Leeds, Alabama

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Leeds, Alabama
Location predominantly in Jefferson County and the state of Alabama
Location predominantly in Jefferson County and the state of Alabama
Coordinates: 33°32′44″N 86°33′27″W / 33.54556°N 86.55750°W / 33.54556; -86.55750
Country United States
State Alabama
Counties Jefferson, St. Clair, Shelby
 • Total 22.4 sq mi (58.3 km2)
 • Land 22.3 sq mi (57.9 km2)
 • Water 0.1 sq mi (0.4 km2)
Elevation 627 ft (191 m)
Population (2013)[1]
 • Total 11,907
 • Density 466.7/sq mi (179.3/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 35094
Area code(s) 205
FIPS code 01-41968
GNIS feature ID 0152018
Website http://www.leedsalabama.gov/

Leeds is a tri-county municipality located in Jefferson, St. Clair, and Shelby Counties in the State of Alabama. It is an eastern suburb of Birmingham. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city is 11,773.

Leeds was founded in 1877, during the final years of the post-Civil War Reconstruction Era. It housed the workers and their families of Lehigh, a Portland Cement manufacturing plant. Leeds has always been a major export of limestone and cement. Also, Lehigh was the first cement plant in America to sell bagged cement, beginning a new type of revolution in the America's cement industry.


Leeds was incorporated on April 27, 1887. Its success was due to the incorporation of nearby Birmingham and the beginning of iron ore production there, the building of the Georgia Pacific Railway from Birmingham to Atlanta, and the construction of a Portland Cement manufacturing plant in 1906.

Recent history[edit]

Many recent events in Leeds adds to its history and growth. Leeds is having changes in development and population as the eastward population shift continues into Jefferson and St. Clair Counties. Leeds has also benefited from the recent addition of the Barber Motorsports Park and one of the world's largest Bass Pro Shops Outlet that opened in November 2008. In November 2010, The Outlets of Grand River shopping complex opened in proximity to the Motorsports Park and the Bass Pro Shop.


The tale of John Henry was believed to have originated in Leeds, Alabama. In this folk story, John Henry, the "steel-drivin' man", raced (and won against) a steam engine in the laying of railroad that penetrated the Oak Mountain Tunnel in Leeds. Retired chemistry professor and folklorist John Garst, of the University of Georgia, has argued that the contest happened at the Coosa Mountain Tunnel or the Oak Mountain Tunnel of the Columbus and Western Railway (now part of Norfolk Southern Railway) in Leeds on September 20, 1887.[2]

Based on documentation that corresponds with the account of C. C. Spencer, who claimed in the 1920s to have witnessed the contest, Garst speculates that John Henry may have been a man named Henry who was born a slave to P.A.L. Dabney, the father of the chief engineer of that railroad, in 1850.[2] Since 2007, the city of Leeds has honored John Henry's legend during an annual September festival, held on the third weekend in September, called the Leeds Downtown Folk Festival & John Henry Celebration.[3]


Leeds is located at 33°32′44″N 86°33′27″W / 33.54556°N 86.55750°W / 33.54556; -86.55750 (33.545592, -86.557388)[4], primarily within Jefferson County.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 22.5 square miles (58 km2), of which, 22.4 square miles (58 km2) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) of it (0.67%) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1910 810
1920 1,600 97.5%
1930 2,529 58.1%
1940 2,910 15.1%
1950 3,306 13.6%
1960 6,162 86.4%
1970 6,991 13.5%
1980 8,638 23.6%
1990 9,946 15.1%
2000 10,455 5.1%
2010 11,773 12.6%
Est. 2013 11,907 1.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[5]
2013 Estimate[6]

As of the census of 2010, there were 11,773 people, and 4,818 households. The population density was 514.9 people per square mile. There were 5,221 housing units at an average density of 205.2 per square mile. The racial makeup of the city was 78.7% White, 14.3% Black or African American, 0.4% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, and 2% from two or more races. 6.6% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 4,818 households out of which 21.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.5% were non-families. 14.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48. Not much family data was found.

In the city, the population was spread out with 21.9% under the age of 18 and 14.8% who were 65 years of age or older. No gender ratios were found.

The median income for a household in the city was $44,149. The per capita income for the city was $22,716. About 14.6% of the population were below the poverty line.


Leeds is served by the Leeds City School District.[7][8]

In 2009, the City of Leeds Board of Education authorized the construction—completed by the Wyatt Construction Company—of two new schools, Leeds Middle School and Leeds High School. They began construction in 2009 and now have completed both schools. The Leeds BOE also authorized the renovations of and additions to Leeds Elementary School, which began in 2008. These renovations were made by the Wyatt Construction Company, they include an expanded office and a new awning around the front of the school.

In 2013, Leeds Elementary School gained attention for asking parents for permission to administer corporal punishment to their children. Alabama is one of 19 states that allow corporal punishment in schools, and ranks third in the rate of students subjected to physical punishment.[9]


On December 4, 2008 the Leeds High School Green Wave Football team won the Class 3A AHSAA State Football Championship and finishing the year 15-0, beating the Cordova Blue Devils in the Super Six Tournament at historic Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama. On February 28, 2009, the Green Wave Basketball team won the 3A AHSAA State Basketball Championship by defeating Madison Academy, 72-64.

On December 6, 2010 the Green Wave Football team won the Class 3A AHSAA State Football Championship and finishing the year 15-0, beating the Hamiton raiders in the Super Six Tournament on Pat Dye Field at Jordan Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama.

Musical arts[edit]

The Pride of the Green Wave marching band has a history of performance and competitive excellence. The band is competitive on the local, state, and regional level. They are active members of USBands and Bands of America. The Pride has been awarded numerous Superior ratings and Best in Class Awards. Most recently they were the USBands Division II A Southern States Champions and were awarded Best in Class A at the Hoover Invitational as well as Second place Class A at the Bands of America Southeastern Regional. Performance excellence has afforded the band invitations to appear in the Governor's Inaugural Parade, The Birmingham Heart Walk, numerous television appearances, as well as local and area community events.

The Symphonic Band consistently receives Superior ratings. Most recently they were awarded a Gold rating at the Southern Star Festival of Champions in Panama City Beach Florida, as well as all Superior ratings at the Alabama Band Directors Association festival, the Alabama Independent School Association festival, and The Contest of Champions where they were also awarded Best in Class. They perform a varied repertoire. The Symphonic band takes advantage of several performance opportunities during the Fall and Spring semester.

The Green Wave Jazz is the latest addition to the performing groups. Most recently they were awarded a Gold rating at the Southern Star Festival of Champions in Panama City Beach Florida. They perform at concerts and other community functions; a real audience favorite.

Other sports[edit]

The Leeds High School Track and Field team has won several state championships. The 2007 Leeds High School Softball team won the 3A state championship after winning six straight games from the loser's bracket at Montgomery's Lagoon Park.

Famous natives[edit]


  1. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2014-06-07. 
  2. ^ a b Garst, John (2002). "Chasing John Henry in Alabama and Mississippi: A Personal Memoir of Work in Progress". Tributaries: Journal of the Alabama Folklife Association 5: 92–129. 
  3. ^ "Free Leeds Downtown Folk Festival is Saturday & Sunday", Christie Dedman -- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News, September 15, 2011

    "John Henry in Leeds", Leeds Folk Festival

  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  5. ^ United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved August 10, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013". Retrieved June 7, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Leeds City School District schools, Leeds - AL: charter and public schools. Leeds school district - Leeds AL school district". Greatschools.net. 2010-09-07. Retrieved 2011-02-16. 
  8. ^ "Mobile, Alabama Real-Time News –". Al.com. Retrieved 2011-02-16. 
  9. ^ "Wendy Chandler, Alabama Mom, Furious Over 'Corporal Punishment Consent Form'". huffingtonpost.com. 2013-09-19. Retrieved 2013-09-19. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°32′44″N 86°33′27″W / 33.545592°N 86.557388°W / 33.545592; -86.557388