Tuscaloosa County, Alabama
Tuscaloosa County Courthouse in Tuscaloosa
Location within the U.S. state of Alabama
Alabama's location within the U.S.
|Founded||February 6, 1818|
|• Total||1,351 sq mi (3,500 km2)|
|• Land||1,322 sq mi (3,420 km2)|
|• Water||30 sq mi (80 km2) 2.2%%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||140/sq mi (56/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (Central)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
|Congressional districts||4th, 7th|
The county's estimated population as of 2020 was 210,758 by the U.S. Census Bureau and was 194,656 in the 2010 census. The county seat and largest city is Tuscaloosa. Tuscaloosa County is part of the Tuscaloosa, AL Metropolitan Statistical Area, which also includes Hale and Pickens counties. The community gained international attention in 1993 when it landed Mercedes-Benz's first North American assembly plant, and as of 2021, the company employs over 4,000 people at the facility. Even so, Tier-1 research university The University of Alabama remains the county's largest employer and dominant economic and cultural engine.
Other unincorporated communities
Quality of Life
Tuscaloosa County, Alabama’s scenic location amid the Appalachian foothills, pleasant climate, and rich cultural opportunities comes at a value with an overall cost of living that is 12% lower than the national average.
Tuscaloosa County's housing market is attractive for its affordability and diversity of options that include traditional neighborhoods, luxury waterfront living, rural settings and downtown apartments. The average housing value as of May 2021 was $182,303. The county experienced a 31.2% increase in year-over-year sales from 2020-2021.
The county offer many opportunities and amenities for getting outdoors and enjoying the natural environment, including 177 miles of shoreline for recreational use along its waterways.The county has 35 parks and nearly 2,000 acres of greenspace for people to enjoy. Other highlights include the 5,000-acre Lake Tuscaloosa; the1,600-acre Lake Lurleen State Park, which has a 250-acre lake; Hurricane Creek just east of downtown Tuscaloosa; The University of Alabama Arboretum; and dozens of other locations for hunting, boating, hiking and nature watching.
A culturally diverse population and college town atmosphere translate to plenty of festivals, music, art, and other social events. Notable destinations for entertainment include Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, which has a capacity of 8,400 and offers views of the Black Warrior River and a historic train trestle during live music performances. The amphitheatre is adjacent to downtown Tuscaloosa's lively entertainment district that includes many bars, live music venues, restaurants, and hotels. One venue, the historic Bama Theatre, dates to 1938 and hosts events nearly 300 nights annually. Every Friday evening during the summer, the City of Tuscaloosa hosts a free live concert series, Live at the Plaza.
Restaurants & Retailers
Tuscaloosa County's dining and shopping options include a good mix of locally-owned businesses and national brands. Restaurants range from upscale fine dining to traditional Southern cooking to international options that reflect the community's cultural diversity. For fresh farm products and other local goods, the county also has the popular Tuscaloosa River Market farmers market located along the Riverwalk, and the Northport Farmers Market.
Museums & The Arts
Historical museums in Tuscaloosa County include the Alabama Museum of Natural History, which is the oldest in the state, The Mildred Westervelt Warner Transportation Museum, and the Paul W. Bryant Museum, which interprets The University of Alabama Athletics' accomplished history. Also, The Children’s Hands on Museum (CHOM) showcases the history of Tuscaloosa County in ways that are especially engaging and relatable to kids.
Kentuck Art Center in historic downtown Northport is an internationally recognized year-round retail space that represents approximately 180 artists from around the country, and 60% of those artists are local to Alabama. The Center also hosts an annual Kentuck Festival of the Arts drawing crowds of more than 10,000 from across the country.
Supporting the Alabama Crimson Tide is a major part of life in Tuscaloosa County. The University of Alabama's 21 varsity SEC teams have achieved over 25 national championships. Most prominent is Crimson Tide Football and Bryant-Denny Stadium, which seats just over 100,000 people. Football games in Tuscaloosa make a $25.8 million per-game impact.
Sports Leagues & Wellness
Residents of Tuscaloosa County have access to numerous sports leagues, gyms, public recreation centers, tennis facilities and golf courses. Tuscaloosa County Parks and Recreation Authority (PARA) operates seven activity centers that have facilities for basketball, swimming, workouts, and other recreation. PARA also operates youth sports leagues, as does the YMCA. For tennis, there are two country clubs as well as a public facility. The county is also home to many public and private golf courses, many of which are nationally recognized.
Tuscaloosa County’s largest employers represent education institutions, quality health-care providers, and enterprises focused on advanced manufacturing for the automotive and other industries. The county's 20 largest employers are: The University of Alabama, Mercedes Benz U.S. International, DCH Regional Medical Center, Tuscaloosa County Board of Education, City of Tuscaloosa Board of Education, Warrior Met Coal, Inc., The City of Tuscaloosa, Michelin/BF Goodrich Tire Manufacturing, Veterans Adminstration Medical Center, SMP Automotive Systems, Phifer Incorporated, Brose Tuscaloosa, Northport Medical Center, ARD Logistics, Shelton State Community College, Bryce Hospital, Tuscaloosa County, Nucor Tuscaloosa, ZF Chassis Systems Tuscaloosa Axel Systems, and the Alabama Department of Transportation.
Tuscaloosa County has a total labor force of approximately 100,220 that includes many recent graduates of local higher education institutions.
The county partners with West AlabamaWorks, a workforce development organizatoin that connects government, education, and priviate sector partners throughout a nine-county region. The county also works closely with statewide workforce development resources including Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT) and Alabama Technology Network. AIDT is a nationally renowned state agency that provides no-cost career technical program enhancements at the state's community and technical colleges, customizing services to benefit employers and trainees. Alabama Technology Network, part of the Alabama Community College System, is ISO 9001:2008 Certified and connects industry leaders with government and education resources to provide workforce training, technical assistance, and engineering services to existing workers in the following areas:
Tuscaloosa City Schools and the Tuscaloosa County School District both offer technical and career education as part of their standard curriculum. Tuscaloosa Career & Technology Academy, part of Tuscaloosa City Schools, offers instruction in 17 career pathways at its $23-million facility.The Bill Taylor Institute, a collaboration between Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc. and AIDT, offers high school and community apprenticeship courses.
Capitalizing on access to research and development resources of its higher education institutions along with a large, skilled workforce, the Tuscaloosa County Economic Development Authority recently identified six target industries for future economic growth and expansion: Research & Development, Healthcare, Corporate Operations, Advanced Manufacturing, Information Technology, and Energy.
The county is the home to Tier-1 research university The University of Alabama, Shelton State Community College, and private liberal arts school Stillman College, a historically black college founded in 1876. Together, the three schools enroll 43,681 students as of spring 2021.
Primary & Secondary Education
The Tuscaloosa County School System serves students in the county who live outside the city limits of Tuscaloosa. The system has been in operation since 1871. The system is managed by a board of education, composed of 7 members elected by single-member districts by the voters of the county outside the limits of the city of Tuscaloosa. The board appoints a superintendent to manage the day-to-day operations of the system. In school year 2012–13, almost 18,000 students were enrolled by the system. There are 19 elementary schools, 8 middle schools, 6 high schools. Children are also served at the Tuscaloosa Regional Detention Center and Sprayberry Regional Educational Center; the latter provides services to gifted and special needs children. The six county high schools are Brookwood High School (Brookwood), Hillcrest High School (Taylorville), Holt (Holt), Northside (Samantha), Sipsey Valley (Coker), and Tuscaloosa County High School (Northport).
The Tuscaloosa City School System serves students who live in the city of Tuscaloosa. There are approximately 10,000 students enrolled in Tuscaloosa City Schools. Twenty-four schools comprise the district, including 13 elementary schools, 6 middle schools, 3 high schools and 3 campuses dedicated to specialty education: one for students with special needs and those receiving alternative education, a school for students studying performing arts, and a career technical facility for grades 9 – 12. The three high schools are Paul W. Bryant High School, Central High School, and Northridge High School.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,351 square miles (3,500 km2), of which 1,322 square miles (3,420 km2) is land and 30 square miles (78 km2) (2.2%) is water. It is the second-largest county in Alabama by land area and third-largest by total area. It is located in the west central part of the state, in the region commonly known as West Alabama. The county straddles the boundary between the Appalachian Highlands and the Gulf Coastal Plain and consequently boasts a diverse geography. Tuscaloosa County contains part of the Talladega National Forest, a national protected area.
Adjacent counties are: Walker County (northeast), Jefferson County (east), Bibb County (southeast), Hale County (south), Greene County (southwest), Pickens County (west), and Fayette County (northwest).
|Road Name||S/W Terminus||N/E Terminus||Length||Cash tolls (automobile)||Notes|
|Black Warrior Parkway||Tuscaloosa||Northport||4.9 mi.||$1.50|
- Freight: Class 1 Railroads Kansas City Southern and Norfolk Southern Railway
- Intermodal Freight: Norfolk Southern’s Birmingham Regional Intermodal Facility just across the county line in McCalla
- Passenger Service: The county is served by Amtrak's Crescent at Tuscaloosa station.
Airports & Cargo Facilities
The Black Warrior River bisects Tuscaloosa County and is part of Alabama’s network of more than 1,300 miles of navigable waterways (the largest inland waterway system in the U.S.).
The Alabama State Port Authority (ASPA) owns and operates the State of Alabama’s deepwater port facilities at the Port of Mobile, located approximately 225 highway miles from Tuscaloosa.
ASPA also operates the Tuscaloosa-Northport Inland Dock in Tuscaloosa County, which features a 60’ by 80’ concrete barge dock, mooring dolphins, a 24,000-square-foot warehouse and a 570,000 bushel grain elevator. Private docking facilities are also available in the county.
Parker Towing Company, with headquarters in Tuscaloosa, provides regional and local barge service and has one of the largest barge lines in the Southeast.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2000, there were 164,875 people, 64,517 households, and 41,677 families residing in the county. The population density was 124 per square mile (48 persons/km2). The population core of the county lies in Tuscaloosa-Northport conurbation (including Coaling, Coker, and Holt CDP). The combined 2000 Census population of this area (not including their undesignated suburban census areas) is 103,367, accounting for 62.7% of the county in population, while only accounting for 6.9% in area. Consequently, the population density of the central population core is 1,137 persons per square mile (439 persons/km2), while the density of the county outside the central population core is only 44 persons per square mile (17 persons/km2).
There were 71,429 housing units at an average density of 54 per square mile (21/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 68.12% White, 29.31% Black or African American, 0.23% Native American, 0.92% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.56% from other races, and 0.82% from two or more races. Nearly 1.29% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 64,517 households, out of which 30.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them; 47.20% were married couples living together, 14.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.40% were non-families. 28.40% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42, and the average family size was 3.00.
In the county, the population was spread out, with 23.40% under the age of 18, 16.50% from 18 to 24, 28.10% from 25 to 44, 20.80% from 45 to 64, and 11.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.50 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $34,436, and the median income for a family was $45,485. Males had a median income of $34,807 versus $24,128 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,998. About 11.30% of families and 17.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.50% of those under age 18 and 13.20% of those age 65 or over.
As of the census of 2010, there were 194,656 people, 76,141 households, and 46,304 families residing in the county. The population density was 147 per square mile (57 persons/km2). There were 84,872 housing units at an average density of 64 per square mile (25/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 66.3% White, 29.6% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.5% from other races, and 1.1% from two or more races. Nearly 3.1% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 76,141 households, out of which 26.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them; 41.6% were married couples living together, 14.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.2% were non-families. 29.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42, and the average family size was 3.02.
In the county, the population was spread out, with 21.5% under the age of 18, 19.7% from 18 to 24, 25.2% from 25 to 44, 22.9% from 45 to 64, and 10.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31.2 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.3 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $42,311, and the median income for a family was $58,756. Males had a median income of $42,424 versus $32,163 for females. The per capita income for the county was $22,546. About 11.3% of families and 19.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.4% of those under age 18 and 10.1% of those age 65 or over.
See also the history of Tuscaloosa, Alabama
1800 to 1850
The pace of white settlement in the Southeast increased greatly after the War of 1812 and the Treaty of Fort Jackson and the subsequent availability of land previously settled by Native Americans. A small assortment of log cabins soon arose near the large Creek village at the fall line of the river, which the new settlers named in honor of the sixteenth-century Chief Tuskaloosa. of a Muskogean-speaking tribe and paramount chief of the Mississippian culture. To form the word, they combined the Choctaw words "tushka" or "tashka" ("warrior") and "lusa" ("black").
In 1817, Alabama became a territory. Tuscaloosa County was established on February 6, 1818. On December 13, 1819, the territorial legislature incorporated the town of Tuskaloosa- now Tuscaloosa - one day before Congress admitted Alabama to the Union as a state.
From 1826 to 1846, Tuskaloosa was the capital of Alabama. The State House was built at the corner of 6th Street and 28th Avenue (now the site of Capitol Park). In 1831, the University of Alabama was established.
1850 to 1950
During the antebellum years, the principal crop was cotton, cultivated and processed by African-American slaves. By 1860, shortly before Alabama's secession from the Union, the county had a total of 12,971 whites, 84 "free" African Americans, and 10,145 African-American slaves; the latter comprised 43.7 percent of the total population. The Civil War brought significant changes, including migration out of the county by some African Americans. Some freedmen moved to nearby counties and larger cities for more opportunities and to join with other freedmen in communities less subject to white supervision and intimidation.
Several thousand men from Tuscaloosa County fought in the Confederate armies. During the last weeks of the War, a brigade of Union troops raiding the city burned the campus of the university. The town of Tuscaloosa was also damaged in the battle and shared fully in the South's economic sufferings which followed the defeat. Following Reconstruction, there was violence as whites struggled to regain control of the state legislature. It reached a height in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Tuscaloosa County had a total of 10 documented lynchings of African Americans, according to a 2015 study by the Equal Justice Initiative.
In the 1890s the construction of a system of locks and dams on the Black Warrior River by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers improved navigation to such an extent that Tuscaloosa was effectively connected to the Gulf Coast seaport of Mobile. This stimulated the economy and trade, and mining and metallurgical industries were developed in the region. By the advent of the 20th century, the growth of the University of Alabama and the mental health-care facilities in the city, along with a strong national economy, fueled a steady growth in Tuscaloosa which continued unabated for 100 years.
In 1901, the state legislature passed a constitution that disenfranchised most African Americans and tens of thousands of poor whites and followed with Jim Crow laws enforcing racial segregation. Due to this oppression and problems of continued violence by lynchings, many African Americans left Alabama in two waves of the Great Migration in the first half of the 20th century. They went to Northern and Midwestern industrial cities. Their mass departure from Tuscaloosa County is reflected in the lower rates of county population growth from 1910 to 1930, and from 1950 to 1970. (see Census Table).
1950 to 2000
Blacks by 1960 represented 28.7% of the county population, and they were still disenfranchised throughout the state. African Americans in Tuscaloosa were active in demonstrations and other civil rights activities throughout the 1960s, seeking desegregation of public facilities, including the county courthouse. The university was at the center of significant moments in the civil rights movement, including the admission of Autherine Lucy and the pro-segregation demonstration that followed as well as the Stand in the Schoolhouse Door incident in which then-governor George Wallace attempted to stop desegregation of the institution by denying entrance to two African-American students.
The late 21st century brought positive economic news when Mercedes-Benz announced it would build its first U.S. assembly plant near Vance. The facility opened in 1995 It opened in and began assembling the R-Class Grand Sport Tourer in 2005. From 2006–2015 it produced the GL-Class vehicles; and since 1998 and 2015 respectively, has produced the GLS-Class and GLE-CLASS. The plant brought thousands of jobs to the area through its own direct hires as well as those of the many component suppliers it attracted.
2000 to Present
On April 27, 2011, the city of Tuscaloosa was hit by a half-mile (800 m) wide EF4 tornado, which was part of the 2011 Super Outbreak. It resulted in at least 44 deaths in the city, over 1000 injuries, and massive devastation. Officials at DCH Hospital (alone) in Tuscaloosa reported treating more than 1000 injured people in the first several days of the tornado aftermath. Mayor Maddox was quoted saying that "We have neighborhoods that have been basically removed from the map." On April 29, President Barack Obama, upon touring the tornado damage in Tuscaloosa, said "I have never seen devastation like this".
In the decade since, more than $1 billion in public and private funding has assisted the community in recovery. Former Tuscaloosa City Council President told NPR in 2021, "Black, white, young and old come together and we worked through this thing and made Tuscaloosa what it is today."
Government & Politics
Tuscaloosa County is somewhat conservative for a county dominated by a college town. While most such counties have swung toward the Democrats since the 1990s, Tuscaloosa County has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1976, and has only gone Democratic once since 1960. For example, Tuscaloosa County voted for John McCain over Barack Obama in the 2008 Election by a margin of 58-42%. However, Obama attracted high turnout and many votes from young people and others, in addition to the African-American minority. The latter make up 28.9% of the population of the county and have supported Democrats in national elections since the civil rights era and restoration of their constitutional right to vote.
Tuscaloosa County is one of seven in the state with limited home rule. It must still gain state legislative approval on many issues, including for financial measures. The four-member County Commission is elected from single-member districts.
Judges are also elected. The current District Court Judges are:
- Judge Joanne Jannik
- Judge Jim Gentry
The current Circuit Court Judges in no particular order are:
- Judge Allen W. May, Jr., Presiding Judge
- Judge M. Bradley Almond
- Judge Daniel F. Pruet
- Judge James H. Roberts, Jr.
- Judge Elizabeth C. Hamner
The current Clerk of the Circuit Court is Magaria H. Bobo.
The current County Sheriff is Ron Abernathy. The chief law enforcement officer of Tuscaloosa County, which comprises the Sixth Judicial Circuit, is Hays Webb, District Attorney, also an elected position.
On the federal level, Tuscaloosa County is divided between the fourth and seventh congressional districts of Alabama, represented by Robert Aderholt (R) and Terri Sewell (D), respectively. The 7th district includes much of the Black Belt and is a majority-minority district, with a predominantly African-American majority.
Tuscaloosa County is within the northern federal court district of Alabama.
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama
- Properties on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama
- "ACES Winston County Office" (links/history), Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES), 2007, webpage: ACES-Tuscaloosa.
- "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau.
- "Quality of Life". Tuscaloosa County EDA. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
- "Housing". Tuscaloosa County EDA. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
- "Recreation". Tuscaloosa County EDA. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
- "Major Employers". Tuscaloosa County EDA. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
- "Workforce". Tuscaloosa County EDA. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
- "Target Industries". Tuscaloosa County EDA. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
- "Workforce". Tuscaloosa County EDA. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
- "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
- "Transportation". Tuscaloosa County EDA. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
- "County Population Totals: 2010-2020". Retrieved June 27, 2021.
- "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
- "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
- Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 24, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
- "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
- United States Census Bureau. "2010 Census Data". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 12, 2012.
- Tom Blake, "MIGRATION OF FORMER SLAVES", Tuscaloosa County, AL, February 2002, at Rootsweb
- "Supplement: Lynchings by County/ Alabama: Tuscaloosa", 3rd edition Archived October 23, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, from Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror, 2015, Equal Justice Institute, Montgomery, Alabama
- "Twister Outbreak is Second Deadliest in History", NBC News, AP News & Reuters (jointly produced article), April 30, 2011, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/42834400
- "Tuscaloosa tornadoes: Death toll at 36, Mayor Walt Maddox says | al.com". Blog.al.com. Retrieved July 10, 2013.
- Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-weather-children-idUSTRE73S7MU20110429 
- "Twister debris searched; nearly 300 dead - Weather | NBC News". NBC News. April 29, 2011. Retrieved July 10, 2013.
- "President Obama, First Lady Tour Alabama Tornado Damage - ABC News". Abcnews.go.com. April 29, 2011. Retrieved July 10, 2013.
- "'Day You'll Never Forget': Decade After Deadly Tuscaloosa Tornado, Recovery Is Uneven". NPR.org. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
- "Election Map: Counties", Phil Hardwick blog, November 2008
- "County Commission", Tuscaloosa County Commission website
- Official City of Tuscaloosa Homepage
- Tuscaloosa County District Attorney's Office
- Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama
- Tuscaloosa Convention and Visitor's Bureau
- Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority
- Tuscaloosa Public Library
- Official Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office Homepage
- Tuscaloosa County Probate Records
- Online Tuscaloosa
- Arts Council of Tuscaloosa
- Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra
- Tuscaloosa County Jail Information
- Destination Tuscaloosa Magazine
- Tuscaloosa County map of roads/towns (map © 2007 Univ. of Alabama).
-  Tuscaloosa County School System