Florence, Alabama – A Fun and Interesting Place to Visit By Francine BrokawCategory: Travel
On the banks of the Tennessee River is the charming town of Florence, Alabama. With a residential population of about 37,000, this is home to the University of North Alabama. Founded in 1818, Florence, the city that was named after the beautiful city in Italy, sits in the northwest corner of the state.
Having grown up in the 60s with images of the civil rights riots and marches on TV, when I first thought about Alabama my mind immediately went to its former governor, George Wallace, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect when we walked through the town. What I discovered was a beautiful town with extremely friendly people. And there is a lot of history here.
Florence was the birthplace of W.C. Handy in 1873, otherwise known as the Father of the Blues. About the town, Handy said, “Where the Tennessee River, like a silver snake, winds her way through the clay hills of Alabama, sits high on these hills, my home town, Florence.” His birthday (November 16) is celebrated annually, and the museum holds a collection of his personal papers. The library is considered a great place to learn about African American history.
The downtown area is small, but it is quaint and enjoyable to discover. We browsed around a book store and stopped in for some refreshments in a local eatery. Everyone was so friendly. When you think of a small river town, this is exactly what comes to mind. It is perfectly manicured and clean.
A Frank Lloyd Wright house sits on Riverside Drive and is now a National Historic Property. Although no battles were fought in Florence, it still holds a lot of Civil War history. Popes Tavern, one of the oldest buildings in the town, took turns being a hospital for Union and Confederate troops. It all depended on who controlled the area at the time. One time it could be Union held, and later Confederate. I don’t know if they kept track how many times it changed hands.
The University of North Alabama is a picturesque little campus. I always enjoy walking around colleges so we took a little stroll around this campus. What we discovered were two very big and very real lions – Leo and Una. The campus started housing lions in the 1970s to honor the athletic teams, the UNA Lions. The new Lion Habitat is a central part of the 130-acre campus. It is a place where students and visitors can go to visit the lions, and it also is a nice place to sit and study. The lions draw a lot of tourists to the campus. Well, how many campuses do you know that are home to live lions?
UNA is the ninth name for this place of higher education. It began in 1930 as LaGrange College and changed its name several times until it finally took its current name in 1974.
Florence is a cute town filled with friendly folks. It’s the seat of government for the region and has a strong retail trade center, banking center, and of course, the University of North Alabama. If you’re ever in the area, check out this peaceful and pleasant town. Walk around the streets and see the attractive homes, the quaint shops, and meet the friendly folks. I am happy we discovered this attractive little town on the banks of the Tennessee River.
About the Author
Francine Brokaw has been covering all aspects of the entertainment business for 20 years. She also writes about technology and has been a travel writer for the past 12 years. She has been published in national and international newspapers and magazines as well as internet websites. She has written her own book, Beyond the Red Carpet The World of Entertainment Journalists, from Sourced Media Books.
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