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The University of Alabama is located in Tuscaloosa--sometimes referred to as the "Capital of West Alabama." Tuscaloosa is the hub for a region with a combined population of over 350,000. The area is rich in natural resources, especially coal and timber, and these industries, as well as farming, are important to the area's economy. The prospects for continued growth in the Tuscaloosa area are bright with the construction of a major manufacturing facility by Mercedes Benz.
The region is unsurpassed in recreational facilities and boasts "the best fishing in the South." Numerous man-made and natural lakes within a few miles of campus are sites of swimming, fishing, sailing, water skiing, boating and canoeing. Hunting is popular in the area with game ranging from deer to turkey. Backpacking, camping and hiking are also popular in many of the region's State Parks.
West Alabama is also a region that has tried to preserve some of its past. The history buff can view a number of well preserved antebellum homes such as Gaineswood, a stately 16-room mansion built in the 1840's located just south of Tuscaloosa. Tannehill Historical State Park, just 30 minutes away, has the remains of a Confederate iron works, destroyed by Union forces during the War Between the States, and schedules special historical events such as Civil War reenactments.
The climate of the region is quite mild with a mean summer temperature of 82 °F and a mean winter temperature of 47 °F. There may be one snowfall a year which lasts longer than a few hours. Rainfall is about 54 inches annually, with the heaviest rainfall from December to March. In the summer, rainfall generally occurs in a tropical thunderstorm pattern. Spring can begin in late March or early April and is usually a magnificent sight as the dogwoods and azaleas bloom.
The name Tuscaloosa is derived from the 16th Century Indian chief, Tuskalusa, who fought a bloody battle with the Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto in 1540. Tuscaloosa has grown toward the future without losing track of its past. The city was the state capital from 1826-1846, and the current University Club building was once the residence of the governor. The "Old Tavern" was built in 1827 to serve as an inn and stagecoach stop and has been preserved. The first structure built for the University of Alabama campus in 1828, which originally served as a dining hall, is preserved and still stands on campus. Just south of town is Mound State Park, which is an excavated prehistoric Native American site and one of the best in this part of the country. One of the area's big events each Fall is the Kentuck Annual Arts and Crafts Festival, one of the major arts and crafts festivals in the South. The festival attracts exhibitors from a dozen states with crafts ranging from pottery to textiles to the manufacture of musical instruments.
Tuscaloosa is serviced by I59/20 which provides direct access to several major cities. Birmingham, the largest city in Alabama, is located about 50 miles from Tuscaloosa and offers a considerable variety of commercial, entertainment and cultural activities, as well as a major airport. Atlanta, New Orleans and the white sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico are all within an afternoon's drive.
Even with a metropolitan
population of over 125,000, Tuscaloosa is still a city where one
can live inexpensively. Apartments are plentiful, and rents are
reasonable. Rents are much lower than one would find in a larger
urban center. On campus housing is also available. Shopping is
very convenient in the city's shopping malls and in the many stores,
businesses and restaurants lining US Highway 82, a major thoroughfare
in Western Alabama.
The University of Alabama is one of the oldest state universities in the nation, recently celebrating its sesquicentennial. The total student enrollment is about 19,000, of which about 3,000 are graduate students. As the "Capstone" of the University system, graduate degree programs are offered in many areas, ranging from the sciences and engineering to business administration, education, fine arts and law. The University library system is one of the select few nationally designated as a "research library."
Nothing can compete with the excitement that accompanies football season at Alabama. The Crimson Tide plays many games each Fall in Bryant-Denny Stadium which is located on campus. In the Winter, the Tide basketball team packs its share of crowds into Coleman Coliseum where students can take advantage of free block seating. The more diverse sports fan also has the opportunity to cheer for the University's nationally recognized gymnastics, swim, track and women's basketball teams. For those interested in doing more than sports watching, the Chemistry graduate students and faculty often field teams for softball, basketball and volleyball in the University's highly competitive intramural sports program. The University of Alabama operates an 18-hole golf course with inexpensive greens fees for University students. For the health conscious, the newly expanded Recreational Center has numerous fitness options including aerobics classes, Nautilus exercise machines, racquetball, pick-up games of basketball, and walking or jogging around the indoor track. The Aquatic Center allows swimmers year-round pool privileges as well as a weight room equipped with free-weights, while Riverside Pool is open during the spring and summer months for those who want to acquire a tan while at the pool. Special interest sports activities, such as snow-skiing, are sponsored through the Alabama Outdoors Program.
Crimson Tide football
The University offers a wealth of cultural events ranging from departmental productions in Music, Theater and Dance to University Programs' concerts and speakers. For indoor performances, the University has the exceptional Frank Moody Music Building. Numerous outdoor concerts are held at the Riverside Amphitheater. In addition the Emphasis Division of the University Programs coordinates a lecture series offering a variety of intriguing speakers.
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