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Huntsville, Alabama

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Census Data for Huntsville ...

Population ...

The most recent Census Estimate<1> was for 2017 and it gives Huntsville a population of 194,585 people.

The last Decennial Census<2> was in 2010, giving Huntsville a population of 180,105 people.

The city of Huntsville is located in Madison County. The 2010 Census gave Madison County a population of 334,811 people. This means that Huntsville had 53.8% of the county's total population, making it Madison's most populous community.

At the same time, Alabama had a population of 4,779,736 people, meaning that Huntsville had 3.77% of the total population of Alabama - making it the state's 4th most populous community.

Area ...

When the Census Bureau conducts a census for a city like Huntsville, they draw a boundary around the area in which they are going to conduct their count - this is called a sampling area (or a polygon). The shape of the sampling area can be quite complex and it's important to keep in mind that the boundaries of the sampling area may or may not match the recognized boundaries of the city.

Things like the population, area and housing for Huntsville reflect the sampling area. Since the shape of the sampling area and the actual boundaries of Huntsville might be slightly different, it's best to check with the U.S. Census Bureau if you need precision.

The 2010 Census shows that the sample polygon for Huntsville has a total area of 210.4 square miles [544.9 km²]. Of this total, a small amount of the area is covered by water (1.34 square miles [3.5 km²]).

Madison County has a land area of 801 square miles [2,076.1 km²]. At 209.1 square miles [541.4 km²], Huntsville has 26.08% of the county's total land area.

Not only does the sampling area define boundaries, it also has a GPS location (latitude & longitude) that indicates a point within the sampling area (usually at the center of the polygon). At the time of the 2010 Census, the sampling area was located at:

Lat:   34° 47' 3"   (or 34.78°)             [Map]

Lon:   -86° 32' 20"   (or -86.54°)

More information on this topic and the changes between the 2000 Census and the 2010 Census can be found in the section for our Census-to-Census Observations ... (see below).

Population Density ...

Using the population (180,105 people) and land area (209.1 square miles [541.4 km²]) values from the 2010 Census, Huntsville had a population density of 856 people per square mile [330.5 people/km²].

In comparison, the 2000 Census shows Huntsville had a population of 158,216 people and a land area of 174 square miles [450.8 km²]. This gives a population density of 907 people per square mile [350.2 people/km²]

NOTE: Be aware that when comparing population density between the 2000 and the 2010 Census, there were changes in the sampling area for Huntsville. You need to be careful when making such a comparison, the differences are likely to lead to a questionable comparison. More information about the nature of these differences can be found in the section Census-to-Census Observations ... (see below).

Housing Units ...

At the time of the 2010 Census, Huntsville had 84,949 Housing Units<3> and with its population of 180,105 people, this averages 2.12 people per Housing Unit.

The 2010 Census shows Huntsville had a land area of 209.1 square miles [541.4 km²]. This translates to 403.8 Housing Units per square mile [155.9 housing units/km²].

From the Census of 2000: Huntsville had 73,670 Housing Units, a population of 158,216 people and a land area of 174 square miles [450.8 km²]. This gives a density of 2.15 people per Housing Unit and 422.3 Housing Units per square mile [163.1 housing units/km²].

NOTE: Repeating the caution above (under Population Density), be aware that when comparing Housing Units between the 2000 and the 2010 Census, there were changes in the sampling area for Huntsville and you need to be careful when comparing values between the censuses. More information about these differences can be found in the section called Census-to-Census Observations ... (see below).

Madison County ...

Huntsville is primarily located in Madison County and is the County Seat for Madison County. A portion of Huntsville extends into Limestone County.

The county had a population of 334,811 people at the 2010 Census. With it's population of 180,105 people, Huntsville represented 53.8% of the county's total.

In addition, where the city of Huntsville has a population density of 856 people per square mile [330.5 people/km²], Madison County averages 417.7 people per square mile [161.3 people/km²].

For more information, please visit our Census Page for Madison County.

Population Rings for Huntsville ...

To help identify the number of people who live in Huntsville and the surrounding area, we have drawn concentric rings centered on Huntsville. We counted the number of communities within each ring and summed their populations.<4>

  Radius   No of
  Since 2010    
5 mi   [8 km]1194,585+8.04%
10 mi   [16 km]2243,446+9.15%
15 mi   [24 km]6246,910+9.22%
20 mi   [32 km]10276,147+9.77%
25 mi   [40 km]19339,236+7.74%
30 mi   [48 km]28375,009+7.08%

Census-to-Census Observations ...

Introduction ...

When the Census Bureau takes a census count (or enumeration) for Huntsville, they start by specifying the boundaries of the area to be counted. This area (or sampling area) is a polygon and its shape can be quite complex - it may or may not match the geographical boundaries of Huntsville. It's important to note that from one Census to the next, the shape and location of the polygon can change. If you need precision or details about the methodology of the Census, you should visit the U.S. Census Bureau for a definitive answer.

Area ...

The sampling area (or polygon) given for the 2010 Census is 20.62% larger than the 2000 Census.

The 2010 Census shows that the total area for Huntsville was 210.4 square miles [544.9 km²]. Of this total, 209.1 square miles [541.4 km²] is land, with the balance (0.64%) being water (1.34 square miles [3.5 km²]).

The 2000 Census shows a total area of 174.4 square miles [451.8 km²]. Of this total, only a minor amount of the area is covered by water.

Location ...

While generally coinciding with the GPS location (latitude/longitude) of Huntsville, the latitude and longitude given by the Census Bureau actually indicates the GPS location of the polygon for Huntsville.

For the 2010 Census, the location was given as:

Lat:   34.784271°   (or 34°47'3" N)             [Map]

Lon:   -86.538996°   (or -86°32'20" W)

For the 2000 Census, the location given was:

Lat:   34.712341°   (or 34°42'44" N)             [Map]

Lon:   -86.596296°   (or -86°35'46" W)

The difference indicates that the U.S. Census Bureau moved the location of the polygon for the 2010 Census 5 miles to the northeast<5> of the location that was used in the 2000 Census.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) have assigned a unique GNIS identifier (#2404746) to Huntsville. This identifier also marks a GSP point on the map, and that point lies within the boundaries of Huntsville. The GNIS point has been mapped to the latitude/longitude:

Lat:   34.699418°   (or 34°41'57" N)             [Map]

Lon:   -86.624306°   (or -86°37'27" W)

The GSP location given for the 2010 Census lies 7 miles to the northeast<6> of the point given by the GNIS for Huntsville. For more information about this and the relationship of the various Federal Codes, please visit our Misc Page for Huntsville.

Miscellaneous Information for Huntsville ...

The Federal government has assigned various identifying codes to each community, county and state. At one time or another, the US Census Bureau has referenced one (or more) of the following identifiers when referring to either Madison County or the city of Huntsville:

The GNIS Codes ...

The current system of identification is called the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS). The following GNIS codes relate to Huntsville:

GNIS ID for Huntsville: 2404746

GNIS ID for Madison County: 161570

GNIS ID for Alabama: 1779775

The FIPS Codes ...

An earlier (and largely obsolete) identification method was called the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS):

State Code: 01 (Alabama)

County Code: 089 (Madison County)

Place Code: 37000 (Huntsville)

State & County Code: 01/089 (Alabama / Madison County)

State & Place Code: 01/37000 (Alabama / Huntsville)

Misc. Census Codes ...

Huntsville is located in Census Region #3 (the South Region) and Division #6 (the East South-Central Division).

US Postal Service ZIP Codes ...

While some people have used ZIP codes to identify a community, the ZIP codes were actually created to make mail delivery more efficient by grouping addresses together. Although a ZIP Code doesn't specifically identify a city like Huntsville, they do identify addresses that are in (or near) the city. It's important to remember that the boundaries of the ZIP Code can be changed, re-assigned, eliminated or overlapped with other ZIP Codes.

Our list of ZIP codes for Huntsville : 35801, 35802, 35803, 35804, 35805, 35806, 35807, 35808, 35809, 35810, 35811, 35812, 35813, 35814, 35815, 35824, 35893, 35894, 35895, 35896, 35897, 35898 & 35899.<7>

Census ZCTA Codes ...

The US Census Bureau created statistical entities that they call ZIP Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTAs) and these ZCTAs are frequently confused with the ZIP codes that come from the US Postal Service (USPS).

ZCTAs were first created for the 2000 Census and at that time, they were based upon the USPS ZIP codes. While largely covering the same areas, the boundaries of a ZCTA do not necessarily match the boundaries of a postal ZIP code with the same number. For example, while a postal ZIP code can cross a county or state line, a Census ZCTA can not. They should be treated as separate entities with no correlation between them.

For more information about the various Federal identification codes, please visit our Misc Page for Huntsville.

Other Roadside Stops ...

Visit our Community Index for Alabama

About Madison County

About Alabama

Off-the-Road Links ...

The official website of the U.S. Census Bureau

The official website for Huntsville:

The official website for Madison County:

The official website for State of Alabama:

The official website of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN)

The official website of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

Footnotes ...

<1>Every year, the US Census Bureau creates a population estimate for the preceeding year. Keep in mind that this value is an estimate and not an actual count. The most recent Census estimate is for the year 2017.

- Return to Citation

<2>Every 10 years (eg- 1990, 2000, 2010), the US Census Bureau conducts a Constitutionally-mandated count (or enumeration) of people living within the United States. This count is called a Decennial Census. The last Decennial Census was the 2010 Census, with the next one planned for 2020.

- Return to Citation

<3>A Housing Unit is a broad term for those places where people live (whether occupied or temporarily vacant), such as a house, an apartment, a mobile home, or an area that is considered as a separate living quarter. Separate living quarters (consisting of one or more rooms) are considered to be those places where people live, sleep and eat separately from others and that have access to the outside (either directly or by a shared hallway).

- Return to Citation

<4>The communities in our count are those provided by the 2010 Census, so keep in mind that our population rings will only include the people living in those communities. Smaller communities usually don't participate directly in the Census and therefore they won't be included. While our count is a close approximation, it shouldn't be considered as a complete or accurate count.

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<5>The calculated bearing (or angle) to the 2010 Census location is 326 degrees and a distance of 5 miles.

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<6>The calculated bearing (or angle) to the GNIS point is 320 degrees and a distance of 7 miles.

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<7>When looking for a ZIP Code, whether Huntsville or elsewhere, it's always best to check the website of the United States Postal Service (USPS).

- Return to Citation


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This page was last modified: 15 Oct 2018
By John Hall