Gadsden, Alabama

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Gadsden
City
Aerial Photo of Downtown Gadsden
Aerial Photo of Downtown Gadsden
Motto: "City of Champions"
Gadsden is located in Alabama
Gadsden
Gadsden
Location in Alabama.
Coordinates: 34°0′36″N 86°0′37″W / 34.01000°N 86.01028°W / 34.01000; -86.01028
State Alabama
County Etowah
Government
 • Type Mayor-Council (w. seven councilmen)
 • Mayor Sherman Guyton
Area
 • City 96.3 km2 (37.2 sq mi)
 • Land 93.2 km2 (36 sq mi)
 • Water 3.1 km2 (1.2 sq mi)
Elevation 165 m (541 ft)
Population (2013)[1]
 • City 36,542
 • Density 400.12/km2 (1,047.8/sq mi)
 • Metro 103,931 (US: 345th)
Time zone Central Time (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 35901-35907
Area code(s) 256, 938
FIPS code 01-28696
GNIS feature ID 0157961
Website City of Gadsden

Gadsden is a city in and the county seat of Etowah County in the State of Alabama, and it is located on the Coosa River about 56 miles (90 km) northeast of Birmingham, Alabama. It is the primary city of the Gadsden Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of 103,931. As of the U.S. Census Bureau estimate in 2013, the population of the city was about 36,542.[1] Gadsden and Rome, Georgia are the largest cities in the triangular area defined by the Interstate highways between Atlanta, Birmingham and Chattanooga.

Gadsden was at one time in the 19th century Alabama's second most important center of commerce and industry, trailing only the seaport of Mobile. The two cities were important shipping centers: Gadsden for riverboats and Mobile for international trade. Through the 1980s, Gadsden was a center on heavy industry, including the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and the Republic Steel Corporation.

More than a decade after the sharp decline in industry, in 1991 Gadsden was awarded the honor of All-America City by the National Civic League, an award that honored the way Gadsden's citizens, government, businesses, and voluntary organizations work together to address critical local issues.

History[edit]

The first substantial white settlement in what is now Gadsden was a village called "Double Springs". It was founded in about 1825 by John Riley, a mixed race American Indian and caucasian settler who built his house near two springs. Riley's home became a stagecoach stop on the Huntsville-to-Rome route. The original building still stands today as the oldest in Gadsden.

The house was purchased by Gabriel and Asenath Hughes in 1840. The Hughes brothers purchased much of the land between Lookout Mountain, the Coosa River, and the mouth of Wills Creek. The brothers proposed bringing a railroad from Savannah to Nashville through their land.[2] The original 120 acres survey of Gadsden included the Hughes brothers' land, plus that of John S. Moragne and Lewis L. Rhea, made up the 120 acres on which the original survey of Gadsden was made. On July 4, 1845, Captain James Lafferty piloted the steamboat Coosa. to the settlement, landing near the site of the current Memorial Bridge. The Hughes brothers suggested renaming the town "Lafferty's Landing", but instead Gadsden was adopted in honor of Colonel James Gadsden of South Carolina, later to become famous for negotiating the Gadsden Purchase from Mexico.[3][4]

After most of Gadsden's major industries closed in the 1970s and 80's, the city began to decline. A Rand McNally article in 1989 listed Gadsden as one of the "Seven Worst Cities to Live in the United States". The city government was spurred to action by these reports, and efforts like the Cultural Arts Center and downtown redevelopment earned Gadsden first place in the 2000 City Livability Awards Program.[5]

Geography and climate[edit]

Gadsden is located at 34°0′37″N 86°0′37″W / 34.01028°N 86.01028°W / 34.01028; -86.01028 (34.010147, −86.010356).[6] According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 37.2 square miles (96 km2), of which 36.0 sq mi (93 km2) is land and 1.2 sq mi (3.1 km2) (3.25%) is water.

Typical of the Deep South, Gadsden experiences a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa) with four distinct seasons.

Winter lasts from early December to late-February; the daily average temperature in January is 41.3 °F (5.2 °C). On average, the low temperature falls to the freezing mark or below on 60 days a year, and to or below 20 °F (−7 °C) on 6.9 days.[7] While rain is abundant (January and February are on average the wettest months), measurable snowfall is rare, with most years receiving none. Summers are hot and humid, lasting from mid-May to mid-September, and the July daily average temperature is 80.6 °F (27.0 °C). There are 60–61 days of 90 °F (32 °C)+ highs annually and 2.1 days of 100 °F (38 °C)+ highs.[8] 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, although it begins relatively dry.

With a period of record dating only back to 1953, the highest recorded temperature was 106 °F (41 °C) on June 30, 2012, while the lowest recorded temperature was −6 °F (−21 °C) on January 20–21, 1985.[8]

Climate data for Gadsden, Alabama (1981–2010 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 51.8
(11)
56.5
(13.6)
65.9
(18.8)
74.2
(23.4)
81.4
(27.4)
87.7
(30.9)
90.7
(32.6)
90.4
(32.4)
84.6
(29.2)
75.1
(23.9)
64.5
(18.1)
54.8
(12.7)
73.1
(22.8)
Average low °F (°C) 30.7
(−0.7)
34.2
(1.2)
41.3
(5.2)
48.8
(9.3)
58.1
(14.5)
66.5
(19.2)
70.5
(21.4)
69.6
(20.9)
63.1
(17.3)
51.2
(10.7)
41.0
(5)
33.7
(0.9)
50.7
(10.4)
Precipitation inches (mm) 4.95
(125.7)
5.01
(127.3)
5.10
(129.5)
4.73
(120.1)
4.79
(121.7)
4.41
(112)
4.98
(126.5)
3.72
(94.5)
3.88
(98.6)
3.66
(93)
4.99
(126.7)
4.32
(109.7)
54.55
(1,385.6)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 9.3 9.3 9.0 8.9 8.9 9.2 9.8 7.8 6.7 7.1 8.6 9.6 104.2
Source: NOAA[8]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 1,697
1890 2,901 70.9%
1900 4,282 47.6%
1910 10,557 146.5%
1920 14,737 39.6%
1930 24,042 63.1%
1940 36,975 53.8%
1950 55,725 50.7%
1960 58,088 4.2%
1970 53,928 −7.2%
1980 47,565 −11.8%
1990 42,523 −10.6%
2000 38,978 −8.3%
2010 36,856 −5.4%
Est. 2013 36,542 −0.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[9]
2013 Estimate[10]

As of the census of 2000, there were 38,978 people, 16,456 households, and 10,252 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,083.6 people per square mile (418.4/km2). There were 18,797 housing units at an average density of 522.6 per square mile (201.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 62.69% White, 34.00% Black or African American, 0.30% Native American, 0.53% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 1.22% from other races, and 1.17% from two or more races. 2.67% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Perspective map of Gadsden in 1887

There were 16,456 households out of which 24.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.5% were married couples living together, 18.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.7% were non-families. 33.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.91.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.0% under the age of 18, 9.5% from 18 to 24, 25.3% from 25 to 44, 22.0% from 45 to 64, and 20.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 85.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $24,823, and the median income for a family was $31,740. Males had a median income of $29,400 versus $19,840 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,610. About 18.1% of families and 22.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.9% of those under age 18 and 14.6% of those age 65 or over.

Employment[edit]

The Spirit of American Citizenship Monument on Rainbow Drive (US 411), just before the Broad Street Bridge. The Coosa River and East Gadsden are visible in the background.

Citing statistics from the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations and the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama, the Gadsden-Etowah County Industrial Development Authority reports that approximately 12,000 residents of Etowah County are underemployed and 2,179 residents are unemployed as of 2008.[11]

Education[edit]

The Gadsden City Board of Education oversees fourteen schools: eight elementary schools, three middle schools, one high school, and two specialty schools (one alternative center and one technical center).

A new high school, Gadsden City High School, replaced the three former city high schools (Emma Sansom High School, Gadsden High School, and Litchfield High School) via merger for the 2006-2007 school year.

Gadsden is home to Gadsden State Community College, the second largest of the 27 two-year institutions in the Alabama Community College System, initiated by former Governor George Wallace. Small satellites of Jacksonville State University and the University of Alabama also offer college courses in Gadsden.

Gadsden is home of the first state wide day treatment program for juvenile offenders. The Community Intensive Treatment for Youth Program (C.I.T.Y.) was founded in January 1981 by Edward E. Earnest (1943-2005). With the assistance and support of the Honorable Judge Robert E. Lewis (1927-1993), the city of Gadsden, and the Gadsden City Board of Education, the C.I.T.Y. Program began enrolling students on February 1, 1981. C.I.T.Y. is designed to be a multidimensional program emphasizing habilitation (i.e., equipping at-risk youth on juvenile probation with skills needed to meet the demands of modern society). Its objectives are: 1. to identify the at-risk youth’s individual strengths and weaknesses, 2. to provide an individualized environment in which the at-risk youth can develop skills, and 3. to alter the natural environment of the at-risk youth so that new acquired skills are nurtured and encouraged. To achieve these objectives, C.I.T.Y. offers academic remediation in reading, math, language; intensive counseling that involves behavior modification, consumer education, and job readiness training. After all objectives have been met, C.I.T.Y. provides GED preparation, return to public school, and placement into technical school, college, job, or military service. In 1983, C.I.T.Y. Program of Etowah County (Gadsden) received the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Unique and Innovative Project Award. On October 1, 2009, C.I.T.Y.’s name was changed to Special Programming for Achievement Network (S.P.A.N.) and presently functions under the directorship of the Alabama Department of Youth Services. There are eleven programs in the state of Alabama.[12]

Religion[edit]

Gadsden is home to Congregation Beth Israel, a Reform synagogue founded in 1908. In a 1960 attack, the synagogue was fire-bombed, its windows smashed, and two members wounded with a shotgun by a Nazi sympathizer.[13]

Gadsden also houses other churches of Methodist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Baptist, Pentecostal, Mormon, and Catholic faiths.

Points of interest[edit]

Media[edit]

Newspapers

Television

AM Radio

FM Radio

Health care[edit]

Law Enforcement[edit]

The City of Gadsden is served by a municipal police department that includes a Bomb Squad and a Tactical Unit. In May 2010, the Gadsden Police Department acquired two Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV's) under the auspices of a $150,000 federal grant. The drones are equipped with video cameras and wireless transmitters, designed to be used for aerial surveillance.[16]

Transportation[edit]

Notable people[edit]

Further information: List of Gadsden, Alabama people

References[edit]

  • Goodson, Mike. Gadsden: City of Champions. Illustrated by Brock Cole. Arcadia, 2002; ISBN 0-7385-2375-5. Part of the "Making of America" series.
  1. ^ a b "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013". 2013 Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. June 7, 2014. Retrieved June 7, 2014. 
  2. ^ Lawrence, James. A Study of the Origins of Gadsden, Alabama. 2005.
  3. ^ Gadsden-Etowah Tourism Board: Early Gadsden History (archived)
  4. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 133. 
  5. ^ "Gadsden Receives First Place in 2000 City Livability Awards Program." The United States Conference of Mayors, however underemployment continues as a very severe problem as indicated by the economic data presented below. Accessed December 9, 2005.
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  7. ^ "Station Name: AL GADSDEN". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  8. ^ a b c "NowData – NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  9. ^ United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 7, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013". Retrieved June 7, 2014. 
  11. ^ Gadsden-Etowah County Industrial Authority website
  12. ^ Alabama Department of Youth Services, Etowah County Juvenile Probation Office, Gadsden City Board of Education
  13. ^ Webb, Clive. Fight Against Fear: Southern Jews and Black Civil Rights, University of Georgia Press, 2001, pp. 142-143. ISBN 0-8203-2555-4
  14. ^ [1][dead link]
  15. ^ [2][dead link]
  16. ^ [3], KTRK Television

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°00′37″N 86°00′37″W / 34.010147°N 86.010356°W / 34.010147; -86.010356