Introduction to Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Located on the Black Warrior River in west central Alabama is the city of Tuscaloosa. Home to the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa is the county seat of Tuscaloosa County and lies about 58 miles southwest of Birmingham. Well connected to other parts of the state, Tuscaloosa is served by several highways, including Interstates 20 and 59; U.S. Routes 11, 43, and 82; and Alabama State Highways 69, 215, and 215.
The city's name is derived from two Choctaw Indian words, tushka (meaning "warrior") and lusa (meaning "black"). Incorporated in 1819, Tuscaloosa served as the Alabama state capital from 1826 until 1846, at which time it was replaced by the more centrally-located city of Montgomery. The state university was established in Tuscaloosa in 1827 and began operations in 1831. To this day, the University remains the dominant economic and cultural force in the city. The city is also home to Mercedes-Benz U.S. International and houses the first Mercedes-Benz automotive assembly plant in North America and the world's only Mercedes-Benz Museum outside of Germany.
Things to do in Tuscaloosa
Visitors to Tuscaloosa can choose from a variety of attractions including several parks, galleries, museums, historic sites, and recreational facilities. Most of the city's museums can be found downtown or on the University campus. Some of the more popular are: the Mercedes-Benz Visitor Center & Museum, the Alabama Museum of Natural History, the Children's Hands-On Museum of Tuscaloosa, the Westervelt-Warner Museum of American Art, the Battle-Friedman House & Gardens, the Murphy African-American Museum, and the Paul W. "Bear" Bryant Museum. Other area museums include the Jones Archaeological Museum and the Moundville Archaeological Park, both located in Moundville, about 15 miles south of Tuscaloosa. Performing arts are presented by the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra, the String Quartet Society of Tuscaloosa, the Tuscaloosa Community Singers, the Tuscaloosa Community Dancers, Dance Alabama!, the Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre, and the Tuscaloosa Children's Theatre.
Recreational sites in and near Tuscaloosa include: Lake Tuscaloosa, a source of the city's domestic and industrial water also used for recreational activities including boating, swimming and fishing; Lake Lurleen State Park, named after Alabama's only female governor, Lurleen Wallace, the wife of former Governor George Wallace; and Oliver Lake. Annual events in Tuscaloosa include Heritage Week (held in late March or early April) and the Sakura Festival (held every March). Family fun can be had at the Alabama Adventure Theme Park, located only 35 minutes from Tuscaloosa.
Tuscaloosa is a hotbed of collegiate sports, particularly University of Alabama athletics. Every fall, the nation's eyes focus on the University of Alabama's Bryant-Denny Stadium, where 'Bama's Crimson Tide football team plays its games. The Tide has won 12 national titles, tying the University of Notre Dame for the most in college football history. Alabama U also has the most Southeastern Conference (SEC) championships, the most bowl appearances, and the most bowl wins of any team in college football. The University also fields championship caliber programs in men's baseball, men's and women's basketball, women's softball, and women's gymnastics.
There are no major league pro teams in Alabama, but Tuscaloosa is home to a World Basketball Association (WBA) team, the Druid City Dragons. Nearby Birmingham, about an hour away, has three minor-league professional teams: the Birmingham Barons, a Minor League Baseball Double-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox; the Birmingham Magicians, a basketball team in the American Basketball Association (ABA); and the Birmingham Steeldogs, a team in Arena Football 2 (minor league affiliated with the Arena Football League).