Settlers began coming to the Tarrant area as early as 1818, with the first church being built in 1823. Tarrant's first store was built in 1869, and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad built a spur of the Birmingham Mineral Railroad through the area in that same year.
Tarrant remained primarily an agricultural community, in particular a dairy farming area, through the early part of the twentieth century. In 1912, the National Cast Iron Pipe Company (NCIP) built a manufacturing facility in the area, and also laid out a town near the facility. Sources differ as to how the town got its name. Some sources say that it was named after long-time resident Benjamin Tarrant, while others say that it was named after the president of NCIP, Felix I. Tarrant. Tarrant was incorporated in August 1918 with a population of 734.
Tarrant's first school was built in 1920. A volunteer fire department was established in 1925; by 1928, it had become a professional department. Other manufacturing facilities continued to open in Tarrant throughout the 1920s, including a rivet manufacturer and a cement plant. By the 1930 census, the population had grown to 7,341.
Tarrant's economy suffered during the Great Depression, and many inhabitants, unable to pay their mortgages, moved away and abandoned their houses. The Red Cross played an integral part in providing food for those who stayed during the early 1930s.
Much of Tarrant's manufacturing base has gone with the closing of most of Birmingham's steel mills. The National Cast Iron Pipe Company, largely responsible for the town's existence, was bought first by Clow Industries and then by McWane Inc., which closed the Tarrant facility.
According to the 2010 Census, Tarrant had a population of 6,397. Of that number, 52.3 percent of respondents identified themselves as African American, 39.0 percent as white, 9.0 percent as Hispanic, 1.5 percent as two or more races, 0.8 percent as Native American, and 0.3 percent as Asian. The town's median household income, according to 2009 Census estimates, was $28,385, and the per capita income was $13,990.
According to 2009 Census estimates, the work force in Tarrant was divided among the following industrial categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (17.5 percent)
· Retail trade (17.0 percent)
· Manufacturing (11.2 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (11.0 percent)
· Professional, scientific, and administrative and waste management services (8.9 percent)
· Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing (7.4 percent)
· Construction (7.0 percent)
· Public administration (6.3 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (5.6 percent)
· Wholesale trade (4.8 percent)
· Transportation, warehousing, and utilities (1.6 percent)
· Information (1.6 percent)
Schools in Tarrant are part of the Tarrant City School System. They serve approximately 1,400 students and employ 71 teachers in one elementary school, one intermediate school, one middle school, and one high school. Jefferson State Community College is located just north of the city.
Events and Places of Interest
Tarrant maintains four parks and an athletic complex that feature a walking track, baseball fields, playground areas, basketball courts, and pavilions. It also has a recreation center that includes a gymnasium and a Senior Center, as well as an after school program.
Among the annual events sponsored by the city are an Easter Egg hunt, the Five Mile Creek Greenway Festival, and a Fall Festival.
Jefferson County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Jefferson County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2002.
Tarrant Golden Jubilee, 1918-1968. n.p: n.p, 1968.
White, Mary Longenecker. The Birmingham District: An Industrial History and Guide. Birmingham, Ala.: Birmingham Publishing Company, 1981.
Claire M. Wilson
Published September 5, 2012
Last updated November 29, 2012