Huntsville, Alabama

Location of Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville is the county seat of Madison County, Alabama. As of the 2000 census, the population of the city was 158,216. The current mayor is Loretta Spencer.



Huntsville is located at 34°42' North, 86°35' West (34.7, -86.6)Template:GR.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 451.8 km² (174.4 mi²). 450.8 km² (174.1 mi²) of it is land and 1.0 km² (0.4 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.22% water.

Huntsville is located in the Tennessee River Valley. Several mesas and large hills partially surround the city. These mesas are associated with the Cumberland Plateau, and are locally called "mountains." Monte Sano is the most notable, and is east of the city along with Burritt, Huntsville and Green Mountains. Others are Wade Mountain to the north, Rainbow Mountain to the west, and Ward and Madkin Mountains on the Redstone Arsenal in the south. Brindley Mountain is visible in the south across the Tennessee River.

As with other areas along the Cumberland Pleateau, the land around Huntsville is karst in nature. Huntsville was founded around Big Spring, which is a typical karst spring, and many caves perforate the limestone bedrock underneath the city, as is common in karst areas. The headquarters of the National Speleological Society are located in Huntsville.


Huntsville is named after John Hunt, the first Anglo-Saxon owner of the land around Big Spring. However Hunt did not properly register his claim, which was later sold to Leroy Pope, who imposed the name Twickenham on the area to honor the home city of his relative Alexander Pope. The name was later changed to Huntsville to honor Hunt. In 1811, Huntsville was the first incorporated town in Alabama. However, the recognized "birth" year of the city is 1805, since the sesquentennial anniversiary was held in 1955 and the bicentennial is scheduled for 2005.

Twickenham is the city's only Historical District and features homes in the Federal and Greek Revival architectural styles which were introduced to the city by Virginia-born architect George Steele ca. 1818, and has the most dense concentration of antebellum homes in Alabama. The 1819 Weeden House Museum, is open to the public, as are others in the area.

Huntsville's quick growth was from wealth generated by the cotton industry. In 1819, Huntsville hosted a constitutional convention in Walker Allen's large cabinetmaking shop, and forty-four delegates wrote a constitution for the state of Alabama. Huntsville was Alabama's first capital when it was admitted to the union; the capital was moved to Cahawba in 1820.

In 1855, the Memphis and Charleston Railroad was constructed through Huntsville. On April 11, 1862 During the American Civil War, Union troops led by General Mitchell seized Huntsville to sever the Confederate's railroad communications. Union troops then used Huntsville as a base for operations in the area.

After the Civil War, Huntsville became a center for cotton textile mills such as Lincoln and Merrimack. Several of Huntsville's earliest neighborhoods were built to house mill workers.

By 1940, Huntsville was still a small town with a population of only 13,150, which changed at the onset of World War II when Huntsville was chosen as the site of several military manufacturing plants. The plants were almost shut down in 1949 when they were no longer needed, but instead, the military used the area for missile research. In 1950, the military brought German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun and his colleagues to Huntsville's Redstone Arsenal to work on the United States' fledgling space program.

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Historic rockets in Rocket Park of the US Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville, Alabama.

On September 8, 1960, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower formally dedicated the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville (NASA had already activated the facility on July 1).

Huntsville is home to the Redstone Arsenal and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, and is nicknamed "the Rocket City," because of its history with U.S. space missions. Huntsville has been important in developing space technology since the 1950s, when a group of German scientists headed by Dr. Wernher von Braun were brought to the United States through Operation Paperclip and developed rockets for the U.S Army. Their work included designing the Redstone ballistic missile, a variant of which, the Jupiter-C, carried the U.S. first satellite and astronauts into space. The Saturn V, was utilized by the Apollo program manned moon missions and was developed from the Redstone. Huntsville continues to play an important role in the United States' space shuttle and International Space Station programs; it is estimated that 1 in 13 of Huntsville's population are employed in some engineering line of work.

Huntsville is also the location of the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM). Huntsville's contributions to United States Cold War missile armament and technology earned it a "red star" designation as a target of the Soviet Union in the event of a nuclear exchange, fourth behind only New York City, Washington, DC, and NORAD.

Before Huntsville earned the moniker "Rocket City" and accompanying rapid growth, it was known as the Watercress Capital of the World, because watercress was harvested in such abundance in the area.


As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there were 158,216 people, 66,742 households, and 41,713 families residing in the city. The population density was 351.0/km² (909.0/mi²). There were 73,670 housing units at an average density of 163.4/km² (423.3/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 64.47% White, 30.21% Black or African American, 0.54% Native American, 2.22% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.66% from other races, and 1.84% from two or more races. 2.04% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Huntsville, Alabama Demographic Distribution

Distribution %

Huntsville, Alabama Sex Ratio & Income Distribution

Median Age = 37
Sex Ratio F:M = 100:92.8
Sex Ratio age 18+ F:M = 100:89.7
Median Income = 41,074
Family Median Income = 52,202
Male Median Income = 40,003
Female Median Income = 26,085
Per capita Income = 24,015
Percent Below poverty = 12.8
Age < 18 Below Poverty = 18.7
Age 65+ Below Poverty = 9.0

Economy & Transportation

Huntsville's main economic influence is derived from aerospace and military technology. Redstone Arsenal, Cummings Research Park (, and NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center comprise the main hubs for the area's technology-driven economy. CRP is the second largest research park in the United States and the fourth largest in the world, and is over 38 years old.

Huntsville is served by several U.S. Highways, including 72, 231, 431 and an Interstate highway spur, I-565. Alabama Highway 53 also connects the city with I-65 in Ardmore, Tennessee.

The inland Port of Huntsville combines the Huntsville International Airport, International Intermodal Center and Jetplex Industrial Park. The intermodal terminal transfers truck and train cargo. The port has on-site U.S. Customs and USDA inspectors and is Foreign Trade Zone No. 83.

The Tennessee River is Huntsville's southern boundary, and is underutilized as a method of cargo transport.


The majority of K-12 students in Huntsville attend Huntsville City Schools (, and there are numerous private K-12 schools.

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Huntsville's home-based higher education institutions include:

Numerous colleges and universities have satellite locations or extensions in Huntsville; included are the

One of two local hospitals, Huntsville Hospital also has an accredited school of radiologic technology. [8] (


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Rockets at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center
  • Hampton Cove[10] ( is one of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course Trails featuring three 18 hole courses - two championship and one par three.
  • Monte Sano State Park {1} ( has over 2,000 acres (8 km²) and features hiking and bicycling trails, rustic cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, campsites, full RV hook-ups, and a recently reconstructed lodge.[11] (
  • The Huntsville Madison County Public Library[13] ( was founded in 1818 and is Alabama's oldest continually operating library system with 12 locations throughout the county and one bookmobile. The Main Library Archives contains a wealth of historical resources, photographic collections and artifacts on display. In addition to boasting the highest circulation of materials in the state, public programs are held daily.
  • Big Spring Jam is a three day music festival in downtown Huntsville. Usually held in the autumn, it features a diversity of music including rock, country, Christian, kid-friendly, and oldies.[14] (
  • Panoply of the Arts is an annual springtime arts festival held at Big Spring International Park.[15] (
  • Burritt Museum and Park located on Monte Sano Mountain, is a regional history musuem featuring a 1930's mansion, nature trails, scenic overlooks and more.[17] (
  • Early Works Museum is a child friendly interactive museum in downtown Huntsville.[19] (
  • Harrison Brothers Hardware Store established in 1879, is the oldest operating hardware store in Alabama. Though now owned and operated by the Historic Huntsville Foundation, it is still a working store, and part museum featuring skilled craftsmen who voluteer to run the store and answer questions.[20] (
  • Huntsville Museum of Art in downtown, in Big Spring International Park offers permanent displays, traveling exhibitions, and educational programs for children and adults.[21] (
  • Land Trust of Huntsville is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of the natural heritage of the area, and has preserved more than 2,300 acres (9 km²) of open space, wildflower areas, natural springs, and local caves in Madison County, including 600+ acres (2.4 km²) on Monte Sano Mountain.[22] (
  • Sci-Quest is an interactive premiere hands-on museum for early childhood education, aged four through sixth grade.[24] (

Other remarkable constructions

Professional Sports Teams


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These places are near Huntsville:

External Links


Flag of Alabama

State of Alabama



Largest Metro:

Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman Metropolitan Area


Greater Birmingham | Central Alabama | Lower Alabama | Mobile Bay | North Alabama | South Alabama

Largest cities:

Birmingham | Huntsville | Mobile | Montgomery

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All cities:

List of cities in Alabama


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