Alexander City was incorporated in 1872 as Youngstown, after its founder James Young. In 1873 the Savannah and Memphis Railroad came to the city. The city was renamed in honor of the railroad's President Edward Porter Alexander, hero of the Battle of Gettysburg for the Confederate States.
On June 13, 1902, at 1 pm, a fire broke out in the Alexander City Machine shop and destroyed much of the town. At the time, Alexander City did not have a water system and all buildings, including the telegraph office, post office and three banks were burned.
The city was traditionally based around the textile industry, but in recent times its economic base has become more diversified as textile jobs have gone elsewhere.
Alexander City uses a mayor-council government. The government consists of a mayor who is elected at large. The city council consists of six members who are elected from one of six districts.
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