A lavishly illustrated history of this distinctive city’s origins as a settlement on the banks of the Black Warrior River to its development into a thriving nexus of higher education, sports, and culture -
In both its subject and its approach, Tuscaloosa: 200 Years in the Making is an account unlike any other of a city unlike any other—storied, inimitable, and thriving. G. Ward Hubbs has written a lively and enlightening bicentennial history of Tuscaloosa that is by turns enthralling, dramatic, disturbing, and uplifting. Far from a traditional chronicle listing one event after another, the narrative focuses instead on six key turning points that dramatically altered the fabric of the city over the past two centuries.
The selection of this frontier village as the state capital gave rise to a building boom, some extraordinary architecture, and the founding of The University of Alabama. The state’s secession in 1861 brought on a devastating war and the burning of the university by Union cavalry; decades of social adjustments followed, ultimately leading to legalized racial segregation. Meanwhile, town boosters set out to lure various industries, but with varying success.
The decision to adopt new inventions, ranging from electricity to telephones to automobiles, revolutionized the daily lives of Tuscaloosans in only a few short decades. Beginning with radio, and followed by the Second World War and television, the formerly isolated townspeople discovered an entirely different world that would culminate in Mercedes-Benz building its first overseas production plant nearby. At the same time, the world would watch as Tuscaloosa became the center of some pivotal moments in the civil rights movement—and great moments in college football as well.
An impressive amount of research is collected in this accessibly written history of the city and its evolution. Tuscaloosa is a versatile history that will be of interest to a general readership, for scholars to use as a starting point for further research, and for city and county school students to better understand their home locale.
About the Author
G. Ward Hubbs, professor emeritus at Birmingham-Southern College, is grateful to call Tuscaloosa home. He is the editor of Rowdy Tales from Early Alabama: The Humor of John Gorman Barr and author of Guarding Greensboro: A Confederate Company in the Making of a Southern Community and Searching for Freedom after the Civil War: Klansman, Carpetbagger, Scalawag, and Freedman.
“Tuscaloosa: 200 Years in the Making by G. Ward Hubbs reads like a fascinating work of fiction with twisting plots and memorable characters, but the reality is that it is the true story of the town we have grown to love and call our home. From its selection as the state capital through the tenure of interesting political, educational, and sports figures, and the survival of this strong community rising out of the ashes of the devastating tornado, the story of Tuscaloosa deserves to be told.”
—Terry Saban, cofounder with Nick Saban of Nick’s Kids Foundation
“Tuscaloosa has traveled a long, arduous, and storied road in its 200 years of existence. Guy Hubbs’ well-researched and well-written account of our great city’s history sheds a light on our many challenges and opportunities. From a frontier village to our state’s capital, from a city stifled and insulated to the inclusive, economic powerhouse it is today, we have come a long way in our growth, character, and prospects for the future. Tuscaloosa: 200 Years in the Making is a testament to a city of remarkable history and strength.”
—Walt Maddox, Mayor of Tuscaloosa
“Reflecting individual effort, collective vision, and all the compromises in between, Tuscaloosa: 200 Years in the Making details an impressive array of geographical, historical, and political convergences that created what the city is today. Hubbs is meticulous in researching and synthesizing materials about the history of Tuscaloosa. His efforts have resulted in a rich and concise volume that is an informative and emotionally engaging monument to a city that, when set back, repeatedly re-imagined its future and ultimately succeeded in turning vision into reality. Tuscaloosa is a fitting two hundredth birthday gift to a city that continues to showcase the best of its past as it charts an energetic and ever-evolving course to the future.”
—Trudier Harris, Tuscaloosan and University Distinguished Research Professor, Department of English, the University of Alabama as well as author of Summer Snow: Reflections from a Black Daughter of the South