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In northern Alabama, Huntsville is a thriving city in Madison County. Though the city embraces its Southern roots, it encourages diversity and high-tech development and maintains a strong, healthy economy. Huntsville is one of the largest cities in Alabama, and although its growth paused in the late 1990s, it's since turned upward again. Several museums, performing arts centers and over 50 public parks provide plenty to do in Huntsville. You'll also find a large number of community events and festivals and something special going on nearly every month of the year.
The History of Huntsville
The very first settlers in the area were the Muscogee people, and several other Native American tribes called the region home until the early 1800s. A treaty between the U.S. government and the local tribes opened up the land to new settlement. The area was named Huntsville after John Hunt, a Revolutionary War veteran, and officially incorporated in 1811.
Over the next several decades, the cotton and railroad industries helped the city blossom into a bustling metropolis. After the Civil War, Huntsville was home to several major cotton mills, further fueling growth and development. However, the town still remained fairly small until World War II, when the U.S. Army established chemical munitions facilities nearby. The population swelled with the arrival of workers and their families.
From there, the city took off. It earned the nickname "the Rocket City" because it became a center for U.S. space missions. Huntsville continued to grow, diversifying its economy to include high-tech, defense and biotechnology sectors.
The Huntsville Economy
Huntsville and Greater Madison County area are home to several large employers. The area's top employer is the U.S. Army, followed closely by NASA and The Boeing Co. You'll also find a number of health care jobs in the city, with the city's leaders including Huntsville Hospital and Crestwood Medical Center.
Huntsville has several well-established industries as well as many that continue to expand and grow. The largest industries in the city are professional and business services, government, trade, transportation and manufacturing. If you're planning to join the city's job market, you may find it helpful to know that the fastest-growing industries are education and health services, leisure and hospitality, information technology and construction.
Here are a few neighborhoods to check out while you're in Huntsville:
Twickenham Historic District
In this historic neighborhood you'll find the largest collection of antebellum homes in Alabama as well as homes in the Federal and Classical architectural styles. The Weeden House Museum dates back to 1819, and was the original home of the famed artist and poet Maria Howard Weeden.
In recent years, Hampton Cove has quickly grown to be one of the biggest suburbs of Huntsville. It has a variety of scenic locations, including the Hays Nature Preserve which offers walking trails, bird watching and horseback riding.
The Recreation District is a hub for family-friendly fun, with a large variety of entertainment venues and activities. Enjoy the water park at Southern Adventures, jump around an inflatable playground at Pump It Up or get in a good workout at Athletic Club Alabama.
The Village of Providence
The Village of Providence has been nationally recognized for its charm, pedestrian-friendly design and strong sense of community. Here, you'll find some of the best restaurants in the city, all within easy walking distance of the residential areas.
Schools in Huntsville
Huntsville City Schools, one of the state's top-rated districts serves the public schools. The school system includes elementary, junior high and high schools, as well as several preschool programs and magnet schools. If you'd prefer a private education, you can choose from several parochial and secular schools.
You also have plenty of school choice when it comes to higher education. Alabama A&M University, Oakwood University and Calhoun Community College are among the many colleges and universities in Huntsville.
Resources for Moving to Huntsville
Here are a few helpful resources for your move to Huntsville:
- Utilities: Huntsville Utilities manages electricity, natural gas, water and sewer services.
- Garbage and Recycling: There is curbside collection of trash, recyclables and yard waste on a regular schedule. Your pick-up date is determined by your home address.
- Transportation: If you're looking for public transit in Huntsville, there are several shuttle routes throughout the main areas. A trolley system also connects several major shopping and tourist spots.
Huntsville offers a variety of neighborhoods, ranging from modest homes and tight-knit communities to areas with stately homes and more room to spread out. Overall, the city's cost of living is more affordable than the national average, so you'll be able to easily find something to fit your needs and budget.