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Gadsden (incorporated 1867) is the largest city and county seat of Etowah County in northeast Alabama. The city has a population of 35,157 in an area of 38.5 square miles. It is located 55 miles northeast of Birmingham at the southern terminus of Lookout Mountain along the west bank of the Coosa River.
The city was named for Colonel James Gadsden of South Carolina, a member of Andrew Jackson's command, railroad executive, and negotiator of the "Gadsden Purchase" of southern Arizona and New Mexico.
The first American settlement in the area that comprises Gadsden was a town known as Double Springs founded around 1825, (not to be confused with the current town with the same name in Winston County). On July 4, 1875 the first steamboat arrived at the settlement establishing trade along the Coosa with Rome, Georgia. The town of Gadsden was laid out the following year with the establishment of the Coosa & Tennessee Rivers Railroad, connecting the area with Guntersville on the Tennessee River. In 1867 with the establishment of Blaine County, Gadsden was incorporated and named the county seat. A year later, Blaine County was abolished and replaced by Etowah County with Gadsden remaining its role as county seat.
By 1871 the town had grown to 5,000 residents and had become an important trading center with the extension of the Coosa and Tennessee railroad to Atlanta, Georgia, as well as the arrival of the Alabama & Chattanooga railroad. After the establishment of nearby Birmingham, Gadsden became a major river port and manufacturing center, notably with the construction of a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plant, once the largest tire plant in the world, in 1929.
The city’s prosperity continued until the 1970s and 1980s when a restructuring of the country’s railroads and manufacturing caused most of Gadsden’s major industries to close shop. After peaking at a population of 58,088 in 1960 the city has struggled to transition to a new economy and continues to shrink in both population and stature. Goodyear closed its Gadsden plant in 2020.
As of the Census estimate of 2018, there are 35,157 people residing in the city. The population density was 942.24/mi². The racial makeup of the city was 54.8% White, 36.2% African American, 2.0% from other races, 1.2% Native American, and 1.1% Asian. 6.6% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race.
- A Brief History of Etowah County, Gadsden Messenger – accessed March 24, 2020
- "Gadsden". Encyclopedia of Alabama - accessed March 24, 2020.
- Census Quick Facts Gadsden city, Alabama. U.S. Census Bureau, Quick Facts - accessed March 24, 2020
- City of Gadsden website