Tales of Tuscaloosa: Streets Named Tuscaloosa (September 7, 2011)

Some of the cities outside of Alabama with streets named Tuscaloosa. Some of the cities outside of Alabama with streets named Tuscaloosa. Jim Ezell

Tuscaloosa is one of America’s most unique names. Except for an east Texas ghost town, no other city, town, or county bears the name of the famous chief. However, it does show up in widely scattered parts of the country as a street name. Streets named for Tuscaloosa have various designations. Some are thoroughfares such as roads, streets, or avenues. Others may be short and local such as ways, traces, or lanes.

Many communities have streets named for their municipal neighbors. Alabama cities such as Birmingham, Mobile, Huntsville, Montgomery, and Gadsden, as well as nearby Columbus, Mississippi, all have streets named Tuscaloosa. Often it is an honorific, or it might designate where a street ultimately leads as it transitions to a road or highway on the way out of town. Some of these include Jasper, Eutaw, Carrollton, and Gordo. In some cases, the names are reciprocal, such as Greensboro Ave. in Tuscaloosa leads south towards Greensboro, the county seat of Hale County. Conversely, Tuscaloosa St. in Greensboro heads north towards Tuscaloosa.

Tuscaloosa crops up frequently as a street name in Florida in such widely scattered communities as Tallahassee, Milton, Daytona Beach, Fort Myers, and West Palm Beach. Perhaps the naming of these streets reflects the origin of some of Florida’s many winter residents and retirees. Tuscaloosa Ave. in Daytona Beach is near Selma and Mobile Avenues. Tuscaloosa St. in West Palm Beach is near Talladega and Tallapoosa Streets. In Fort Myers, Tuscaloosa St. is near Virginia, Jersey, and New York Streets.

The origin of the Tuscaloosa street name in other cities such as Greensboro, Fayetteville, and Huntersville, North Carolina; and Louisville, Kentucky may be more obscure. Tuscaloosa Lane in Brick, New Jersey, is part of a neighborhood whose streets have Native American names, including Apache, Cherokee, and Navajo.

Migrants moving west may have taken the name Tuscaloosa with them. Some streets with this name are located in Marion and Louisville, Mississippi; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; San Antonio, Texas; West Jordan, Utah; and San Diego and Atherton, California. 

The rather "modest" entrance to 141 Tuscaloosa Avenue, a $31 million property located in Atherton, California. It includes a 10,000-square-foot main house, separate guest house, servants’ quarters, indoor basketball court, swimming pool, and putting green. In total it has three kitchens, six bedrooms, and 10 baths.

Atherton, California is a small city in “Silicon Valley” near Palo Alto and Stanford University. Its citizens have a median income of more than $250,000—the highest in the United States. Some of the nation’s most expensive homes are located along mile-long Tuscaloosa Avenue. On September 7, 2011, a large estate located at 141 Tuscaloosa Ave. was sold through Coldwell Banker Real Estate for $20.4 million. In 2015 the same property, after renovation and additions, was listed by Christie’s International Real Estate and sold for an astounding $31 million. In November 2015, a home at 119 Tuscaloosa Ave. sold for $35.3 million. According to the real estate website Zillow.com, other homes on this street typically approach or exceed $10 million. The “cheapest” recent transaction was a mere $6 million. By contrast, a home along Tuscaloosa Avenue in Birmingham’s West End recently sold for $35,000, while rents were commonly less than $300 per month.

Streets named for Tuscaloosa may be short, such as two-block long Tuscaloosa Trace in Tallahassee, or extend a mile or more. They may be in low income or affluent neighborhoods. They may be nearby or far away. But they all share a common origin, the Native American who led his people resisting conquest nearly half a millennium ago. 

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Jim Ezell

Local author and historian Jim Ezell is busily writing a collection of historical stories about the Druid City and surrounding areas, in hopes of publishing a book ahead of Tuscaloosa’s bicentennial celebration in 2019. What began as genealogy search in 1992 quickly turned into a much larger project. As Ezell searched through over a century of newspapers on microfilm at the University of Alabama’s Hoole Special Collections Library, he became fascinated by other articles about Tuscaloosa’s rich history.

Ezell was recently named Writer of the Year for 2015 by the Tuscaloosa Writers and Illustrators Guild. 

Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.



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