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Grand Bay is a census-designated place (CDP) in Mobile County, Alabama, United States. It is included in the Mobile metropolitan statistical area. The population was 3,672 at the 2010 census.
Grand Bay is located at 30°28′27″N 88°20′31″W (30.474055, -88.341836), along U.S. Route 90 midway between the Alabama/Mississippi state line and the town of St. Elmo, a few miles inland from the Mississippi Sound.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 8.7 square miles (23 km2), of which 8.7 square miles (23 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) (0.34%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 3,918 people, 1,364 households, and 1,078 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 452.3 people per square mile (174.7/km²). There were 1,441 housing units at an average density of 166.4 per square mile (64.2/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 89.00% White, 8.88% Black or African American, 0.23% Native American, 0.79% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.13% from other races, and 0.92% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.87% of the population.
There were 1,364 households out of which 37.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 65.5% were married couples living together, 10.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.9% were non-families. 18.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.81 and the average family size was 3.19.
In the CDP, the population was spread out with 27.7% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 27.1% from 25 to 44, 23.3% from 45 to 64, and 12.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 100.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.6 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $38,941, and the median income for a family was $43,654. Males had a median income of $33,177 versus $21,920 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $15,741. About 6.9% of families and 8.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.1% of those under age 18 and 7.8% of those age 65 or over.
As of the census of 2010, there were 3,672 people, 1,339 households, and 1,021 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 420 people per square mile (160/km²). There were 1,498 housing units at an average density of 172.2 per square mile (66.9/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 86.9% White, 9.4% Black or African American, 0.6% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 0.7% from other races, and 1.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.3% of the population.
There were 1,339 households out of which 29.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.5% were married couples living together, 14.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.7% were non-families. 19.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.68 and the average family size was 3.07.
In the CDP, the population was spread out with 23.8% under the age of 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 24.1% from 25 to 44, 28.0% from 45 to 64, and 15.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40.4 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.5 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $47,722, and the median income for a family was $52,353. Males had a median income of $42,057 versus $27,277 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $21,141. About 9.8% of families and 13.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.0% of those under age 18 and 3.1% of those age 65 or over.
While Grand Bay is unincorporated, the area is served by the Grand Bay Water Works Board for water service and an active volunteer fire department for fire protection. The Mobile County Sheriff's Department maintains a satellite office in Grand Bay as well. Grand Bay Water Works also provides limited sewer service for Breitling Elementary School and the business district around the Interstate 10 exchange. The Mobile County Commission, a three-member elected panel, provides all other services including road and street repair.
Grand Bay is located within District 3 of the Mobile County Commission. The current commissioner is Jerry Carl (R). In the Alabama Legislature, Grand Bay is located within House District 105. The current representative is David Sessions (R), a native of Grand Bay. In the State Senate, Grand Bay is located within District 34. This District is currently represented by Rusty Glover.
In the US House, Grand Bay, and all of Mobile County is located within the 1st Congressional District.
According to local accounts, George Cassibry was the first white person to settle in Grand Bay. He came to Grand Bay in 1853, establishing a homesite near the headwaters of Franklin Creek located today near the intersection of Highway 90 and Ramsey Road. Exploration and settlement of the area was well underway by the mid-nineteenth century. During the Civil War, the town saw brief military action as a column of troops under U.S. General Gordon Granger reached the town as a preliminary move in the siege of Mobile. In 1870 the United States Postal Service established a Post Office at a location near the center of the current community.
Settlement began in earnest when the Grand Bay Land Company began offering ten acre lots for sale in the early 1900s. The lots were marketed to people living in and around Chicago and other northern cities as a way to live self-sufficiently in a mild climate. Supposedly, ten acres planted in pecan and satsuma trees would be enough to supply the needs of anyone. The timber industry also attracted many to the area. Much of the region south of Grand Bay to the coast along the Mississippi Sound was clearcut.
For a time, the town flourished. A weekly newspaper was published there and telegraph service was offered to the region through an operator at Grand Bay. The town had a number of businesses including a hotel, drug store, several general merchandise stores and a bank. However, hurricanes in 1906 and 1910, along with a severe freeze, sent many scurrying back north. Their efforts, however, have not gone unnoticed even today. Cogon Grass, a highly-invasive rhizome, first introduced to the area as packing material in satsuma trees imported from Asia, has now become a serious Southeastern agricultural problem.
In 1993, the old Grand Bay State Bank building became the temporary site of the El Cazador Museum, and held treasure from the El Cazador. The area in and around the old bank building now forms the Grand Bay Historic District and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A July 4 tradition since 1973, the current version of the Grand Bay Watermelon Festival offers tourists and locals an opportunity to sample locally grown watermelon while enjoying local music, arts & crafts, and informative displays from area merchants and service providers.
The annual celebration has a long and storied history, having begun during the earliest years of the 20th Century. As the community and surrounding area changed during World War II, the annual celebration was discontinued. It was revived in 1973 by the Grand Bay Junior Chamber of Commerce. Currently, it is sponsored by the Grand Bay Independent Order of Odd Fellows #73. It is currently held at the Odd Fellows Festival Park and local baseball park just north of U.S. Highway 90 on the west side of Grand Bay. It begins on July 3 from 3-7 p.m. and continues on July 4 from 8 a.m. and concludes at 4 p.m. The website for the Grand Bay Watermelon Festival is: www.grandbaywatermelonfestival.org.
Much of the rural land around Grand Bay is planted in pecan trees, another reminder of the Grand Bay Land Company days. Many of the pecan orchards have been converted from agricultural production for use as residential home sites. However, pecan production is still an important business and provides supplemental income to residents who work in nonagricultural jobs.
In addition, the area has become home to a large peach business and satsumas, once destroyed by freezing temperatures, have now returned to commercial production in a more weather-hardy variety.
Grand Bay Watermelons, however, remain the produce most identified with the community.
The Grand Bay-St. Elmo Community Center is a multi-use facility located on the east side of Grand Bay at 11610 Highway 90. The building is near the intersection of Highway 90 and Ramsay Road Extension. Constructed in 2005, the center operates on a non-profit basis. Facilities are available for rent to the public. The Center is located on the site of the former Grand Bay Elementary School for Colored, a racially segregated elementary school established in 1919.
The business section of Grand Bay stretches east to west along Highway 90 for about two miles from Festival Park Road on the west side to Highway 188 on the east, and north to south along Grand Bay Wilmer Road from Highway 90 to Old Pascagoula Road. Recent development has centered on two areas, primarily at the intersection of Grand Bay-Wilmer Road and US 90, and at the intersection of Grand Bay-Wilmer Road and Interstate 10.
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