Russellville is named after Major William Russell, an early settler in the area who helped in the construction of Jackson's Military Road. The town grew at this road's intersection with the Gaines Trace.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 13.4 square miles (34.6 km²), of which, 13.2 square miles (34.3 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km²) of it (0.90%) is water.
There were 3,556 households out of which 30.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.9% were married couples living together, 12.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.5% were non-families. 30.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.03.
In the city the population was spread out with 24.2% under the age of 18, 9.8% from 18 to 24, 26.5% from 25 to 44, 21.6% from 45 to 64, and 17.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there are 89.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $25,333, and the median income for a family was $35,799. Males had a median income of $27,238 versus $18,551 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,871. About 16.7% of families and 22.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.2% of those under age 18 and 24.9% of those age 65 or over.
Watermelon Festival - The annual "Watermelon Festival" is held each August in downtown Russellville, in which a carnival type event is held by the chamber of commerce to try and ignite interest in franklin county and surrounding areas. Events within the festival include performances by popular local bands as well as a car and truck show. Several local businesses also set up stands to sell their products and to promote their businesses. Along with other venders who sell arts and crafts and of course, food and drinks.
Roxy Theater - The Roxy Theater is located Jackson Avenue, in the downtown area, just next to grissom cleaners. The theater once was home to current release movies. In recent years the once great roxy theater has seen major decline. No longer showing movies, the theater is primarily used for local events including: Ronnie Mcdowell's once a year return to his hometown to remind his fan club that he is still alive. Rumors of renovations are often heard but never seen. With minimal changes to the roxy in its history. You are still able to see the segregated entrances to the building.
King Drive-In - The King Drive In is located just north of Russellville on Highway 43. One of the only drive-in movie theaters still operating in Alabama, it plays currently released films throughout the spring,and summer, months on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. The theater features old style speakers that hang on car windows, but also offers the sound track of films through FM radio broadcasts as well. The theater is famously known for the line by the owner at the beginning of each night that states "If you're ready, I'm ready .. It's movie time!"
"The Strip" - From the 1960s until approximately 2000, "The Downtown Strip" had been a source of entertainment for local teenagers and young adults throughout Franklin County. This strip is best described as "the only thing we had to do around here" by local teens. Many local teenagers, for a number of years, drove up and down the "main drag" in downtown Russellville, while being a target for local law enforcement. The "strip" was a great source of revenue for the city of Russellville due to the city ordinance that prohibits teenagers parking anywhere for any reason. The Strip has declined in recent years for various reasons including stepped up police presence and the increase of video games and other activities that keep teens at home.
In 2004, a new Wal-Mart Supercenter opened on U.S. Highway 43 on the south side of the city. While many new businesses have opened on U.S. Highway 43 in recent years, many businesses have closed in Russellville's historic downtown. Somewhat reversing this trend is the recent business growth due to Russellville's rising Hispanic population.