Druid City, Title Town, T-Town, City of Champions
"Together we can build a bridge to the future."
Location of Tuscaloosa in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama
|Incorporated||December 13, 1819|
|o Mayor||Walt Maddox (D)|
|o Council President||Cynthia Almond|
|o City||71.92 sq mi (186.28 km2)|
|o Land||61.85 sq mi (160.19 km2)|
|o Water||10.07 sq mi (26.09 km2)|
|Elevation||222 ft (68 m)|
| o Estimate |
|o Rank||US: 313th|
|o Density||1,635.07/sq mi (631.30/km2)|
|o Urban||139,114 (US: 233rd)|
|o Metro||235,628 (US: 190th, AL: 5th)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (CST)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
|Area code(s)||205 & 659|
|GNIS feature ID||0153742|
Tuscaloosa ( TUS-k?-LOO-s?) is a city in and the seat of Tuscaloosa County in west central Alabama (in the southeastern United States). Located on the Black Warrior River at the Atlantic Seaboard fall line of the Piedmont, it is the fifth-largest city in Alabama, with an estimated population of 101,129 in 2019. The city was originally known as Tuskaloosa until the early 20th century.
Incorporated as a town on December 13, 1819, it was named after Tuskaloosa, the chief of a band of Muskogean-speaking people. They battled and were defeated by forces of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1540 in the Battle of Mabila, thought to have been located in what is now central Alabama. Tuscaloosa served as Alabama's capital city from 1826 to 1846.
Tuscaloosa is the regional center of industry, commerce, healthcare, and education for the area of west-central Alabama known as West Alabama. It is the principal city of the Tuscaloosa Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Tuscaloosa, Hale and Pickens counties. In 2013 its estimated metro population was 235,628. Tuscaloosa is also the home of The University of Alabama, Stillman College and Shelton State Community College. While the city attracted international attention when Mercedes-Benz announced it would build its first automotive assembly plant in North America in Tuscaloosa County, the University of Alabama remains the dominant economic and cultural engine in the city, making it a college town.
Tuscaloosa has been traditionally known as the "Druid City" because of the numerous water oaks planted in its downtown streets since the 1840s. The city has become known nationally for the sports successes of the University of Alabama, particularly in football. City leaders adopted the moniker "The City of Champions" after the Alabama Crimson Tide football team won the BCS National Championship in their 2009, 2011, and again in their 2012 seasons. The Tide won the College Football Playoff in the 2015 season and 2017 season.
In recent years, Tuscaloosa has been named the "Most Livable City in America", one of America's "100 Best Communities for Young People", one of the "50 Best College Towns", and one of the "Best Places to Launch a Small Business".
Nearly 12,000 years ago, Native Americans or Paleo-Indians arrived in what today is referred to as the Deep South. They were hunter-gatherers who pursued the megafauna that became extinct following the end of the Pleistocene age.
After thousands of years, successive indigenous cultures developed a rich and complex agricultural society. Emerging in the early first millennium of the common era were the people of the Mississippian culture. Like some of the generations before them, they built large earthwork mounds in planned sites that expressed their cosmology. Their large earthworks, built for political and religious rituals roughly from 900AD to 1500AD, expressed their cosmology. Their earthwork mounds and great plazas survive throughout the valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, as well as their tributaries in the Southeast.
Descendant Native American tribes include the Creek or Muskogee people. Also among the historical tribes living in the area of present-day Alabama at the time of European contact were the Iroquoian-speaking Cherokee in the interior, believed to have migrated south centuries before from the Great Lakes area. The tribes of the coastal plain and Piedmont included the Muskogean-speaking Alabama (Alibamu), Chickasaw, Choctaw, Koasati, and Mobile.
In 1828, Andrew Jackson was elected president of the United States. He had gained popularity when he defeated the Creek at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814, following victories in the War of 1812. He long proposed Indian removal to an Indian Territory to be established west of the Mississippi, to make land available in the Southeast for European-American settlement. Jackson abandoned the policy of his predecessors of treating different Indian groups as separate nations. Instead, he aggressively pursued plans to move all Indian tribes living east of the Mississippi River.
Following Congressional passage of the Indian Removal Act, in 1832 the Creek National Council signed the Treaty of Cusseta, ceding their remaining lands east of the Mississippi to the U.S., and accepting relocation to the Indian Territory. They had already been under pressure from new settlers encroaching on their territory. Most Muscogee-speaking peoples were removed to Indian Territory during the Trail of Tears in 1834, although some remained behind. Some Muscogee in Alabama live near Poarch Creek Reservation in Atmore (northeast of Mobile).
The pace of white settlement in the Southeast increased greatly after the War of 1812 and the Treaty of Fort Jackson. A small assortment of log cabins soon arose near the large Creek village at the fall line of the river, which the new settlers named in honor of the sixteenth-century Chief Tuskaloosa of a Muskogean-speaking tribe--combining the Choctaw words "tushka" or "tashka" ("warrior") and "lusa" ("black").
From 1826 to 1846, Tuskaloosa was the capital of Alabama. The State House was built at the corner of 6th Street and 28th Avenue (now the site of Capitol Park). In 1831, the University of Alabama was established and the town's population and economy grew rapidly, but the relocation of the capital to Montgomery caused a severe decline. The state legislature established Alabama State Hospital for the Insane (now Bryce Hospital) in Tuskaloosa in the 1850s, which helped restore the city's fortunes.
During the Civil War following Alabama's secession from the Union, several thousand men from Tuscaloosa fought in the Confederate armies. During the last weeks of the War, a brigade of Union troops raiding the city burned the campus of the university. The larger town was also damaged in the battle and shared fully in the South's economic sufferings which followed the defeat.
In the 1890s the construction of a system of locks and dams on the Black Warrior River by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers improved navigation to such an extent that Tuscaloosa was effectively connected to the Gulf Coast seaport of Mobile. This stimulated the economy and trade, and mining and metallurgical industries were developed in the region. By the advent of the 20th century, the growth of the University of Alabama and the mental health-care facilities in the city, along with a strong national economy, fueled a steady growth in Tuscaloosa which continued unabated for 100 years.
In the post World War II era, African Americans increased their activism to regain their constitutional civil rights, and challenged southern segregation in numerous ways. In 1952, Autherine Lucy was admitted to the University as a graduate student, but her admission was rescinded when authorities discovered she was not white. After three years of legal wrangling, Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP got a court order preventing the University from banning Lucy and another student based on race. The following year, Lucy enrolled as a graduate student in Library Science on February 3, 1956, becoming the first African American admitted to a white public school or university in the state. During her first day of class on February 6, students and others rioted on the campus, where a mob of more than a thousand white men pelted the car in which she was taken to her classes. Death threats were made against her and the University president's home was stoned. The riots were the most violent involving a pro-segregation demonstration since the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. After the riots, the University suspended Lucy from school stating her own safety was a concern; it later expelled her on a technicality. She was active in civil rights for a time, but withdrew later that year. After her expulsion was annulled by the University in 1988, Lucy re-enrolled and completed her M.S. in Library Science in 1992.
On June 11, 1963, George Wallace, governor of Alabama, stood in front of the Foster Auditorium entrance at The University of Alabama in what became known as the Stand in the Schoolhouse Door in an attempt to stop desegregation of that institution by the enrollment of two African-American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood. He had created a challenge to federal orders, when confronted by US Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach and federal marshals sent in by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Wallace stepped aside. President John F. Kennedy had supported integration of the University of Alabama as well.
On June 9, 1964, in an event that later became known as Bloody Tuesday, a group of peaceful African-American Civil rights marchers were beaten, arrested and tear gassed by police in Tuscaloosa while walking from the First African Baptist Church to the County Courthouse to protest against the segregated restrooms and drinking fountains of this public facility. Thirty-three people were sent to the hospital for treatment of injuries, and 94 were arrested. The events were not witnessed by outside journalists and had little influence outside the local community. A year later, the Bloody Sunday events in Selma of a voting rights march attracted national and international coverage and attention.
James Hood dropped out of the University of Alabama after two months. He later returned and, in 1997, received his Ph.D. in philosophy. Malone persisted in her studies at the time and became the first African American to graduate from the university. In 2000, the university granted her an honorary doctorate of humane letters. Later in his life, Wallace apologized for his opposition at that time to racial integration.
In 2010, the university formally honored Lucy, Hood and Malone by renaming the plaza in front of Foster Auditorium as Malone-Hood Plaza and erecting the Autherine Lucy Clock Tower in the plaza.
On April 27, 2011, Tuscaloosa was hit by a 1.5 mi (2.4 km) wide EF4 tornado that resulted in 64 deaths, more than 1500 injuries, and massive devastation. Most of the deaths, 44, were in Tuscaloosa alone, with the rest being in Birmingham and surrounding suburbs. The tornado's top winds were estimated by the US National Weather Service at 190 mph (310 km/h). Officials at DCH Regional Medical alone reported treating more than 1,000 injured people in the tornado aftermath. Officials reported dozens of unaccompanied minors being admitted for treatment at the hospital, raising questions about the possible loss of their parents. Several were taken to pediatric trauma wards, indicating serious injuries. Referring to the extent and severity of the damage, Mayor Walter Maddox stated that "we have neighborhoods that have been basically removed from the map." The same tornado later went on to cause major damage in the Birmingham area. In all, the cost of damage from the tornado amounted to $2.45 billion, making it, at the time, the costliest tornado in U.S. history, though it would be surpassed less than a month later by the devastating Joplin, Missouri tornado of May 22.
In the immediate aftermath of the tornado, thousands of rescue workers dug through the wreckage looking for survivors and recovering bodies. More than 450 persons were originally listed as missing in the post-disaster chaos, leading to fears that the death toll could climb rapidly and skepticism about the relatively low fatality figures in relation to the high number of casualties. Rumors abounded that refrigerated trucks were being brought to store unidentified remains, and that countless bodies were beneath area waters. But the fatality figure did not increase (and was later reduced). Most persons listed as missing were later found to have survived. During this period, The Tuscaloosa News posted an on-line people finder to aid people to find each other, as well as determine who was still missing.
Two days after the storm, US president Barack Obama and Alabama governor Robert Bentley, and their spouses, Michelle Obama and Diane Bentley, respectively, accompanied Mayor Maddox on a tour of the damage and the recovery efforts, along with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and several Congressional dignitaries. Remarking about the scale and severity of the damage, Obama said, "I've never seen devastation like this, it's heartbreaking", after touring the damaged areas. Obama pledged the full resources of the federal government toward aiding the recovery efforts. Bentley--himself a Tuscaloosa native--pledged additional national guard troops.
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox announced that he was requesting 500 additional National Guard troops and calling for more volunteer aid workers and cadaver teams for the recovery of bodies, in order to prevent the spread of disease.
The New York Yankees organization contributed $500,000 to the American Red Cross and Salvation Army to aid in recovery efforts, and the Atlanta Braves organization donated $100,000. Actor Charlie Sheen visited the city to pay his respects on May 2 and donated supplies for relief efforts, along with several other actors, musicians and athletes.
Due to the disaster, on August 6, 2011, the University of Alabama held a delayed graduation ceremony for the class of 2011. It awarded posthumous degrees to six students who died in the tornado. The cable channel ESPN filmed a tribute in memory of the devastation.
The city of Tuscaloosa celebrated its 200th birthday on December 13, 2019 with city officials holding various dedications and commemorative events throughout the city, including the displaying of a "bicentennial quilt" and a fireworks display following the 44th Annual West Alabama Christmas Parade, which was dedicated to the city's birthday. The University of Alabama gifted two sculptures to the city, one of a 30 foot-tall, 9,500-pound statue of the Roman goddess Minerva--designed by local artist Caleb O'Connor--at Manderson Landing park along the Black Warrior River, and a sculpture known as The Walkway. According to the Tuscaloosa200.com website, the Walkway is a "replica of the route of the Black Warrior River from Demopolis to Tuscaloosa, it traces milestones in our city's existence and survival, but its twists and turns, ebbs and flows have mirrored our city's past." It was created by sculptor and architect Craig R. Wedderspoon.
A hermetically-sealed time capsule was buried under a large boulder near the boat house near Manderson Landing; the time capsule is intended to capture "What was life like in Tuscaloosa during the year 2019?" and is set to be opened on December 13, 2069, the city's 250th birthday.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Tuscaloosa has a total area of 70.3 square miles (182 km2), of which 60.2 square miles (156 km2) is land and 10.1 square miles (26 km2) is water. Most water within the city limits is in Lake Tuscaloosa, which is entirely in the city limits, and the Black Warrior River.
Tuscaloosa is located at  approximately 60 miles (97 km) southwest of Birmingham. It lies on the fall line of the Black Warrior River, approximately 193 miles (311 km) upriver from the river's confluence with the Tombigbee River at Demopolis. Because of its location on the boundary between the Appalachian Highland and the Gulf Coastal Plain, the geography of the area around Tuscaloosa is diverse, varying from heavily forested hills to the northeast to a low-lying, marshy plain to the southwest.(33.206540, -87.534607),
Major areas of Tuscaloosa city proper include:
Tuscaloosa is served by many major highways, including I-20, I-59, and U.S. Route 82. I-20/59 run west to east through the southern part of the city, leading northeast 58 mi (93 km) to Birmingham and southwest 96 mi (154 km) to Meridian, MS. US 82 runs northwest to southeast through the city, locally known as McFarland Boulevard, and leads southeast 103 mi (166 km) to Montgomery and northwest 59 mi (95 km) to Columbus, MS. Many other state and local highways run through the city as well, in addition to a tolled bypass on the western side of the city connecting those coming from the west on US 82 to I-20/59 without going through the main part of the city.
Typical of the Deep South, Tuscaloosa experiences a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa) with four distinct seasons. The Gulf of Mexico heavily influences the climate by supplying the region with warm, moist air. During the fall, winter, and spring seasons, the interaction of this warm, moist air with cooler, drier air from the North along fronts creates precipitation. These fronts usually move from west to east as they track along the jet stream. Notable exceptions occur during hurricane season, where storms may move from due south to due north or even from east to west during land-falling hurricanes. The interaction between low- and high-pressure air masses is most pronounced during the severe weather seasons in the spring and fall. During the summer, the jet stream flows well to the north of the southeastern U.S., and most precipitation is consequently convectional, i.e., caused by the warm surface heating the air above.
Severe thunderstorms can bring damaging winds, large hail, and occasionally tornadoes. An F4 tornado struck Tuscaloosa County in December 2000, killing eleven people. Tuscaloosa was struck by an F2 tornado in January 1997, which resulted in the death of one person. In April 2011, two tornadoes in a span of twelve days hit the city, the first being an EF3 on April 15, and the second and more devastating being an EF4 on April 27, when more than 50 deaths resulted. The city suffered considerable infrastructure damage.
Winter lasts from mid-December to late-February; the daily average temperature in January is 44.7 °F (7.1 °C). On average, the low temperature falls to the freezing mark or below on 46 days a year, and to or below 20 °F (-7 °C) on 4.4 days. While rain is abundant (January and February are on average the wettest months), measurable snowfall is rare, with most years receiving none and the average seasonal snowfall amounting to 0.7 inches (1.8 cm). Spring usually lasts from late-February to mid-May, becoming drier as the season progresses. Summers last from mid-May to mid-September, and the July daily average temperature is 81.7 °F (27.6 °C). There are 71-72 days of 90 °F (32 °C)+ highs annually and 3.5 days of 100 °F (38 °C)+ highs. The latter part of summer tends to be drier. Autumn, which spans from mid-September to early December, tends to be similar to spring in terms of temperature and precipitation.
The highest recorded temperature at the Tuscaloosa Regional Airport was 107 °F (42 °C) on July 29, 1952 and August 10, 2007, while the lowest recorded temperature was -1 °F (-18 °C) on January 21, 1985.
|Climate data for Tuscaloosa, Alabama (Tuscaloosa Regional Airport), 1981-2010 normals|
|Record high °F (°C)||82
|Average high °F (°C)||55.6
|Average low °F (°C)||33.8
|Record low °F (°C)||-1
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||5.35
|Average precipitation days||9.8||9.6||9.6||7.9||9.5||9.5||10.4||9.3||7.9||8.4||9.1||10.3||111.3|
|Source 1: NOAA|
|Source 2: NOAA|
As of the census of 2000 there were 77,906 people, 31,381 households, and 16,945 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,385.2 people per square mile (534.8/km2). There were 34,857 housing units at an average density of 619.8 per square mile (239.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 54.09% White, 42.73% Black or African American, 0.16% Native American, 1.49% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.63% from other races, and 0.87% from two or more races. 1.40% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 31,381 households, out of which 23.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.0% were married couples living together, 15.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.0% were non-families. 35.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.93.
In the city, the population was spread out, with 19.8% under the age of 18, 24.5% from 18 to 24, 25.4% from 25 to 44, 18.5% from 45 to 64, and 11.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $27,731, and the median income for a family was $41,753. Males had a median income of $31,614 versus $24,507 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,129. About 14.2% of families and 23.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.3% of those under age 18 and 13.4% of those age 65 or over.
As of the census of 2010 there were 90,468 people, 36,185 households, and 17,592 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,502.8 people per square mile (579.9/km2). There were 40,842 housing units at an average density of 678.4 per square mile (261.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 53.8% White, 41.5% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American, 1.8% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 1.5% from other races, and 1.1% from two or more races. 3.0% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 36,185 households, out of which 20.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 28.5% were married couples living together, 16.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 51.4% were non-families. 35.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.95.
In the city, the population was spread out, with 17.4% under the age of 18, 31.9% from 18 to 24, 22.0% from 25 to 44, 19.0% from 45 to 64, and 9.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 25.4 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $31,874, and the median income for a family was $49,588. Males had a median income of $36,231 versus $30,552 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,042. About 17.0% of families and 29.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 32.5% of those under age 18 and 12.4% of those age 65 or over.
The city of Tuscaloosa is home to many places of worship in which people from the surrounding area of West Alabama may come to worship; the predominant denomination is Southern Baptist. Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church is one of three Catholic churches. First Presbyterian Church is the place of worship for many American and German residents in Tuscaloosa. There are also Presbyterian Church in America congregations in the city. First Baptist Church, Calvary Baptist Church, Alberta Baptist Church, Emmanuel Baptist Church, and First African Baptist Church are five of the many Baptist churches in Tuscaloosa. Holy Cross Lutheran Church is a church reflecting on the Evangelical Lutheran community of Tuscaloosa. The University Church of Christ has both a campus ministry and a prison ministry. St. Gregory the Theologian Orthodox Church is the only Orthodox church in West Alabama. Its congregation is made up of Russians, Greeks, Romanians, Arabs, Eastern Europeans, and converts to Eastern Christianity. Some of the oldest churches in Tuscaloosa are St. John's Roman Catholic Church (founded c. 1845), Christ Episcopal Church (c. 1828), and First Baptist Church (c. 1818). Tuscaloosa is also home to many non-Christians as well. The Jewish community of Tuscaloosa worships at the Chabad of Tuscaloosa as well as Temple Emanu-El and the Hillel B'nai B'rith Center, both located on the University of Alabama campus. The Hindu Mandir Temple and Cultural Center is also found in Tuscaloosa. Muslims comprise a small percentage and worship at the Mosque. An Islamic center is located near the University campus. There is also a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses.
|1||Phyllis W. Odom||2015|
|3||Cynthia Lee Almond||2005|
Tuscaloosa has a strong-mayor variant mayor-council form of government, led by a mayor and a seven-member city council. The mayor and council members are elected concurrently for four-year terms. The mayor is elected by the city at-large while council members are elected to single-member districts. Neither the mayor nor the members of the city council is term-limited. All elected offices are nonpartisan. Elections take place on the fourth Tuesday of August in years following presidential election years, with run-off elections taking place six weeks later if necessary. Terms begin immediately after election. The most recent municipal elections were held in 2013.
The mayor is the chief executive and administrative officer of the city. His main duty is to oversee the day-to-day operation of city departments pursuant to executing policy enacted by the city council or, in the absence of any council policy, his own discretion. His other duties include preparing an operating budget each year for approval by the city council and acting as ambassador of the city. The mayor also presides over city council meetings but votes only in case of ties. The current Mayor of Tuscaloosa is Walter Maddox, who was elected to office in September 2005. Prior to Maddox, Alvin A. DuPont had served as mayor for 24 years.
The city council act as the legislative body of the city. It is powered by state law to consider policy and enact law and to make appoints to city boards. The council also considers the budget proposed by the mayor for approval. The majority of work in the council is done by committee. These committees usually consist of three council members, one of whom will be chairman, and relevant non-voting city employees.
Tuscaloosa, as the largest county seat in western Alabama, serves a hub of state and federal government agencies. In addition to the customary offices associated with the county courthouse, namely two District Court Judges, six Circuit Court Judges, the District Attorney and the Public Defender, several Alabama state government agencies have regional offices in Tuscaloosa, such as the Alabama Department of Transportation and the Alabama State Troopers (the state police).
Tuscaloosa is in the federal jurisdiction of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. There is a courthouse in Tuscaloosa simply called the Federal Courthouse. Several federal agencies operate bureaus out of the courthouse.
Federally, Tuscaloosa is split between the 4th and 7th Congressional Districts, which are represented by Robert Aderholt (R) and Terri Sewell (D), respectively. In addition, Alabama's senior senator, Richard Shelby (R), is a resident of Tuscaloosa.
On the state level, the city is split among the 5th, 21st, and 24th Senate districts and 62nd, 63rd, and 70th House districts in the Alabama State Legislature.
In December 2009, construction on the new federal courthouse of Tuscaloosa began. The $67 million building was the centerpiece of a major downtown urban renewal project. According to information released by the General Services Administration, the building is 129,000 square feet (12,000 m2) with parking. It houses the U.S. District Court, U.S. Bankruptcy Court and Social Security Administration office.
The Northern District of Alabama has only one facility suitable for holding a major criminal trial in Huntsville. However, Huntsville's lacks the facilities for safely moving criminal suspects in and out of the building safely. Tuscaloosa's new federal courthouse will anchor the federal structure for the whole Northern District of Alabama.
Although higher education is the bedrock of Tuscaloosa's economy, the city boasts an economy based on diverse sectors of manufacturing and service. Twenty-five percent of the labor force in the Tuscaloosa Metropolitan Statistical Area is employed by the federal, state, and local government agencies. 16.7% is employed in manufacturing; 16.4% in retail trade and transportation; 11.6% in finance, information, and private enterprise; 10.3% in mining and construction; and 9.2% in hospitality. Education and healthcare account for only 7.2% of the area workforce with the remainder employed in other services.
Tuscaloosa was ranked in the November 2009 issue of Fortune Small Business as one of the "50 Best Places to Launch a Small Business" (ranked #11 among metro areas with populations of 250,000 or less).
The city's industrial and manufacturing base includes BFGoodrich Tire Manufacturing, GAF Materials Corporation, Hunt Refining Company, JVC America, Nucor Steel and Phifer Wire among numerous other operations.
Another significant contributor to the manufacturing segment of the city's economy is the Mercedes-Benz U.S. International assembly plant located on a site in Tuscaloosa County located near Vance approximately 20 miles (32 km) east of downtown. The plant began assembling the Mercedes-Benz M-Class in 1997 and the R-Class Grand Sport Tourer in 2005 and just recently began production with the GL-Class. Plants that supply components to Mercedes-Benz also make their home in Tuscaloosa and add to the economic strength of the city.
The Westervelt Company, a land resources and wildlife management company, has its headquarters in Tuscaloosa. The company was formerly the Gulf State Paper Corporation, with headquarters in Tuscaloosa from 1927 until 2005 when it sold its pulp and paperboard operations to the Rock-Tenn Company of Norcross, Georgia. Gulf State Paper Company then restructured to form Westervelt.
Health-care and education serve as the cornerstone of Tuscaloosa's service sector, which includes the University of Alabama, DCH Regional Medical Center, Bryce Hospital, the William D. Partlow Developmental Center, and the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center.
The University of Alabama is the largest university in the state of Alabama in terms of enrollment. Enrolling approximately 38,103 students on a 1,970 acres (8.0 km2) campus, UA has been a part of Tuscaloosa's identity since it opened its doors in 1831. Stillman College, which opened in 1875, is a historically black liberal arts college enrolling approximately 1,200 students on a 105 acres (0.42 km2) campus. Additionally, Shelton State Community College, one of the largest community colleges in Alabama, is located in the city. The school enrolls around 4,000 students from all backgrounds and income levels.
The Tuscaloosa City School System serves the city. It is overseen by the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education, which is composed of eight members elected by district and a chairman elected by a citywide vote. The Board appoints a Superintendent to manage the day-to-day operations of the system. Operating with a $100 million budget, the system enrolls approximately 10,300 students. The system consists of 24 schools: 13 elementary schools (12 zoned and 1 magnet), 6 middle schools (5 zoned and 1 magnet), 3 high schools (Paul W. Bryant High School, Central High School and Northridge High School), and 2 specialty schools (the Tuscaloosa Center for Technology, a vocational school, and Oak Hill School for special needs students). In 2002, the system spent $6,313 per pupil, the 19th highest amount of the 120 school systems in the state.
The Tuscaloosa County School System serves the county excluding the city. It is overseen by the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education, which is composed of seven elected members. The Board appoints a Superintendent to lead the school system. The system enrolls approximately 18,000 students which are served utilizing a budget of approximately $180 million. The school system consists of 34 schools--6 high schools, 8 middle schools and 19 elementary schools. It also provides services for special needs students at Sprayberry Education Center. In 2013 the school system hired its first minority superintendent of Hispanic/Latin origin who is also only the second female.
Tuscaloosa is also served by several private schools, both secular and religious, including Tuscaloosa Academy, American Christian Academy, Holy Spirit Catholic School, North River Christian Academy, the Capitol School, and Tuscaloosa Christian School (in neighboring Cottondale).
Since 1923, the state-run William D. Partlow Developmental Center has served the intellectually disabled, offering these citizens a public education as well as seeing to their other needs.
The Tuscaloosa Public Library is a joint city-county agency with nearly 200,000 items on catalog. A total of 46,857 registered patrons use the library on a regular basis--roughly 28% of the population of the county. There are currently two branches in the city, the Main branch on Jack Warner Parkway and the Weaver-Bolden branch in western Tuscaloosa, and a third branch in suburban Taylorville (Brown branch).
Additionally, the University of Alabama, Stillman College and Shelton State Community College have campus libraries that are open for non-circulation use by the public.
Museums in Tuscaloosa are located all over town, but are primarily concentrated in the downtown area or on the campus of UA. Museums that are downtown include CHOM: the Children's Hands-On Museum of Tuscaloosa and the Murphy African-American Museum. The Alabama Museum of Natural History and the Paul W. Bryant Museum are located on the UA campus. The Westervelt Warner Museum of American Art is located on the grounds of NorthRiver Yacht Club in northern Tuscaloosa. Additional museums and galleries are found across the river in Northport. The Jones Archaeological Museum is located 15 miles (24 km) south of Tuscaloosa at the Moundville Archaeological Park in Moundville.
Tuscaloosa is home to several performing arts organizations. Though some are affiliated with UA or Shelton State, several are independent organizations, including the Tuscaloosa Community Theater and Shakespeare troupe The Rude Mechanicals. These various organization cooperate and coordinate their operations through the Arts and Humanities Council of Tuscaloosa County. The Arts Council also operates the Bama Theatre.
The Bama Theatre is a 1,094-seat proscenium theatre located in downtown Tuscaloosa and is operated by The Arts and Humanities Council. The Bama Theatre was built between 1937 and 1938 under the New Deal-era Public Works Administration as a movie palace. At the time of its construction in 1938, it was the only air-conditioned building in Tuscaloosa. The theatre was renovated as a performing arts center in 1976 and housed the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra and Theatre Tuscaloosa troupe until those groups moved into their own facilities.
Today, the Bama Theatre is the residence of the Tuscaloosa Children's Theatre Company and the Tuscaloosa Community Dancers. Additionally, it hosts the Arts Council's Bama Art House movie series. The Bama Theatre hosts a Jewish Film Festival in the spring, as well as several traveling film festivals. Additionally, the Bama Theatre has recently been serving as a concert venue, hosting recent performances by Joan Baez, Aimee Mann, the Drive-By Truckers, Umphrey's Mcgee, Ryan Adams, Chuck Leavell and many other performing artists.
The Frank Moody Music Building on the UA campus holds a 1000-seat Concert Hall and a 140-seat Recital Hall. The Concert Hall features a three-story-tall, 5,000-pipe Holtkamp organ and frequently hosts concerts and other musical events. The Recital Hall features a Schlicker organ that was crafted in Buffalo, New York. The Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra, in its 35th year, is based at the Moody Music Building and is conducted by Adam Flatt.
Also on the UA campus, Rowand-Johnson Hall holds the Marian Gallaway Theatre, a 305-seat proscenium theater, the Allen Bales 170-seat thrust theatre, and the 600-seat Morgan Auditorium. These facilities primarily host University sponsored performing arts shows, such as Dance Alabama and the University's theater productions.
The Sandra Hall-Ray Fine Arts Centre on the Shelton State campus holds the Bean-Brown Theatre, a 450-seat proscenium theater, and the 100-seat Alabama Power Foundation Recital Hall.
Tuscaloosa is also home to the Alabama Choir School.
Coleman Coliseum is a 15,383-seat multipurpose arena that serves as the city of Tuscaloosa's municipal civic center. Because the City of Tuscaloosa does not have a civic center, the demand for events grew rapidly and the Coliseum doubled its capacity in the 1970s. In the 1990s, marquee concerts and events that the arena had seen in the previous two decades grew scarce as the facility became more outdated and mostly devoted to Crimson Tide athletic events. In the hope that the University could pull more events at the facility, the Coliseum underwent a significant renovation in 2005, costing over $24 million.
The coliseum has hosted a diversity of events including commencement exercises, a visit by President Ronald Reagan, alumni gatherings, student convocations, concerts, operas, ballets, appearances by political figures, WCW Saturday Night, etc. Travis Tritt filmed his "Bible Belt" country music video there. Some of the stars who have performed on its stages include The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, Elton John, Grateful Dead, Tom Petty, Led Zeppelin, Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire, Jay Leno, Hank Williams, Jr., Daughtry, and B.o.B.
In December 2010, construction on the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater officially wrapped up with the dedication ceremony taking place days after. The 7,470 capacity Tuscaloosa Amphitheater is blocks away from the downtown district and sits at the end of the Riverwalk on the banks of the Black Warrior River. Since its dedication ceremony in March 2011, a variety of performers have played there including John Legend, The Lumineers, Flo Rida, Nelly, TLC, ZZ Top, ODESZA, Mary J. Blige, Kenny Chesney, Widespread Panic, Steely Dan, Jeff Dunham, Jill Scott, and Fun. The Amphitheater has also held events such as the Blues and Brews Music Festival and a pro boxing match.
Prior to each football game is a massive gathering at the UA Quad, where people gather starting on Friday for tailgating and the University of Alabama holds pep rallies on the Gorgas library steps. The Quad has hosted ESPN's College Gameday several times and also is a place to meet Alabama football legends on game day and perform the "Elephant Stomp" (a pre-game parade) to Bryant-Denny Stadium with the Alabama mascot "Big Al" and the Million Dollar Band.
On the first Thursday of each month, the Tuscaloosa art galleries open their doors for "Art and Soul"--highlighting local artists. There is a shuttle service that runs between this event and Northport's "Art Night".
The City of Tuscaloosa holds parades annually for holidays such as New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, St. Patrick's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, and Christmas Day. Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church also hosts an annual religious procession/parade for Our Lady of Guadalupe on the Virgin of Guadalupe feast day in December, which reflects on both the catholic and Hispanic community.
Other annual city festivals worth noting are:
Tuscaloosa is known for its collegiate athletics--particularly the University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team. The University of Alabama also currently fields championship-caliber teams in baseball, golf, women's gymnastics, and softball. These teams play in athletics facilities on the university campus, including Bryant-Denny Stadium (capacity of 102,000+), Coleman Coliseum (formerly Memorial Coliseum), Sewell-Thomas Stadium, Rhoads Stadium, Foster Auditorium and the Ol' Colony Golf Complex.
Stillman College fields teams in football, men's and women's basketball, baseball and softball, among other sports, although the school discontinued the football program after completing the 2015 season. In the past decade, Stillman has gone through a series of renovations, including a new football stadium, Stillman Stadium.
Previous professional teams calling Tuscaloosa home included the World Basketball Association's Druid City Dragons in 2006, and Tuscaloosa Warriors football team in 1963, with both folding after one season.
In 2008, Tuscaloosa hosted the USA Olympic Triathlon trials for the Beijing Games.
World renowned putter company, T.P. Mills Co. was founded and is located in Tuscaloosa.
The Tuscaloosa County Parks and Recreation Authority, known by the acronym PARA, is a county agency that receives a large amount of its funding from the city, and operates several parks and activity centers within the city. PARA is known for its participation in work therapy programs with the local VA. Additional public recreational sites are owned and maintained by the University of Alabama and federal agencies such as Corps of Engineers.
The University of Alabama Arboretum is located on 60 acres (243,000 m2) of land at the intersection of Veterans Memorial Parkway and Pelham Loop Road, adjacent to the VA Hospital. The arboretum's primary emphasis is on Alabama's native flora and fauna. It includes 2.5 miles (4.0 km) of walking trails through native piney woods and oak-hickory climax forest, a wildflower garden containing more than 250 species, ornamental plants, an experimental garden, a bog garden, an open-air pavilion, and a children's garden. Two greenhouses contain collections of orchids, cacti, and tropical plants.
Capitol Park at 6th Street and 28th Avenue is home to the ruins of the former state capitol building or State House from 1826 to 1845. It was later used by the Alabama Central Female College and burned down in 1923.
Other parks in Tuscaloosa include: Veterans Memorial Park, Tuscaloosa River Walk, the Park at Manderson Landing, J. Oviatt Bowers Park, Snow Hinton Park, Monnish Park, Annette N. Shelby Park, Kaulton Park, Palmore Park, and many others.
The Tuscaloosa News is the major daily newspaper serving the city. The Tuscaloosa News also publishes several websites and Tuscaloosa Magazine. The primary news website is tuscaloosanews.com. Tidesports.com focuses on University of Alabama sports. The Tuscaloosa News' offices are located west of downtown on a bluff overlooking the Black Warrior River.
The Planet Weekly is the largest of the several alternative weekly newspapers published in the area. Additionally, each of the three colleges in the area are served by student-published periodicals, the largest being The Crimson White, the independent, student-run newspaper of the University of Alabama and one of several UA-affiliated student publications.
Kids Life Magazine is a free publication which focuses on family friendly events in the Tuscaloosa area.
Tuscaloosa is part of the Birmingham-Tuscaloosa-Anniston television market, which is the 40th largest in the nation. All major networks have a presence in the market. WCFT 33 is the ABC affiliate, WIAT 42 is the CBS affiliate, WBRC 6 is the Fox affiliate, WVTM 13 is the NBC affiliate, WBIQ 10 is the PBS affiliate, WTTO 21 is the CW affiliate, WABM 68 is the MyNetworkTV affiliate and WVUA-CD 7 is the This TV affiliate. WVUA-CD is the only station that originates its broadcast in Tuscaloosa; it is owned by the University of Alabama and its studios are part of UA's Digital Media Center.
Tuscaloosa is the 234th largest radio market in the nation. In January 2007, of the top-ten-rated radio stations, two were urban, three were country, two were contemporary, and one each was gospel, oldies, and talk radio.
Tuscaloosa serves as home base to Alabama Public Radio, the state's largest public-radio network. APR's main studios are housed at the University of Alabama, and the flagship signal, WUAL-FM, originates from a transmitter south of town. WUAL serves Tuscaloosa, portions of the Birmingham metro area and several counties of west-central Alabama. The University of Alabama also houses WVUA-FM, a 24/7 college radio station run completely by students. Clear Channel Communications and Townsquare Media both own and operate a cluster of radio stations in Tuscaloosa, that form the majority of the market.
DCH Regional Medical Center is the main medical facility in Tuscaloosa. Operated by the publicly controlled DCH Healthcare Authority, the 610-bed hospital opened in 1916 as the Druid City Infirmary. The emergency department at DCH operates a trauma center (though it is not verified as one by the American College of Surgeons, however) that serves all of west central Alabama and is one of the busiest in the state. The DCH Healthcare authority also operates Northport Medical Center in neighboring Northport.
Other major medical centers in Tuscaloosa include the 702-bed Veterans Affairs Medical Center-Tuscaloosa, the 422-bed Bryce Hospital, Mary S. Harper Geriatric Psychiatry Center, and Taylor Hardin Secure Medical Facility.
Tuscaloosa is connected to other parts of the country via air, rail, road and sea. The city lies at the intersection of several highways, including three federal highways (US 11, US 43, and US 82), three Alabama state highways (SR 69, SR 215, and SR 216) and two duplexed (conjoined) Interstates (I-20/I-59). Interstate 359 spurs off from I-20/I-59 and heads northward, ending in downtown Tuscaloosa. SR 297 will be the future loop road around Tuscaloosa.
Greyhound Bus Lines provides passenger bus service to Tuscaloosa. The Tuscaloosa Transit Authority operates the Tuscaloosa Trolley System. The Tuscaloosa Trolley provides local public bus transportation with four fixed routes that operate Monday through Friday from 5:00 am to 6:00 pm. The trolley's paint job is an illusion; it is an El Dorado Transmark RE bus, painted to look like a trolley.
The Tuscaloosa Regional Airport, on the north side of the Black Warrior River west of downtown Northport, is equipped with two lighted runways (6499' and 4001') and provides full facilities for the general aviation which the airport mainly serves. The airport also supports private jetcraft and commercial charter flights, but passengers of regularly scheduled commercial aircraft from Tuscaloosa embark at either the convenient and well equipped Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, located 53 miles (85 km) away on the east side of downtown Birmingham, or the much larger and busier Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, located 210 miles (340 km) away in Atlanta, Georgia.
Heliports include the Bryant Culberson Heliport and the Tuscaloosa Police Department Heliport.Amtrak provides passenger rail service to Tuscaloosa though the Crescent line, which connects the area to major cities along the east coast from New York to New Orleans. The Amtrak station is situated at 2105 Greensboro Avenue, one mile (1.6 km) south of downtown. Norfolk Southern Railway and Alabama Southern Railroad provide freight services to the area. KCS previously provided service to the area before leasing its lines to Watco in July 2005.
The Port of Tuscaloosa is a river port located in the City of Tuscaloosa and administered by the Alabama State Port Authority.
The Black Warrior River is bounded along nearly its entire course by a series of locks and dams. They form a chain of narrow reservoirs, providing aids to navigation and barge handling as well as hydroelectric power and drinking water. The Black Warrior River watershed is a vital river basin entirely contained within Alabama, America's leading state for freshwater biodiversity. Near Tuscaloosa, the river flows out of the rocky Cumberland Plateau and enters the sandy East Gulf Coastal Plain. Barge transportation in and out of the Port of Tuscaloosa and other commercial navigation make the Black Warrior a silent giant in the state of Alabama's economy. Though the Port of Tuscaloosa is a small one, it is one of the larger facilities on the Black Warrior River at waterway mile marker 338.5. There are no railway connections at this port as they primarily concentrate on the shipment of dry bulk commodities, including lignite, coal and coal coke. The federal government and the City of Tuscaloosa share the ownership of the Port of Tuscaloosa; the operation of the port is leased out to Powell Sales and has been run by them since 1997.
At waterway mile marker 343.2 on the opposite side of the river is a steel company with its own tracks at the rear of the plant connecting with the Kansas City Southern Railroad for barge shipments of iron and steel products such as ingots, bars, rods, steel slabs, plates and coils. Tuscaloosa Steel Corporation was one of the first U.S. steel companies to implement the Steckel Mill Technology.
The Port of Tuscaloosa grew out of the system of locks and dams on the Black Warrior River built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the 1890s. Its construction opened up an inexpensive transportation link to the Gulf seaport of Mobile, Alabama that stimulated the mining and metallurgical industries of the region that are still in operation.
The Army Corps of Engineers has maintained a system of locks and dams along the Black Warrior River for over a century to allow navigability all the way up to Birmingham. Barge traffic thus routinely runs through Tuscaloosa to the Alabama State Docks at Mobile, on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Via the Tenn-Tom Waterway, the city is connected to the Ohio River valley and beyond.
Notable points of interest in the city of Tuscaloosa include:
Tuscaloosa River Walk park along the Black Warrior River
The old AmSouth Bank building downtown
Rare snowfall downtown
(B) denotes that the person was born there.
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