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Unzipped: Florence, AL 35661

We're unzipping one of the Shoals area's quad cities: Florence, AL, 35661.
Credit: TEGNA
Unzipped: Florence AL 35661

FLORENCE, Ala. — Chances are you've probably heard of the quad-cities consisting of Florence, Tuscumbia, Sheffield and Muscle Shoals. This area is commonly called the Shoals, and it's known for its music and history. Those four cities extend over two different counties. Florence is in Lauderdale County and Tuscumbia, Sheffield, and Muscle Shoals are all located in Colbert County. 

"Each one of these cities have their own personal flair, and we'll begin in Tuscumbia. Tuscumbia is home of Helen Keller. So the Helen Keller, Birthplace and also the Tennessee Valley Arts Museum. So a lot of great art [and] culture there," says Kara Mobley, Real Estate Advisor with Engel & Völkers.

With Tuscumbia being the birthplace of Helen Keller, it's also the birthplace of the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind. It's an old city, and according to Mobley, there are old homes here and throughout the Shoals. She says, "There are older homes, but also there is a lot of new construction happening there as well."

And speaking of old to new, the city of Sheffield, like most of these historic cities, has an old-time feel, but it's constantly changing and evolving. Example? Mobley points to a theater. "The Ritz Theater is a really great area in downtown Sheffield, and they do seem to have an up and coming atmosphere."

As we move things over to Muscle Shoals, there's one question that most people have: Why is this place named Muscle Shoals

Mobley says, "What I heard about Muscle Shoals was it was named that when people first came here, there were a lot of mussels, the sea creature, on the banks of the river here. And so they named it Muscle Shoals, even though they spelled it 'muscle' like on your arm. Like your bicep muscle. But that's kind of that's what I heard."

Apparently, no one actually knows for sure how the city got its name but there are a couple of theories out there. Besides the 'mussels' theory, there's another story that the shape of the river itself looks like a man's arm, or muscle." 

Now, on to the city of Florence. "It's a small city, but it's got a lot of great amenities for people living in the area. It's only an hour away from Huntsville. It's only two hours away from Nashville, and for people who are interested in the arts, the community theater here is very vibrant," says Mobley.

Not only has Florence been designated as a "Tree City USA" for the 36th consecutive year, it's also home to one of the few federal buildings in the nation that still combines a post office and a federal courthouse beneath one roof.

But that's not the only piece of history living in Florence. W.C. Handy, known as the "Father of the Blues", was also born in Florence. There's a museum named for him, and you can tour his home.


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