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Huntsville - United States

Huntsville is a city located primarily in Madison County in the Appalachian region of northern Alabama. Huntsville is the county seat of Madison County. The city extends west into neighboring Limestone County and south into Morgan County. Huntsville's population was 180,105 as of the 2010 census. Huntsville is the third-largest city in Alabama and the largest city in the five-county Huntsville-Decatur-Albertville, AL Combined Statistical Area, which at the 2013 census estimate had a total population of 683,871. The Huntsville Metropolitan Area's population was 417,593 in 2010 to become the 2nd largest in Alabama. Huntsville metro's population reached 441,000 by 2014.

It grew across nearby hills north of the Tennessee River, adding textile mills, then munitions factories, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and the United States Army Aviation and Missile Command nearby at the Redstone Arsenal. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Huntsville to its "America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations for 2010" list.

At the end of the war in 1945, the munitions facilities were no longer needed. They were combined with the designation Redstone Arsenal (RSA), and a considerable political and business effort was made in attempts to attract new tenants. One significant start involved manufacturing the Keller automobile, but this closed after 18 vehicles were built. With the encouragement of US Senator John Sparkman, the U.S. Army Air Force considered this for a major testing facility, but then selected another site. Redstone Arsenal was prepared for disposal, but Sparkman used his considerable Southern Democratic influence (the Solid South controlled numerous powerful chairmanships of congressional committees) to persuade the Army to choose it as a site for rocket and missile development.

In 1950, about 1,000 personnel were transferred from Fort Bliss, Texas, to Redstone Arsenal to form the Ordnance Guided Missile Center (OGMC). Central to this was a group of about 200 German scientists and engineers, led by Wernher von Braun; they had been brought to America by Colonel Holger Toftoy under Operation Paperclip following World War II. Assigned to the center at Huntsville, they settled and reared families in this area.

As the Korean War started, the OGMC was given the mission to develop what eventually became the Redstone Rocket. This rocket set the stage for the United States' space program, as well as major Army missile programs, to be centered in Huntsville. Toftoy, then a brigadier general, commanded OGMC and the overall Redstone Arsenal. In early 1956, the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) under Major General John Medaris was formed.

On April 27, 2011, the largest tornado outbreak on record, the 2011 Super Outbreak, affected northern Alabama. During this event, an EF5 tornado that tracked near the Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant destroyed many transmission towers and caused a multi-day power outage for the majority of North Alabama. That same tornado also resulted in considerable damage to the Anderson Hills subdivision and in Harvest, Alabama. In total, nine people were killed in Madison County, and many others injured. Other significant tornado events include the Super Outbreak in April 1974, the November 1989 Tornado Outbreak that killed 21 and injured almost 500, and the Anderson Hills Tornado that killed one and caused extensive damage in 1995. On January 21, 2010, Huntsville experienced a rare mid-winter tornado. It registered EF2 on the Enhanced Fujita scale and resulted in moderate damage. Because it was not rain-wrapped and was easily photographed, it received extensive media coverage.

Since Huntsville is nearly 300 miles (480 km) inland, hurricanes rarely arrive with their full force; however, many weakened tropical storms cross the area after a U.S. Gulf Coast landfall. While most winters have some measurable snow, heavy snow is rare in Huntsville. However, there have been some unusually heavy snowstorms, like the New Year's Eve 1963 snowstorm, when 17 in (43 cm) fell within 24 hours. Likewise, the Blizzard of 1993 and the Groundhog Day snowstorm in February 1996 were substantial winter events for Huntsville. On Christmas Day 2010, Huntsville recorded over 4 inches (10 cm) of snow, and on January 9–10, 2011 it received from 8.9 inches (23 cm) at the airport and up to 10 inches (25 cm) in the suburbs.

Huntsville is served by several U.S. Highways, including 72, 231, 431 and an Interstate highway spur, I-565, that links the two cities of Huntsville and Decatur to I-65. Alabama Highway 53 also connects the city with I-65 in Ardmore, Tennessee. Major roadways include University Drive, Governors Drive, Airport Road, Memorial Parkway and Research Park Blvd.

Cited as "Restore Our Roads", the city of Huntsville, between 2014 and 2019, will perform about $383 million worth of road construction to improve the transportation infrastructure. Some of the funds for the road work comes from an increase in sales tax, while others come from various sources including the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program. Major road projects include:

Memorial Parkway overpasses at Martin Road, Lily Flagg, and Mastin Lake Road
Widening US 72 over Chapman Mountain
Widening US 72 from Providence Main Street to County Line Road from 4 lanes to 6 lanes
Access and intersection improvements along Memorial Parkway
Extending the Northern Bypass from Pulaski Pike to US-231/431
Widening Cecil Ashburn Drive over Huntsville Mountain from 2 to 4 lanes

Additional road projects include reconstructing Holmes Avenue over Pinhook Creek, widening Zierdt, Martin and Winchester Roads, widening Old Madison Pike from Cummings Research Park to the city of Madison, relocating and widening Church Street north of Downtown, relocating Wynn Drive to allow an extension of the Calhoun Community College campus, various improvements along US 431 north of Hampton Cove, creating a new Downtown Gateway with the extension of Harvard Road from Governors Drive to Williams Avenue to create a direct connection to Downtown, and extending Weatherly Road to the new Grissom High School.

In 2015, Alabama and Huntsville were not considered bicycle friendly. There are bike paths for exercise available. Huntsville government is working to improve bicycle network within the city limits.

The Huntsville Times has been Huntsville's only daily newspaper since 1996, when the Huntsville News closed. Before then, the News was the morning paper, and the Times was the afternoon paper until 2004. The Times has a weekday circulation of 60,000, which rises to 80,000 on Sundays. Both papers were owned by the Newhouse chain.

In May 2012, Advance Publications, owner of the Times, announced that the Times would become part of a new company called the Alabama Media Group, along with the other three newspapers and two websites owned by Advance. As part of the change, the newspapers moved to a three-day publication schedule, with print editions available only on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The Huntsville Times and its sister papers publish news and information 7 days a week on AL.com.

A few alternative newspapers are available in Huntsville. The Valley Planet covers arts and entertainment in the Tennessee Valley area. The Redstone Rocket is a newspaper distributed throughout Redstone Arsenal's housing area covering activities on Redstone. Speakin' Out News is a weekly newspaper focused on African Americans. El Reportero is a Spanish-language newspaper for North Alabama.

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