The Vagabond – Sales of Gadsden first lots – Boomtown & Depressions


  Gadsden has had a few booms that helped to build the city to its present prosperous stage, although some of them appeared to have caused some damage when they collapsed.

When the town was laid off into city lots, there was a boom in real estate, which was rather interesting, at least.

One year after the first steamboat on the Coosa River arrived here on July 4th, 1845, there appeared the following notice in the Cherokee Sentinel published at Cedar Bluff on June 17, 1846:

“There will be sold in the town of Gadsden, Cherokee County, Alabama, one half mile below Walker’s Ferry, on the Coosa River, on Saturday, August 1, next, forty town lots, the proceeds arrived from which will be set apart for the purpose of clearing out the streets and roads leading into the town and the general improvement of the place.”

That was the first newspaper story about the proposed new town. The Cherokee Sentinel also published this item about the first boom in Gadsden:

“We understand a town near the lower terminus on Coosa River is about going ahead. A number of lots have already been sold and preparations are being made to cover them with good houses. This is the right spirit and so much for the difference of people between our own diseased village and Gadsden. It is the people who build up towns and anything useful.”

That’s the way Gadsden’s first boom was heralded by its county newspaper at the time. It was based on the promise of a railroad to build through the place, the establishment of steamboat traffic on the Coosa River and the favorable location, but more than anything else, it was based on the indomitable will and perseverance of its people.

That spirit has brought Gadsden up from a ferry jump to a modern city.

The next real boom was in the late 1880s, when the attention of the world was attracted to North Alabama as an iron producing area. Gadsden shared the short-lived prosperity that came with it, and the town really took on much growth that lasted.

Much real estate changed hands and there was much excitement over the prospect of building a big city here for some months. But the boom collapsed with a nationwide panic, and it was not until 1902 when the steel mill was located here that another came along to start the city on a real building boom.

The Schulers, who were behind that mill, brought the Gadsden Land & Improvement Company with its 630 acres of town property. The company offered something like 1,100 lots for sale, mostly in west Gadsden, which included many vacant lots west of 11th Street.

The lots were bought largely by those persons who wanted to and did build homes. The land company had been involved in such a legal tangle that it could not sell its property. In fact, there was no demand for it. Many owners of large tracts and small acreage of land sold their properties to recoup from the boom of the 1880s.

Many new real estate firms were formed and did a good business for a long time, and Gadsden spread in every direction. In 1929, the Goodyear Tire Company decided to locate its big plant here. The plant was built during the terrible panic of the 1930s, but its construction and its operation proved to be a Godsend to many people. The plant helped to carry Gadsden through the Great Depression in fairly good shape. 

Since the depression, the city has been on a progressive boom without any letup. Its natural growth and prosperity was amazing, and the momentum carried it still further.

The steel mill gave it a good start, but back in 1895, the coming of Dwight Cotton Mill was a shot in the arm, since it too was located here in the middle of a depression.

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