Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville is located in Madison County in the northern part of the state of Alabama and extends into part of Limestone County. The county seat of Madison County is located in Huntsville. The city's population is estimated at over 180,000 while its metropolitan population is estimated to be in excess of 400,000.

Huntsville is listed annually as one of the best cities to live in the U.S. A number of major national publications list the city as one of the best to work in as well. Kiplinger Personal Finance named Huntsville, in 2009, as the best city in America.

The city boasts defense, space and technology industries that all have a major presence. There are a number of different Fortune 500 companies in Huntsville, giving the city a broad range of retail, manufacturing and service-oriented industries. The city is recognized as having excellent schools and there are a number of different recreation. and athletic facilities to enjoy in the city. Cultural diversity has blossomed in the city as the different industries and businesses have attracted a broad range of people from across the globe to Huntsville.

Huntsville is an attractive city for both local residents as well as tourists. The city also has a bustling nightlife, various places to eat, places to see and can also offer you a great shopping experience. Many businesses in the city also thrive.

Huntsville History

In 1805, John Hunt settled in the area that is known today as Huntsville. At the time, it was called Twickenham after the home of Alexander Pope in England. However, on November 25, 1911 the city was renamed Huntsville. The city has increased in size along the banks of the Tennessee River with the first munitions factories that became textile mills. Today this makes a major part of the city in the south.

The city was originally laid out in a grid like fashion with streets running northeast to southwest in direction. The town of Huntsville was officially incorporated in 1811 as the first town in Alabama. The city honors the date of 1805 as its birth date and celebrated its bicentennial in 2005.

The railroad and cotton industries generated rapid wealth and much growth in the early days in the region. A number of wealthy landowners moved in from Georgia, Virginia and North and South Carolina to plant cotton. The city was named the first capital of Alabama when the area was declared a state. That was for only one session of the legislature and was then moved to Cahawba before finding its permanent home in Montgomery.

With the arrival of the Charleston and Memphis Railroad, in 1855, the Atlantic Coast became linked for the first time via rail with the lower end of the Mississippi River. Huntsville became one of the cotton industry's centers for textile mills. The mills each were self-contained with everything from housing for the workers to churches, schools, stores, and theaters, all within a short walk from the mill.

Huntsville increased in size during the Second World War when the government of the United States purchased land and built three munitions facilities. The three had over 20,000 employees during the war. After the war the munitions facilities were no longer needed and two or three tenants came and left the buildings, but in 1950, it was chosen as the site for the Army's missile and rocket development.

Years later, space flight followed and the city soon was nicknamed The Rocket City. All of the technologies used in missile and rocket development helped bring prestige to the area and worldwide recognition. The space shuttle and Space Station help to bring life to the area and bring the need for high technology. New organizations have also come to the area such as missile defense contractors.

About Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville has a diversified educated population that has settled in the area because of its large community in the space, defense and technological industries. This diversity and an educated people who have called the area home for generations make Huntsville a multi-cultural society. The city itself boasts three historic districts. The Twickenham district has homes that are from the Greek Revival and Federal architectural styles that were introduced by Virginian architect George Steele on the early 1800s. There are a number of historical houses that have been turned into museums (i.e. Weeden House Museum) and are open to the public.

The Old Town District has a variety of different architectural styles including Queen Anne, Greek Revival and Federal and there are a few California cottages. Homes in this district date back to the 1820s. The Five Points district is the newest of the three and has bungalows from the turn of the 20th century.

The city has a number of different museums such as the U.S. Space and Rocket Center that display different space capsules that once ventured into space. The Alabama Constitution Village has reconstructed buildings with living museums in the downtown area. On Monte Sano Mountain is Burritt Museum and Park that has a 1930s mansion, scenic views and nature trails. The Early Works Museum boasts interactive exhibits for children in downtown Huntsville. The Huntsville Museum of Art has many exhibits and the Huntsville Depot is Alabama's oldest surviving depot. There are other railroad museums and a Sci-Quest interactive museum as well.

There are also many parks to visit including a botanical garden and Land Trusts that have formed beautiful open spaces. The Lydia Gold Skatepark is situated downtown and provides a place for skating enthusiasts. The city hosts a number of festivals throughout the year such as the North Alabama International Festival, which has an influx of ethnic food, information about travel and lots of native apparel from exotic places.

The community also hosts the Big Spring Jam a three-day musical jam festival. The Panoply Arts Festival is held annually in May as well as the June Black Arts Festival that is the largest ethnic festival in the area. The city also has performing arts centers, golf courses, visual arts centers and a number of other venues that attract visitors from all around as well as making for an diversified local community.

About Madison County, Alabama

Huntsville lies predominantly in Madison County and forms the heart of the Huntsville Metropolitan Area. The county was named for the fourth U.S. president James Madison and the first to visit Alabama. The U.S. Census in 2010 put the population of the county at 335,000. The county was established in 1808 and recognized as being where Alabama was born. The state was founded shortly thereafter in 1819.

The area of Madison County, for much of its rich history, has relied on agriculture. At one time, it was one of the state's largest cotton producing counties. Textile mills were also very plentiful in the county. In 1950, all of this changed when rocket scientists originally from Germany and led by the well-known Wernher von Braun came to the area. They helped to develop the country's first rocket and in the process create tens of thousands of different jobs and over a 50-year period, the county population went from 73,000 to over 299,000 in 2005.

Public schools in the county are operated by the Madison County School System. They operate over 14 elementary schools, as well as four middle schools and another five high schools. There are also other technical schools and a ninth grade school. A number of private schools serve the Madison County area.

Huntsville is the largest metropolitan area in the county with the 2010 population recorded at just over 180,000. Madison has a population of over 43,000 and most of the other cities and towns have populations of less than 10,000.

Areas of interest in the county include the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, the Monte Sano State Park and places along the Flint River. There also is a lovely golf course named the Hampton Cove Golf Course that makes up part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.