Gulf Shores, Alabama
Condominiums and hotels on the beach
Small Town, Big Beach
Location of Gulf Shores in Baldwin County, Alabama.
|• Mayor||Robert Craft|
|• Total||32.92 sq mi (85.25 km2)|
|• Land||28.07 sq mi (72.70 km2)|
|• Water||4.85 sq mi (12.55 km2)|
|Elevation||7 ft (2 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||445.94/sq mi (172.18/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (Central (CST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||0119462|
Gulf Shores is located on the Gulf of Mexico at 30°16'4.069" North, 87°42'5.285" West (30.267797, −87.701468). It is the southernmost settlement in the state of Alabama. It is served by Alabama State Route 59 (Gulf Shores Parkway), which leads north to Foley. Route 182 (Beach Boulevard) runs east-west along the shore front, while Route 180 (Fort Morgan Road) runs parallel to it, north of Little Lagoon. Gulf State Park occupies a large eastern part of the city.
Gulf Shores is located 33 miles (53 km) west of Pensacola, Florida, 54 miles (87 km) south of Mobile, 197 miles (317 km) east of New Orleans, 194 miles (312 km) south of Montgomery, and 55 miles (89 km) west of Navarre, Florida. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 28.0 square miles (72.5 km2), of which 23.2 square miles (60.0 km2) is land and 4.8 square miles (12.5 km2), or 17.24%, is water.
Gulf Shores has a humid subtropical climate, with long, hot summers, and mild and sunny winters. With bright sunny summers and warm winters, Alabama Gulf Coast weather offers year-round opportunities for beach-going, fishing, and golfing. Winters are generally mild and residents can enjoy outside activities the majority of the time. Daily highs in winter are close to 60 °F (16 °C) and nighttime lows are near 40 °F (4 °C). Summers are hot, which makes for great beach weather and the sea breeze provides relief from the heat as well as humidity. Daytime highs in summer are near 90 °F (32 °C) and evening lows near 68 °F (20 °C). While the area enjoys a strong "snowbird" season from December to April, many locals say that May/June and October/November are the best months. Ocean surf temperatures are quite warm from May through November, often well into the low 80s.
As a result of being located on the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico, Gulf Shores is vulnerable to tropical cyclones. In September 1979, Hurricane Frederic caused massive destruction, leveling most of the town. In September 2004, Hurricane Ivan caused extensive wind and flooding damage. In 2005, while the city was still cleaning up from Ivan, Hurricane Katrina caused extensive damage and flooding. Many newer buildings are built to strict building codes, and structures are elevated to reduce tropical cyclone damage.
|Climate data for Gulf Shores, Alabama|
|Average high °F (°C)||60
|Average low °F (°C)||40
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||6.11
|Source: The Weather Channel|
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2010, there were 9,741 people living in the city. The population density was 274.3 per square mile (105.9/km2). There were 6,810 housing units at an average density of 370.4 per square mile (143.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 97.54% White, 0.22% Black or African American, 0.44% Native American, 0.30% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.40% from other races, and 1.07% from two or more races. 1.23% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 2,344 households out of which 20.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.2% were married couples living together, 7.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.1% were non-families. 26.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.15 and the average family size was 2.56.
16.4% of the population was under the age of 18, 6.7% from 18 to 24, 24.8% from 25 to 44, 29.0% from 45 to 64, and 23.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.5 males. The median income for a household in the city was $41,826, and the median income for a family was $51,862. Males had a median income of $40,259 versus $22,467 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,356. About 6.8% of families and 9.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.4% of those under age 18 and 6.5% of those age 65 or over.
On October 9, 2017, the City of Gulf Shores Council passed resolution No. 5876-17 to create the Gulf Shores City School System. This resolution effectively began the process for the City of Gulf Shores to break away from the Baldwin County School System. The resolution also created the first Gulf Shores City School Board of Education. The Board of Education is appointed by the Gulf Shores City Council. The first, and current, Gulf Shores City School Board members are:
- Kevin S. Corcoran
- Ralph R. Gold, Jr.
- Nichole (Nicky) P. Gotschall
- Dale Kayser Jernigan RN, MSN
- Kelly L. Walker
Gulf Shores is currently part of the Baldwin County Public Schools system.
- Coastal Alabama Community College
- Gulf Shores High School (grades 9-12)
- Gulf Shores Middle School (grades 7-8)
- Gulf Shores Elementary School (grades K-6)
Like many coastal communities, tourism plays a major role in the local economy of Gulf Shores. The 2010 BP oil spill was expected to severely affect both local real estate and beach tourism. However, after a rough year, the tourism economy in Gulf Shores appears to have returned to pre-spill levels. In October 2011, the city began a branding campaign to help it stand out from other coastal destinations in the area.
Ocean fishing, beaches, boating cruises, and especially golf are major draws for the area. Chartered fishing boats and cruise boats for sunsets, dinner cruises, dolphin watching, and watersports embark regularly, and the area is home to two of the top-rated golf resorts in Alabama - Craft Farms and Kiva Dunes. There are a total of nine signature golf clubs, as well as a state-owned 18-hole course. Other popular attractions include the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo (as featured in Animal Planet's "The Little Zoo that Could"); Pelican Place at Craft Farms, a shopping mall; and Waterville USA, a family amusement/waterpark. The city is home to an annual three-day music festival on the beach each May, the Hangout Music Festival.
The City of Gulf Shores is moving forward with plans to transform Gulf Place, the city’s most iconic stretch of beachfront and main public beach area with a $15 million Gulf Place Revitalization Project. Amenities will include a public boardwalk on the beachside of the parking areas and public green space, walking paths, shade structures, restrooms, and attractive landscaping. Sustainable and low-impact development strategies will be major components of the project, including on-site stormwater management and reuse. Beach dune restoration will be incorporated into the design to provide habitat and protection from storm surge.
Jack Edwards National Airport is located in Gulf Shores and offers services from Gulf Air Center, Salt Air Aviation Center and Platium Air Center. The airport is located in town, two miles from the beach. Their FBO Gulf Air Center will provide a rental vehicle while they take care of fueling and storing aircraft. There is 48-hour and long term parking available. The longest paved runway extends 6,962 feet. The facility is at an elevation of 17 feet. They offer outside tiedown as well as hangar space for aircraft. They can provide space by the night, week or month.
Many Alabama residents have opposed the building of a new hotel on state property and the use of BP Oil spill funds to finance projects other than environmental repair. In 2016, the state of Alabama elected to close a road on State Park property without any notice or warning. It is now used as a bicycle and hiking trail.
In popular culture
Gulf Shores was referenced in the first episode of True Detective.
Gulf Shores was referenced in the movie The Devil's Advocate. The name of the city was mentioned by Mary Ann Lomax, played by Charlize Theron.
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