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Alachua County, Florida facts for kids

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Alachua County
Alachua County Courthouse
Alachua County Courthouse
Flag of Alachua County
Official logo of Alachua County
Map of Florida highlighting Alachua County
Location within the U.S. state of Florida
Map of the United States highlighting Florida
Florida's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Florida
Founded December 29, 1824
Named for Alachua (Timucuan word for "sinkhole")
Seat Gainesville
Largest city Gainesville
 • Total 969 sq mi (2,510 km2)
 • Land 875 sq mi (2,270 km2)
 • Water 94 sq mi (240 km2)  9.7%%
 • Estimate 
 • Density 301/sq mi (116/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 3rd

Alachua County ( ə-LATCH-oo-ə) is a county in the north central portion of the U.S. state of Florida. As of the 2020 census, the population was 278,468. The county seat is Gainesville, the home of the University of Florida since 1906, when the campus opened with 106 students.

Alachua County is part of the Gainesville Metropolitan Statistical Area. The county is known for its diverse culture, local music, and artisans. Much of its economy revolves around the university, which had nearly 55,000 students in the fall of 2016.


Early history

The first people known to have entered the area of Alachua County were Paleo-Indians, who left artifacts in the Santa Fe River basin prior to 8000 BCE. Artifacts from the Archaic period (8000 - 2000 BCE) have been found at several sites in Alachua County. Permanent settlements appeared in what is now Alachua County around 100 CE, as people of the wide-ranging Deptford culture developed the local Cades Pond culture. The Cades Pond culture gave way to the Alachua culture around 600 CE. The Timucua-speaking Potanos lived in the Alachua culture area in the 16th century, when the Spanish entered Florida. The Potano were incorporated in the Spanish mission system, but disease, rebellion, and raids by tribes backed by the English led to severe population declines and the depopulation of what is now Alachua County by the early 18th century.

In the 17th century Francisco Menéndez Márquez, Royal Treasurer for Spanish Florida, established the La Chua ranch on the northern side of what is now known as Payne's Prairie, on a bluff overlooking the Alachua Sink. Lieutenant Diego Peña, who traveled across northern Florida in 1716, reported passing by springs named Aquilachua, Usichua, Usiparachua, and Afanochua. Assuming the named springs were in fact sinkholes suggests "chua" was the Timucua word for "sinkhole". Around 1740 a band of Oconee people led by Ahaya, who was called "Cowkeeper" by the English, settled on what is now Payne's Prairie.

The various Native American people moving into Florida at this time, primarily Muscogee (called "Creek" by the English), were becoming known as "Seminoles", and Ahaya's band became known as the Alachua Seminoles. In 1774 William Bartram visited Ahaya's town, Cuscowilla, near what Bartram called the Alachua Savanna. King Payne, who succeeded Ahaya as chief of the Alachua Seminoles, established a new town known as Payne's Town. In 1812, during an attempt by American adventurers to seize Spanish Florida, a force of over 100 volunteers from Georgia led by Colonel Daniel Newnan ran into a band of Alachua Seminoles led by King Payne near Newnans Lake. After several days of intermittent fighting, Colonel Newnan's force withdrew. King Payne was wounded in the fight and died two months later. The Alachua Seminoles left Payne's Town and moved further west and south, but other bands of Seminoles moved in. A second American expedition in 1813 killed many of these Seminoles and burned every Seminole village they could find in the area.

In 1814 a group of more than 100 American settlers moved to a point believed to be near the abandoned Payne's Town (near Micanopy) and declared the establishment of the District of Elotchaway of the Republic of East Florida. The settlement collapsed a few months later after its leader, Colonel Buckner Harris, was killed by Seminoles, and the settlers returned to Georgia.

American settlement

In 1817 F. M. Arredondo received the 20-mile square Arredondo Grant in the southern part of what is Alachua County. By the time Florida was formally transferred from Spain to the United States, people from the United States and from Europe were settling in the area. Wanton's Store, near the site of the abandoned King Payne's Town, attracted settlers, primarily from Europe, who founded Micanopy. The 1823 Treaty of Moultrie Creek required the Seminoles to move a reservation south of what is now Ocala, and the flow of settlers into the area increased. Many occupied former Seminole towns, such as Hogtown.

Alachua County was created by the Florida territorial legislature in 1824. The new county stretched from the border with Georgia south to Charlotte Harbor. The original county seat was Wanton's (the name Micanopy had not been adopted, yet). In 1828 the county seat was moved to Newnansville located near the current site of the city of Alachua.

Alachua County was soon reduced in size. In 1832 the county's northern part, including Newnansville, was separated to create Columbia County, forcing the county seat to be moved to various temporary locations. In 1834 Hillsborough County, including the area around Tampa Bay down to Charlotte Harbor, was created. In 1839 that part of Columbia County south of the Santa Fe River was returned to Alachua County, and Newnansville was restored as the county seat. Hernando County was created in 1843 from that part of Alachua County south of the Withlacoochee River, Marion County was created in 1844, and Levy County was created from that part of Alachua County west of the Suwannee River in 1846. It would be another 80 years before Alachua County was again reduced in size.

In 1854, the new railroad from Fernandina to Cedar Key bypassed Newnansville and Gainesville, a new town on the railroad, began to draw business and residents away from Newnansville. Gainesville became the new county seat that same year.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 969 square miles (2,510 km2), of which 875 square miles (2,270 km2) is land and 94 square miles (240 km2) (9.7%) is water.

Adjacent Counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1830 2,204
1840 2,282 3.5%
1850 2,524 10.6%
1860 8,232 226.1%
1870 17,328 110.5%
1880 16,462 −5.0%
1890 22,934 39.3%
1900 32,245 40.6%
1910 34,305 6.4%
1920 31,689 −7.6%
1930 34,365 8.4%
1940 38,607 12.3%
1950 57,026 47.7%
1960 74,074 29.9%
1970 104,764 41.4%
1980 151,348 44.5%
1990 181,596 20.0%
2000 217,955 20.0%
2010 247,336 13.5%
2020 278,468 12.6%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2015

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 247,336 people, 100,516 households, and 53,500 families residing in the county. There were 112,766 housing units in the county, an occupancy rate of 89.1%; of the occupied units, 54,768 (54.5%) were owner-occupied and 45,748 (45.5%) were renter-occupied. The population density was 282.91/sq mi (109.24/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 172,156 (69.9%) White, 50,282 (20.3%) Black or African American, 906 (0.3%) Native American, 13,235 (5.4%) Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.7% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. 20,752 (8.4%) of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Of the 100,516 households, 22.0% included children under the age of 18, 36.4% included a married husband and wife couple, 4.0% had a male head of house with no wife present, 12.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.8% were non-families. 24.8% of all households included at least one child under the age of 18, and 19.6% included at least one member 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.91.

The demographic spread showed 17.9% under the age of 18 and 10.8% who were 65 years of age or older; 48.4% of the population identified as male and 51.6% as female. The median age was 30.1 years.

The five year American Community Survey completed 2011 gave a median household income of $41,473 (inflation indexed to 2011 dollars) and a median family income of $63,435. Male full-time year round workers had a median income of $42,865, versus $36,351 for females. The per capita income for the county was $25,172; 23.6% of the population was living below the poverty line.


As of 2010, 86.43% of the population spoke English as their primary language, while Spanish was spoken by 6.38%, 1.18% spoke Chinese, 0.57% were speakers of Korean, and 0.52% spoke French as their native language.

Alachua County (Gainesville)
Alachua County Judicial Center in Gainesville


The Alachua County Library District is an independent special taxing district and the sole provider of public library service to approximately 250,000 citizens of Alachua County, Florida. This includes all of the incorporated municipalities in the county. It maintains a Headquarters Library and four other branches in Gainesville. These locations include the Millhopper Branch in northwest Gainesville, the Tower Road Branch in unincorporated Alachua county southwest of Gainesville, the Library Partnership Branch in northeast Gainesville, and the Cone Park Branch in east Gainesville. The district also operates branches in the Alachua County municipalities of Alachua, Archer, Hawthorne, High Springs, Micanopy, Newberry, and Waldo, as well as a branch at the Alachua County Jail. The district operates two bookmobiles which visit more than 25 locations in the county from two to five times a month.

Library History

The Alachua County Library District traces its origins to 1905, when the Twentieth Century Club in Gainesville started a subscription library. The Gainesville Public Library, which was a subscription library operated by the Library Association, opened in 1906. The Twentieth Century Club donated the books from its subscription library, and the new library also received books from the library of the East Florida Seminary, which had been absorbed by the newly founded University of Florida. The Gainesville Public Library became a free library in 1918, supported by funds from city taxes, and in a building constructed with the aid of a Carnegie grant. The library became a department of the City of Gainesville in 1949. A branch of the Gainesville Public Library, the Carver Branch Library, was opened in 1953 to provide library services to the African-American population of Gainesville. The Carver Branch closed in 1969, after the main library had been desegregated. In 1958, the City of Gainesville and Alachua County agreed to jointly operate the library for the whole county. Branch libraries were opened in High springs, Hawthorne and Micanopy the next year, and a bookmobile was put into service. Alachua County joined with Bradford County to operate the Santa Fe Regional Library. After Bradford County withdrew from the Regional Library, the Alachua County Library District was formally established in 1986. The Millhopper and Tower Road branches opened in 1992, and the branches in Alachua, Archer, Newberry and Waldo were all opened by 1997. The Library Partnership Branch opened in 2009, and the Cone Park Branch in 2011. A new, permanent location for the Cone Park Branch Library was opened near the Eastside Community Center in Gainesville on December 14, 2013.


Major highways

  • I-75.svg I-75
  • US 27.svg US 27
  • US 41.svg US 41
  • US 301.svg US 301
  • US 441.svg US 441
  • Florida 20.svg SR 20
  • Florida 24.svg SR 24
  • Florida 26.svg SR 26
  • Florida 121.svg SR 121
  • Florida 331.svg SR 331



Alachua County is the site of five closed landfills—Southwest Landfill, Southeast Landfill, Northwest Landfill, Northeast Landfill, and Northeast Auxiliary Landfill. Since 1999, all solid waste from Alachua County has been hauled to the New River Solid Waste Facility in Raiford, in neighboring Union County.


# Incorporated Community Designation Population
2 Alachua City 9,561
6 Archer Town 1,158
1 Gainesville City 128,460
5 Hawthorne City 1,471
3 High Springs City 5,672
9 La Crosse Town 372
8 Micanopy Town 622
4 Newberry City 5,412
7 Waldo City 1,024

Unincorporated communities


The Alachua County School District and its 47 institutions serve the entire county. Alachua County is also home to the University of Florida and Santa Fe College.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Alachua para niños

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