Huntsville is a city located primarily in Madison County in the central part of the far northern region of the U.S. state of Alabama. Huntsville is the county seat of Madison County. The city extends west into neighboring Limestone County. Its population was 158,216 as of the 2000 Census. Huntsville's population grew to 180,105 as of the 2010 Census. The Huntsville Metropolitan Area's population was 417,593. Huntsville is the fourth largest city in Alabama and the largest city in the four-county Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area, which in 2008 had a total population of 545,770.
John Hunt first settled in the location in 1805. It was named Twickenham after Alexander Pope's English home at the request of LeRoy Pope. However, the town was renamed "Huntsville" on November 25, 1811 after its first settler. It has grown across nearby hills and along the Tennessee River, adding textile mills, then munitions factories, to become a major city, including 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.