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Tuscaloosa County, Alabama facts for kids

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Tuscaloosa County
Tuscaloosa County Courthouse in Tuscaloosa
Tuscaloosa County Courthouse in Tuscaloosa
Map of Alabama highlighting Tuscaloosa County
Location within the U.S. state of Alabama
Map of the United States highlighting Alabama
Alabama's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Alabama
Founded February 6, 1818
Named for Tuskaloosa
Seat Tuscaloosa
Largest city Tuscaloosa
 • Total 1,351 sq mi (3,500 km2)
 • Land 1,322 sq mi (3,420 km2)
 • Water 30 sq mi (80 km2)  2.2%
 • Total 227,036
 • Estimate 
227,007 Decrease
 • Density 168.05/sq mi (64.885/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional districts 4th, 7th
  • County Number 63 on Alabama Licence Plates

Tuscaloosa County is a county in the northwest-central portion of the U.S. state of Alabama and is the center of commerce, education, industry, health care, and entertainment for the region.

The county's population was 227,036 as of the 2020 census. The county seat and largest city is Tuscaloosa. Tuscaloosa County is part of the Tuscaloosa, AL Metropolitan Statistical Area, which also includes Hale and Pickens counties. The community gained international attention in 1993 when it landed Mercedes-Benz's first North American assembly plant, and as of 2021, the company employs over 4,000 people at the facility. Even so, Tier-1 research university The University of Alabama remains the county's largest employer and dominant economic and cultural engine.


Tuscaloosa County was established on February 6, 1818. During the antebellum years, the principal crop was cotton, cultivated and processed by African-American slaves. By 1860, shortly before the state seceded from the Union, the county had a total of 12,971 whites, 84 "free" African Americans and 10,145 slaves; the latter comprised 43.7 percent of the total population. The war brought significant changes, including migration out of the county by African Americans. "By the 1870 census, the white population of Tuscaloosa County had decreased about 9% to 11,787, while the African American population decreased about 19% to 8,294." Some freedmen moved to nearby counties and larger cities for more opportunities and to join with other freedmen in communities less subject to white supervision.

Following passage by Alabama of the 1901 constitution that disenfrachised most African Americans, followed by the state legislature passing laws to impose Jim Crow, and problems of continued violence by lynchings, many African Americans left Alabama in two waves of the Great Migration. They went to Northern and Midwestern industrial cities. Their mass departure is reflected in lower rates of county population growth from 1910 to 1930, and from 1950 to 1970. (see Census Table below.)

As a result of these changes and growth by the white population, "by 1960, 100 years later, the County was listed as having 77,719 whites, about six times more than 100 years earlier, while the 1960 total of 31,303 "Negroes" was about three times more than what the colored population had been 100 years before." They represented 28.7% of the population and were still disenfranchised. After passage of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, African Americans gained their ability to vote and participate in the political system. In 2015, one of the four elected County Commissioners is African American. Since the late 20th century, white conservatives in Alabama and other southern states have increasingly supported Republican Party candidates. African Americans have generally supported the Democratic Party, in a realignment of politics in the state since the period after Reconstruction.

In the 21st century, the principal agricultural products have included hay, corn, cotton, soybeans, wheat and snapdragons. Major companies in the county have included JVC, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Uniroyal-Goodrich, and Phifer Inc.

Tornado incidents


On April 8, 1998, an F3 tornado struck northeast of Tuscaloosa. This windstorm injured two people and damaged five homes including mobile homes. It rotated seventeen miles (27 km) from Holman to north of Northport. Thirty-seven homes were also in destruction. Moments later, an F5 tornado struck northeastern Tuscaloosa near the Black Warrior River before entering western Jefferson County.


On April 27, 2011, Tuscaloosa was hit by a half-mile (800 m) wide tornado, which was part of the April 25–28, 2011 tornado outbreak in the region. It resulted in at least 44 deaths, over 1000 injuries, and massive devastation. Officials at DCH Hospital (alone) in Tuscaloosa reported treating more than 1000 injured people in the first several days of the tornado aftermath. Initially, officials said that "more than 50 children arrived alone" at the hospital, raising questions about the possible loss of their parents, and 30 of these children were transferred to pediatric trauma wards, indicating serious injuries. Mayor Walter Maddox was quoted saying that "We have neighborhoods that have been basically removed from the map."

On April 29, President Obama, upon touring the tornado damage in Tuscaloosa, said "I have never seen devastation like this".


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,351 square miles (3,500 km2), of which 1,322 square miles (3,420 km2) is land and 30 square miles (78 km2) (2.2%) is water. It is the second-largest county in Alabama by land area and third-largest by total area. It is located in the west central part of the state, in the region commonly known as West Alabama. The county straddles the boundary between the Appalachian Highlands and the Gulf Coastal Plain and consequently boasts a diverse geography.

Adjacent counties

National protected area

  • Talladega National Forest (part)


Historical population
Census Pop.
1820 8,229
1830 13,646 65.8%
1840 16,583 21.5%
1850 18,056 8.9%
1860 23,200 28.5%
1870 20,081 −13.4%
1880 24,957 24.3%
1890 30,352 21.6%
1900 36,147 19.1%
1910 47,559 31.6%
1920 53,680 12.9%
1930 64,153 19.5%
1940 76,036 18.5%
1950 94,092 23.7%
1960 109,047 15.9%
1970 116,029 6.4%
1980 137,541 18.5%
1990 150,522 9.4%
2000 164,875 9.5%
2010 194,656 18.1%
2020 227,036 16.6%
2021 (est.) 227,007 16.6%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010 2020

2020 census

Tuscaloosa County, Alabama - Demographic Profile
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race / Ethnicity Pop 2010 Pop 2020 % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 126,611 134,880 65.04% 59.41%
Black or African American alone (NH) 57,401 68,779 29.49% 30.29%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 455 420 0.23% 0.18%
Asian alone (NH) 2,293 3,241 1.18% 1.43%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 76 94 0.04% 0.04%
Some Other Race alone (NH) 136 792 0.07% 0.35%
Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH) 1,735 6,532 0.89% 2.88%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 5,949 12,298 3.06% 5.42%
Total 194,656 227,036 100.00% 100.00%

Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 194,656 people, 76,141 households, and 46,304 families residing in the county. The population density was 147 per square mile (57 persons/km2). There were 84,872 housing units at an average density of 64 per square mile (25/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 66.3% White, 29.6% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.5% from other races, and 1.1% from two or more races. Nearly 3.1% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 76,141 households, out of which 26.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them; 41.6% were married couples living together, 14.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.2% were non-families. 29.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.7% 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 3.02.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 21.5% under the age of 18, 19.7% from 18 to 24, 25.2% from 25 to 44, 22.9% from 45 to 64, and 10.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31.2 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.3 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $42,311, and the median income for a family was $58,756. Males had a median income of $42,424 versus $32,163 for females. The per capita income for the county was $22,546. About 11.3% of families and 19.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.4% of those under age 18 and 10.1% of those age 65 or over.


The TV Alabama Tower and the WTTO Tower near Windham Springs are guyed TV masts. These are the tallest constructions in Tuscaloosa County.


Major Highways

  • I-20 / I-59
  • I-359
  • US 11
  • US 43
  • US 82
  • SR 5
  • SR 69
  • SR 171
  • SR 215
  • SR 216
  • SR 297
  • SR 300 (Unsigned route)

Toll Roads/Bridges

Road Name S/W Terminus N/E Terminus Length Cash tolls (automobile) Notes
Black Warrior Parkway I-20.svgI-59.svg Tuscaloosa US 82.svg Northport 4.9 mi. $1.50


  • Freight: Class 1 Railroads Kansas City Southern and Norfolk Southern Railway
  • Intermodal Freight: Norfolk Southern’s Birmingham Regional Intermodal Facility just across the county line in McCalla
  • Passenger Service: The county is served by Amtrak's Crescent at Tuscaloosa station.

Airports & Cargo Facilities

  • Tuscaloosa National Airport
  • Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport

Waterway Access

The Black Warrior River bisects Tuscaloosa County and is part of Alabama’s network of more than 1,300 miles of navigable waterways (the largest inland waterway system in the U.S.).

The Alabama State Port Authority (ASPA) owns and operates the State of Alabama’s deepwater port facilities at the Port of Mobile, located approximately 225 highway miles from Tuscaloosa.

ASPA also operates the Tuscaloosa-Northport Inland Dock in Tuscaloosa County, which features a 60’ by 80’ concrete barge dock, mooring dolphins, a 24,000-square-foot warehouse and a 570,000 bushel grain elevator. Private docking facilities are also available in the county.

Parker Towing Company, with headquarters in Tuscaloosa, provides regional and local barge service and has one of the largest barge lines in the Southeast.




Census-designated places

Other unincorporated communities

Ghost towns


Major Employers

Tuscaloosa County’s largest employers represent education institutions, quality health-care providers, and enterprises focused on advanced manufacturing for the automotive and other industries. The county's 20 largest employers are: The University of Alabama, Mercedes Benz U.S. International, DCH Regional Medical Center, Tuscaloosa County Board of Education, City of Tuscaloosa Board of Education, Warrior Met Coal, Inc., The City of Tuscaloosa, Michelin/BF Goodrich Tire Manufacturing, Veterans Administration Medical Center, SMP Automotive Systems, Phifer Incorporated, Brose Tuscaloosa, Northport Medical Center, ARD Logistics, Shelton State Community College, Bryce Hospital, Tuscaloosa County, Nucor Tuscaloosa, ZF Chassis Systems Tuscaloosa Axel Systems, and the Alabama Department of Transportation.


Tuscaloosa County has a total labor force of approximately 100,220 that includes many recent graduates of local higher education institutions.

The county partners with West AlabamaWorks, a workforce development organization that connects government, education, and private sector partners throughout a nine-county region. The county also works closely with statewide workforce development resources including Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT) and Alabama Technology Network. AIDT is a nationally renowned state agency that provides no-cost career technical program enhancements at the state's community and technical colleges, customizing services to benefit employers and trainees. Alabama Technology Network, part of the Alabama Community College System, is ISO 9001:2008 Certified and connects industry leaders with government and education resources to provide workforce training, technical assistance, and engineering services to existing workers in the following areas:

Tuscaloosa City Schools and the Tuscaloosa County School District both offer technical and career education as part of their standard curriculum. Tuscaloosa Career & Technology Academy, part of Tuscaloosa City Schools, offers instruction in 17 career pathways at its $23-million facility. The Bill Taylor Institute, a collaboration between Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc. and AIDT, offers high school and community apprenticeship courses.

Emerging Industries

Capitalizing on access to research and development resources of its higher education institutions along with a large, skilled workforce, the Tuscaloosa County Economic Development Authority recently identified six target industries for future economic growth and expansion: Research & Development, Healthcare, Corporate Operations, Advanced Manufacturing, Information Technology, and Energy.


Higher Education

The county is the home to Tier-1 research university The University of Alabama, Shelton State Community College, and private liberal arts school Stillman College, a historically black college founded in 1876. Together, the three schools enroll 43,681 students as of spring 2021.

Primary & Secondary Education

The Tuscaloosa County School System serves students in the county who live outside the city limits of Tuscaloosa. The system has been in operation since 1871. The system is managed by a board of education, composed of 7 members elected by single-member districts by the voters of the county outside the limits of the city of Tuscaloosa. The board appoints a superintendent to manage the day-to-day operations of the system. In school year 2020–21, over 18,700 students (ALSDE Report Card) were enrolled by the system. There are 19 elementary schools, 2 intermediate schools, 7 middle schools and 6 high schools. Children are also served at the Tuscaloosa Regional Detention Center and Sprayberry Regional Educational Center; the latter provides services to at risk, and special needs children. The six county high schools are Brookwood High School (Brookwood), Hillcrest High School (Taylorville), Holt (Holt), Northside (Samantha), Sipsey Valley (Coker), and Tuscaloosa County High School (Northport).

The Tuscaloosa City School System serves students who live in the city of Tuscaloosa. There are approximately 10,000 students enrolled in Tuscaloosa City Schools. Twenty-four schools comprise the district, including 13 elementary schools, 6 middle schools, 3 high schools and 3 campuses dedicated to specialty education: one for students with special needs and those receiving alternative education, a school for students studying performing arts, and a career technical facility for grades 9 – 12. The three high schools are Paul W. Bryant High School, Central High School, and Northridge High School.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Tuscaloosa para niños

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