Foley is named for J.B. Foley of Chicago who bought land in the area in 1901 planning to sell it through the newly formed Magnolia Springs Land Company. He persuaded the Louisville and Nashville Railroad to run a spur to the area by promising to pay for the crossties needed for the line. By 1905, the town was large enough to warrant a post office, and it incorporated in 1915. Foley was primarily a farming community, served by the L&N Railroad via a depot and warehouse for farm products, notably potatoes. Early businesses included a bottling company that produced a soft-drink called "Ski-Hi." The first newspaper, a weekly called The Onlooker, began publication in 1907.
Foley’s population at the time of the 2010 Census was 14,618. Of that number, 77.1 percent identified themselves as white, 14.9 percent as African American, 3.6 percent as Hispanic, 1.9 percent as two or more races, 1.1 percent as Asian, 0.6 percent as Native American, and 0.1 percent as Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. The city's median household income was $41,221, and per capita income was $22,967.
The workforce in present-day Foley is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (17.8 percent) · Retail trade (16.8 percent) · Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (15.6 percent) · Construction (11.7 percent) · Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (11.5 percent) · Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (7.4 percent) · Manufacturing (7.1 percent) · Public administration (3.8 percent) · Other services, except public administration (3.7 percent) · Transportation and warehousing and utilities (1.6 percent) · Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (1.5 percent) · Wholesale trade (0.8 percent) · Information (0.7 percent)
Schools in Foley are part of the Baldwin School District; the city has approximately 3,087 students and 241 teachers in two elementary, one intermediate, one middle, and one high school. There are two private schools with 197 students and 13 teachers.
Foley is intersected by U.S. Highway 98 (east-west) and State Highway 59 (north-south). The Foley Municipal Airport is located three miles northwest of the city center and serves general aviation.
Events and Places of Interest
Each November, Foley holds the three-day Heritage Harbor Days in Foley Heritage Park; during this celebration, Foley sends its 28-foot shrimp boat, the "Miss Foley," to another city along with food, crafts, and music representative of city's heritage. The exchange city reciprocates with a slice of its own culture and heritage. Past exchange cities include Maggie Valley, North Carolina; Ozark, Missouri; and Winchester, Tennessee, among others. The celebration has taken place since 2001 and includes live entertainment featuring local and national bands, dancers, storytellers, children's activities, food, and fireworks. The city also holds a Flower and Garden Extravaganza in April in Heritage Park, a downtown Halloween event, and an early December winter celebration.
Foley has nine city parks with athletic fields for softball, baseball, and soccer, as well as basketball and tennis courts and two municipal swimming pools. The city also features a recently opened hiking and biking trail and a horse arena.
The Foley Depot Museum located in downtown Foley houses the city archives and history museum, as well as a model train exhibit. The Foley Downtown Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Foley is a popular shopping destination, having one of the largest outlet malls in the state, the Tanger Outlet Center, which features approximately 120 brand-name outlet stores.
Rich, Doris. When Foley Was Young, 1900-1921. Foley, Ala.: Underwood Printing Company, 1983.
The Heritage of Baldwin County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2001.
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