Tuscaloosa ( ) 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, it is the fifth-largest city in Alabama, with an estimated population of 93,357 in 2012. Founded in 1819, the city was named after Tuskaloosa, the chieftain of a Muskogean-speaking people who battled and was defeated by Hernando de Soto in 1540 in the Battle of Mabila, and 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 and has an estimated metro population in 2012 of 233,389. 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.
The city has received many quality-of-life accolades. It was named one of the "50 Best Places to Launch a Small Business" in 2009 by Fortune Small Business, and one of the "100 Best Communities for Young People" by America’s Promise Alliance. It was named "The Most Liveable City in America" in 2011 by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Tuscaloosa has been traditionally known as the "Druid City" because of the numerous water oaks planted in its downtown streets since the 1840s. City leaders adopted the moniker "The City of Champions" after the Alabama Crimson Tide football team won the BCS National Championship game in 2010, 2012, and again in 2013. In 2008, the City of Tuscaloosa hosted the USA Olympic Triathlon trials for the Beijing Games.
Nearly 12,000 years ago, Native Americans or Paleo-Indians arrived in what today is referred to as the Deep South. Paleo-Indians in the South were hunter-gatherers who pursued the megafauna that became extinct following the end of the Pleistocene age. After thousands of years, the Paleo-Indians developed a rich and complex agricultural society. Archaeologists called these people the Mississippians of the Mississippian culture; they were Mound Builders. Their large earthworks, built for political and religious rituals and expressing their cosmology, still stand throughout the valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, as well as their tributaries in the Southeast.
Descendant Native American tribes include the Creek. Also among the historical tribes living in the area of present-day Alabama at the time of European contact were the Iroquoian-speaking Cherokee, and 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 the Indian Territory west of the Mississippi, to make land available 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 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. 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. 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 legendary Chief Tuskaloosa of a Muskogean-speaking tribe. In 1817, Alabama became a territory, and on December 13, 1819, the territorial legislature incorporated the town of Tuscaloosa, one day before Congress admitted Alabama to the Union as a state.
From 1826 to 1846, Tuscaloosa was the capital of Alabama. During this period, in 1831, the University of Alabama was established. The town's population and economy grew rapidly until the departure of the capital to Montgomery caused a rapid decline in population. Establishment of the Bryce State Hospital for the Insane in Tuscaloosa in the 1850s 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 opened up an inexpensive link to the Gulf seaport of Mobile, stimulating especially the mining and metallurgical industries of 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.
On June 11, 1963, George Wallace, the 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; 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 called for the integration of the University of Alabama as well.
Although Hood dropped out of school after two months, he subsequently returned and, in 1997, received his Ph.D. in philosophy. Malone persisted in her studies and became the first African American to graduate from the university. In 2000, the university granted her a doctorate of humane letters. Autherine Lucy's expulsion was rescinded in 1980, and she successfully re-enrolled and graduated with a master's degree in 1992. 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 rechristening the plaza in front of Foster Auditorium as Malone-Hood Plaza and erecting a clock tower – Autherine Lucy Clock Tower – in the plaza.
Manufacturing plants of large firms such as Michelin and JVC located in town during the latter half of the 20th century. However, it was the announcement of the addition of the Mercedes facility in 1993 that best personified the new era of economic prosperity for Tuscaloosa.
On April 27, 2011, Tuscaloosa was hit by a 1.5 mi (2.4 km) wide EF4 tornado that resulted in 64 deaths, over 1500 injuries, and massive devastation. 44 of the fatalities were in Tuscaloosa alone, with the rest being in Birmingham and surrounding suburbs. Its 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 1000 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.
The tornado was part of the larger April 25–28, 2011 tornado outbreak which affected large parts of the eastern United States.
In the immediate aftermath of the tornado, thousands of rescue workers dug through the wreckage looking for survivors and recovering bodies. More than 450 were originally listed as missing in the post-disaster chaos, leading to fears that the death toll could skyrocket to the hundreds and skepticism about the relatively slow fatality figures with respect to the number of casualties. Rumors abounded about refrigerated trucks being brought to store unidentified remains and countless bodies at the bottom of area bodies of water. However, the fatality figure did not increase (in fact, it decreased) and most missing persons were later found to have survived. During this period, The Tuscaloosa News posted an on-line people finder to aid loved ones and friends in finding one another and to 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 stated, "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 as well as 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 and awarded six students who died in the tornado posthumous degrees. The cable channel ESPN has also filmed a tribute in memory of the devastation.
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 (33.206540, −87.534607), approximately 60 miles (97 km) southwest of Birmingham. It lies on the fall line of the Black Warrior River approximately 311 kilometres (193 mi) 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.
The six major areas of Tuscaloosa are:
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 create 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 streams flows well to the north of the southeastern U.S., and most precipitation is consequently convectional, that is, caused by the warm surface heating the air above. Severe thunderstorms can bring damaging winds, large hail and occasionally tornadoes. A destructive F4 tornado struck Tuscaloosa County in December 2000, killing eleven people. Tuscaloosa City 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, where over 50 fatalities occurred. According to Mayor Walter Maddox, considerable infrastructure damage was done to the city which will hamper recovery efforts.
Winter lasts from mid-December to late-February; the daily average temperature in January is . On average, the low temperature falls to the freezing mark or below on 46 days a year, and to or below 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 . There are 71–72 days of + highs annually and 3.5 days of + 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 on July 29, 1952 & August 10, 2007, while the lowest recorded temperature was on January 21, 1985.
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.
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, although largely 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. Calvary Baptist Church, Emmanuel Baptist Church, and First African Baptist Church are three 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) and Christ Episcopal Church (c. 1828). Tuscaloosa is also home to many non-Christians as well. The Jewish community of Tuscaloosa worships at 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 / Islamic center located near the University campus.
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 2009.
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 consisting 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 6th and 7th Congressional Districts, which are represented by Spencer Bachus (R) and Terri Sewell (D), respectively. In addition, Alabama's senior senator, Richard Shelby (R), is a resident of Tuscaloosa. Starting in 2013, the part of Tuscaloosa in the 6th Congressional District will shift to the 4th Congressional District, which is currently represented by Robert Aderholt (R).
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 will be 129,000 square feet (12,000 m2) with parking. It will house 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.
Despite its image as a college town, Tuscaloosa boasts a diversified economy based on all 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 States 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.
Tuscaloosa is home to two regional malls, University Mall and McFarland Mall; a lifestyle center, Midtown Village, which is anchored by Barnes and Noble and Best Buy; and numerous other shopping outlets, including Hillcrest Center, McFarland Plaza, Merchants Walk, South Plaza Shopping Center, Taylorville Corners, Downtown Business District, University Town Center, Skyland Plaza Shopping Center, Ridge Village Shopping Center, Parkview Plaza Shopping Center, Parkview Shopping Center, Alberta Plaza Shopping Center, Alberta Shopping Center, Alberta Park Shopping Center, Meadowbrook Shopping Center, The Shops at Lake Tuscaloosa, and many, many more. Wood Square Shopping Center, formerly located on McFarland Boulevard and 13th Street, was completely leveled by the April 27, 2011 EF4 tornado.
University Mall and Midtown Village, which are located along McFarland Boulevard, anchor the core retail area of the city. Other retail properties in this area include McFarland Plaza (formerly known as Bama Mall), an open-air mall anchored by Stein Mart, Toys R Us, and Ross Dress For Less, Many other free standing stores and restaurants, most notably SuperTarget and Home Depot are located on the former east campus of Shelton State Community College.
Other large retail areas in the city are located around the intersection of Skyland Boulevard and Alabama Highway 69/Interstate 359 (Lowe's, Academy Sports and Outdoors, K-Mart, Cobb Hollywood 16 Theatres) and around the intersection of McFarland Boulevard and Skyland Boulevard (McFarland Mall, Wal-Mart Supercenter, Sam's Club).
As in many cities across the US, the downtown area used to be the main retail area of Tuscaloosa until the opening of McFarland and University malls about three miles from downtown. While efforts to restore the entertainment and cultural offerings downtown in recent years have paid off, a revival of the retail offerings has been less successful.
Education is a vital component of the city as Tuscaloosa is home to several colleges and schools.
The University of Alabama is the dominant institution of higher learning and is the largest university in the state of Alabama in terms of enrollment. Enrolling approximately 33,602 students on an 1,800 acres (7.3 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 in Alabama, is located in the city. The school enrolls around 7,000 students from all backgrounds and income levels. The majority of Shelton State students are "traditional" students. They are usually either first-time college students earning associate degrees for transfer to four-year institutions after graduation, or UA and Stillman students enrolled in entry-level classes that they cannot or do not want to take at their home institutions.
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.
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 mentally retarded, offering these citizens a public education as well as seeing to their other needs.
Tuscaloosa is home to a variety of cultural sites and events reflective of its historical and modern role in Alabama and the Southeast in general. Many of these cultural events are sponsored by the University of Alabama. Numerous performing arts groups and facilities, historical sites, and museums dedicated to subjects as varying as American art and collegiate football dot the city. There are events that reflect upon the ethnic cultures of Tuscaloosa. The Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Association sponsors the annual Weindorf German Festival celebrating German culture and the annual Sakura Japanese Festival. The Irish culture is celebrated through the city's St. Patrick's Day Parade and the Celtic Kentuck' Festival. Holy Spirit Catholic Church holds a religious procession/parade and mass in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe which is symbolic to the large Hispanic population and the catholic population of the area.
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. 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 (see below).
The Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra, which celebrated its twenty-fifth season in 2006-2007, is based at the Moody Music Building and is conducted by American Adam Flatt.
Tuscaloosa is also home to the Alabama Choir School.
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, including the hit band, Kansas. The Recital Hall features a Schlicker organ that was crafted in Buffalo, New York. Also on the UA campus, Rowand-Johnson Hall, holds the Marian Gallaway Theatre, a 305-seat proscenium theater and the Allen Bales Theatre, a 170-seat thrust theatre. Finally, Morgan Hall features a 600-seat auditorium.
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.
The Bama Theatre is a 1094-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, its 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.
Coleman Coliseum is a 15,383-seat multi-purpose arena that basically serves as the city of Tuscaloosa's municipal civic center. Because the City of Tuscaloosa does not have a municipal civic center, the demand for events grew rapidly and the Coliseum doubled its capacity in the 1970s due to this. 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 became mostly devoted to Crimson Tide athletic events. In the hope that the University could pull more excitement for events at the facility, the Coliseum underwent a significant renovation in 2005, which cost 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. 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 many, many more.
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 only blocks away from the lively downtown district and sits at the end of the fabulous Riverwalk on the banks of the Black Warrior River.
Since its dedication ceremony in March 2011, performers such as Kenny Chesney, Widespread Panic, Steely Dan, Jeff Dunham, 3 Doors Down and Miranda Lambert have graced the stage. It has also held events such as the Blues and Brews Music Festival and a Pro Boxing Match. Actor and stand up comedian Charlie Sheen stated he intended on doing a stand up show at the amphitheater in the near future.
Nightlife in Tuscaloosa is primarily split between two areas, The Strip and downtown. The Strip consists of an area of bars, restaurants, and retail shops along University Boulevard, about one mile from campus. One of the oldest bars on The Strip (before its recent renovation) is the Houndstooth Sports Bar (named the Number 1 Sports Bar in America by Playboy Magazine). Tuscaloosa's rock 'n' roll dive bar, Egan's, sits across the street, while other bars such as The Bear Trap, The Jupiter (which touts the biggest indoor music venue), and Red Shed and more surround them. Galette's, which has no sign, is frequented by the University's Greek population. During the school year, and especially football season, the Strip pulsates with students, alumni, locals and visitors being walking distance from Bryant-Denny Stadium, where the Crimson Tide plays its football games.
Roughly a mile from The Strip is Tuscaloosa's downtown district. It's more spread out than the strip and offers a variety of bars and restaurants. Younger people tend to frequent the Temerson Square area, off University (4th Street and 23rd Avenue) in downtown Tuscaloosa. You will find professors, students and professionals mingling together at The Downtown Pub and The Alcove International Tavern (the only smoke free bar in Tuscaloosa). Little Willie's is a small blues and jazz bar, while its bigger sister bar next door, Wilhagen's, has large screen televisions and an assortment of bar games to play. Innisfree is perhaps the most crowded bar on any given night, packed with an assortment of current students and young professionals.
The city of Tuscaloosa's nightlife is a key reason why The University of Alabama consistently finds itself ranked in the Top 25 Party Schools, year in and year out. Bars are open well into the morning, even drawing in Mississippi State students from nearby Starkville.
Eateries in Tuscaloosa range from the upscale Kozy's Fine Dining and Cypress Inn to a steak house, Nick's in the Sticks. Downtown offers various restaurants to appeal to a range of customers including Depalma's, Five, Hooligan's, and Carmelo Cafe. Biscuits and grits are served at the Waysider, a landmark filled with Crimson Tide paraphernalia, or across the river at Northport's City Cafe or Northport Diner. Ribs are available at many locations, most famously Dreamland There are numerous BBQ locations—including Archibald's, Woodrow's, Mike and Eds, Moe's Original BBQ, and Jim 'N Nick's. Around the University campus, there are a number of restaurants with varying specialties frequented by students and locals alike, including Rammer Jammer's, Swen, Ruan Thai, Surin of Thailand(The Midnight Sushi) and the proverbial favorite during warmer months, Summer Snow. There are also very many cultural restaurants in the city as well - including Shiraz International Grill and Yakamoz Turkish Restaurant.
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 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:
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 maintains its parks through its Park Operations division, this division is best known for its outstanding refuse technicians, whose sole duty is to clear the many parks of litter and garbage that accumulates from normal use. These technicians use Ford F-350 Super-Duty dump trucks to haul away many tons of refuse weekly. Without those men, the PARA parks would surely be overrun with unsanitary garbage conditions and would no longer be usable. Notable PARA refuse technicians include Grover Faulkner, Cody Hall, and Mike Owen. PARA is also known for its participation in work therapy programs with the local VA. More information on PARA can be found on its website, PARA.org. 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.
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. In the past decade, Stillman has gone through a renaissance 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.
Tuscaloosa is home to 2008 Olympic boxing heavyweight bronze medalist, Deontay Wilder. Wilder is the last U.S. Olympic men's boxing team member to medal in the sport, and is known as "The Bronze Bomber". He currently has an undefeated record of 26-0 with all 26 wins coming by way of knockout.
In 2009, scenic shots were filmed all around Tuscaloosa for Todd Phillips' comedy, "Due Date", starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis. The filmmakers also said that the Tuscaloosa Convention and Visitors Bureau plans to establish a film commission that will work to bring more filmmakers to Tuscaloosa.
Tuscaloosa is mentioned in the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. It is suggested in the first chapter that Boo Radley spend time in Tuscaloosa because it might make him less highly strung.
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 periodical, 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, and WABM 68 is the MyNetworkTV affiliate and WVUA 7 is the This TV affiliate, it is also owned by the University of Alabama and is the only station that originates its broadcast in Tuscaloosa.
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 Cumulus Media Networks both own and operate a cluster of radio stations in Tuscaloosa, that form the majority of the market.
Tuscaloosa is home to one of the four 3-D IMAX theaters in the state of Alabama, located inside of the Cobb Hollywood 16 Theater, which was once the largest movie theater in the state of Alabama. The Ferguson Center on the University of Alabama campus also contains a movie theater, which is popular among the students. The Bama Theatre in downtown also screens select films.
The Carmike Bama 6 Theater, formerly located at the "Bama Mall" (now known as McFarland Plaza) recently closed its doors as a result of the Regal Hollywood 16's growing popularity.
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 and 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 (AL 69, AL 215, and AL 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. AL 297 will be the future loop road around Tuscaloosa.
Tuscaloosa also contains one toll road on the Black Warrior Parkway (I-20/I-59), charging $1.25 for automobiles, and one toll bridge (Black Warrior Parkway bridge).
Greyhound Bus Lines provides passenger bus service to Tuscaloosa. Its station is located at 2520 Stillman Blvd in downtown 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.
Port of Tuscaloosa, Alabama 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.
Some of the more notable points of interest in the city of Tuscaloosa include:
The Tuscaloosa Sister Cities Commission was formed in 1986. The city currently has sister city relationships with cities in three countries:
AmSouth Bank building
A view of Rose Tower from the Riverwalk
DCH Medical Tower
A rare snowstorm
Tuscaloosa Regional Airport
Veterans Memorial Park
Fountain at Annette Shelby Park
Kudzu in downtown
Mile marker 0 of Interstate 359 in 2003.
Hugh R. Thomas Bridge
Old Tuscaloosa Federal Courthouse
denotes that the person was born there.
Emergency Tornado Aid
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