Huntsville is located in the extreme northern region of Alabama, on the Tennessee border. Huntsville has an area of two hundred two square miles and a population of 202,000 residents. The original name of the city was Twickenham and was incorporated as such in 1811. After the War of 1812, the city was re-named for its first settler John Hunt. Although it started out by a different name, Huntsville was still the first city in Alabama to be incorporated.
Nostalgia and history both play an important role in Huntsville’s tourism sector. Most of the city’s attractions are based on some degree of their historic significance to the town. Harrison Brothers Hardware Store, established in 1879, is the oldest continuously operating hardware store in Alabama. Early Works Museum Complex provides visitors to Mobile one stop shopping when it comes to area attractions. There are three different museums in the complex. each depicting an area of importance in Mobile’s history. Constitution Village is a living village where a costumed cast re-enact the founding of Alabama’s statehood. The Huntsville Depot and Museum is also part of the Early Works Complex. The depot features locomotives and graffiti scrawled by Civil War Soldiers. The depot also has a children’s area that features costumes, puzzles, and games. The last museum in the Complex is the Children’s Museum. It is a completely hands on museum designed especially for children to build, explore, touch, feel, hear, see, and create. Some of its attractions include a talking tree and a forty six foot keel boat.
Burritt On The Mountain is a living museum of regional history. It was originally the home of Dr. William Burritt. The mountaintop location of the home, which provides panoramic views of the city, was well as its unique “X” shape draws hundreds of visitors each year. An interesting fact about the home is that it is insulated with 2,300 bales of hay. Another museum of note in Huntsville is the North Alabama Railroad Museum. This museum depicts the history of the railroad in Alabama through artifacts, displays, and exhibits. There are many educational programs at the museum year round. What makes this museum particularly interesting is that visitors can go on a train ride through some of the most scenic parts of the area surrounding Huntsville.
There are, of course, more modern attractions in Huntsville. The most popular of these is the US Space and Rocket Center. This center is the largest space attraction in the world. The center is not only the most popular in Huntsville, but also in the entire state of Alabama. The center includes many interactive exhibits that focus on Apollo and Mercury Space Shuttle spacecraft. There are three space flight simulators at the center as well as a space training camp for adults and children alike.
There are many annual activities and events in Huntsville that highlight some of the city‘s cultural offerings and civic groups. The Panoply Arts Festival is a three day event each spring whose focus is to bring the arts to life through dance, music, and visual art. The WEUP Black Arts Festival is one of the largest ethnic festivals in the country and is a two day celebration of music, art, and dance. The Big Spring Jam is a music festival that attracts tens of thousands each year for performances by professional musicians featuring country, rock, and jazz music.