Introduction to Auburn, Alabama
The Alabama city of Auburn sits in the eastern section of the state, about 30 miles from the Georgia border. The city is located 55 miles east of Montgomery, 35 miles west of Columbus, Georgia, and about 105 miles southwest of the Georgia state capital of Atlanta. It is the largest city in eastern Alabama and is home to Auburn University, Alabama's largest university. The city is served by three principal highways: Interstate 85, U.S. Route 29, and U.S. Route 280.
Founded in 1836 and incorporated three years later, the city of Auburn derived its name from a line in "The Deserted Village," a poem by Oliver Goldsmith. The line "Sweet Auburn, the loveliest village of the plain" also gave the city its unofficial nickname. Originally chartered in 1856, the earliest incarnation of Auburn University was known as the East Alabama Male College. The institution would undergo a few name changes through the years (Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama, Alabama Polytechnic Institute) before becoming known as Auburn University in 1960. Auburn today has an economy centered around the university and university-affiliated services. The university itself employs roughly one-quarter of the city's total workforce, and several thousand more people are employed by the federal and state governments in positions linked to the university. Auburn has four technology parks and the city's industry is heavily focused on high tech manufacturing and research.
Auburn Arts and Recreation
Auburn is home to a varied collection of historical sites, museums, performing arts attractions and recreational facilities. Some of these are listed here:
- Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art: Houses a collection of 19th and 20th Century American and European art
- Jonathan B. Lovelace Athletic Museum and Hall of Honor: Dedicated to honoring Auburn's athletic past
- Pebble Hill: Once the home of Colonel Nathaniel J. Scott, it is now the home of the Auburn University Center for the Arts and Humanities which hosts programs on history, literature, and art
- Telfair Peet Theatre: Exceptional performances year-round featuring both classical and modern productions
- The Auburn Community Orchestra
- Jan Dempsey Community Arts Center
- Auburn University Agricultural Heritage Park
Musical events in Auburn include dozens of yearly concerts performed by the Auburn University Band and the Auburn High School Honors Band. Big band jazz performances are offered by the Auburn Knights Orchestra. For original, acoustic music in a wide variety of styles (folk, blues, country, bluegrass, and jazz to fast-folk and alternative styles), the Sundilla Acoustic Concert Series holds its performances at the historic Unitarian Fellowship building.
Outdoor recreation enthusiasts will enjoy Auburn's 16 parks, which include Chewacla State Park (a 700 acre site in the Appalachian foothills), Kiesel Park (200 acres of meandering trails), and Lake Harding. Families can enjoy Hickory Dickory Park for picnicking and Family Fun Junction for miniature golf, go-cart racing, batting cages, and arcade games.
Although there are no professional sports teams in Auburn, the city is not lacking a vibrant sports culture due to the presence of the Auburn University Tigers and its NCAA Division I athletic squads. Football games at Auburn University are tourist attractions unto themselves and constitute a major factor in the city's economy and culture, changing the face of Auburn for several weekends each fall when tens of thousands of fans flood the campus to create a festival-like atmosphere. The Tiger football squad, a perennial national NCAA collegiate powerhouse, had a perfect 13-0 season in 2005. Football games are played in Jordan-Hare Stadium, which accommodates over 87,000 fans. Tiger basketball is played at the Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum, and Tiger baseball games are held at Plainsman Park, named the top collegiate ballpark in the nation by Baseball America in 2003.
Fans of professional sports can take a reasonably short drive outside the city limits to take in some games. The Columbus Catfish, who play in nearby Columbus, Georgia (35 miles to the east) are a Minor League Baseball team and a single-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Columbus is also home to the Cottonmouths, a hockey team in the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL). The city of Montgomery Alabama (55 miles to the west) is home to the Southern League's Montgomery Biscuits, the Minor League Baseball Double-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Major League sports can be found in Atlanta, Georgia (105 miles to the northeast). Here, fans can see any of the following teams:
- Major League Baseball: Atlanta Braves
- National Football League: Atlanta Falcons
- National Basketball Association: Atlanta Hawks
- National Hockey League: Atlanta Thrashers
Atlanta is also home to the Georgia Force, a team in the Arena Football League (AFL).