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James P. Kaetz, Auburn University
Chelsea is located in north-central Shelby County in the central part of the state. It has a mayor-council form of government.
Chelsea City Hall
The Chelsea area began to be settled by the mid-nineteenth century and was known by residents as Melrose, but it remained largely rural until 1908 when the Atlanta, Birmingham, and Atlantic Railroad came through and a community sprang up around the tracks. Railroad officials renamed the community Chelsea, and various stores, a grist mill, and a sawmill were established in the area.
Chelsea was incorporated March 1, 1996, with a population of 906. Benefitting, like many other northern and central Shelby County communities, by real estate development moving south from the Birmingham area, the town's population has increased dramatically since incorporation.
According to 2016 Census estimates, Chelsea recorded a population of 11,706. Of that number, 88.6 percent identified themselves as white, 6.6 percent as African American, 2.2 percent as Asian, 2.0 percent as two or more races, and 1.9 percent as Hispanic or Latino. The town's median household income was $91,199, and the per capita income was $33,428.
According to 2016 Census estimates, the workforce in Chelsea was divided among the following industrial categories:
  • Educational services, and health care and social assistance (19.6 percent)
  • Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (10.9 percent)
  • Retail trade (10.3 percent)
  • Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (10.1 percent)
  • Manufacturing (9.5 percent)
  • Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (8.0 percent)
  • Transportation and warehousing and utilities (7.6 percent)
  • Other services, except public administration (7.2 percent)
  • Information (5.0 percent)
  • Public administration (3.8 percent)
  • Wholesale trade (3.8 percent)
  • Construction (3.7 percent)
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (0.4 percent)
Schools in Chelsea are part of the Shelby County School District and include one elementary school, one intermediate school, one middle school, and one high school. The city lies within 10 miles of five colleges and universities, including the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Birmingham-Southern College.
U.S. Highway 280 is located just north of Chelsea, running northwest. County Road 39 runs southwest from the city, and County Road 47 runs south. The Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport is located about 20 miles north of Chelsea.
Events and Places of Interest
Historic Weldon Store in Chelsea
Chelsea has a 29-acre park that includes a pavilion, playground, soccer field, three softball fields, a football field, and a walking trail.
The town opened a historical museum in April of 2012 in the City Hall, in space formerly occupied by the public library; the library relocated across the street in a restored historic home. The city sponsors a Christmas Parade each December.
The Mt. Calvary Baptist Church (ca. 1905) is listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.

Additional Resources

Shelby County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Shelby County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1999.
Published:  February 10, 2012   |   Last updated:  January 5, 2022