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Gardendale, Alabama
Gardendale Civic Center (2015)
Gardendale Civic Center (2015)
Location of Gardendale in Jefferson County, Alabama.
Location of Gardendale in Jefferson County, Alabama.
Country United States
State Alabama
County Jefferson
Incorporated 1955
Area
 • Total 22.98 sq mi (59.53 km2)
 • Land 22.98 sq mi (59.52 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.01 km2)
Elevation
679 ft (207 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 16,044
 • Density 698.14/sq mi (269.56/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
35071
Area code 205 & 659
FIPS code 01-29056
GNIS ID 118823

Gardendale is a city in Jefferson County, Alabama, United States and a northern suburb of Birmingham. The population was 16,044 at the 2020 census.

History

A large farm settlement near the area today known as Gardendale was settled around 1825. Some years later, other settlers began to move into the community commonly known as Jugtown, a name given to the area based on the presence of a large jug and churn factory that operated in the area. Some years later, Hettie Thomason Cargo, a school teacher, would lead a campaign to change the name of the community. In 1906, the name Gardendale was selected, and in 1955, the City of Gardendale was officially incorporated. Today, with more than 13,000 residents (estimated), the city of Gardendale has grown to include more than 400 businesses, 4 schools, and 24 churches.

In 1996, the Olympic torch run passed through the city during the weeks leading up to the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. Before Interstate 65 was constructed, the main route between Nashville, Tennessee and Birmingham, Alabama was U.S. Route 31. Prior to being built as a four-lane road, U.S. 31 was a twisting two-lane road that is still largely visible today. From the north end of Gardendale, it is now Snow Rogers Road, North Road, Moncrief Road, and then Main Street southward through the city to the Fultondale city limit where it becomes Stouts Road. In the fall of 2008, new signs were placed along the original route of Stouts Road through Gardendale denoting its historical significance as a stagecoach route between Tennessee and Birmingham during the 19th century. The first traffic signals in the city were located along U.S. 31 at Tarrant Road, Fieldstown Road, and Moncrief Road as well as Tarrant Road at Pineywood Road. A new signal at the intersection of Fieldstown Road and Main Street near city hall replaced a blinking signal shortly thereafter. Fieldstown Road was a narrow two lane road from U.S. 31 westward until Interstate 65 was built and then Fieldstown Road was re-routed onto the new road in the mid-1980s. An abundance of traffic signals have been erected in the city since those early days. In approximately 1970, the city installed street lights along U.S. 31 from the Fultondale city limits northward to the Moncrief Road intersection. The technology at that time was for blue vapor lights. Today, nearly 40 years later those same blue vapor lights still exist with some being replaced with the more modern bulbs near major intersections. Since 1980, Gardendale has annexed considerable amounts of land on the north, east, and west sides. Much of the eastern area is uninhabited. The western annexation is centered along Fieldstown Road. Most of the newest residential development has been in this area and along Shady Grove Road south of Fieldstown Road. The northern annexation has centered along US 31 and extends nearly 2 miles (3.2 km) farther north than 1980. The city has a working historical society, established January 23, 2006, that is working to record the history of the Gardendale area. They have a museum that is open to the public on Saturday mornings each week. It contains a variety of photographs, documents, and other historical memorabilia from Gardendale.

Geography

Gardendale is located at 33°39′38″N 86°48′42″W / 33.66056°N 86.81167°W / 33.66056; -86.81167 (33.660492, -86.811648).

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.0 square miles (47 km2), all land. However, with the recent annexation of several thousand acres from the community of Mt. Olive and other unincorporated areas, the city now has an estimated total area of around 25.0 square miles (65 km2). Gardendale is situated along one of the three major transportation corridors from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast (I-75, I-65, I-55). A tremendous volume of freight (via rail and truck) passes through or near Gardendale.

Gardendale is served by two major north-south highways: Interstate 65 and U.S. 31. A new interstate highway, Interstate 22 will run northwestward from I-65 near Gardendale towards Memphis, Tennessee. This freeway is open from Coalburg Road near Fultondale just southwest of Gardendale to Memphis. Another future road project is the Northern Beltline which will run from Interstate 59 near Argo westward across northern Jefferson County, crossing I-65 on the northern edge of Gardendale. This highway is currently designated to become Interstate 422. This route is some 15–20 years away from completion. Major east/west roads in Gardendale include Fieldstown Road (there has been some discussion of requesting a state highway designation for this road between US 31 and I-65 and perhaps westward towards I-22) which runs from U.S. 31 in Gardendale westward, Tarrant Road which runs from the city eastward, and Mt. Olive Road which runs northwestward from the city. Another future road project may be an extension of Fieldstown Road east of U.S. 31 to connect to the Castle Pines development (which is in the city but only accessible via a roundabout route nearly 10 miles (16 km) long) and then across New Castle Road, and then further east to connect to Carson Road. Gardendale is located in an area that once yielded large amounts of coal. Gardendale is located at the southwestern end of one of the Appalachian ridgelines running from eastern Tennessee into northeast Alabama. Several old and closed coal mines exist in the area as well as lands that were once strip mined and then replanted for forests. No major waterways are located in Gardendale but several streams feed into the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River that passes north and west of the city. Much of the land inside the city limits on the east and northeast sides of Gardendale is rocky and hilly with deep ravines. This portion of the city is sparsely populated and has limited access by road. The only major rail line passing near Gardendale is a north/south track passing on the eastern edge of the city from Boyles Yard near Tarrant paralleling New Castle Road northward towards Blount County. This rail line carries freight and is not a passenger line. The nearest passenger train service is by Amtrak at the Birmingham station 10 miles (16 km) south of Gardendale. Commercial air travel is located at the nearby Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1960 4,712
1970 6,537 38.7%
1980 8,005 22.5%
1990 9,251 15.6%
2000 11,626 25.7%
2010 13,893 19.5%
2020 16,044 15.5%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Gardendale racial composition
Race Num. Perc.
White (non-Hispanic) 12,254 76.38%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 2,404 14.98%
Native American 36 0.22%
Asian 267 1.66%
Pacific Islander 11 0.07%
Other/Mixed 606 3.78%
Hispanic or Latino 466 2.9%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 16,044 people, 5,551 households, and 3,790 families residing in the city.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 13,893 people, 5,670 households, and 3,979 families residing in the city. The population density was 746.1 people per square mile (298.8/km2). There were 6,040 housing units at an average density of 337.4 per square mile (129.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 88.4% White, 8.6% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 0.6% from other races, and 1.0% from two or more races. 1.5% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 5,670 households, out of which 27.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.1% were married couples living together, 11.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.8% were non-families. 26.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 2.92.

The median income for a household in the city was $60,244, and the median income for a family was $79,044. Males had a median income of $52,782 versus $41,224 for females. The per capita income for the city was $30,748. About 1.9% of families and 3.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.2% of those under age 18 and 6.3% of those age 65 or over.

Economy

Most new business development in the past ten years has been along Fieldstown Road (and Odum Road) on the west side of the city between I-65 and US 31. Additional development, but to a lesser extent, has occurred along Mt. Olive Road near I-65. Several older more mature shopping and dining areas exist along US 31. The new City Center is being developed on Mt. Olive Road just south of Fieldstown Road. The new city hall and offices will be located here. Retail development will occur here as well including the restaurant chain Buffalo Wild Wings which broke ground in August 2012 and is slated to open in December 2012.

New retail developments are slated near Interstate 65 at exit 275. This area is within the Gardendale city limits. The first new business here will be the Dewey Barber Chevrolet dealership which will relocate from Warrior to Gardendale. Exit 275 is one mile from the future exit 274 Interstate 422. The interchange of these two interstates will spur commercial growth at exit 275. The segment of Interstate 422 from Alabama State Route 79 to Interstate 65 is currently slated to be the second segment of Interstate 422 to be constructed. The first segment is a short stretch between Alabama State Route 79 and Alabama State Route 75 near Pinson. Construction began in 2013 as all of the right of way has now been acquired and should be completed in 2016.

Civic organizations and events

Included among several organizations are the Gardendale Chamber of Commerce which was established in 1987,the Gardendale Arts Council, and the Gardendale Historical Society.

Annual events include the Magnolia Festival which occurs each spring and is held around and near the Civic Center complex on Main Street.

Gardendale Civic Center
Gardendale Civic Center. July 14, 2015.

Education

Public

Gardendale is served by several schools operated by the Jefferson County Schools school district. Gardendale Elementary School which opened in 1969 and replaced the older elementary school located about 300 yards east of the current school. Bragg Middle School was built later to handle the growing student population. Until Bragg was opened, Gardendale High School handled grades 7–12. Both Gardendale High School and Bragg Middle School use the nickname Rockets and share the same colors of maroon and gray. Gardendale High School is rated as a 6A school for athletic competition for the two-year period beginning in the fall of 2010. Also located on the north side of Gardendale is Snow Rogers Elementary School. Snow Rogers school is unique in that although it is inside Gardendale city limits, it is a feeder school for both Bragg Middle School in Gardendale as well as North Jefferson Middle School located in nearby Kimberly, Alabama. These schools in turn feed into Gardendale High School and Mortimer Jordan High School located in nearby Kimberly, Alabama. Residential addresses of Snow Rogers students determine which school they go to once leaving Snow Rogers Elementary. Mt. Olive Elementary is located in the nearby unincorporated Mt. Olive community. Gardendale High School used the Rogers campus as well as temporary classroom buildings while a new high school was being constructed on the site of the former high school (which was built in the mid-1960s). The new high school opened in early 2010. Gardendale High School graduated its first students in 1968.

In November 2013, the city requested to break off its schools from those of Jefferson County and form its own mostly-White school system. The county schools had a majority of Black students. By establishing its own school district, Gardendale has ensured its schools will mostly have White students. Other towns in the county have followed this route and so moved toward de facto racial segregation. In early 2018, the attempt to break away from the county schools was squashed by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Madeline Haikala awarded the NAACP money on the grounds that the city government did not act in good faith, with the fine being almost $850,000. She stated the appellate argument had a "lack of candor".

Gardendale continues to impose its 10 mill tax while, at the same time, Jefferson County is imposing its countywide 8.8 mill tax for schools.

Private

Tabernacle Christian School is located on the northern side of the city, run by Gardendale Baptist Tabernacle. Their athletic teams carry the nickname Torches. Gardendale Christian Academy is also located on the northern side as a school and daycare run by Gardendale Church of the Nazarene. GCA's mascot is King's Knights.

Adult

Gardendale was once home to the Rogers Area Vocational School which has now been demolished to make way for soccer & baseball fields as well as student parking.

Infrastructure

Notable people

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