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Prichard, Alabama
City
Official seal of Prichard, Alabama
Seal
Nickname(s): "The City Of Safety", "The Crossroads of Mobile County"
Location in Mobile County and the State of Alabama
Location in Mobile County and the State of Alabama
Country United States
State Alabama
County Mobile
Founded 1925
Area
 • Total 25.4 sq mi (65.8 km2)
 • Land 25.3 sq mi (65.5 km2)
 • Water 0.1 sq mi (0.2 km2)
Elevation 30 ft (9 m)
Population (2013)
 • Total 22,399
 • Density 896/sq mi (346.1/km2)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 36610, 36612, 36613
Area code(s) 251
FIPS code 01-62496
GNIS feature ID 0125275
Website http://www.thecityofprichard.org

Prichard is a city in Mobile County, Alabama, United States.

Prichard borders the north side of Mobile, as well as the Mobile suburbs of Chickasaw, Saraland, and the unincorporated sections of Eight Mile. As of the 2010 Census, the population of the city was 22,659. It is a part of the Mobile metropolitan statistical area.

History

Prichard began as a settlement in the 1830s, bordering Telegraph Road (known now as U.S. Highway 43) It remained largely unsettled until the Clotilde landed in Mobile Bay prior to the Civil War. Africatown evolved into a greater part of the Plateau/Magazine area which developed along Telegraph Road, and eventually, Plateau and Magazine had their territory split between Mobile and Prichard.

After 1900, Prichard began a slow, steady development. In 1925, Prichard was incorporated as a city. During World War II, Prichard became a company town as many Mobile shipbuilding companies built homes for their workers in Prichard. During the 1950s and 1960s, Prichard annexed historic Whistler as well as parts of Eight Mile and Kushla. The 1940s and 1950s saw phenomenal growth in the Mobile area, and Mobile, Prichard and Chickasaw all recorded their highest city-proper populations in 1960. Following the Civil Rights Movement however, Prichard's rigid system of segregation collapsed, and many blacks who had previously lived in the Bullshead/Neely/Trinity Gardens area of Prichard began moving into East Prichard (downtown Prichard), causing a dramatic white flight to occur.

In 1960, Prichard recorded a population of 47,371. In 1970, the population had decreased to 41,000 and by 1990, to approximately 34,000. In 1970, Vigor High School on Wilson Avenue, which had been Prichard's white high school during segregation was 70% white, by 1980, it was 80% black, even considering that most of Prichard's remaining white areas were in its district. In 1994, construction of Interstate 165 was completed, and it has produced some economic benefits in East Prichard. The 1980s downtown vacancy rate was near 80%, as of 2000, it was closer to 30%.

In 1972, while still a majority white city, Prichard elected its first black mayor, Algernon Johnson (A.J.) Cooper, who would serve two terms as Prichard's mayor, and would eventually serve in the administration of President Bill Clinton. In 1968, Cooper founded the Black American Law Students Association at New York University. While Mayor Cooper was popular with both blacks and whites, however, he engaged in many battles with the Prichard City Council during his tenure.

In the 1980s and 1990s problems with crime, drugs and middle class flight were elevated when the area's major financial and employment base left with the closing of factories operated by Scott Paper Company and International Paper. This devastated the area and the city struggled to recover. In 1999, the city declared bankruptcy.

In 2004, the Prichard Housing Authority began demolition of the Bessemer Avenue Housing Project in Bullshead. In November of that year, Mobile County voters narrowly (500 votes out of 100,000 cast on the issue) defeated a local amendment which would have allowed Prichard to set up a special trade zone. The measure passed by a two-thirds vote in Prichard, and passed by smaller margins in Mobile and Chickasaw, but was defeated by the rest of Mobile County.

From 2010 to 2012, the town was home to the Restoration Youth Academy, a so-called Christian camp where anti-gay conversion therapy was practised. It closed down in 2012 due to unpaid rent, but it reopened as the Saving Youth Foundation and Solid Rock Ministries in Mobile, Alabama until it was shut down in 2015. The three pastors were sentenced to 20 years in prison for child abuse in February 2017, and the camp made national headlines.

Geography

Prichard is located at 30°44′53″N 88°6′1″W / 30.74806°N 88.10028°W / 30.74806; -88.10028 (30.748038, -88.100384).

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 25.4 square miles (66 km2), of which 25.3 square miles (66 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) (0.31%) is water.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1930 4,580
1940 6,084 32.8%
1950 19,014 212.5%
1960 47,371 149.1%
1970 41,578 −12.2%
1980 39,541 −4.9%
1990 34,311 −13.2%
2000 28,633 −16.5%
2010 22,659 −20.9%
Est. 2015 22,351 −1.4%
U.S. Decennial Census
2013 Estimate

As of the census of 2010, there were 22,659 people, 8,240 households, and 5,659 families residing in the city. The population density was 896.0 people per square mile (346.1/km²). There were 9,891 housing units at an average density of 391.1 per square mile (151.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 85.80% Black or African American, 12.47% White-American, 0.38% Native American, 0.08% Asian, 0.004% Pacific Islander, 0.36% from other races, and 0.90% from two or more races. 0.75% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 8,240 households out of which 35.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.8% were married couples living together, 33.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.3% were non-families. 27.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.67 and the average family size was 3.27.

In the city, the population was spread out with 26.0% under the age of 18, 11.6% from 18 to 24, 21.6% from 25 to 44, 27.6% from 45 to 64, and 13.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35.8 years. For every 100 females there were 85.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $23,894, and the median income for a family was $29,100. Males had a median income of $29,664 versus $21,969 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,137. About 28.7% of families and 33.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 49.5% of those under age 18 and 22.6% of those age 65 or over.

City pensions controversy

In 2003, the city hired an actuary to analyze and summarize their employees’ pension plan. He warned the city that at the current rate of government spending the plan would run out of money by the summer of 2009. In September of that year, the city's pension fund ran out of money and stopped paying pensions. The city filed for bankruptcy again in October 2009.

In 2010, Councilwoman Earline Martin-Harris suggested dissolving the city and offered an alternative budget which would make all city employees part-time employees. As of April 2011, pensioners had not received their pension checks nor had a budget been passed in eighteen months.

The dispute continued into 2013, as the city did not reach an agreement with soon-to-retire employees. In response to these developments, four of these employees requested that U.S. Bankruptcy Judge William Shulman dismiss the city's bankruptcy.


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