In the early 1840's, John S. Moragne, along with Gabriel and Joseph Hughes, began surveying for a city on the banks of the Coosa River near the settlement of Double Springs. The new city would be located on 120 acres of land at the present site of the downtown business district. The fledgling town received a boost on July 4, 1845, when the piercing sound of a steamboat's whistle along the banks of the Coosa River announced the beginning of a new era in Northeast Alabama. The landing of Captain James Lafferty's steamboat. The Coosa, marked the genesis of a new town. The name chosen for the town was "Gadsden" in honor of Colonel James Gadsden, who passed through the area with Andrew Jackson. Many believed that the Colonel, a proponent of the transcontinental railroad, would bring a major railroad to the vicinity. Although no major railroad was ever constructed, the name was retained in honor of Colonel Gadsden. The little town survived the Civil War, continued to grow, and was incorporated in 1871. The start of the 20th century brought changes that would forever shape the future of the City of Gadsden. In 1902, Captain W. P. Lay began negotiations with the Southern Steel Company of Ensley to relocate to Gadsden. An ample supply of coal and iron made Gadsden the logical choice for construction of a steel mill. In 1904, with $38,000 in aid from the local government, the new plant began production. For nearly a century, the steel mill, along with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, was the economic engine that powered Gadsden's development. As the city matured, a small business district, once lined with wooden storefronts, was replaced by a booming commercial center dominated by beautiful brick buildings. With a renewed interest in the river front and a return to its downtown, Gadsden's past and future are forever intertwined. 
During the 1870s, Gadsden  established itself as an important trade and transportation center of North Alabama. In 1870, its first railroad was constructed from Attalla by the company of Kyle and Hollingsworth. The same year, the first county courthouse was built, and, according to Federal Census records, there were two attorneys, two hotels, a saddle manufacturer, a silversmith business, two physicians, a barber, two dentists, several merchants, and a Bible "agent." There were also four ministers, and a number of farmers who grew principally corn, wheat, potatoes, cotton, tobacco, as well as cultivated honey and molasses. Pig and sheep were also raised. In 1871, Gadsden incorporated, and by the end of the decade, there were at least 2000 residents, a public school, a county jail, nineteen businesses with trade coffers totaling over $1 million per year, its first industry was established, and the first electric lights were used.
The 1880s and 1890s saw Gadsden virtually explode into a major boom town. Its first bank was opened by Glen Brockway&Company, and its first street car was built by later Alabama City-founder, Captain J. M. Elliott, which gave the city hourly connections to nearby Attalla. In 1882, the city's first iron furnace, the Coosa Furnace, opened along the west bank of the Coosa River by A.L. Crawford and Thomas O'Connor. In 1883, Gadsden received its first telephone system, its first fire department in response probably to a major disastrous fire that same year, and two major industrial companies, the Coosa Furnace and the Southern Manufacturing Company. Several years later, in 1887. the first ice plant, Gadsden Ice Company, and first electric plant. Queen City Electric Light Company,were built.
In addition, the first railroad bridge crossing the Coosa River was built by the Louisville & Nashville Railroad Mineral Division. By 1890. according to Sanborn maps, moreover. Gadsden had a population of 2,901, and its first canning factory and first cast iron soil pipe foundry- were established.
Nearby Towns: Attalla City • Glencoe City •