Prichard is located in the southwest corner of Mobile County. It has a mayor/council form of government.
Originally known as Toulminville, the community that is now Prichard was originally the site of a station on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. In 1879, Cleveland Prichard purchased the land from the original owners with the hopes of establishing a livestock and vegetable farming center that would supply other regions of the country with fresh early vegetables. Prichard urged local farmers to raise truck crops and bought the vegetables from them and shipped them throughout the nation. Newspaper stories dubbed him the Vegetable King, and the truck farming model was copied in Florida and Texas; the longer growing season in these states eventually undercut Prichards market. Prichard also built the Prichard Race Course, which flourished briefly as a winter training ground for thoroughbred race horses.
The town grew rapidly just before the outbreak of World War I, when Mobile shipbuilding companies began building company housing in the town. As a result, citizens in town voted to incorporate in 1925 so that basic city services, especially a police force, could be established. During the 1920s, the town added street lights and a water works; a new city hall was built in the mid-1930s.
The city reached a peak population of around 47,000 in the early 1960s, but the population has been declining since that time. In the 1980s and 1990s, major employers in the area, including the Scott and International paper companies and Brookley Field Air Base, shut down, severely affecting the local economy. Prichard declared bankruptcy in 1999 and 2009. In December 2010 the city defaulted on its pension fund.
Prichard's population at the time of the 2000 Census was 28,633; the 2006 Census estimate was 27,725. Of that number, 84.7 percent identified themselves as black, 14.1 percent as white, 0.4 percent as Hispanic, 0.3 percent as Asian, and 0.1 percent as Native American. The city's median household income was $23,143, and per capita income was $13,003.
The workforce in present-day Prichard is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (25.4 percent)
· Retail trade (12.8 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services (9.9 percent)
· Manufacturing (9.8 percent)
· Construction (8.2 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (8.2 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (7.6 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (7.5 percent)
· Public administration (3.4 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (3.4 percent)
· Wholesale trade (3.0 percent)
· Information (0.6 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (0.3 percent)
Leading employers in the area include Choctaw Transport, Dairy Fresh of Alabama, Wesco Gas and Welding Supply, Water Works and Sewer Board of Prichard, and Bay Equipment Company.
Schools in Prichard are part of the Mobile County School District; the city has approximately 3,625 students and 241 teachers in four elementary schools and four high schools. Two private schools are listed with 202 students and 29 teachers.
Prichard is intersected by U.S. Highway 43 (north-south), U.S. Highway 45 (northwest-southeast), and Interstate 165; it is less than five miles from Interstate 65 (north-south) and less than 10 miles from Interstate 10 (east-west). The Mobile Downtown Airport is located approximately 20 miles south of Prichard.
Events and Places of Interest
Prichard has three municipal parks featuring baseball, softball, and soccer venues, basketball and tennis courts, picnic areas
and pavilions. The city also has a nine-hole municipal golf course. Prichard Municipal Stadium, seating 10,000, hosts high
school football games and other civic events such as concerts. The Whistler Historic District contains many homes and other
structures that date to the nineteenth century.
Allman, Thomas B. History of Prichard, Alabama. Mobile, Ala.: Bienville Historical Society, 1940.
The Heritage of Mobile County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2002.
James P. Kaetz
Published June 13, 2011
Last updated December 1, 2011