One American city that has managed to transition from the 19th to the 21st centuries is Huntsville, Ala. It is today one of the fastest growing urban areas in the American South, with a current population of nearly 170,000. The growth it has experienced is but one element that makes Huntsville an attractive place in which to live, work and even retire.
Founded by pioneer John Hunt, the city was well established by 1820. It would largely be known as a cotton market center until 1950, when a group of German rocket scientists established their laboratory at Redstone Arsenal. This pairing of cultures would lead to the American space program and, some years later, to Americans landing on the moon. The U.S. Space and Rocket Center, which chronicles that program, is one of the major tourist attractions in the city. Another one of the city's attractions, geared to celebrating a slower but more important form of transportation, is the North Alabama Railroad Museum. The Huntsville Museum of Art is dedicated to preserving and exhibiting some of the greatest creations of humans, and the Huntsville Botanical Garden does the same in the area of nature's creations.
The American South is known for outdoor sports, and the Tennessee River and its associated reservoirs provide many opportunities for camping, fishing and other activities. Those interested in more mundane sports can enjoy the many public and private golf courses available in and around Huntsville. The city also hosts various entertainment and cultural events throughout the year, most notably the Panoply Arts Festival and the Big Spring Music Jam.
Huntsville boasts unemployment rates and living costs that are respectively lower than those in many comparable American cities. New home construction in Huntsville accounts for the affordability and high availability of housing in the area. The current trend in the area is the development of housing tracts that include their own parks and recreational facilities.
Huntsville is known for having a strong commitment to education, as reflected by the honors bestowed upon some of its schools and individual teachers. The Rocket Center Space Camp, which is an offshoot of the Space and Rocket Center, is geared to students in the elementary to high school level. In terms of higher education, Alabama A&M University is known for its close academic ties with the Redstone facility. Northern Alabama is also home to some 150,000 retirees, proving that the area is hospitable to men and women of any age.
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