Auburn, Alabama

From Academic Kids

Auburn, Alabama
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Nickname: "The Loveliest Village On The Plains"
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County Lee County, Alabama
 - Total
 - Water

147.2 km² (53.0 mi²)
1.7 km² (0.6 mi²) 1.1%
 - Total (2003)
 - Metropolitan
 - Density

Time zone Central: UTC–6
Location Template:Coor dms
Mayor Bill Ham, Jr.
City website (

Auburn is a city in east central Alabama, near the Georgia border. It is the largest city in Lee County with a 2003 population of 46,923.

Auburn is the educational and cultural center of the east Alabama region. It is the home of Auburn University, Alabama's largest university, as well several research centers, including the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Auburn has been marked in recent years by rapid growth, and is currently the fastest growing metropolitan area in Alabama, and the nineteenth-fastest growing metro area in the United States. The city's unofficial nickname is The Loveliest Village On The Plains, taken from a line in the poem The Deserted Village by Oliver Goldsmith: "Sweet Auburn! loveliest village of the plain . . ."



Inhabited in antiquity by the Creek, the land on which Auburn sits was opened to settlement in 1832 with the Treaty of Cusseta. The first settlers arrived in the winter of 1836 from Harris County, Georgia. These settlers, led by Judge John J. Harper, intended to build a town that would be the religious and educational center for the area.

Auburn was incorporated on February 2, 1839, covering an area of 2 square miles (5.6 km). By that time, Methodist and Baptist churches had been established, and a school had been built and had come into operation. In the mid-1840s, separate academies for boys and girls were established in addition to the primary school. This concentration of educational institutions led to a rapid influx of families from the planter class into Auburn in the 1840s and 1850s. By 1858, of the roughly 1,000 free residents of Auburn, some 500 were students.

In 1856, the state legislature chartered a Methodist college, the East Alabama Male College in Auburn. This college, now Auburn University opened its doors in 1859, offering a classical and liberal education.

With the advent of the Civil War in 1861, Auburn quickly emptied. All of the schools closed, and most businesses shuttered. Auburn was the site of a hospital for Texan Confederate soldiers, but only saw direct combat with the raids of Rousseau in 1864 and Wilson in 1865.

After the Civil War, Auburn's economy entered a prolonged depression that would last the remainder of the century. Public schools did not reopen until the mid-1870s, and most businesses remained closed. A series of fires in the 1860s and 1870s gutted the downtown area. East Alabama Male College was turned over to the state in 1872, and with funds from the federal Morrill Act was renamed Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College with a new mission as a land grant college. Passage of the Hatch Act in 1887 allowed for expansion of agricultural research facilities on campus.

In 1892, the college became the first four-year college in Alabama to admit women. This, combined with increased interest in scientific agriculture and engineering and new funding from business licenses, allowed the city to start expanding again. By 1910, Auburn's population had returned to its antebellum level. SIAA Conference championships won by the Auburn college's football team brought attention and support to Auburn, and helped fill the city's coffers.

Fortunes were quickly reversed with the collapse of cotton prices in the early 1920's and the subsequent Great Depression a decade later. Due to these events, the state government became unable to fund the college, and--as Auburn's economy was completely derived from the college--residents were forced into a barter economy to support themselves.

Money began to flow into Auburn again with America's entry into World War II. Auburn's campus was turned into a training ground for technical specialists in the armed forces. After the war, Auburn was flooded by soldiers returning to school on the G.I. Bill.

Primarily due to this immigration of students, Auburn began a period of growth that lasted through the 1950s and 1960s. A considerable amount of residential and business construction pushed Auburn's growth outside of the original boundaries of the city, leading to a series of large annexations which expanded Auburn to nearly 24 square miles (63 km). Construction of Interstate 85 beginning in 1957 connected Auburn to the major cities of the state. This allowed for Auburn University (renamed in 1960) to schedule more home football games in Auburn rather than in larger cities, creating a strong tourism component in Auburn's economy.

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One of Auburn's many biking and walking trails.

Growth slowed somewhat in the 1970s, and a series of budget cuts made it clear that Auburn's sole economic reliance on Auburn University put the city in a tenuous position. Backlash against what was seen as an ineffectual city council led to the election of Jan Dempsey as mayor in 1982 and the removal of the previous city government system in favor of a council-manager system. With a new government in place, the city began aggressively pursuing industry, leading to a nearly 1,200% increase in the number of industrial jobs over the next twenty years. As public satisfaction with the city administration reached record levels, Auburn began very rapid residential growth.

A series of reports in the 1980s and 1990s ranking the Auburn public school system among the top in the state and nation convinced thousands of new residents to move to Auburn over the past 25 years. Between 1980 and 2003, Auburn's population grew by 65%, and Auburn's economy expanded by 220%. With growth came issues of urban sprawl, which has become the primary political issue in Auburn at the turn of the 21st Century.

Law and Government

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City map of Auburn.

Auburn has a council-manager government led by an eight-member city council, a mayor, and an appointed city manager.

The city council acts as a legislative body of the city, passing laws and regulations and appointing citizens to the city's various boards, including the Auburn City Board of Education. Each member of the city council is elected for a four-year term from one of four geographic wards. Each ward elects two candidates (places) to sit on the council. In Ward 1, however, each of the two places is geographically independent from the other to ensure African-American representation on the council.

Members of the current Auburn City Council are:

  • Ward 1 Place 1 - Verlinda White
  • Ward 1, Place 2 - Shelia Eckman
  • Ward 2, Place 1 - Roberta Jackel
  • Ward 2, Place 2 - Logan Gray
  • Ward 3, Place 1 - Ted Wilson
  • Ward 3, Place 2 - Dick Phelan
  • Ward 4, Place 1 - Carolyn G. Mathews
  • Ward 4, Place 2 - Gene Dulaney

Starting with the 2006 election, the place system will be discarded and council members will be elected from eight geographically distinct wards.

The mayor of Auburn is elected in the city at-large to a four year term. The duties of the mayor are to promote the city, communicate with residents, and break any ties in votes of the City Council. As such, the position of mayor in Auburn is primarily symbolic. The current mayor of Auburn is Bill Ham, Jr.

The day-to-day operations of Auburn are run by the City Manager. The City Manager is appointed by and serves at the leisure of the City Council. The City Manager is responsible for the appointment and dismissal of all department heads, advises the council on policy matters, and creates and administers the city budget. The current City Manager of Auburn is David F. Watkins.


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A creek flowing through an Auburn park.

The city of Auburn lies in western Lee County and is bordered by the city of Opelika to the northeast and by Chambers County to the north. The city stretches south to within a mile of the Macon County line in the southwest.

Auburn sits on the fall line at the juncture of the piedmont plateau and the coastal plain. Portions of Auburn also include the southernmost exposure of rocks indicating the Appalachian orogeny--as such, the last foothill of the Appalachian Mountains lies in Chewacla Park in southern Auburn. As a result of these three varied physical environments, Auburn has an extremely diverse geography.

The southwest and west regions of the city on the plateau are marked by rolling plains and savannahs, with the undeveloped portion primarily being used for cattle grazing and ranching. South of this region sits the coastal plain, with sandy soil and pine forest. Parts of north Auburn have much more rugged topographies, with thick forests in high hills and deep hollows of the type common to parts of eastern Tennessee. The region surrounded by Chewacla Park in the south of the city contains sharp peaks and sudden drops of elevation as the 3.5 billion year-old rock of the Appalachians meets the coastal plain.

Auburn sits near the divide between the Chattahoochee and Tallapoosa River watersheds. Auburn is drained by three main creek systems: in the south, by the Chewacla/Opintlocco Creek system; in the north, by the Saugahatchee Creek system; and in the extreme northern reaches of Auburn by Sandy Creek. The dividing line between the Chewacla and Saugahatchee watersheds roughly follows railroad line east-west through the center of town.

Auburn is located at 32°35'52" North, 85°28'51" West (32.597684, -85.480823)Template:GRand according to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2000, the city has a total area of 102.5 km² (39.6 mi²). 101.3 km² (39.1 mi²) of it is land and 1.1 km² (0.4 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 1.11% water. The elevation of Auburn at City Hall is 709 ft (216 m) above sea level; though due to Auburn's diverse topography, elevation ranges from 386 feet (118 m) above sea level where Chewacla Creek crosses Sand Hill Road to 845 feet (258 m) above sea level in northern Auburn near the Chambers County line.


Auburn has a typically Southern climate marked by mild winters, hot, muggy summers, and moderate autumns and springs. Due to Auburn's position near the Gulf of Mexico, the city receives a significant amount of rainfall--on average, 52.6 inches (1340 mm) per year--though there is a distinct dry season in the late summer and early fall. Severe storm activity is common from the late winter through early summer, but is less strong than in surrounding regions due to Auburn's higher elevation.

Winters in Auburn are typically very mild, with average highs between 55 and 60F (13-16C) and average lows between 35 and 40F (2-4C). Snowfall is not rare, but is infrequent; Auburn on average receives less than an inch per year. Spring highs average between 75 and 80F (24-27C), and lows average from 50 to 60F (10-16C). Summer temperatures have an average peak in the high 80s and low 90s (29-33C) with lows around 70F (21C), though the high humidity can push daytime heat indices over 100F (38C). Fall is typically drier than the other seasons, with highs in the 70s (21-27C) and lows in the 50s (10-16C).

The record high for Auburn is 103F (40C), set on July 15, 1980 and August 10, 1980, while the record low was -7F (-22C), set on February 13, 1899 and January 21, 1985.


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Downtown Auburn, Alabama.

Auburn's economy is centered around Auburn University and providing university-affiliated services. Auburn University employs 4,300 people, which is roughly one-quarter of the city's total workforce. In addition, 2,400 Auburnites are employed by the federal and state government in positions which are generally connected with the university. Some 8,500 are employed in service sector jobs.

Auburn's industrial base is built around mid-sized, high tech manufacturing and research firms. Auburn has four technology parks where main areas of industrial focus are on the manufacture of small engines, automotive wheels, fuel cells, plastic injection technology, and vehicle armor. The 156-acre Auburn University Research Park is currently under construction and will be anchored by a firm which specializes in research in high-resolution, dark field optical microscopy. Overall, the manufacturing sector accounts for some 4,000 jobs in Auburn.


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Samford Hall, on the Auburn University campus.

As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there are 42,987 people, 18,421 households, and 7,239 families residing in the city. The population density is 424.2/km² (1,098.6/mi²). There are 20,043 housing units at an average density of 197.8/km² (512.2/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 78.05% White, 16.79% Black or African American, 0.19% Native American, 3.31% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.57% from other races, and 1.05% from two or more races. 1.55% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 18,421 households out of which 18.6% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 28.6% are married couples living together, 7.7% have a female householder with no husband present, and 60.7% are non-families. 36.8% of all households are made up of individuals and 4.5% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.12 and the average family size is 2.93.

In the city the population is spread out with 15.4% under the age of 18, 44.6% from 18 to 24, 21.9% from 25 to 44, 11.7% from 45 to 64, and 6.4% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 23 years. For every 100 females there are 99.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 99.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $17,206, and the median income for a family is $55,619. Males have a median income of $41,012 versus $26,209 for females. The per capita income for the city is $16,431. 38.1% of the population and 14.0% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 16.5% of those under the age of 18 and 8.8% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.


Auburn, as a college town is largely driven by the influence of education. Auburn has one post-secondary school, Auburn University, which has an enrollment of 23,000. Auburn University is a Land-grant_university with traditionally strong programs in engineering, agriculture, and veterinary medicine. The university is largely focused on undergraduate education, with a graduate enrollment of only 4,000. Auburn University is a research institution, with primary areas of research focus including wireless engineering, molecular biosciences, transportation, aquaculture, and forest sustainability.

Auburn's public school system includes six elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school. Auburn's school system has repeatedly been ranked among the top public school systems in the state and nation. Auburn City Schools has been ranked among the top 100 school districts in the United States by Parenting magazine and as the best educational value in the Southeast by the Wall Street Journal. Auburn's Early Education Center has specialized programs for autism education, has been recognized as a national Blue Ribbon school, and is a finalist for the Intel and Scholastic Schools of Distinction award. Auburn High School has strong International Baccalaureate and music programs, and was ranked in 2005 by Newsweek as the top non-magnet public high school in Alabama, and one of the top 100 in the United States.

Arts, Culture, and Recreation

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Auburn's Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art.

Auburn is the home to the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art. The Smith Museum maintains a collection of primarily 19th and 20th Century American and European art. The museum's exhibits include the Advancing American Art Collection, consisting of 36 works by mid-20th Century American artists including Jacob Lawrence, Ben Shahn, and Georgia O'Keefe, a collection of woodcuts by naturalist John James Audubon, and works from Dali, Chagall, Renoir, Picasso, and Matisse. Major sculptural works at the museum include a collection of Tibetan bronzes, Jean Woodham's Spinoff, and Dale Chihuly's Amber Luster Chandelier.

Also in Auburn is the Telfair Peet Theatre, which performs a series of plays and musicals each year. The Auburn Community Orchestra, as well as the bands of Auburn University and the Auburn High School Honors Band perform dozens of yearly concerts, including a series of outdoor concerts in the fall at Kiesel Park. Other musical series in Auburn include that of the Auburn Knights Orchestra, a big band jazz orchestra, and the Sundilla Acoustic Concert Series.

Recreational opportunities in Auburn include 16 parks, highlighted by Chewacla Park, a 700-acre park in the Appalachian foothills, Kiesel Park, a 200 acre "passive" park with numerous trails, and the Louise Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve. Auburn is also ringed by miles of multi-use trails and several lakes.


See also: Auburn University - Athletics

Auburn has no professional sports teams, but nonetheless has a vibrant sports culture due to the presence of Auburn University's NCAA Division I athletic squads. Auburn University football in particular is a major force in Auburn's culture and economy. When Auburn University has home football games in the fall, the city often times sees over 100,000 visitors, and the yearly economic impact is measured at nearly $100 million. While other sports do not attract as many tourists to Auburn, the university's 17 varsity sports offer citizens a variety of other opportunities for viewing competition at virtually the highest level.

Home football games particularly change the face of Auburn for several weekends a year. Tens of thousands of fans flood the campus hours--sometimes days--before the game to tailgate, creating a festival-like atmosphere throughout the weekend. Football games in Auburn are played in 87,451 seat Jordan-Hare Stadium, which sits on the main campus, just a few blocks from downtown.

Basketball is played at 9,000 seat Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum, while baseball games are held at 4,200 seat Plainsman Park, which has been named one of the top five collegiate ballparks in the nation by Baseball America. One of Auburn's most competitive sports is the swimming program, which has won six of the last eight NCAA national championships, and competes at the James Martin Aquatic Center.

Auburn is home to 146 holes of golf at six courses, and has played host to several professional and amateur golf tournaments. Auburn Links was rated as one of the top three new courses in the nation when it opened in 1996, and the Robert Trent Jones-designed Grand National course just outside of Auburn is often cited as one of the top public courses in the nation.

Suburbs and Outlying Communities


  • Atkins, Leah Rawls (1992). Blossoms Amid the Deep Verdure ( Retrieved June 8, 2005.
  • Auburn-Opelika Metropolitan Planning Organization/Lee Russell Council of Governments (2004). Auburn-Opelika 2030 Long Range Transportation Plan, Draft Final Report. Atlanta, Ga., Day Wilburn Associates, Inc.
  • City of Auburn (1998). Auburn 2020 ( Retrieved June 8, 2005.
  • City of Auburn. City Council ( Retrieved June 8, 2005.
  • City of Auburn, Economic Development Department (2005) City of Auburn Community Profile 2005 ( Retrieved June 10, 2005.
  • City of Auburn, Office of the City Manager (2000). Growth Boundary Plan for the City of Auburn. Pamphlet. Auburn, Ala.
  • Auburn University Athletic Department (2004). 2004 Auburn Football Media Guide ( Retrieved June 10, 2005.
  • Flynt, Wayne (2001). "The Great Depression and the South". Lecture given April 2, 2001, Auburn, Ala.
  • Frazer, Mary B. Reese (1920). Early History of Auburn. Manuscript. Preserved on microfilm through the USAIN/NEH State and Local Literature Preservation Project, (1997) Mobile, Ala., Document Technology, Inc.
  • Hausman, Tamar. School Expenses. The Wall Street Journal, Southeast Journal. (May 13, 1998).
  • The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University (2004). JCSMFA Permanent Collection ( Retrieved June 10, 2005.
  • Newsweek. The Complete List of the Top 1000 High Schools ( Retrieved June 10, 2005.
  • Nunn, Alexander (Ed.) (1983). Lee County and Her Forebears. Montgomery, Ala., Herff Jones. LCCCN 83-081693
  • Logue, Mickey & Simms, Jack (1996). Auburn: A Pictorial History of the Lovliest Village, Revised. Auburn, Ala. ISBN 1-885860-08-0
  • United States Geological Survey (1971). Auburn Quadrangle Alabama-Lee Co. 7.5 Minute Series (Topographic) (,Description),cat(Name,Description)&style=historicalmaps/view-dhtml.xsl). Retrieved June 8, 2005.
  • United States Geological Survey (1971). Opelika West Quadrangle Alabama-Lee Co. 7.5 Minute Series (Topographic) (,Description),cat(Name,Description)&style=historicalmaps/view-dhtml.xsl). Retrieved June 8, 2005.
  • Watson, Douglas J. (1997). Workable Government: Auburn Provides Solutions for Community Challenges. Auburn, Ala., Craftmaster Printers.
  • The Weather Channel (2005). Daily Averages for Auburn, AL (36830) ( Retrieved June 9, 2005.
  • Wright, John Peavy (1969). Glimpses into the past from my Grandfather's Trunk. Alexander City, Ala., Outlook Publishing Company, Inc. LCCCN 74-101331

External links


Flag of Alabama

State of Alabama



Largest Metro:

Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman Metropolitan Area


Greater Birmingham | Central Alabama | Lower Alabama | Mobile Bay | North Alabama | South Alabama

Largest cities:

Birmingham | Huntsville | Mobile | Montgomery

Major cities:

Alabaster | Albertville | Alexander City | Anniston | Athens | Auburn | Bessemer | Daphne | Decatur | Dothan | Enterprise | Florence | Gadsden | Homewood | Hoover | Tuscaloosa | Vestavia Hills

All cities:

List of cities in Alabama


Autauga | Baldwin | Barbour | Bibb | Blount | Bullock | Butler | Calhoun | Chambers | Cherokee | Chilton | Choctaw | Clarke | Clay | Cleburne | Coffee | Colbert | Conecuh | Coosa | Covington | Crenshaw | Cullman | Dale | Dallas | DeKalb | Elmore | Escambia | Etowah | Fayette | Franklin | Geneva | Greene | Hale | Henry | Houston | Jackson | Jefferson | Lamar | Lauderdale | Lawrence | Lee | Limestone | Lowndes | Macon | Madison | Marengo | Marion | Marshall | Mobile | Monroe | Montgomery | Morgan | Perry | Pickens | Pike | Randolph | Russell | Shelby | St. Clair | Sumter | Talladega | Tallapoosa | Tuscaloosa | Walker | Washington | Wilcox | Winston

de:Auburn (Alabama)


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