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Claire M. Wilson, Auburn University
Gardendale is located in Jefferson County in the north-central part of the state to the north of Birmingham. It has a mayor/council form of government.
Early History
Gardendale Homesteads, 1937
What is now Gardendale was settled originally in the mid-1820s by veterans of the War of 1812 along an existing Indian trade route; it became known as Jugtown because of a local pottery industry. In the 1870s, the town's population expanded rapidly with the establishment of the nearby New Castle coal mines by Birmingham cofounder John T. Milner and also the establishment of a grist mill and farmers' cooperative. Jugtown's first school, named after Milner, opened in 1892, and the town continued to expand as workers from Birmingham moved to the less crowded areas outside the city. Embarrassed by what she considered the town's lowly name, local schoolteacher Hettie Thompson Cargo successfully lobbied town officials to have the town's name changed to Gardendale in 1906. During the mid-1930s, Gardendale became the site of a New Deal resettlement community for people displaced by the Great Depression. The Gardendale Homesteads, as they were known, were experimental designs created by architect Thomas Hibben, with many being constructed with the rammed-earth technique of using compacted soil to form walls. The town was not officially incorporated until 1955.
According to 2016 Census estimates, Gardendale recorded a population of 13,750. Of that number, 83.3 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 12.9 percent as African American, 2.1 percent as Hispanic, 1.6 percent as Asian, 0.4 percent as two or more races, and 0.2 percent as Native American. The town's median household income was $62,668, and the per capita income was $31,254.
According to 2016 Census estimates, the work force in Gardendale was divided among the following industrial categories:
  • Educational services, and health care and social assistance (28.1 percent)
  • Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (10.9 percent)
  • Manufacturing (10.1 percent)
  • Retail trade (8.6 percent)
  • Other services, except public administration (8.5 percent)
  • Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (6.4 percent)
  • Construction (6.2 percent)
  • Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing (6.1 percent)
  • Transportation, warehousing, and utilities (5.9 percent)
  • Public administration (4.9 percent)
  • Wholesale trade (2.5 percent)
  • Information (1.4 percent)
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extraction (0.4 percent)
Gardendale is part of the Jefferson County School System. Gardendale schools has two elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. The town also has three private academies.
Gardendale is served by U.S. Highway 31, which runs north-south through the city. County Roads 112 and 118 connect Gardendale with Interstate 65, running north-south, approximately one mile to the west.
Events and Places of Interest
Each spring, the city hosts its Magnolia Festival on Main Street, near the Gardendale Civic Center. The celebration features food and craft vendors, a classic car show, carnival rides, musical entertainment, and a Little Miss/Miss Gardendale Magnolia Festival.
G. William Noble Park (formerly known as Moncrief Park), Celebration Park, and Luman Harris Park offer a variety of sports facilities, playgrounds, picnic areas, and water play in summer. A new soccer complex featuring two fields also has been completed. Memorial Park is dedicated to residents who have served in the U.S. military. The Quail Ridge Golf Course is an 18-hole facility located in Gardendale.
Published:  January 14, 2012   |   Last updated:  November 11, 2020