So you just moved to Huntsville, AL? Get to know your new home with this Newcomer’s Guide.
Twickenham: That would still be our name if Leroy Pope had his way. However, we were renamed “Huntsville” in 1811 after our first settler, John Hunt.
We have since grown across nearby hills and along the Tennessee River, to become a major city- one of the most recognized in the Southeast.
Cotton & Textiles: Before the rockets, Huntsville was known for its large cotton textile mills. The remnants of those old mills and support structures can be found re-purposed as Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment, Lincoln Mill and Merrimack Hall.
What’s up with the rockets & the “Rocket City”: After World War II, Redstone Arsenal military base became the location for the Army’s rocket and missile plans. Central to this were the German rocket scientists, led by Wernher von Braun. In the 1960’s, Marshall Space Flight Center was formed and developed the Saturn rocket that sent Apollo to the moon.
Four landmarks that make Huntsville special.
- Big Spring Park– Named for the spring which Huntsville was founded on, this park spans both sides of Church Street. Get to know the “grotto” where the spring itself is, the red Japanese bridge and the cherry trees.
- Monte Sano State Park– Hiking, mountain biking, trail running, family picnics, campsites, playground, the Lodge, festivals….you get the picture. It’s so much more than just a scenic lookout spot. It’ll become one of your favorite places.
- Redstone Arsenal– A United States Army post that is home to Army Material Command, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Army Aviation & Missile Command, Missile Defense Agency and many more. A closed base, it takes up almost 40,000 acres and employs almost 40,000 people. Redstone Arsenal is a big part of Huntsville!
- U.S. Space & Rocket Center- Our rocket museum and #1 skyline landmark! The Space & Rocket Center is home to Space Camp, a full-size Saturn V replica, and is the top tourist attraction in the state. Great traveling exhibits make it worth visiting time and time again.
And here are a few more, well, weird landmarks that make Huntsville unique!
The Good and the Bad:
The bad first, because no one is perfect…
Allergies– If your sinuses weren’t a mess before you moved here, you’ll consider a stock of Claritin after you see the film of yellow pollen on your car… mailbox… front porch… during spring allergy season.
Heat– Can’t stand the heat? Well, it’s not going anywhere. The heat and humidity of June, July and August in the Southeast U.S., is best described as sweltering. Our solution for beating the heat: an ice-cold craft beer.
Tornado Season– If you haven’t been through tornado season in the south, here are a few tips: Invest in a weather radio, pick a favorite local forecaster and follow them on Facebook and Twitter, get in your safe place when the sirens sound.
And the good…
Spring & Fall – The weather is just about perfection here from April – May and then again from September – October. Spend an April in Huntsville and you’ll be hooked forever.
Outdoor Adventure – If you have an outdoor passion, Huntsville has an outlet. Canoeing, hiking, biking (mountain and road), running (trail or flat), swimming, skating, any kind of sport (even rugby), water skiing….and then end the day with outdoor dining. It’s pretty awesome.
You can call Huntsville home when:
1. You call Memorial Parkway “The Parkway”.
2. You know where the useless overpass is.
3. You know who Lily Flagg was.
4. You discover there isn’t an Airport on Airport Road.
5. You start to buy milk and bread at the slightest hint of snow.
6. Tornado sirens no longer make you flinch.
7. You no longer notice the windows rattling and the floors shaking from whatever they are blowing up on the Arsenal.