This weekend is blessing us with spectacular sunny skies, so don’t be afraid to explore the captivating city by foot and soak up the rays. Tuscaloosa’s Civil Rights Trail is the perfect way to spend time with your family and immerse yourself in the rich history of Druid City! With over 15 sites scattered all across Downtown Tuscaloosa, you now have the chance to enjoy the outdoors, spend time with friends and family, and learn about this city’s history.
One of the historically significant sites in town is Foster Auditorium, which was the location of the Stand in the Schoolhouse Door. Despite Governor George C. Wallace’s futile efforts, Vivian Malone and James Hood became the first African Americans to register for classes since the university’s inception. Two incredibly famous sites on the local trail represent the march of Bloody Tuesday, a peaceful protest walking from First African Baptist Church to the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse in opposition to the segregation at the county courthouse. Other prominent locations along the way include Capitol Park, Druid Theater, the Alston building, and many more historically rich locations. A complete list of landmarks with their addresses can be found here, along with historical context and details surrounding each event.
Each landmark on this trail marks extremely important moments that happened in Tuscaloosa. The trail does a phenomenal job of bringing so many beautiful stories to life, whether it be the first black legislator or significant protests that occurred throughout the town. All of these stories come together in the end to paint a picture of Tuscaloosa’s role in the civil rights movement. This trail enables many to share their personal experiences regarding the fight for civil rights, and all of their stories deserve to be heard. The American heroes who marched and fought for their freedom deserve to be remembered and honored.
This trail has become such a vital piece of our country’s past, with its influence spanning far beyond the confines of the Tuscaloosa city limits. So, what are you waiting for? Take time this weekend to spend time with loved ones, enjoy the beautiful weather, and travel back in time to discover the rich history of Tuscaloosa!
It might not apparent at first, but Tuscaloosa is a city with a fascinating and rich history! While Alabama Football’s history is rich enough for an article all its own, this is not one of them! There are scenic old mansions, hidden gardens, Native American history and even ruins to discover in the one and only Tuscaloosa! Let us take you on a short trip through town on which you can you can see, touch and live Tuscaloosa history!
Let’s start furthest back in time: The most represented Native Americans in Alabama were the Mississippians. The mound building culture settled their second largest town down by the Black Warrior River in Central Alabama and it was an important political and religious center back in the height of their era! Since 1999, you can discover the ancient lives of the Mississippians in their former village at the Moundville Archeological Park and Museum, 20 minutes south of Tuscaloosa. Marvel at unearthed treasured found on the site, stroll through the mounds and learn everything about the culture!
2.) Capitol Ruins
You probably wouldn’t expect to find ruins in the middle of downtown, right? Just follow University Boulevard to the west end of downtown and you will find the stunning capitol ruins. Before the capitol of Alabama had moved to Montgomery in 1847, it was located here in Tuscaloosa! After that, the majestic building served other functions, until a fatal incident in 1923: It was accidentally set on fire and nearly completely burned down. But that left us one of the most magical places in town today: The ruins still show the capitol’s stone foundation alongside a few wall fragments.
3.) Paul W. Bryant Museum
As the hometown of the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa will forever be connected with football, the most successful department of the UA Athletics! The Crimson Tide is 26 times SEC Champion and 16 times National Champion – no need to explain the fascination for football itself! Aside from everything around Bama’s most legendary coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant, the museum also offers an exhibit about “The Tide through time”, beginning in 1892!!
4.) Battle-Friedman House
This Building is a hidden gem in Tuscaloosa, and also has an impressive story to tell – a piece of history in his nicest appearance! Built even before Civil War, in 1835, it is one of the oldest mansions in town! The North Carolina native Alfred Battle and Hungarian Bernard Friedman, who bought it from Battle in the late 19th century, served as the house’s namesakes and created themselves a monument. The House and its beautiful gardens can be visited for a small admission and also be rented for private events. It has even served as a location for music videos! The scenic beauty of this house is just undeniable.
5.) Denny Chimes
This legendary campanile in the center of UA campus has been an emblem for not only the University but also for Tuscaloosa as a City for almost a Century now! Since it was built in 1929, the chimes traditionally ring every 15 minutes and also play other songs. Surrounding the tower is another piece of UA history: The walk of fame, where captains of the football team have placed their hand and footprints in cement since 1948. It is worth to take a closer look next time you stroll by – you’re going to feel the history!
Written By: Katharina Horvath – Intern
Whether it’s your first time in town or a lazy Saturday afternoon, downtown offers so much more than what meets the eye. Beyond University Boulevard you can find great ways to explore someone and only sights around T-Town.
1. Tuscaloosa Amphitheater
Perfectly placed below the skyline and on the river’s edge, the amphitheater offers year-round performances and excellent events within their theater. This spring season the line up features ‘80s throwbacks like Poison and Cyndi Lauper along with modern favorites like John Legend. Even down here the winter nights cool off and the Amphitheater hosts a seasonal ice rink for all ages. There’s never an off-season at the Amphitheater
2. Loosa Brews
Located towards the strip before the University Club, you can find a low-key beer and wine haven tucked neatly on 20th Avenue. Loosa Brews opened in 2014 during the rise of the craft beer renaissance to provide Tuscaloosa with over 63 taps that you can sample from! From local Alabama breweries to some of the more rare brews around, there’s bound to be a beer for you. Enjoy your fresh pint in their cozy storefront, their back patio, or go back to the “Barcade” room. With classic pinball machines, arcade games, a ring toss, and ping-pong!
3. Take In Some Local History
If you’re looking to learn or just want to better know the rich history of this college town, take some time and explore our historic sites. From the house museums along Greensboro that let you see how the old wealth of the city lived, to the Civil Rights sights that mark the turbulent past. There’s a bit of history for everyone to explore. Be sure to see Capitol Park too, the ruins of the former state capitol building have left downtown with its own roman style park!
Stroll down from Capitol Park, past the amphitheater and you can find yourself on our riverfront along the Riverwalk trail. One of the newest additions to the river with over four miles of meandering trails, you can go from the riverbanks of downtown, past our river market with farmers markets held every Tuesday and Saturday, and end up at Manderson landing. This riverfront park is alongside the river beneath the University of Alabama campus with a fishing pier and an overlook made from the former locks of the Black Warrior River.
5. Bama Theater
This historic atmosphere theater was built during the great depression from the Public Works Administration to employ artists to create beautiful civic buildings. The theater started out as a movie theater with Tuscaloosa’s city hall offices attached. Inside the theater is an Italian courtyard complete with baroque balconies, detailed landscape murals and the signature twinkling lights. The Arts council dutifully restored the theater to its former glory and keeps the magic of the theater alive with performances and showings of Indie films. Inside you can also find a more grown up concession stand with cocktails, wine, beer and the theater staple of popcorn. It’s well worth a visit to catch a play or movie under the still twinkling lights of the historic Bama.
Bonus: Events Around Town
Be sure to look for events when you come to visit or need to escape your routine by visiting visittuscaloosa.xyz/events or follow our Twitter page for daily updates. There’s always something exciting going on year round from the Druid City Arts Festival, to First Fridays where local galleries stay open late for people to come view their works on display.
Written By: Deven Wilson – Intern
Spring is coming fast this year in Tuscaloosa which means it’s getting to be perfect for a nice picnic day before the summer heat creeps up on us. Luckily there are so many great spots around town for a day in the great outdoors! From the city to the outskirts there’s a place to lay that blanket down.
Van de Graaff Arboretum
Across the river and north of downtown Northport, you’ll find the latest PARA development. The Van De Graff Arboretum is 33 acres of freshwater ponds and protected swamplands filled with natural southern beauty. The hidden gem held within the park is the reused 1882 King Bowstring Bridge. Once used to cross the Black Warrior, it was closed in 1896 to slowly disappear from the area until it was reclaimed for the park. With porch-style swings and the surreal look of the historic bridge over the creek, it’s surely the latest picturesque place to picnic.
No place around town comes to mind faster for a quick picnic than the Riverwalk. Along the trail, there is plenty of places to settle down and relax under the towering trees. There’s the secluded riverside grassland between Manderson Landing and the condos, or the lookout between the Tuscaloosa Bank and Riverfront Village. The best part is you’re not too far from after meal treats at Orange Leaf or some cocktails above the Black Warrior at River.
Across the river, you can find one of the most secluded and naturally beautiful places in Tuscaloosa. Lake Nicol is a man-made lake with a slew of trails that meander to Cliffside views of the lake. These ledges make for a perfect spot to get away from it all in under a 15 min drive. Take in the serene views and picturesque waters all while resting on a cliff.
An easy walk from downtown, you can find yourself in our own Romanesque ruins. The remains of the former capital building create a romantic sense of history and feel like they’ve always been that way. If you’re lucky you can lay down the blanket right inside the former rotunda under the shadow of the curved bricks. It’s a great quick getaway with easy access to great coffee and restaurants.
While not an official public park, this secluded natural wonder offers adventure alongside some impressively untouched parcels of land right outside the city. The best plan for Hurricane Creek is to take a canoe, load it up with your picnic, and paddle through the mouth of the creek, under the old trestle bridge, until you find a bank perfect to rest at. Fair warning, parts of this land are privately owned, but there a few spots open to the public. Be sure to check the Map on Hurricane Creeks website before setting off on your picnic adventure.