By Ramsey Archibald
Huntsville – now Alabama’s most populous city – has been growing fast over the last decade. But where is that growth?
An analysis of 2020 Census block data showing population growth by City Council district in the Rocket City shows one district stands above the rest: West Huntsville.
Overall, Huntsville added nearly 35,000 people between 2010 and 2020, according to official 2020 Census data. It’s now home to more than 215,000 residents.
The city has just five council districts, and in 2010 they were essentially equal in population, as required by law. In 2010, when the last decennial census was performed, each district had between 35,000 and 37,000 people.
That’s now changed, with west Huntsville having added more than 15,000 in a decade. Geographically, it’s a sprawling and rapidly growing district that starts just west of UAH, covers Bridge Street and MidCity, completely encircles Madison, reaches south down Zierdt Road to nearly hit the Tennessee River, and carries west until it touches I-65 across the interstate from Decatur.
While each of the city’s five districts grew over the last decade, none added more people than District 5. It’s now home to more than 52,000 people, making it the most populous district in the city. It grew faster even than the City of Madison that it encircles.
Madison, in its own right, was one of the fastest growing cities in the state over the last decade. It grew by 33% during that time, adding roughly 14,000 people and reaching a total population of nearly 57,000. But Huntsville’s District 5 grew faster and added more total people, growing by 44%.
“There is just so much growth in the city of Huntsville, and a lot of it is right here in the 5th,” said Huntsville City Councilmember John Meredith, who represents District 5. He cited a slew of economic development in the area over the past decade, including GE, Polaris, Mazda-Toyota, Blue Origin and more.
He said those projects bring more than just jobs to the area - they bring investments in the form of residential developments, grocery stores, restaurants and more.
“While all of Huntsville is growing, the 5th has a lot of opportunities, such as available land, for one thing,” Meredith said. “Frankly it’s kind of a perfect landing spot... It’s the logical place to put things.”
The growth in District 5 was also relatively diverse – less than half of the growth was among white people, and nearly 30% was among Black people. And a large portion of its growth came from people who identify as at least two races – a common growth area nationally due to a change in how race questions were coded in the 2020 Census.