Gulf Shores, Alabama
Gulf Shores is a coastal city in Baldwin County, Alabama, United States. As of the 2000 census, the population was 5,044. However, since the year 2000, Baldwin County, Alabama as a whole, has experienced the fastest rate of population growth in the state, second only to Shelby County, Alabama.
Gulf Shores is one of two (Orange Beach being the other one) seaside resorts in the state of Alabama. Most of the city is therefore devoted to beachfront hotels, condominiums, vacation houses and a tourism/real estate based economy. Because the nearby Mississippi Gulf Coast is protected by barrier islands, Gulf Shores is one of only two resort cities with a large beach, fronting the Gulf of Mexico between New Orleans, Louisiana and the well-known resorts of Florida. Gulf Shores is therefore more popular with populations in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana than the Florida resorts, which tend to be dominated by visitors from other regions of the United States. The adjacent resort city of Orange Beach offers direct access to the Gulf of Mexico for vessels, via Perdido pass. The greater area is home to a very large charter fishing fleet. Gulf Shores is served by Jack Edwards Airport, which is located on the north side of town on Highway 59.
The extensive spring break facilities of Panama City and Destin on the east side and the casinos of Gulfport and Biloxi to the west give Gulf Shores plenty of competition. During the winter months, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach both host a sizable population of "Snowbirds" primarily from the upper midwestern states. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach bore the brunt of Hurricane Ivan on September 16, 2004. Since Ivan, the beach has been restored and is kept in excellent condition with plenty of sand between the beachfront resorts and the surf. The entire Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area has been designated a "Go Zone" as a result of hurricane Ivan spurring unprecedented development with newly minted, towering structures now bristling along the beachfront as of early 2007. This building boom continues. An average yet well appointed beachfront condominium with two bedrooms and two baths can cost from $250,000 to $2,000,000 dollars depending on square footage and other factors.
Unincorporated Ft. Morgan, the City of Gulf Shores and the City of Orange Beach are contiguous from west to east respectively. The Intracoastal Waterway forms a canal starting at Mobile Bay to the west, and cuts through to the east, into Wolf Bay, forming an island. The combined stretch of beach from Ft. Morgan to Perdidio pass is roughly 30 miles in length and begins at the tip of Ft. Morgan, on the west end of the island. It then continues through the City of Gulf Shores, the City of Orange Beach, terminating at Perdido Pass. From there, a bridge connects Orange Beach to Perdido Key, Alabama which continues to the Florida state line. The Alabama Gulf Coast beach is renowned for its bright, "sugar white" sand. This is because the grains of sand that make up the beach are composed of quartz. This quartz sand although quite abrasive to CDs, sunglasses etc., is also very powdery, soft and comfortable to the feet. The warm Gulf of Mexico waters along the beachfront tend to have an emerald green tint due to the close proximity of the Mobile Bay estuarial system to the west, where the Mobile river delta meets the Gulf of Mexico. The prevailing west to east current along the beach brings suspended silt from the Mobile river delta toward the Florida panhandle thus giving the water its green tint. Gulf Shores is well known for an abundance of gulf coast seafood dining, excellent fishing, watersports and an unpretentious, deep-south culture.
Gulf Shores is located at 30°16'4.069" North, 87°42'5.285" West (30.267797, -87.701468).
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 59.6 km2 (23.0 mi2). 47.6 km2 (18.4 mi2) of it is land and 12.0 km2 (4.6 mi2) of it (20.11%) is water.