See Rock City

See Rock City

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Gainesville, FL

Downtown Gainesville at Night

City of Gainesville Seal

Gainesville is the largest city in — and county seat of — Alachua County, Florida, United States. Gainesville is also home to the University of Florida, which is the largest university in the State University System of Florida and the third-largest university in the United States. Santa Fe College is also located in Gainesville.

View of home : Gainesville, Florida

The U.S. Census Bureau estimated a 2007 population of 114,375. The Gainesville, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which includes Alachua and Gilchrist counties, has a population of 257,099, according to 2007 Census Bureau estimates. The Gainesville MSA was ranked as the #1 place to live in the 2007 edition of Cities Ranked and Rated. Gainesville was also ranked as one of the "best places to live and play" in 2007 by National Geographic Adventure.

View of Woolworth store and downtown


Gainesville, c. 1900.

Confederate Statue in downtown Gainesville

Gainesville's original inhabitants were the Timucua Indians. Spanish colonists began cattle ranching in the Payne's Prairie area using Timucua labor and the largest ranch became known as La Chua (which combines the Spanish article La with the Timucuan word Chua, meaning sinkhole). Though the ranch was eventually destroyed by raiders from the Province of Carolina and their Indian allies, it nevertheless gave its name to the Alachua band of the Seminole tribe who settled in the region in the 1700s under the leadership of the great chief Ahaya the Cowkeeper.

New high School : Gainesville, Florida, 1919

Gainesville was founded to place the Alachua County seat on the proposed route of the Florida Railroad Company's line stretching from Cedar Key to Fernandina Beach. County residents decided to move the county seat from Newnansville (and chose the name Gainesville) in 1853, as the proposed railroad would bypass Newnansville. A site on Black Oak Ridge where the railroad was expected to cross it was selected in 1854 and a courthouse was constructed there in 1856. The new settlement was named for General Edmund P. Gaines, commander of U.S. Army troops in Florida early in the Second Seminole War. The railroad was completed from Fernandina to Gainesville in 1859, passing six blocks south of the courthouse.

U.S. Post office and Land office building, 1919

Gainesville was the scene of small-scale fighting in the Civil War. On February 14, 1864, a skirmish erupted when about 50 Union troops entered the city intending to capture two trains. A portion of the Second Florida Cavalry unsuccessfully attempted to repulse this raid and was itself defeated in a street battle. The raiding party was associated with a larger invasion of Florida that was defeated at the Battle of Olustee six days later. Later that year, the Battle of Gainesville took place on August 17, 1864. Three-hundred Union troops occupying the city were attacked by the Florida Cavalry. The Federals were driven out of town and suffered significant casualties.

View of Alachua Avenue : Gainesville, Florida, 1919

For several months following the Civil War, the 3rd United States Colored Troops were stationed in Gainesville, which encouraged freed men to settle there. Black residents soon outnumbered whites in Gainesville, which had had 223 white residents in 1860. The Union Academy was established in 1866 by the Freedmen's Bureau to educate freed slaves. By 1898 the school served 500 students, and continued in operation until 1929. Gainesville was incorporated in 1869. A church building shared by itinerant preachers of several denominations had been built in 1859, but formal organization of churches in Gainesville came in the 1860s and 1870s.

West Main Street Business Section, 1919

Following the civil war, the city prospered as a major citrus growing center, with direct rail access to ports on the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. However, this prosperity ended when the great freezes of 1894 and 1899 destroyed the entire crops, and citrus growing moved permanently south to the Orlando area. Other attempts to replace this lost industry included phosphate mining, turpentine production and tung oil, each of which met with only moderate success.

Road 25, 1953

University Avenue, 1953

University Avenue, 1955

Gainesville experienced many changes when the University of Florida was created by the Florida Legislature in 1905. Gainesville was chosen, beating out other cities who saw their colleges close, such as Lake City and Bartow. The city had the foresight to construct a modern municipal water, sewer and electric system, and was able to offer these services to a new university location for free. A site was selected at a location then considered about a mile west of town. The first classes were held at Buckman Hall in the fall of 1906.

Publix Super Market, 1971

Over the past century, the university has brought the town a youthful population, cultural opportunities, and world-class medical facilities. The sports drink Gatorade was invented in Gainesville as a means of refreshing the UF football team and UF still receives a share of the profits from the beverage. However, Gatorade's headquarters are now located in Chicago, Illinois.

John F. Seagle building, 1937

In April 2003, Gainesville became known as the healthiest community in the United States when it achieved the only “Gold Well City” award given by the Wellness Councils of America (WELCOA). Headed up by Gainesville Health & Fitness Centers, and with the support of Shands HealthCare and the Gainesville-area Chamber of Commerce, 21 businesses comprising 60 percent of the city’s workforce became involved in the “Gold Well City” effort. As of March 2008, Gainesville remained the only city in the country to reach the achievement.

Comparison views of West University Avenue (1937 and 1967)

Geography and climate

Gainesville is located at 29°39'55" North, 82°20'10" West (29.665245, -82.336097), which is roughly the same latitude as Houston, Texas. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 49.1 square miles (127 km2), of which 48.2 square miles (125 km2) is land and 0.9 square miles (2 km2) is water. The total area is 1.87% water.

Test car fleet : Gainesville, Florida, 1927

Gainesville's tree canopy is both dense and species rich, including both broadleaf evergreens, conifers, and deciduous species; the city has been recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation every year since 1982 as a "Tree City, USA".

The Brown House, 1925

Gainesville is the only city with more than 10,000 residents in either Alachua or Gilchrist County (the two counties in the Gainesville, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area), and it is surrounded by rural area, including the 21,000-acre (85 km2) wilderness of Paynes Prairie on its southern edge. The city is characterized by its medium size, central location, about 90 minutes driving time away from Jacksonville, two hours from Orlando, and six hours from both Atlanta, Georgia and Miami. The area is dominated by the presence of the University of Florida, the nation's third largest university. Gainesville is also known historically and colloquially as "Hogtown" after a Seminole village by the same name located near what is now called Hogtown Creek.

First bus line from Gainesville to Lake City, 1923


Gainesville's climate is defined as humid subtropical. Due to its inland location, Gainesville experiences wide temperature fluctuation for Florida. During the summer season, roughly from May 15 to September 30, the city's climate is the same as the rest of the state, with frequent downpours and high humidity. Temperatures range from the low 70s at night to around 90 °F (32 °C) during the day on average. From mid-October through late April, however, the Gainesville area has a climate distinct from peninsular Florida with occasional freezing temperatures at night and sustained freezes occurring every few years. The all time record low of 10 °F (-12 °C) was reached on January 21, 1985, and the city was struck by a substantial snow and ice storm on Christmas Eve, 1989. In winter, highs average between 66 and 69°F (19–21 °C), and lows average between 42 and 45 °F (6–7 °C). In average winters, Gainesville will see temperatures drop below 30 °F (-1 °C). In Gainesville, cold temperatures are almost always accompanied by clear skies and high pressure systems; snow is therefore rare.

Robuck Motor company, 1923

The city's flora and fauna are also distinct from coastal regions of the state, and include many deciduous species, such as dogwood, maple, hickory and sweet gum, alongside palms, live oaks, and other evergreens. Thus, the city enjoys brief periods of fall color in late November and December (though hardly comparable to areas further north) and a noticeable and prolonged spring from late February through early April. This is a generally pleasant period, as colorful blooms of azalea and redbud complement a cloudless blue sky, for this is also the period of low precipitation and lowest humidity. The city averages 48.36 inches (1,228 mm) of precipitation per year. Summer is the wettest season, with 19.51 inches (496 mm), while fall is the driest season, with only 9.04 inches (230 mm) of precipitation.

Tin Can Tourists camp : Gainesville, Florida, 1922

Tin Can Tourists, 1922


Alachua County Courthouse Family and Civil Justice Center

Gainesville's Downtown

Hippodrome State Theater

Suburban sprawl has, as of late, become a concern for the city commissioners. However, the "New Urbanization" plan to gentrify the area between historic Downtown and the University of Florida may slow the growth of suburban sectors and spark a migration toward upper-level apartments in the inner city. The area immediately north of the University of Florida is also seeing active redevelopment.

Alachua County courthouse, 1919

The east side of Gainesville houses the majority of the African-American community within the city, while the west side consists of the mainly white student and resident population. There are also large-scale planned communities on the far west side, most notably Haile Plantation, which was built on the site of a former plantation and is home to the most prominent of the area.

The Big Store at the street corner : Gainesville, Florida, 1919

The destruction of the city's landmark Victorian courthouse in the 1960s, which some considered unnecessary, brought the idea of historic preservation to the attention of the community. The bland county building which replaced the grand courthouse became known to some locals as the "air conditioner." Additional destruction of other historic buildings in the downtown followed, diminishing the city's historic charm. Only a small handful of older buildings are left, like the Hippodrome State Theater, at one time a federal building. After many years of little progress, revitalization of the city's core has picked up, and many parking lots and underutilized buildings are being replaced with infill development and near-campus housing which blend in with existing historic structures. There is talk of rebuilding a replica of the old courthouse on a parking lot one block from the original location.

Unidentified residence : Gainesville, Florida, 1919

Helping in this effort are the number of areas and buildings which have been added to the National Register of Historic Places. Dozens of examples of restored Victorian and Queen Anne style residences constructed in the city's agricultural heyday of the 1880's and 1890's can be found in the following districts:

Northeast Gainesville Residential District

Southeast Gainesville Residential District

Pleasant Street Historic District

Historic structures on the Register in and around downtown are:

Bailey Plantation House (1854)

Matheson Center Home (1867)

Thomas Hotel (1928)

The Old Post Office (now the Hippodrome State Theatre) (1913)

Masonic Temple (1913)

Seagle Building (1937), thirteen stories, downtown's only "skyscraper."

Baird Hardware Company Warehouse (1910)

Cox Furniture Store (1887)

Cox Furniture Warehouse (c. 1890)

Epworth Hall (1884)

Old Gainesville Depot (1850s)

Mary Phifer McKenzie House (1895)

Star Garage (1903)


Sunday outing picture, 1915

Numerous guides such as the 2004 book Cities Ranked and Rated: More than 400 Metropolitan Areas Evaluated in the U.S. and Canada have mentioned Gainesville's low cost of living. The restaurants near the University of Florida also tend to be inexpensive. The property taxes are high to offset the cost of the university, as the university's land is tax-exempt. However, the median home cost remains slightly below the national average, and Gainesville residents, like all Floridians, do not pay state income taxes.

Second Alachua County courthouse, 1915

This city's job market scored only 6 points out of a possible 100 in the Cities Ranked and Rated guide, as the downside to the low cost of living is an extremely weak local job market that is oversupplied with college-educated residents. The University of Florida, the Shands Healthcare system (a private-public-university partnership), and the city government are the largest employers in the city, although other large employers include Nationwide Insurance and CH2M Hill. The median income in Gainesville is slightly below the U.S. average.

Eatmor Bread trucks parked on West University Avenue at 6th Street, 1915


University of Florida

All of the Gainesville urban area is served by Alachua County Public Schools, which has some 75 different institutions in the county, most of which are in the Gainesville area. Gainesville is also home to the University of Florida and Santa Fe College. The University of Florida is a major financial boost to the community, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional revenues are created by the athletic events that occur at UF, including SEC football games. In all the University of Florida contributes nearly $6 billion annually to Florida's economy and is responsible for nearly 75,000 jobs.

Firehorses being retired by motorized equipment, 1912

Other educational institutions include: City College (Gainesville campus), P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, Buchholz High School, Gainesville High School, Eastside High School, Oak Hall School, and Saint Francis Catholic High School.

Oddfellows home and sanatorium. 1905

The Alachua County Library District provides public library service to a county-wide population of approximately 190,655. The Library District has reciprocal borrowing agreements with the surrounding counties of Baker, Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Lafayette, Levy, Marion, Putnam and Union. These agreements are designed to facilitate access to the most conveniently located library facility regardless of an individual's county of residence.

Kanapaha Plantation, 1903


Heading east on University Avenue, approaching 13th Street (US 441) intersection

Gainesville has an extensive road system, which is served by Interstate 75, and several Florida State Routes, including State routes 20, 24, and 26, among others. Gainesville is also served by US 441 and nearby US 301, which gives a direct route to Jacksonville, Ocala, and Orlando.

The city's streets are set up on a grid system with four quadrants (NW, NE, SW and SE). All streets are numbered, except for a few major thoroughfares which are often named for the towns to which they lead (such as Waldo Road (SR 24), Hawthorne Road (SR 20), Williston Road (SR 121), Archer Road (also SR 24) and Newberry Road (SR 26). Streets ending in the suffixes Avenue, Place, Road or Lane (often remembered by use of the acronym "APRiL") run generally east-west, while all other streets run generally north-south.

The Exchange Hotel, 1868

Daily Amtrak service to and from Waldo, 12 miles (19 km) NE of the city, has been replaced with Amtrak shuttle buses which re-connect with the rail system further south. Full Amtrak service is available at Palatka, 32 miles (51 km) to the east.

Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company train on west Main Street, 1920

In addition to its extensive road network, Gainesville is also served by Gainesville Regional Transit System, or RTS, which is the fourth largest mass transit system in the state. The area is also served by Gainesville Regional Airport in the northeast part of the city, with daily service to Atlanta and Charlotte.

According to the 2000 Census, 5.25 percent of Gainesville residents commute to work by bike, among the highest figures in the nation for a major population center.

Music scene

Gainesville is traditionally well-known for its music scene and has spawned a number of bands and musicians including Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Steven Stills, Don Felder and Bernie Leadon of The Eagles, Against Me!, Less Than Jake, Hot Water Music, John Vanderslice, CYNE, Sister Hazel, Roach Motel, I Hate Myself, and For Squirrels. It is also currently the location of independent labels No Idea Records and Plan It X Records. No Idea puts on the annual 3 day rock festival known as The Fest and the Harvest of Hope Festival in St. Augustine, Florida.

Commercial Hotel

Between 1987 and 1992 Gainesville was a big rock scene, with Hollywood star River Phoenix having the local Hardback Cafe as his main base. Together with N-Dolphin, Tone Unknown and many others, River's band Aleka's Attic was a constant feature of the rock scene. The Phoenix family is still a presence in Gainesville with Rain Phoenix's band Papercranes and Liberty Phoenix's eco friendly store, Indigo.

Baird Residence and East University Avenue

During the mid to late 90's, punk and ska defined the local scene and saw the rise of several of the bands listed above.

Today, Gainesville is still known for its strong music community and was named "Best Place to Start a Band in the United States" by Blender Magazine in March 2008.[26] The article cited the large student population, cheap rent, and friendly venues as reasons why. Furthermore, the University of Florida supports local music by hosting local, regional, and national bands on a regular basis via various student organizations.

Currently, punk has moved aside (while still present) and made room for all genres of music to succeed. Over the past decade, Gainesville has been home to everything from the latin, afrobeat sounds of Umoja Orchestra, the hardcore sound of Cutman, the indie rock Beat Buttons, the psychedelic rock of Morningbell, the epic rock of Liquid Limbs, the electronica, industrial collective Electronic SubSouth, the North Central Florida Blues Society, the alt country Swayze, the reggae sounds of The Duppies and 3rd Stone, ska staples The Know How, and countless others.

As of summer 2008, the town supports over a dozen music venues, such as The Common Grounds, The Atlantic, and 1982.

The music community is well served by the website, which is a free open forum for all things music in Gainesville.

Gainesville's reputation as an independent music mecca can be traced back to October 1984 when a local music video station was brought on the air. The station was called TV-69, broadcast on UHF 69 and was owned by Cozzin Communications. The channel drew a lot of local media attention thanks in part to its promotion by famous comedian Bill Cosby, who was part-owner of that station when it started. TV-69 featured many videos by punk and indy-label bands and even had several locally produced videos ("Clone Love" by a local parody band, and a Dinosaur Jr song).


Gainesville is known as a supporter of the visual arts, as well. Each year, two large art festivals attract artists and visitors from all over the southeastern United States. The Spring Arts Festival is hosted each year, usually in early April, by Santa Fe College (formerly Santa Fe Community College). The Downtown Festival and Art Show is hosted each fall by the City of Gainesville.

Cultural facilities include the Florida Museum of Natural History, Harn Museum of Art, the Hippodrome State Theatre, Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, and The Civic Media Center. Smaller theaters include the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre (ART) and the Gainesville Community Playhouse (GCP). GCP is the oldest community theater group in Florida; in 2006, it christened a new theater building.

The city was the center of the Gainesville Eight case in the 1970s. It is known to some as the Berkeley of the South. This nickname was probably afforded to Gainesville because of the presence of a relatively prestigious university, and the liberal tendencies of its voting base. The counties surrounding Alachua County vote strongly Republican, while Alachua County votes strongly Democratic. In the 2008 election, there was a 22% gap in votes in Alachua county between Barack Obama and John McCain, while the remaining eleven candidates on the ballot and write-in votes received approximately 1.46% of the vote.

The National Coalition for the Homeless cited Gainesville in 2004 as the 5th meanest city for their criminalization of homelessness. The city of Gainesville has a number of ordinances that target the homeless, including an anti-panhandling measure, restrictions on groups that give free meals, and a measure making it illegal to sleep outside on public property. In response, the Gainesville City Commission wrote a 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness.

Gainesville is renowned in the recreational drug culture for "Gainesville Green", a particularly potent strain of marijuana. Orange and Blue magazine published a full-length article in Fall of 2003 about the history of Gainesville Green and the local marijuana culture in general. In the mid-1990s, there were several Gainesville Hemp Festivals which took place outside of the Alachua county courthouse.

The North Central Florida area in which Gainesville is located is known to natives as the "end of The South". This is most likely due to the fact that south of Alachua County, starting somewhere north of Orlando, there are fewer native Floridians (and effectively native Southerners) and the sprawling development that defines South and Central Florida begins.

Points of interest

Boardwalk at The Devil's Millhopper

34th Street Wall

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field

Civic Media Center

The Devil's Millhopper

Florida Museum of Natural History (including the Butterfly Rainforest exhibit)

Gainesville Raceway NHRA Drag Racing

Haile Homestead

Harn Museum of Art

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

Lake Alice

Newnan's Lake

Paynes Prairie

San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park

Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo

Stephen C. O'Connell Center

List of people from Gainesville, Florida


Aslyn, singer/songwriter
Bo Diddley, musician (Lived in nearby Archer)
Don Felder, musician
Tom Gabel, Lead Singer and Songwriter of Against Me!
Tom Petty, musician
Marce, musician
Minnie Riperton, musician
Stephen Stills, musician
John Vanderslice, musician


Brittany Daniel, actress
Merritt Butrick, actor
Cynthia Daniel, actress
Faye Dunaway
Buddy Ebsen, actor
Malcolm Gets
Darrell Hammond, comedian
Robert Hoffman, actor
Tom Miller, Performance Artist
Joaquin Phoenix, actor
River Phoenix, actor
Stephen Root, actor
Maya Rudolph, actress, comedian
Bob Vila


Corey Brewer, basketball player, NBA (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Lyubov Denisova, Marathon runner
Doug Dickey, Football Coach/Hall of Fame member (University of Florida, University of Tennessee)
Taurean Green, basketball player, NBA (Denver Nuggets)
Udonis Haslem, basketball player, NBA (Miami Heat)
Al Horford, basketball player, NBA (Atlanta Hawks)
Darrell Jackson, football player, NFL (Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers)
Chris Leak, football player, NFL (Chicago Bears)
Marty Liquori, Olympic track athlete, TV announcer, jazz guitarist
Roger Maris baseball player(Kansas City Athletics, New York Yankees)
Vernon Maxwell Basketball Player (Houston Rockets)
Andrew Miller, baseball player (Detroit Tigers)
Heather Mitts, soccer player (United States women's national soccer team)
Rodney Mullen, professional skateboarder
Joakim Noah, basketball player, NBA (Chicago Bulls)
Clinton Portis, football player, NFL (Denver Broncos, Washington Redskins)
Chris Richard, basketball player, NBA (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Emmitt Smith, professional football player, NFL (Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals)
Steve Spurrier, football player and coach (University of Florida, Washington Redskins, and University of South Carolina)
Abby Wambach, soccer player, United States women's national soccer team
Bernard Williams, sprinter and Olympic gold medalist
Jack Youngblood, football player/Hall of Fame member, NFL (Los Angeles Rams)


Joel Achenbach, newspaper staff writer and book author
Kiki Carter, environmental activist, organizer, musician, writer
Michael Connelly, multiple-bestselling thriller/mystery writer
Harry Crews, Southern Gothic author
Nancy Yi Fan, children's book author
Joe Haldeman, science fiction author
Andrew Knowlton, food writer
David Leavitt, author, editor, and English professor
Tom Meek, newspaper columnist and writer

Other notable individuals

Stephanie Abrams, meteorologist
Robert Cade, inventor of Gatorade
Scott Camil, activist
Jamie Dupree, Radio News Reporter & Washington Correspondent
Bob Graham, Governor and U.S. Senator
William R. Maples, Forensic anthropologist
Maggie Taylor, artist
John Thompson, mathematician, Fields medalist
Jerry Uelsmann, fine art photographer

Music Groups

Against Me!
Aleka's Attic
As Friends Rust
The Draft
Hot Water Music
Less Than Jake
Sister Hazel

More Pictures:

Magnolia Plantation

External links:

City of Gainesville - official site

Visit Gainesville - official tourism site

Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce -

University of Florida Digital Collections

The Laurel Oak Inn

Magnolia Plantation