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James P. Kaetz, Auburn University
Sylvania is located in west-central DeKalb County in northeastern Alabama. It has a mayor/city council form of government.
Sylvania Water Tower
Sylvania is possibly named after a Georgia town of the same name by settlers migrating from there. The area was likely settled after the Civil War, although some sources suggest that there were homesteads as early as the 1840s. The town grew slowly until a rumor was started in the early 1900s that a railroad line was coming through the area. Although the line never was built, it sparked a small building boom.
The first high school was built in 1914; it burned in 1945 and was replaced in 1947. The town's expansion was halted, however, when two major bypasses were constructed: Highway 35 in the 1930s and Highway 75 in 1949 (this road is now encompassed by the town limits). Downtown businesses struggled to stay open without the drive-by traffic one of the roads would have provided. The downtown suffered more when Interstate 59 was constructed some miles to the east, bypassing the town again. Sylvania incorporated in October 1967. A new post office/town hall was built in 1977.
According to 2016 Census estimates, Sylvania recorded a population of 2,408. Of that number, 91.6 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 0.6 percent as African American, 4.7 percent as Hispanic, 3.8 percent as two or more races, and 1.5 percent as American Indian. The town's median household income was $44,914, and the per capita income was $18,461.
According to 2016 Census estimates, the workforce in Sylvania was divided among the following industrial categories:
  • Manufacturing (25.6 percent)
  • Educational services and health care and social assistance (18.5 percent)
  • Retail trade (11.9 percent)
  • Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (7.7 percent)
  • Other services, except public administration (7.4 percent)
  • Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing (5.9 percent)
  • Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services (4.7 percent)
  • Public administration (4.4 percent)
  • Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services (4.3 percent)
  • Construction (2.9 percent)
  • Information (2.7 percent)
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extraction (2.5 percent)
  • Wholesale trade (1.5 percent)
Sylvania is part of the DeKalb County Schools and has one K-12 public school.
The main routes through Sylvania are State Highway 75, which runs northeast-southwest through the town; County Road 27, which runs west-southeast; and County Road 112, which runs east from the center of town.
Events and Places of Interest
Sylvania maintains one 20-acre park that features children's playground, basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts, three baseball fields, a stage, and pavilions. The DeKalb County Fishing Lake offers bass fishing, camping and picnicking facilities, a store, and a refreshment stand.

Additional Resources

DeKalb County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of DeKalb County, Alabama, Vols. 1 and 2. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1998.
Published:  November 19, 2012   |   Last updated:  November 9, 2020