawmakers who represent Birmingham at the European Parliament accidentally used a picture of the U.S. city on their Internet site in January.
"I would have thought the council would take more care," said Birmingham resident Jon Cooper. "I can't believe no one at the town hall noticed."
Britain's Birmingham is famed for its modernist Bullring shopping mall, with its distinctive metallic curved exterior and an extensive network of canals, churches and historical buildings.
The Alabama city's skyline includes the Wachovia Tower, University of Alabama buildings and skyscrapers.
Officials said the wrong image was selected from an Internet photo archive.
"It's human error," said Birmingham City Council spokesman Kris Kowalewski. "We accept that the wrong photo was used, but the text and detail contained in the leaflet is wholly correct."
While the cities have wildly different skylines, there are many similarities between the two — not least a proud industrial heritage.
Birmingham, Alabama — known as the Magic City because of its rapid 20th century growth — was founded on its steel industry. It took its name from the British manufacturing city known for making Jaguar cars and Cadburys chocolate. Both now have growing financial services sectors.
Both cities also share a history of racial tension. In Alabama, Birmingham was a center of 1960s civil rights protests by black Americans.
In Britain, Birmingham has struggled with divisions between black and South Asian communities, which led to violent riots in the 1980s and in 2005.
The British city — whose sister city is Chicago — has a population of 1 million. The Alabama city's population is roughly 230,000.
In Alabama, the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce didn't immediately respond to calls for comment Thursday.