Many people have misconceptions about Alabama as a whole, and therefore will have misconceptions about Huntsville. The best description I’ve heard for the town is this: Huntsville is just north of Alabama. And in many senses it’s true. Most people in this area are not from Alabama. In fact, most of us come from an area that is geographically north of Huntsville. That being said, there are still some sketchy spots in Huntsville, including gas stations (some of which only accept cash before you start filling your tank. Others don’t even have the automatic shutoff on the nozzle!).

Huntsville’s history paints a very refined picture of society. At one point (early on in Alabama’s career, mind you), Huntsville acted as the capitol for the state. Its infamy comes from the Secretary of War that was born here. Now to clarify, that’s the Secretary of War for the Confederacy. The same Secretary of War that ordered the assault on Fort Sumner that started the Civil War. However, the people of Huntsville also staged a very peaceful civil rights movement that involved boycotting the major industrial players in town. Money talks, people. When the Redstone Arsenal was built in Huntsville, its name changed from “the Watercrest capitol of the World” to “Rocket City”. This very Rocket City was home to some of the greatest scientific minds, including rocket scientist Werhner Von Braun.

Today, Huntsville is home to the second largest research park in the United States, 4th largest in the world (that’s where I’m working right now). Huntsville is also home to NASA operations through the Marshall Flight Center. Vestiges of NASA programs litter the landscape (including a Saturn V rocket, and a space shuttle). Contractors to the government, such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrup Grumann all have offices here in order to be close to the action of Missile Defense and Space Exploration. In fact, Huntsville was so influential towards America’s future that the Russians (back when it was the USSR) put Huntsville 4th on their attack list, behind Washington DC, New York, and NORAD.

The largest changes that I have had to endure from my transfer from Colorado have been humidity and bugs. Humidity actually isn’t that bad right now, and I’m getting used to it gradually. However, the bugs are atrocious. I don’t think any amount of preparation could have prepared me for the size of them! Luckily, I’m rarely at my apartment and I’ve got a nice, big can of RAID bug spray to keep them at bay. Thank God that I’m generally very clean and organized, so that the bugs won’t be attracted to any filth, just multiplying the problem.

Also, concerning southern accents. Since the majority of people who live in Huntsville aren’t actually from Alabama, there is very little accent. Still, there is a pretty wide variation on the amount of southern accent that people will have down here. However, the dead giveaway in my opinion is the use of the word “y’all”. It doesn’t come up that much, but when it does, it’s an obvious trigger for me.

Huntsville was actually started around a spring, and not a river (like many cities were). Currently, this spring feeds into a koi pond in downtown Huntsville. These koi are ENORMOUS. Apparently the koi (and the cherry blossoms around the pond) were a gift from the Japanese. I highly suggest checking out the area, as it is very beautiful.

One of the three remaining Saturn V rockets resides in Huntsville at the Space and Rocket Center museum.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Jake Putman on September 5, 2010 at 9:37 am

    It’s pretty interesting to hear someone muse about the state you grew up in, really I enjoy it! Couple things to add that you might find of interest:
    1. Alabama Adventures is a horribly hokey theme park, south of Birmingham. None the less, it has one of the best wooden roller coasters in the country (there are some numbers to back this up… I don’t know how). Interesting choice in blog name!
    2. Most people in Birmingham don’t have accents either (maybe 50/50) and much much fewer people are from the North there. I’ll be your tour guide one weekend, we can get a group together.


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