Trussville is a suburban community located about 15 miles northeast of downtown Birmingham in Jefferson County and a section of St. Clair County. It lies within the greater Birmingham metropolitan area. The city has a mayor-council form of government, with the mayor and each of five council members serving four-year terms. Once a tiny, isolated rural community, Trussville has become, since the mid-1980s, one of eastern Jefferson County's major business and retail centers. Notable residents of Trussville have included brothers John Daniel Sinkler Davis and William Elias Brownlee Davis, who in the 1890s were among the founders of what is now the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical School.
Prior to the territorial period, the area that now encompasses Trussville was part of the Creek Nation. White settlers began moving into north central Alabama after the Revolutionary War. One early settler, Warren Truss (for whom the town is named), built a grist mill along the Cahaba River in the early 1820s. Fertile land and a plentiful water supply attracted others, and a settlement known at the time as "Truss" sprang up a few miles south of the mill. The settlement's early economy centered around agriculture, with yeoman farmers raising livestock, cotton, grains, and vegetables. But by the mid-nineteenth century, the community also was home to blacksmiths, merchants, physicians, clerks, clergymen, teachers, and others who provided needed services. Agriculture remained the most significant source of income, with many landowners using enslaved African American labor on their farms. When the Civil War started, most residents joined the ranks of the Confederacy. The fighting took place far from Truss, however, until April 1865, when Union soldiers pillaged and burned a Confederate storehouse there.
In 1869, academic R. G. Hewitt founded Trussville's first school, Trussville Academy, which counted 100 students in its first year. The community did not expand significantly even as nearby Birmingham underwent a major industrial expansion. Historical records do note the presence of an iron furnace in operation around the turn of the twentieth century. Known as "Trussville" since the mid-nineteenth century, the town started to expand in 1938 when the federal government began constructing low-cost suburban housing in response to the Great Depression. The Cahaba Project, as it was called, was a planned community that included schools, a cooperative store, parks, sidewalks, and electric street lights and featured homes with electricity, indoor plumbing, running water, and other amenities not universally available in Alabama at the time. The Cahaba Project and the older town existed as separate communities for several years, but they combined when the town of Trussville was incorporated in 1947. The following year, the government sold all park property to the town for one dollar, turned over to Trussville the water system it had built, and sold project homes to residents or other buyers. The town also constructed a natural gas system that now serves Trussville and outlying communities.
Trussville grew slowly until the 1970s and 1980s, when completion of U.S. Interstates 59 and 459 made the city more accessible. Expansion of metropolitan Birmingham northeastward also contributed to Trussville's growth. During the mid-1980s, the city tripled in land mass and doubled in population. In 2005, a CNN/Money Magazine poll listed Trussville as 56th among the "100 Best Places to Live."
Trussville’s population at the time of the 2010 Census was 19,933. Of that number, 90.3 percent identified themselves as white, 6.6 percent as African American, 1.3 percent as Hispanic, 0.8 percent as two or more races, 1.6 percent as Asian, 0.2 percent as Native American, and 0.1 percent as Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. The city's median household income was $85,179, and per capita income was $34,268.
The workforce in present-day Trussville is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (20.7 percent)
· Manufacturing (20.1 percent)
· Retail trade (13.1 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services (7.3 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (6.9 percent)
· Construction (6.5 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (5.8 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (5.7 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (4.0 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (3.0 percent)
· Public administration (2.3 percent)
· Information (2.3 percent)
· Wholesale trade (2.3 percent)
Trussville City Schools enrolls approximately 4,000 students and employs approximately 300 teachers in its system, which includes an elementary school (grades K-2), an intermediate school (grades 3-5), a middle school (grades 6-8), and a high school (grades 9-12).
Three federal highways serve Trussville—Interstate 59, Interstate 459 and U.S. 11. Trussville is also within easy access to Interstates 20 and 65. Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, about 10 miles from Trussville, provides direct flights or links to domestic and international locations. Amtrak and several major freight railroads also serve the area.
The Trussville Civic Center, completed in 2008, includes a fitness center, walking track, locker rooms and showers for individuals and participants in team sports. In addition, an auditorium accommodates 1,000 people for banquets and large meetings, and six smaller meeting rooms offer audio-visual facilities and Internet capability. The town sports complex provides playing fields for organized sports such as football, baseball, softball, and soccer and also has a tennis club and four miles of hiking/biking trails. The city also has a public pool and water park, athletic centers for special sports, and a senior activity center for citizens age 60 and up.
Community activities include a theater group, an art club, a historical society, literary and study clubs, and a variety of
civic and fraternal organizations. The Trussville Public Library has one of the highest circulations in Jefferson County and offers many special programs for
children, teens, and adults. Major civic events include the annual Dog Daze Festival, a July 4 Freedom Celebration, the fall
Maple Leaf run, and a Christmas parade. In addition, the Trussville Area Chamber of Commerce sponsors special programs for
its members and for area business people.
Bennett, James R. Historic Birmingham and Jefferson County: an Illustrated History. San Antonio, Tex.: Historical Publishing Network, 2008.
Massey, Carol and Earl Massey. Trussville Through the Years. Tarrant, Ala.: Valley Printing Co., 1987.
Published November 30, 2010
Last updated March 15, 2013