Huntsville Population Growth
After Huntsville was founded, growth was slow but steady and was only at about 16,000 people at the time of the 1950 census. However, this all changed during the next census, when the population grew to over 72,000 people. The population had nearly doubled by the time of the next poll. While growth has slowed in recent years, recent estimates show that the numbers are up over 7% since the last census in 2010, with the city on track to soon hit over 200,000 residents.
The Chickasaw and Muscogee-speaking tribes were the first settlers in the area. However, the population declined in the early 1800s due to land disputes and disease. The same year, John Hunt settled in the area around Big Spring. Native claims to the land were ceded to the U.S. through treaties signed in 1805 and 1806. LeRoy Pope then purchased the land and named it Twickenham.
The city was planned out, but the name was changed to Huntsville, in honor of John Hunt who had originally settled the land. Huntsville was incorporated as a town in 1811. It was the first incorporated town in the state. The city’s economy and population began to grow significantly with the introduction of the railroad and cotton industries. Cotton planters moved to Huntsville from all over the south. The city was originally made the capital, but this was later changed several times until Montgomery became the capital city.
Huntsville continued to see growth as the Memphis and Charleston Railroad was constructed, linking the coast with the Mississippi River. Following the Civil War, the city was a center for textile mills. These mills built their communities which included schools, churches, stores, and other businesses. However, industry declined in the 1930s because of the Great Depression.
Though growth had remained slow and steady, this changed in the 1940s with the construction of three chemical munitions facilities. The personnel totaled around 20,000 throughout World War II. In 1950, the Ordnance Guided Missile Center came to Huntsville and developed the Redstone Rocket, which paved the path for the U.S. space program and Army missile programs.
Today, the city’s economy revolved around the technology industry. The city is home to over 25 biotechnology firms. The city has been named as one of the best cities for defense jobs and one of the most educated cities in the U.S.