Tuscaloosa (Choctaw for “black warrior”) is one of the oldest cities in West Alabama. It shares its name with a chief who fought Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto in 1540 and a river that stretches from the Appalachian foothills in the north-central region to the floodplain and lowlands of the south.
Called “The Druid City” since the 1800s, when large water oaks lined its main streets, Tuscaloosa remains a center of industry, commerce, health care, education, and cultural life, with the university being its dominant source. The former capital (from 1826 to 1846) is affiliated with the Alabama Crimson Tide, catfish, Dreamland, the Black Warrior River, a strong folk and craft tradition, and Gov. George Wallace’s 1963 “stand at the schoolhouse door.”
Images from diverse sources form this visual narrative. The pictures not only provide historical scenes of Tuscaloosa’s physical charm, the defining role of the river, and the advancement of higher learning institutions and medical facilities but also address the cultural and social conflict contributing to the rich and distinct Southern legacy.
University of Alabama professor Amalia K. Amaki and Tuscaloosa native Katherine R. Mauter, executive director of the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society, carefully selected images to capture the unique character of the city.
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