Tuscaloosa is a city in and the seat of Tuscaloosa County in west central Alabama (in the southeastern United States). Located on the Black Warrior River, it is the fifth-largest city in Alabama with an estimated population of 93,215 in 2009. A former capital of Alabama, Tuscaloosa is named after Tuskaloosa, the chieftain of a Muskogean-speaking people, who battled and was defeated by Hernando de Soto in 1540 in the Battle of Mabila.
Tuscaloosa is the regional center of industry, commerce, healthcare, and education for the region of west central Alabama known as West Alabama. Tuscaloosa is also the home of the University of Alabama. While the city attracted international attention when Mercedes-Benz announced it would build its first automotive assembly plant in North America in Tuscaloosa County, the university remains the dominant economic and cultural engine in the city.
Tuscaloosa is the principal city of the Tuscaloosa Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Tuscaloosa, Greene, and Hale counties. The estimated population of the metro area in 2009 is 210,839.
The city has received many quality-of-life accolades. It was named one of the "50 Best Places to Launch a Small Business" in 2009 by Fortune Small Business, and one of the "100 Best Communities for Young People" by America’s Promise Alliance.. The city of Tuscaloosa is continually listed in the top third of America's most livable communities.
As of the census of 2000 there were 77,906 people, 31,381 households, and 16,945 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,385.2 people per square mile (534.8/km²). There were 34,857 housing units at an average density of 619.8 per square mile (239.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 54.09% White, 42.73% Black or African American, 0.16% Native American, 1.49% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.63% from other races, and 0.87% from two or more races. 1.40% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 31,381 households out of which 23.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.0% were married couples living together, 15.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.0% were non-families. 35.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.93.
In the city the population was spread out with 19.8% under the age of 18, 24.5% from 18 to 24, 25.4% from 25 to 44, 18.5% from 45 to 64, and 11.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 90.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $27,731, and the median income for a family was $41,753. Males had a median income of $31,614 versus $24,507 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,129. About 14.2% of families and 23.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.3% of those under age 18 and 13.4% of those age 65 or over.
The area experiences a typical Southern subtropical climate with four distinct seasons. The Gulf of Mexico heavily influences the climate by supplying the region with warm, moist air. During the fall, winter, and spring seasons, the interaction of this warm, moist air with cooler, drier air from the North along fronts create precipitation. These fronts usually move from west to east as they track along the jet stream. Notable exceptions occur during hurricane season where storms may move from due south to due north or even from east to west during land-falling hurricanes. The interaction between low- and high-pressure air masses is most pronounced during the severe weather seasons in the spring and fall. During the summer, the jet streams flows well to the north of the southeastern U.S., and most precipitation is consequently convectional, that is, caused by the warm surface heating the air above. Severe thunderstorms can bring damaging winds, large hail and occasionally tornadoes. A destructive F4 tornado struck Tuscaloosa County in December 2000, killing eleven people. Tuscaloosa City was struck by an F2 Tornado in January 1997 which resulted in the death of one person. In April 2011, two tornadoes spanning 12 days hit the city, the most devastating on April 27, where 25 fatalities occurred.