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Anniston, Alabama

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Title: Anniston, Alabama  
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Subject: National Register of Historic Places listings in Calhoun County, Alabama, WikiProject Missing encyclopedic articles/High schools/US/Alabama, Piedmont, Alabama, Weaver, Alabama, List of radio stations in Alabama
Collection: 1872 Establishments in Alabama, Anniston, Alabama, Cities in Alabama, Cities in Calhoun County, Alabama, County Seats in Alabama, History of African-American Civil Rights, History of Civil Rights in the United States, Populated Places Established in 1872, Racially Motivated Violence in the United States, Riots and Civil Disorder in Alabama, Riots and Civil Disorder in the United States, Terrorist Incidents in the United States, White Supremacy in the United States
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Anniston, Alabama

Anniston, Alabama
Downtown Anniston in 2012
Downtown Anniston in 2012
Nickname(s): The Model City
Location in Alabama
Location in Alabama
Country United States
State Alabama
County Calhoun
Settled April 1872
Incorporated July 3, 1883
 • Mayor Vaughn Stewart
 • City 45.7 sq mi (118.4 km2)
 • Land 45.6 sq mi (118.2 km2)
 • Water 0.08 sq mi (0.2 km2)
Elevation 719 ft (219 m)
Population (2013)[1]
 • City 22,666
 • Density 506/sq mi (195.5/km2)
 • Metro 116,736 (US: 327th)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 36201-36207
Area code 256
FIPS code 01-01852
GNIS feature ID 0159066
Website .gov.annistonalwww

Anniston is a city in Calhoun County in the state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 23,106.[2] According to the 2013 Census Estimates, the city had a population of 22,666.[1] The city is the county seat of Calhoun County and one of two urban centers/principal cities of and included in the Anniston-Oxford Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Named "The Model City" by Atlanta newspaperman Henry W. Grady for its careful planning in the late 19th century, the city is situated on the slope of Blue Mountain.


  • History 1
    • The Civil War 1.1
    • The Woodstock Iron Company 1.2
    • World Wars I and II 1.3
    • The Civil Rights era 1.4
  • Geography 2
    • Climate 2.1
  • Transportation 3
  • Government 4
  • People and culture 5
    • Demographics 5.1
      • 2010 Census data 5.1.1
    • Culture, events and attractions 5.2
    • Media 5.3
  • PCBs contamination 6
  • Military 7
    • Anniston Army Depot 7.1
    • Fort McClellan 7.2
  • Education 8
  • Notable people 9
  • Footnotes 10
  • Further reading 11
  • External links 12


The Civil War

Though the surrounding area was settled much earlier, the mineral resources in the area of Anniston were not exploited until the Civil War. The Confederate States of America then operated an iron furnace near present day downtown Anniston, until it was finally destroyed by raiding Union cavalry in early 1865. Later, cast iron for sewer systems became the focus of Anniston's industrial output. Cast iron pipe, also called soil pipe, was popular until the advent of plastic pipe in the 1960s.

The Union troops who destroyed the furnace wrongfully hanged one of the area's few residents, farmer Charles Lloyd, for the death of one of their number. Lloyd, who farmed land in what is now Anniston west of Noble Street, was executed on the orders of Union General John Croxton for allegedly bushwhacking a Union cavalryman. In fact, the Union horse soldier had been killed by a legitimate Confederate soldier who had been defending the furnace. As the shooting happened near Lloyd's farm, Croxton mistakenly placed the blamed on Lloyd.[3]

The Woodstock Iron Company

This panoramic map with marked points of interest illustrates a bird's-eye view of Anniston, Alabama, in 1887, fourteen years after the town was chartered in 1873. The 1880 census showed a population of 942 and, by 1890, the population was 9,998.
Child laborers at Anniston Yarn Mills, 1910. Photo by Lewis Hine.

In 1872, the Woodstock Iron Company, organized by Samuel Noble and Union Gen. Daniel Tyler, rebuilt the furnace on a much larger scale, as well as started a planned community named Woodstock but later renamed "Annie's Town" for Annie Scott Tyler, wife of railroad president Alfred L. Tyler. This was soon changed to Anniston. Anniston was chartered as a town in 1873.[4]

Though the roots of the town's economy were in iron, steel and pipe clay, planners touted it as a health resort, and several hotels began operating. Schools also appeared, including the Noble Institute, a school for girls established in 1886,[5] and the Alabama Presbyterian College for Men, founded in 1905. Careful planning and easy access to rail transportation helped make Anniston the fifth largest city in the state from the 1890s to the 1950s.

World Wars I and II

In 1917, at the start of World War I, the United States Army established a training camp at Fort McClellan. On the other side of town, the Anniston Army Depot opened during World War II as a major weapons storage and maintenance site, a role it continues to serve as munitions-incineration progresses. Most of the site of Fort McClellan was incorporated into Anniston in the late 1990s, and the Army closed the fort in 1999 following the Base Realignment and Closure round of 1995.

The Civil Rights era

Anniston was the center of national controversy in 1961 when a mob bombed a bus filled with civilian Freedom Riders during the American Civil Rights Movement. The Freedom Riders were riding an integrated bus to protest Alabama's Jim Crow segregation laws that denied African Americans their civil rights. One of the buses was fire-bombed outside Anniston on Mother's Day, Sunday, May 14, 1961. As the bus burned, the mob held the doors shut, intent on burning the riders to death. An exploding fuel tank caused the mob to retreat, allowing the riders to escape the bus. The riders were viciously beaten as they tried to flee, and only warning shots fired into the air by highway patrolmen prevented the riders from being lynched on the spot.[6] Located along Alabama Highway 202 about 5 miles (8 km) west of downtown, the site today is home to a historic marker.[7]

Historic marker commemorating the Freedom Riders in downtown Anniston

In response to the violence, the city formed a bi-racial Human Relations Council (HRC) made up of prominent white business and religious leaders, but when they attempted to integrate the "whites-only" public library on Sunday afternoon, September 15, 1963 (the same day as the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham), further violence ensued and two black ministers, N.Q. Reynolds and Bob McClain, were severely beaten by a mob. The HRC chairman, white Presbyterian minister Rev. Phil Noble, worked with an elder of his church, Anniston City Commissioner Miller Sproull, to avoid KKK mob domination of the city. In a telephone conference with President John F. Kennedy, the President informed the HRC that after the Birmingham church bombing he had stationed additional federal troops at Fort McClellan. On September 16, 1963, with city police present, Noble and Sproull escorted black ministers into the library.[8] In February 1964, Anniston Hardware, owned by the Sproull family, was bombed, presumably in retaliation for Commissioner Sproull's integration efforts.

On the night of July 15, 1965, a white racist rally was held in Anniston, after which Willie Brewster, a black foundry worker, was shot and killed while driving home from work. A $20,000 reward was raised by Anniston civic leaders, and resulted in the apprehension, trial and conviction of the accused killer, Damon Strange, who worked for a leader of the Ku Klux Klan.[9] Historian Taylor Branch called the conviction of Damon Strange a "breakthrough verdict" on p. 391 of his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, At Canaan's Edge. Strange was convicted by an all-white Calhoun County jury to the surprise of many people, including civil rights leaders who had planned to protest an acquittal. This was the first conviction of a white person for killing a black person in civil rights era Alabama.[10]

1888 drawing and positioning of the Noble Institute for Girls in Anniston


At the southernmost length of the Blue Ridge, part of the Appalachian Mountains, Anniston's environment is home to diverse species of birds, reptiles and mammals. Part of the former Fort McClellan is now operating as Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge to protect endangered Southern Longleaf Pine species.

Anniston is located at (33.663003, −85.826664).[11]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 45.7 square miles (118.4 km2), of which 45.6 square miles (118.2 km2) is land and 0.08 square miles (0.2 km2), or 0.15%, is water.[2]

In 2003, part of the town of Blue Mountain was annexed into the city of Anniston, while the remaining portion of the town reverted to unincorporated Calhoun County.[12]


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Anniston has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps. [13]

Climate data for Anniston, Alabama
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 14
Average low °C (°F) 2
Average precipitation cm (inches) 13
Source: Weatherbase [14]


The Anniston Western Bypass runs from Interstate 20 in Oxford (the Coldwater exit) and runs north into the present State Route 202. It is five lanes wide, handling Anniston Army Depot traffic. Future plans will extend it on the present County Road 109 by widening it to connect with US 431.

The Anniston Eastern Bypass was a stalled project of the Alabama Department of Transportation to build a four-lane highway in Calhoun County until revived by the 2009 federal stimulus package.[15] It was the largest influx of federal money into the local economy since Fort McClellan closed. More than $21 million was earmarked for this project in 2005. This funding was spent acquiring rights of way and grading a section of the proposed bypass from Oxford to the community of Golden Springs. As of April 2009, the section was a graded, but undriveable, clay dirt road bed. The Eastern Bypass was revived by the 2009 Federal Stimulus Package and was opened to traffic into McClellan on the northwest end in January 2011. Construction of the interchange with State Route 21 and US Route 431 is underway and the completion and opening date is expected to be in the fall of 2015.


Anniston is governed by Alabama's "weak mayor" form of city government. Four city council members are elected to represent the city's four wards, and the mayor is elected at-large. Day-to-day functions of city government are carried out by the city manager, who is appointed by the mayor and city council.

Anniston is the county seat of Calhoun County, Alabama. Circuit and district courts for the county and the district attorney's office are located in the Calhoun County Courthouse at the corner of 11th Street and Gurnee Avenue. Other county administrative offices are in the Calhoun County Administrative Building at the corner of 17th and Noble streets, and a United States Courthouse, part of the U.S. Alabama Northern District Court, is located at the corner of 12th and Noble streets.

People and culture


2010 Census data

As of the census of 2010, there were 23,106 people residing in the city. The population density was 506.3 inhabitants per square mile (195.5/km2). There were 11,599 housing units at an average density of 281.5 per square mile (108.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 43.6% Non-Hispanic White, 51.5% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, and 1.7% from two or more races. 2.7% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 9,603 households out of which 20.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.0% were married couples living together, 21.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.6% were non-families. 34.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.91.

In the city the age distribution of the population shows 21.7% under the age of 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 25.7% from 25 to 44, 23.3% from 45 to 64, and 17.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 83.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,400, and the median income for a family was $37,067. Males had a median income of $31,429 versus $21,614 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,689. About 25.1% of families and 29.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 35.2% of those under age 18 and 16.2% of those age 65 or over.

Culture, events and attractions

Anniston is home to the country's largest and the one-time world's largest chair, as designated by the Guinness Book of World Records in 1982.

In 1899, the county seat of Calhoun County moved from Anniston Museum of Natural History and the Berman Museum of World History. These institutions house mummies, dioramas of wildlife, and artifacts from a bygone age in contemporary, professional displays and exhibits. The Alabama Symphony Orchestra since 2004 has performed a summer series of outdoor concerts, Music at McClellan, at the former Fort McClellan.

The city has many examples of Victorian-style homes, some of which have been restored or preserved. Several of the city's churches are architecturally significant or historic, including the Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Grace Episcopal Church, Parker Memorial Baptist Church, and the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, a predominantly African-American church in what is known as the Zion Hill community. Temple Beth EL, dedicated in 1893, is the oldest building in the state continuously used for Jewish worship.

The original main street, Noble Street, is seeing a rebirth as a shopping and dining district in the heart of downtown, but the large shopping centers in the area are located in Oxford, south of Anniston along Interstate 20. Oxford is home to Quintard Mall and the newly developed Oxford Exchange.

The Georgia, has its western terminus in Anniston.


Anniston is served by two daily newspapers: The Birmingham News statewide edition, and the local 25,000 circulation daily paper, The Anniston Star. Anniston-based Consolidated Publishing Co., publisher of The Anniston Star, also owns and operates advertising-supported newspapers in nearby Jacksonville, Piedmont and Cleburne County. Local radio stations include WHMA AM and FM WDNG 1450-AM and WHOG 1120 AM.

WEAC-CD is the only television station that directly broadcasts from the Anniston area, but many Birmingham stations have towers and news bureaus here, such as WJSU-TV (WJSU is a local broadcast station for Birmingham-based ABC 33/40), WBRC-TV (Fox), and WVTM-TV (NBC). Alabama Public Television erected its tallest tower atop Cheaha Mountain 12 miles (19 km) south of Anniston. WJSU-TV 40 was historically a local CBS affiliate, broadcasting local newscasts daily.

Formerly its own Arbitron-defined broadcast market, today Anniston is a part of the Birmingham-Anniston-Tuscaloosa television designated market area. Radio stations are divided into three sub markets within that market; Anniston is in the Anniston-GadsdenTalladega radio sub market.

PCBs contamination

PCBs were produced in Anniston from 1929 to 1971, initially as the Swann Chemical Company. In 1935 Monsanto Industrial Chemicals Co. bought the plant and took over production. In 1969, the plant was discharging about 250 pounds of the chemicals into Snow Creek per day, according to internal company documents.[19]

In 2002, an investigation by 60 Minutes[20] revealed Anniston had been among the most toxic cities in the country. The primary source of local contamination was a Monsanto chemical factory, which had already been closed. The [2] EPA description[21] of the site reads in part:

The Anniston PCB site consists of residential, commercial, and public properties located in and around Anniston, Calhoun County, Alabama, that contain or may contain hazardous substances, including polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) impacted media. The Site is not listed on the NPL, but is considered to be a NPL-caliber site. Solutia Inc.'s Anniston plant encompasses approximately 70 acres of land and is located about 1 mile west of downtown Anniston, Alabama. The plant is bounded to the north by the Norfolk Southern and Erie railroads, to the east by Clydesdale Avenue, to the west by First Avenue, and to the south by Highway 202. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were produced at the plant from 1929 until 1971.


Anniston Army Depot

Anniston is home to the Anniston Army Depot which is used for the maintenance of most Army tracked vehicles. The depot also housed a major chemical weapons storage facility, the Anniston Chemical Activity, and a program to destroy those weapons, the Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility. In 2003, the Anniston Army Depot began the process of destroying the chemical weapons it had stored at the depot and at Fort McClellan. An incinerator was built to destroy the stockpile of Sarin, VX nerve agent, and mustard blister agent stored at the depot. Destruction of the weapons was completed in 2011. The incinerator and related operations were officially closed in May 2013, and the incinerator was disassembled and removed from the depot at the end of 2013.[22]

Fort McClellan

Fort McClellan, former site of the U.S. Army Military Police Training Academy, Chemical Corps Regimental Headquarters, and Chemical Warfare training center, was de-commissioned in the 1990s. A portion of the former fort is now home to the Alabama National Guard Training Center. Another 9,000 acres (36 km2) of the fort were set aside for the Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge in 2003. The Department of Homeland Security also uses a portion of the decommissioned fort for the Center for Domestic Preparedness, the nation's only civilian "live agent" training center; emergency response providers from all over the world come to Fort McClellan to be trained in dealing with live agents and weapons in a real-time, monitored setting.


Public schools in Anniston are operated by Anniston City Schools. These include:

  • Anniston High School (Grades 9–12)
  • Anniston Middle School (Grades 6–8)
  • Cobb Elementary School (Grades K-5)
  • Constantine Elementary School (Grades K-5)
  • Golden Springs Elementary School (Grades K-5)
  • Randolph Park Elementary School (Grades K-5)
  • Tenth Street Elementary School (Grades K-5)

The school system boasts one of the most high-tech computing capabilities in the state, according to representatives from Huntsville as well as various news agencies. Every school is equipped with state-of-the-art Macintosh (Apple) labs, which includes two 55-inch (1,400 mm) plasma screen monitors, interactive Smart Boards (which are also populated throughout the school system), and additional computer labs at many of the schools. This does not include the ACCESS lab at the high school, used to interact with other schools within the state. These are all connected by high speed OC 48 fiber.

A public four-year institution of higher learning, Jacksonville State University, is located 12 miles (19 km) to the north in Jacksonville. Anniston is home to some satellite campuses of Gadsden State Community College, both at the former Fort McClellan and at the Ayers campus in southern Anniston.

There are several private primary and secondary schools in Anniston, including:

  • Faith Christian School
  • Sacred Heart of Jesus School, a longstanding Roman Catholic school
  • The Donoho School, a K-12 college-preparatory school

Notable people


  1. ^ a b "Population Estimates".  
  2. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Anniston city, Alabama". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved May 30, 2014. 
  3. ^ Croxton's Raid by Rex Miller, p.88
  4. ^ Sprayberry, Gary. "Anniston". Encyclopedia of Alabama. Retrieved January 8, 2010. 
  5. ^ located along Leighton Ave, on the corner of Leighton Ave and E 11th St., facing Christine Ave.
  6. ^ "Get On the Bus: The Freedom Riders of 1961".  
  7. ^ Dan, Whisenhunt (May 13, 2007). "A Single Step: Memorial to 'Freedom Riders' Just a Beginning". Jacksonville State University News. Jacksonville State University. Retrieved January 8, 2010. 
  8. ^ Beyond the Burning Bus: The Civil Rights Revolution in a Southern Town by Phil Noble, p. 123
  9. ^ "The Death of Willie Brewster: Memories of a Dark Time."
  10. ^ "The Death of Willie Brewster: An appraisal of Anniston's moment of shame and triumph."
  11. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  12. ^ U.S.Census change list
  13. ^ Climate Summary for Anniston, Alabama
  14. ^ "". Weatherbase. 2013.  Retrieved on November 3, 2013.
  15. ^ Goodman, Sherri C. (February 13, 2009). "Anniston bypass, Huntsville overpass are big winners if Obama OKs stimulus plan".  
  16. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  17. ^  
  18. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013". Retrieved June 7, 2014. 
  19. ^ """Poisoned By PCBs: "A Lack of Control. Chemical Industry Archives. Environmental Working Group. Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  20. ^ "Toxic Secret". 60 Minutes. August 31, 2003. CBS. 
  21. ^ "U.S.EPA Fact Sheet Anniston PCB Site" (PDF). United States Environmental ProtectionAgency. August 2002. Retrieved April 22, 2010. 
  22. ^ Gore, Leada (May 8, 2013). "One year after last chemical weapon destroyed, incinerator at Anniston Army Depot closed". Alabama Media Group. Retrieved January 12, 2015. 
  23. ^ Baird, Dave (November 23, 2011). "Auburn Graduate's Ship Celebrates Anniversary". WBMA. 
  24. ^ "Thomas Erby Kilby". Alabama Department of Archives & History. Retrieved August 20, 2012. 

Further reading

  • Grace Hooten Gates, The Model City of the New South: Anniston, Alabama, 1872–1900. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1996.
  • Kimberly O'Dell, Anniston. Mount Pleasant, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2000.
  • Ellen Griffith Spears, Baptized in PCBs: Race, Pollution, and Justice in an All-American Town. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2013.

External links

  • City of Anniston official website
  • Institute of Southern Jewish Life's History of Anniston
  • "Anniston" Encyclopedia of Alabama'
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