Located in the northeast central part of Alabama, approximately
50 miles east of Birmingham, the city of Talladega was incorporated
in 1835, just two years after the creation of Talladega County.
The Creek village Talatigi was located near the site before white
settlement. As settlers began to move into the area, the name
gradually evolved into Talladega (pronounced "Talla DE ga" unless
you are an out of state race car fan and it is then pronounced
"Talla DA ga").
The city had a population of 15,143 as of the 2000 Census and has always been the county seat of Talladega County. It is home to one of the nation's most comprehensive educational programs for the deaf and blind, the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind, as well as, Alabama's oldest private historically black liberal arts college, Talladega College. Talladega also has the Talladega Superspeedway and the Logan Martin Lake/Dam.
After Talladega was incorporated, the town square became the center of activity. The Talladega Courthouse Square Historic District epitomizes the ideal of small-town America with its courthouse and theatre, located on the square. The courthouse is the oldest continuous operating courthouses in the state. Other building on the square include the original Henderson Drug Store (1847), the Isbell Bank (1869), the first City Hall (1892), the Kenwin Building (1900), the Federal Post Office (1912), and the Ritz Theater (1936).
The Ritz Theater is considered one of the best surviving examples of the Art Deco theatres of the 1930s. I remember as a kid, for a whole quarter, I could spend all day Saturday watching "B movies" and hanging out with my friends in the theater. They had the most wonderful drink of all times. It was a mixture of Coke, grape and orange. It was DElicious. Back then, the theater was called the Martin Theater, wasn't it?
The theater closed in 1987 after providing decades of entertainment. By 1998, Antique Talladega formed, its members reopened the theater with a performance from the National Symphony String Quartet.
Today, this theater has hosted such events as actor Hal Holbrook's one-man show, "Mark Twain Tonight." The city's "April in Talladega" pilgrimage attracts visitors to various tours of old homes and museums in the "Silk Stocking District." For a city of its size, Talladega has a large number of well-preserved historic homes. You can walk down the sideway and feel the history.
Talladega is becoming famous for the classic car show held each month on the town square. It is free and open to the public. I enjoyed checking out all the old cars.
Talladega is also the home of the "Talking Walk/Don't Walk traffic signs." Talladega has installed talking walk/don't walk traffic signals on the court square to aid the large number of sight disabled folks in the area. Fantastic idea. I remember my first encounter with the signals on one of my earlier returns home. I was standing waiting for the light to change and all at once I heard this voice. Kinda took me off guard - I did not know about the signs.