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Huntsville is a city centrally located in the northernmost part of the U.S. state of Alabamamarker. It is located in Madison countymarker and extends west into neighboring Limestonemarker county. Huntsville is the county seat of Madison county, and the fourth largest city in Alabama. The 2000 census estimated Huntsville's population at 158,216, while in 2008, the estimated population grew to 176,645. The Huntsville Metropolitan Area's population was estimated at 395,645. Huntsville is the largest city in the four-county Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Areamarker, which in 2008 had a total population of 545,770.

Originally settled by John Hunt in 1805, the city was incorporated six years later as Twickenham. However, it was renamed "Huntsville" during the War of 1812 and it has grown across nearby hills and along the Tennessee River, adding textile mills, then munitions factories, to become a major city, including NASAmarker's Marshall Space Flight Centermarker and the United States Army Aviation and Missile Command nearby at the Redstone Arsenalmarker.


First settlers

Huntsville is named after Revolutionary War veteran John Hunt, the first settler of the land around the Big Springmarker. However, Hunt did not properly register his claim, and the area was purchased by Leroy Pope, who imposed the name Twickenham on the area to honor the home village of his distant kinsman Alexander Pope.

Twickenham was carefully planned, with streets laid out on the northeast to southwest direction based on the Big Spring (see images below). However, due to anti-English sentiment during the War of 1812, the name was changed to Huntsville to honor John Hunt, who had been forced to move to other land south of the new city.

Both John Hunt and Leroy Pope were Freemasons and charter members of Helion Lodge #1.

Incorporation 1811

In 1811, Huntsville became the first incorporated town in Alabama. However, the recognized "birth" year of the city is 1805, the year of John Hunt's arrival. The city's sesquicentennial anniversary was held in 1955 and the bicentennial was celebrated in 2005.

Emerging industries

Huntsville's quick growth was from wealth generated by the cotton and railroad industries. Many wealthy planters moved into the area from Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas. In 1819, Huntsville hosted a constitutional convention in Walker Allen's large cabinetmaking shop. The forty-four delegates meeting there wrote a constitution for the new state of Alabamamarker. In accordance with the new state constitution, Huntsville became Alabama's first capital when the state was admitted to the Unionmarker. This was a temporary designation for one legislative session only, and the capital was then moved to another temporary location, Cahawbamarker, until the legislature selected a permanent capital. (Today, the capital is Montgomerymarker.)

In 1855, the Memphis and Charleston Railroad was constructed through Huntsville, becoming the first railway to link the Atlantic seacoast with the lower Mississippi River.

Civil War

Bird's Eye View of 1871 Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville initially opposed secession from the Union in 1861, but provided many men for the state's defense. The 4th Alabama Infantry Regiment, led by Col. Egbert J. Jones of Huntsville, distinguished itself at the Battle of Manassas/Bull Runmarker, the first major encounter of the American Civil War. The Fourth Alabama Infantry, which contained two Huntsville companies, were the first Alabama troops to fight in the war and were present when Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox in April 1865. Eight generals of the war were born in or near Huntsville, evenly split with four on each side.

On the morning of April 11, 1862, Union troops led by General Ormsby M. Mitchel seized Huntsville to sever the Confederacy's rail communications. The Union troops were forced to retreat some months later, but returned to Huntsville in the fall of 1863 and thereafter used the city as a base of operations for the remainder of the war. While many homes and villages in the surrounding countryside were burned in retaliation for the active guerrilla warfare in the area, Huntsville itself was spared because it housed elements of the Union Army.

After the Civil War

After the Civil War, Huntsville became a center for cotton textile mills, such as Lincoln, Dallas and Merrimack. Each mill had its own housing community that included everything the mill workers needed (schools, churches, grocery stores, theatres, and hardware stores, all within walking distance of the mill).

Great Depression 1930s

During the 1930s, industry declined in Huntsville due to the Great Depression. Huntsville became known as the Watercress Capital of the World because of its abundant harvest in the area. Madison County led Alabama in cotton production during this time.

World War II

By 1940, Huntsville was still a small quiet town with a population of only 13,150 inhabitants. This quickly changed at the onset of World War II, when Huntsville was chosen as the location of Huntsville Arsenal, with chemical and munitions manufacturing plants. The Arsenal was almost closed in 1949 when it was no longer needed, but it saw new life when Major General Holger Toftoy with support from Senator John Sparkman convinced the U.S. Army to choose Huntsville as the location for its missile research program. In 1950, General Toftoy brought German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun and his colleagues to Redstone Arsenalmarker to develop what would eventually become the United States' space programmarker.

Space flight

On September 8, 1960, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower formally dedicated the Marshall Space Flight Centermarker in Huntsville. (NASAmarker had already activated this facility, which is located on Redstone Arsenal, on July 1 of that year.)

The city is nicknamed "The Rocket City" for its close history with U.S. space missions. Huntsville has been important in developing space technology since the 1950s, when the German scientists headed by Dr. Wernher von Braun, brought to the United Statesmarker at the end of World War II through Operation Paperclip, arrived to develop rocketry for the U.S. Army. Their work included designing the Redstone ballistic missile, a variant of which, the Juno I, carried the first U.S. satellite and astronauts into space.

The Saturn V, used by the Apollo program manned Moon missions, was developed at Redstone Arsenal. Huntsville continues to play an important role in the United States' Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs. It is estimated that 1 in 13 of Huntsville's population are employed in some engineering field of work.

Huntsville's economy was nearly crippled and growth came to a near standstill in the 1970s following the closure of the Apollo program, but the emergence of the Space Shuttle and the ever-expanding field of missile defense in the 1980s helped give Huntsville a resurgence that continues to this day. The city remains to the center of rocket-propulsion research in the United States, and is home to large branches of many defense contractors. Huntsville is also the location of the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM).


Big Spring Park

Huntsville is located at (34.7, -86.6) . As of April 2008, the city now has a total area of . Recent annexations have pushed the city limits to a total of 9 miles inside Limestone Countymarker, bordering Athens and Decatur.

The Big Spring, basis of street plan in Twickenham (renamed in 1812 to "Huntsville").

Huntsville is located in the Tennessee River valley. Several plateaus and large hills partially surround the city. These plateaus are associated with the Cumberland Plateau, and are locally called "mountains". Monte Sano Mountainmarker (Italian for "Healthy Mount") is the most notable, and is east of the city along with Round Top (Burritt), Chapman, Huntsville, and Green Mountains. Others are Wade Mountain to the north, Rainbow Mountain to the west, and Weeden and Madkin Mountains on Redstone Arsenalmarker in the south. Brindlee Mountainmarker is visible in the south across the Tennessee River.

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


Huntsville has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa). It experiences hot, humid summers and generally mild winters, with average high temperatures ranging from in the summer to during winter. Some years, Huntsville experiences tornadoes during the spring and fall. Significant tornado events include the Super Outbreak in 1974, the November 1989 Tornado Outbreak that killed 21 and injured almost 500, and the Anderson Hills Tornado that killed one and caused extensive damage in 1995. Since Huntsville is nearly inland, hurricanes are rarely experienced with their full force; however, many weakened tropical storms cross the area after a U.S. Gulf Coast landfall. While most winters have some measurable snow, significant snow is rare in Huntsville; but there have been some anomalies, like the 1963 New Years Day snowstorm, when fell within 24 hours. Likewise, the Blizzard of 1993 and a Groundhog Day snowstorm in 1996 were substantial winter events for Huntsville. However, as of the winter of 2008-09, Huntsville has gone 13 years without any significant snowfall (>4 inches).


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

There were 66,742 households out of which 27.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.5% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.5% were non-families. 32.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.91. Same-sex couple households comprised 0.5 % of all househoulds.

Demographic distribution

Age <18></18> 18-24 25-44 45-64 65+
Distribution % 23.1 10.7 29.3 23.4 13.4

Sex ratio & income distribution

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

Politics and government

Huntsville's Administration Building, also known as City Hall

The current mayor of Huntsville is Tommy Battle, who was elected in 2008. The Deputy Mayor/City Administrator is Rex Reynolds, who also serves as the city's Public Safety Director. The city has a five-member/district City Council. The current members are:
  • District 1 (Northwest): Richard Showers, Sr.
  • District 2 (East): Mark Russell (President)
  • District 3 (Southeast): Sandra Moon
  • District 4 (Southwest): Bill Kling
  • District 5 (West): Will Culver.

Council elections are "staggered", meaning that Districts 2, 3, and 4 will have elections in August 2010, while Districts 1 and 5 will have elections simultaneously with mayoral elections in 2012.

There are also many boards and commissions run by the city, controlling everything from schools and planning to museums and downtown development.

In July 2007 then Senator Barack Obama held the first fund raiser in Alabama for his Presidential campaign in Huntsville. Obama ended up winning the Alabama Democratic Primary and Madison County by large margins in 2008.

See also: List of mayors of Huntsville, Alabama

Public Safety

In 2007, Mayor Loretta Spencer combined the police, fire, and animal services departments to create the Department of Public Safety. The former chief of police, Rex Reynolds, was appointed as its director. The new department has nearly 900 employees and an annual budget of $63 million.


The Huntsville Fire Department has 19 engine companies, 4 ladder/rescue companies, and 2 hazardous materials companies located in 17 stations throughout the city of Huntsville. Many Huntsville firefighters are also members of the regional Hazardous Materials and Heavy Rescue response teams. The day-to-day operations of the department are currently carried out by the department's two Deputy Chiefs, while the city looks for a new Fire Chief to replace the recently retired Danny Loggins.


The Huntsville Police Department has 3 precincts and 1 downtown HQ, 360 sworn officers, 150 civilian personnel, and patrols an area of 194.7+ square miles (this number has grown due to recent annexations). The current chief is Henry Reyes.

Police Academy

The Huntsville Police Academy is one of the oldest police academies in the United States. To date the Academy has completed 49 basic academies, and 47 Lateral classes. On May 8, 2006 the Huntsville Police Academy began the 47th Basic Session. Until the 47th Lateral Session, academies were held at the Old Huntsville Airport on Airport Rd. After the graduation of the 46th Session, the academy moved to the Public Safety Training Complex on Sparkman Drive, which is also home to the Huntsville Fire Academy.


Huntsville's main economic influence is derived from aerospace and military technology. Redstone Arsenalmarker, Cummings Research Park (CRP), and NASAmarker's Marshall Space Flight Centermarker comprise the main hubs for the area's technology-driven economy. CRP is the second largest research park in the United States and the fourth largest in the world, and is over 38 years old. Huntsville is also home for commercial technology companies such as the network access company ADTRAN, computer graphics company Intergraph and design and manufacturer of IT infrastructure Avocent. Telecommunications provider Deltacom, Inc. and copper tube manufacturer and distributor Wolverine Tube are also based in Huntsville. Cinram manufactures and distributes 20th Century Fox DVDs and Blu-ray Discs out of their Huntsville plant. Sanmina-SCI also has a large presence in the area. Forty-two Fortune 500 companies have operations in Huntsville.

In 2005, Forbes Magazine named the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Areamarker as 6th best place in the nation for doing business, and number one in terms of the number of engineers per total employment. In 2006, Huntsville dropped to 14th; the prevalence of engineers was not considered in the 2006 ranking.


Huntsville is fast becoming a regional retail center. There are many strip malls and "power centers" throughout the city. Huntsville has two malls—Madison Square Mallmarker, built in 1984, and Parkway Placemarker, built in 2002 on the site of the former Parkway City Mall. The city also has a lifestyle center called Bridge Street Town Centremarker, built in 2007, in Cummings Research Park. Another "live, work, and play" center is being constructed on the former site of the Heart of Huntsville Mallmarker. It is to be called Constellation with ground breaking in Fall 2007 and scheduled completion by 2010.


Electricity, water, and natural gas are all provided in Huntsville by Huntsville Utilities (HU). HU purchases and resells power from the Tennessee Valley Authority. TVA has two plants that provide electricity to the Huntsville area- Browns Ferrymarker Nuclear Power Plant in Limestone Countymarker and Guntersville Dammarker in Marshall Countymarker. A third, Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plantmarker in Jackson Countymarker, was built in the 1980s but was never activated. Due to the rapid growth of the region, TVA has plans to eventually activate the plant.

Telephone service in Huntsville is provided by AT&T, Knology and Comcast . Huntsville has 2 cable providers in the city limits: Comcast and Knology (Mediacom in rural outlying areas). Parts of Madison and Huntsville are long distance to themselves (in Limestone county areas) as AT&T has not kept pace with growth in the region. The US Postal service also has not kept up with growth as parts of Huntsville city limits has customers with Owens Cross Roads, Madison on Athens, AL addresses.


Huntsville is served by several U.S. Highways, including 72, 231, 431 and an Interstate highway spur, I-565, that links the two cities of Huntsville and Decaturmarker to I-65. Alabama Highway 53 also connects the city with I-65 in Ardmoremarker, Tennesseemarker.

Public transit

Public transit in Huntsville is run by the city's Department of Parking and Public Transit. The Huntsville Shuttle runs 11 fixed routes throughout the city, mainly around downtown and major shopping areas like Memorial Parkway and University Drive and has recently expanded some of the buses to include bike racks on the front for a trial program. There is also a Tourist Trolley that makes stops at tourist attractions and shopping centers. The city also runs HandiRide, a demand-response transit system for the handicapped, and RideShare, a county-wide carpooling program.


Huntsville has two active commercial rail lines. The mainline is run by Norfolk Southern, which runs from Memphis, TNmarker to Chattanoogamarker. The original depot for this rail line, the Huntsville Depotmarker still exists, though it no longer offers passenger service.

Another rail line, formerly part of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, successor to the Nashville, Chattanooga and Saint Louis Railroad, is being operated by HMCRA (Huntsville-Madison County Railroad Authority). The line connects to the Norfolk Southern line downtown and runs South, passing near Ditto Landing on the Tennessee River, and terminating at Norton Switch, near Hobbs Island. This service, in continuous operation since 1894, presently hauls freight and provides transloading facilities at its downtown depot location. Until the mid-fifties, L & N provided freight and passenger service to Guntersville and points South. The rail cars were loaded onto barges at Hobbs Island. The barge tows were taken through the Guntersville Dam & Locks and discharged at Port Guntersville. Remnants of the track supporting piers still remain in the river just upstream from Hobbs Island. The service ran twice daily. L & N abandoned the line in 1984 at which time it was acquired by the newly-created HMCRA, a State Agency.

The North Alabama Railroad Museum in Chase maintains a line once owned by the Louisville and Nashville Railroad (L&N). The museum runs weekend tourist rides along a short track in Northeast Madison County. The origin of these rides was once the smallest Union Station in the United States when it served the predecessor to L&N and the predecessor to the Norfolk and Western Railroad.


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

Huntsville International Airportmarker is served by several regional and national carriers (including Delta, Northwest, US Airways, Continental, United, and American) and offers non-stop flights to many airports across the Eastern U.S. However, Huntsville International gets its name because of its reputation as a cargo transport hub. Many delivery companies have hubs in Huntsville, making delivery flights to Europe, Asia, and Mexico.[15392]

Media and communications


The Huntsville Times has been Huntsville's only daily newspaper since 1996, when the Huntsville News closed. Before then, the News was the morning paper, and the Times was the afternoon paper until 2004. The Huntsville Times has a weekday circulation of 60,000, which rises to 80,000 on Sundays.

A few alternative newspapers are available in Huntsville. The Valley Planet covers arts and entertainment in the Tennessee Valley area. The Redstone Rocket is a newspaper distributed throughout Redstone Arsenal's housing area covering activities on Redstone. Speakin' Out News is a weekly newspaper focused on African Americans. El Reportero is a Spanish-language newspaper for North Alabama.


Huntsville is the 113th largest radio market in the United States. Huntsville's National Weather Service forecast and warning station broadcasts as KIH20. Huntsville also receives several radio stations from Birminghammarker and Nashvillemarker.


The Huntsville DMA serves 15 counties in North Alabama and 6 counties in Southern Middle Tennesseemarker.

TV Stations:

Movie theaters

There are 6 movie theaters located in Huntsville. They are:

Feature films shot in Huntsville

A few feature films have been shot in Huntsville, including 20 years After (2008 originally named Like Moles, Like Rats in 2006), Air Band (2005), and Constellation (2005). Portions of the film SpaceCamp (1986) were filmed at Huntsville's U.S.marker Space and Rocket Centermarker at the eponymous facility. The U.S. Space and Rocket Center stood in for NASA in the 1989 movie Beyond the Stars starring Martin Sheen, Christian Slater, and Sharon Stone. Parts of Tom and Huck (1995) were filmed in Cathedral Cavernsmarker, located on the outskirts of Huntsville. Following in the motif of the "Rocket City," Columbia Pictures filmed Ravagers (1979) in The Land Trust's Historic Three Caves Quarry, at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, and on location at an antebellum home located next door to Lee High School. This cult classic starred Richard Harris, Ernest Borgnine, Ann Turkel, Art Carney and Cecily Hovanes.

Huntsville's legacy in the space program continues to draw film producers looking for background material for space-themed films. During the pre-production of the film Apollo 13 (1995), the cast and crew spent time at Space Camp and Marshall Space Flight Centermarker preparing for their roles. Space Camp also garnered a mention in the film Stranger than Fiction and was featured in a 2008 episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit! on NASA.


K-12 education

The majority of K-12 students in Huntsville attend Huntsville City Schools. In the 2007-2008 school year 22,839 students attended Huntsville City Schools, 77% of all students scored at or above state and national ACT averages, and of the 1279 members of the graduating class, "approximately 92% of the students indicated that they planned to enter a post-secondary institution for further study, 43% obtained scholarship & monetary awards," and "received 2,988 scholarships totaling $33,619,040, had forty-one National Merit Scholars, three National Achievement Scholars, and two perfect ACT scores." / Huntsville City Schools Annual Report

Of the 53 schools in the Huntsville City Schools system in 2007-08, there were:
  • 25 Elementary, and
  • 2 K-8 which serve 10,836 students.

For grades 6-12, there are 11,696 students enrolled in the following schools:
  • 10 middle schools (grades 6-8)
  • 7 high schools
  • 3 Special Centers - 2 Schools of Choice, 1 Program of Choice (1B)
  • 4 Magnet - 2, Grades K-8 & 2, Grades 9-12

Of every dollar spent, 54¢ goes for Instructional Services, 15¢ for Instructional Support Services, 11¢ for Operation & Maintenance, 8¢ Capital Outlay, 7¢ Auxiliary Services, 3¢ General Administrative Services, 2¢ Debt/Other Expenditures.

And 60% of HCS teachers have at least a Master's Degree or better.

The 2 magnet elementary schools are The Academy for Academics and Arts and the Academy for Science and Foreign Language. The 3 magnet middle schools are Williams Technology, The Academy for Academics and Arts, and the Academy for Science and Foreign Language, and the 2 magnet high schools are New Century Technology High School and Lee High School.

There are aproximately 21 private, parochial, and religious schools also serving students in grades pre-K-12. Several accredited private Christian schools serve Huntsville, AL and Madison County, AL. Among them are Catholic High School [15393], Faith Christian Academy [15394], Westminster Christian Academy, Madison Academy, and numerous others.

Higher education

Huntsville's higher education institutions include:

The University of Alabama in Huntsville is the largest university serving the greater Huntsville area. The research-intensive university has more than 7,700 students. Approximately half of the university’s graduates earn a degree in engineering or science, making the university one of the largest producers of engineers and physical scientists in Alabama.

Oakwood University, founded in 1896, is a Seventh-day Adventist university and a member institution of the United Negro College Fund. It is one of the nation's leading producers of successful Black applicants to medical schools. Also, the school is home to the USCAA National Basketball Champions (2008) and the winning team of the 19th Annual Honda Campus All-Star Challenge National Championship Tournament (2008).

Numerous colleges and universities have satellite locations or extensions in Huntsville:

Huntsville Hospitalmarker and Crestwood Medical Center also has an accredited school of radiologic technology[15403].


Historic districts

  • Twickenham Historic Districtmarker was chosen as the name of the first of three of the city's historic districts. It features homes in the Federal and Greek Revival architectural styles introduced to the city by Virginia-born architect George Steele about 1818, and contains the most dense concentration of antebellum homes in Alabama. The 1819 Weeden House Museum, home of female artist and poet Howard Weeden, is open to the public, as are several others in the district.
  • Old Town Historic District [15404] contains a variety of styles (Federal, Greek Revival, Queen Anne, and even California cottages), with homes dating from the late 1820s through the early 1900s.
  • Five Points Historic District [15405], the newest historic district, consists predominantly of bungalows built around the turn of the 20th century, by which time Huntsville was becoming a mill town.


  • US Space & Rocket Centermarker is home to the US Space Camp and Aviation Challenge programs as well as the only Saturn V rocket designated a National Historic Landmark.
  • Alabama Constitution Villagemarker features eight reconstructed Federal style buildings, with living-museums displays downtown.[15406]
  • Burritt Museum and Park located on Monte Sano Mountainmarker, is a regional history museum featuring a 1930s mansion, nature trails, scenic overlooks and more.[15407]
  • Clay House Museum is an antebellum home built ca. 1853 and showcases decorative styles up to 1950 and an outstanding collection of Noritake Porcelain.[15408]
  • Early Works Museum is a child friendly interactive museum in downtown Huntsville.[15409]
  • Harrison Brothers Hardware Store established in 1879, is the oldest operating hardware store in Alabama. Though now owned and operated by the Historic Huntsville Foundation, it is still a working store, and part museum featuring skilled craftsmen who volunteer to run the store and answer questions.[15410][15411]
  • The Historic Huntsville Depotmarker completed in 1860 is the oldest surviving railroad depot in Alabama and one of the oldest surviving depots in the United States.[15412]
  • Huntsville Museum of Artmarker in Big Spring International Park offers permanent displays, traveling exhibitions, and educational programs for children and adults.[15413]
  • Sci-Quest is an interactive premiere hands-on museum for early childhood education, aged four through sixth grade.[15414]
  • North Alabama Railroad Museum is a railroad museum with over 30 pieces of rolling stock.[15415]


  • Big Spring International Parkmarker is a park in downtown Huntsville centered around a natural water body (Big Spring). The park contains the Huntsville Museum of Art and is home to festivals such as the Panoply Arts Festival and the Big Spring Jam. There are many fish that live in the spring's niche. There is also a waterfall and a constantly-lit gas torch. Many Huntsvillians enjoy walking around and spending time at the park.

  • Land Trust of Huntsville & North Alabama is a member supported, non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of the natural heritage of the area, and has preserved more than of open space, wildflower areas, wetlands, working farms and scenic vistas in North Alabama, including 1,000+ acres (4.0 km²) of the Monte Sano Preserve (Monte Sano Mountain), 1,000+ acres (4.0 km²) of the Blevins Gap Preserve (Huntsville & Green Mountains), and of the Wade Mountain Preserve. Volunteers have created and maintain 33+ miles (53+ km) of public trails - all of which are within the Huntsville city limits.[15419]

  • The Lydia Gold Skatepark [15420], located at 200 Cleveland Avenue, NW (behind the Historic Huntsville Depot, between Church and Meridian Streets) is a free venue open to the public from sunup until sundown. In 2003, it was dedicated to the late Lydia Leigh Gold (1953-1993), an area skateboarding activist in the 1980s and the former owner of “Tattooed Lady Comics and Skateboards.” Helmets are the only pad requirement. No bikes, scooters, or other wheeled vehicles are allowed – only skateboards and rollerblades are permitted.[15421]


  • Big Spring Jam is an annual three-day music festival held on the last full weekend of September in and around Big Spring International Park in downtown Huntsville. It features a diversity of music including rock, country, Christian, kid-friendly, and oldies.

  • The Panoply Arts Festival, an annual Huntsville tradition since 1981, is presented by Boeing on behalf of The Arts Council and held the last full weekend of each April in downtown’s Big Spring International Park, Von Braun Center Concert Hall, and Huntsville Museum of Art. This three-day festival features presentations, demonstrations, performances, and workshops while promoting and enhancing the arts. Over the years, Panoply has evolved into "the South's Most All-Embracing ARTStravaganza," featuring activities and events like the “Global Village” – a gateway to the area’s diverse cultures – to FREE hands-on children’s activities to the “Official Alabama State Fiddling Championship.” Panoply has had three record attendances in a row, averaging 125,000 for 2007, 2008, and 2009. The Southeast Tourism Society consistently ranks the festival among their “Top Twenty Events” and Gov. Bob Riley announced it as one of Alabama’s Top Ten Tourism Events.

  • The June Black Arts Festival is the largest two-day ethnic festival in the Huntsville area. From the performing to the visual arts, it provides a glimpse of the wealth of talent among local, regional & national entertainers & artists within the black community. Begun in 1990 by veteran Huntsville broadcaster Hundley Batts, Sr., the first 17 events were held at the grounds surrounding the WEUP studio complex. Because of parking and traffic considerations, the festival (beginning with 2007) is now held on the grounds of Alabama A&M Universitymarker, near the Louis Crews Stadium. Note that the 2009 festival has been cancelled.

  • Con†Stellation is an annual general-interest science fiction convention. Con†Stellation (also written as Con*Stellation) is generally held over a Friday-Sunday weekend in September each year (as of 2009) but exact dates vary.

Public golf courses

  • Becky Pierce Municipal Golf Course, known locally as the "Muni", off Airport Road (named for the old airport, not near the current airport).
  • Sunset Landing Golf Club (located next to the airport)
  • Colonial Golf Course
  • Fox Run Golf Course
  • Redstone Arsenal Golf Course (Open to military ID holders)
  • Hampton Cove is one of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trails, named after Hampton Covemarker, and features two championship 18-hole courses and one par three. (Owens Cross Roads, AL)
  • Harvest Hills Golf Course (Harvest, AL)
  • Chriswood Golf Course (Athens, AL)
  • Southern Gayles (Athens, AL)
  • Canebrake Club (Athens, AL)

Private golf courses

  • Established in 1925, the historic Huntsville Country Club boasts a challenging 18-hole course with dining and banquet facilities located just North of downtown at 2601 Oakwood Avenue.
  • The Ledges is Huntsville's newest golf community with 18 holes, dining and banquet facilities overlooking Jones Valley.
  • Valley Hill Country Club features 27 holes in South Huntsville's Jones Valley.


  • The Huntsville Madison County Public Librarymarker founded in 1818, is Alabama's oldest continually operating library system with 12 branches throughout the county including one bookmobile. The Main Library Archives contains a wealth of historical resources, including displays of photographic collections and artifacts, has Alabama's highest materials circulation rate, and features daily public programs.

Performing arts

  • Huntsville Symphony Orchestra is Alabama's oldest continuously operating professional symphony orchestra, featuring high quality performances of classical, pops and family concerts, and extensive music education programs serving public schools.
  • Fantasy Playhouse is Huntsville's oldest children's theater, with nearly 50 years of performing for the young and young at heart (2010-2011 will be the Golden Anniversary Season). An all-volunteer organization, Fantasy Playhouse engages the children of North Alabama both on stage and off. Fantasy Academy, the organization's dance, music and art school, teaches hundreds of children and adults each year. Fantasy Playhouse regularly produces three plays a year with an additional annual play, A Christmas Carol produced early each December.
  • Theatre Huntsville, the result of a merger between the Twickenham Repertory Company (1979-1997) and Huntsville Little Theatre (1950-1997), is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, all-volunteer arts organization that presents six plays each season in the Von Braun Center Playhouse, and also produces the annual "Shakespeare on the Mountain" in an outdoor venue, such as Burritt on the Mountain. Presentations range from such popular favorites as "The Foreigner" and "Noises Off" to original plays ("The Trial of Frank James in Huntsville, Alabama") to cutting-edge productions, including "Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge," "The Laramie Project" and "Angels in America," to the occasional musical ("Little Shop of Horrors," "Nunsense"). TH presents drama-related workshops (stage management, stage makeup, etc.), as announced.
  • Independent Musical Productions, was founded in 1993 and presents at least one annual main production such as "Ragtime," "Civil War," "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," "Into The Woods," and "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street." In addition, musicals for children and outreach programs compliment the season. Productions are held at the local Lee High School "Lee Lyric Theatre" for purposes of cost, parking, outreach, seating capacity, and technical venue attributes afforded by the school.

  • Plays are also performed at Renaissance Theatre, with two stages, the MainStage (upstairs) and the Alpha Stage (downstairs), each with the intimate setting of about 85 seats. Formerly the commissary building for the historic Lincoln Mill Village, the theatre is located on Meridian Street, in front of Lincoln Elementary School (just north of downtown). Performances range from original works to standards, and have included the regional première of "The Maltese Falcon" (April 2008); "Doubt, A Parable," "Urinetown," "The Rocky Horror Show," "The Lion in Winter," and "The Eight: Reindeer Monologues."
  • Merrimack Hall Performing Arts Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organziation that opened its doors in 2007, after nearly $3 million in renovations to the historic building. Once the social center of the Merrimack Mill Village in the early 1900s, rhe building was home to the Company Store, gymnasium, bowling alley, and provided a place for socialization and recreation to all of the village's residents. Merrimack Hall now includes a 302-seat, state-of-the-art performance hall, a 3,000-square foot dance studio, and rehearsal and instructional spaces for musicians. Past productions and performers include "Menopause The Musical," "Dixie's Tupperware Party," Billy Bob Thornton and The Boxmasters, Dionne Warwick, Lisa Loeb, Wade Robson, Claire Lynch, and the Second City Comedy Troupe.

  • Huntsville hosts a season of broadway productions hosted by the Broadway Theatre League Such shows as "Rent," "Chicago," "Sweeney Todd," "Spamalot," and "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," along with season extras such as "Happy Days" and "The Rat Pack," have been performed with featured performers in the Von Braun Center's Concert Hall. BTL marks its 50th Anniversary Season in 2009-2010.

  • Ars Nova School of the Artsmarker is a local conservatory for music and performing arts. Ars Nova also produces musical theatre, opera, and operetta for the local stage, ranging from Verdi's "Macbeth" to "The Mikado" and "My Fair Lady."
  • Huntsville Community Chorus Association is Huntsville's oldest performing arts organization, producing both choral concerts and musical theater productions. In addition, HCCA features its Madrigal Singers; "Glitz!" (a show choir); a Chamber Chorale; an annual summer melodrama; and two children's groups, the Huntsville Community Children’s Chorus (HC3) and HC3Jr, for the younger set.

Convention centers and arenas

  • The Von Braun Centermarker, which opened in 1975, has an arena capable of seating 10,000, a 2,000-seat concert hall, a 500-seat playhouse (~330 seats with proscenium staging), and of convention space. Both the arena and concert hall are scheduled for major renovations; upon completion, they will be rechristened the Propst Arena and the Mark C. Smith Concert Hall, respectively.



Past sports franchises


Notable natives and residents



Sister cities

Huntsville's sister cities include:


External links

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