Huntsville is a city in the Appalachian region of northern Alabama. It is the county seat of Madison County but extends west into neighboring Limestone County and south into Morgan County.
It was founded in 1805 and became an incorporated town in 1811. The city grew across nearby hills north of the Tennessee River, adding textile mills, then munitions factories, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and the United States Army Aviation and Missile Command nearby at the Redstone Arsenal. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Huntsville to its "America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations for 2010" list.
The city's population was 180,105 in 2010, making it Alabama's fourth-largest city. Huntsville is the largest city in the five-county Huntsville-Decatur-Albertville, AL Combined Statistical Area. The Huntsville metropolitan area's population was 417,593 in 2010, making it the second most populous metropolitan area in the state. The Huntsville metro's population reached 462,693 by 2018.
The first settlers of the area were Muscogee-speaking people. The Chickasaw traditionally claim to have settled around 1300 after coming east across the Mississippi. A combination of factors, including disease, land disputes between the Choctaw and Cherokee, and pressures from the United States government had largely depopulated the area by the time Revolutionary War veteran John Hunt settled in the land around the Big Spring in 1805. The 1805 Treaty with the Chickasaws and the Cherokee Treaty of Washington of 1806 ceded native claims to the United States government.