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Gainesville, Florida
City of Gainesville
Downtown Gainesville at night
Downtown Gainesville at night
Flag of Gainesville, Florida
Official seal of Gainesville, Florida
Citizen centered. People empowered.
Location in Alachua County and the state of Florida
Location in Alachua County and the state of Florida
Country United States
State Florida
County Alachua
Settled 1854
Incorporated April 14, 1869
 • Type Council-manager
 • City 64.54 sq mi (167.15 km2)
 • Land 63.36 sq mi (164.11 km2)
 • Water 1.17 sq mi (3.04 km2)  1.74%
152 ft (54 m)
 • City 141,085
 • Rank 194th
 • Density 2,226.61/sq mi (859.70/km2)
 • Urban
187,781 (US: 187th)
 • Metro
332,317 (153rd)
 • CSA
400,814 (US: 99th)
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP code
32601–32614, 32627, 32635, 32641, 32653
Area code 352
FIPS code 12-25175
GNIS feature ID 0282874

Gainesville is the county seat of Alachua County, Florida, and the largest city in North Central Florida, with a population of 141,085 in 2020. It is the principal city of the Gainesville metropolitan area, which had a population of 339,247 in 2020.

Gainesville is home to the University of Florida, the fourth-largest public university campus by enrollment in the United States as of the 2021–2022 academic year.


Native American, Pre-European

Law School Mound at University of Florida
Historical marker on the University of Florida campus

About 12,000 years ago Paleo-Indians lived in Florida, but fewer than 100 sites have been found. Although it is not known for certain whether any permanent settlements from that period were in the present city limits of Gainesville, archaeological evidence of human presence exists. With the end of the ice age to the north, sea levels rose so that coastal Florida became inundated and Florida's land mass shrank while the southeastern United States became wetter than it had been, so the Paleo-Indians required fewer moves between water spots and more populous camps inhabited for longer periods of time emerged; among the spots where camps from this later period have been found is around Paynes Prairie very close to Gainesville.

Eventually more complex social organization and agricultural practices emerged into what archaeologists classify as the Deptford culture (2500–100 BC). A Deptford culture campsite has been excavated beneath the subsequent Alachua culture "Law School Burial Mound" on the grounds of the University of Florida. Around the 1st century AD, Deptford people began moving into the environs of Gainesville to take advantage of wetlands in the environs of Paynes Prairie and northern Orange Lake, becoming the Cades Pond culture.

Rc11020 Timucua teepee village
Timucua teepee village in Florida circa 1562

In the 7th century the Deptford people were displaced by migrants thought to be from the Ocmulgee culture of the river valleys of southern Georgia, dubbed the Alachua culture since most of their villages have been found in present-day Alachua County. The UF campus burial mound was built about 1000 A.D. by Alachua culture inhabitants who probably lived along the shore of Lake Alice.

Alachua culture villages budded off to form clusters connected by a series of forest trails, many of which are still in use as paved roads; among these clusters are some in the present city limits of Gainesville near the Devil's Millhopper and near Moon Lake (the eastern shore of which is 0.4 miles (0.64 km) from the city limits) as well as northwest of and north-central of Paynes Prairie, and west of Newnans Lake.

In the recorded period, the region was home to the Potano, a Timucua chiefdom descended from Alachua culture people (the town of Potano was in what is now the San Felasco Hammock northwest of Gainesville).

European colonialization

Hernando de Soto and his army passed through Gainesville in August 1539 towards the beginning of their four-year exploration of what is now the southeastern United States, the third village where they stayed, Utinamocharra, having been in the dense cluster east of Moon Lake at the northwestern edge of present-day Gainesville.

The Native Americans, having little resistance to diseases introduced from Europe, declined significantly in number after the arrival of Europeans, and Spanish suppression of native revolts further reduced the population.

The remaining Timucua were converted to Roman Catholicism and organized into missions overseen by Franciscan priests. The Mission San Francisco de Potano, the first doctrina (a mission with a resident priest) in Florida west of the St. Johns River, was founded in 1606 at the south edge of present-day San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park. In or adjacent to present-day Gainesville were two other missions (each named for the saint's day the first Mass was said in it), Santa Ana and San Miguel, which were south of and within a day's walk from San Francisco, and are thought to be in the cluster east of Moon Lake where Spanish and Indian artifacts from the Mission-period have been found. The earliest missions were apparently established adjacent to native villages visited by De Soto's expedition; Santa Ana is thought to be located where Utinamocharra lay, and in 1606 the friar who served as the priest was told of cruelties that the chief, when a boy, had suffered from De Soto's men. Chief Potano's town was relocated in the colonial period to the vicinity of the Devil's Millhopper, which is now inside the Gainesville city limits, from the western shore of Orange Lake.

In the first decade of the 18th century, however, colonial soldiers from the Province of Carolina and their Yamasee Indian allies had killed or carried off nearly all the remaining native inhabitants (10,000 − 12,000 native Floridians were taken as slaves, according to the governor of Spanish Florida) and the few remaining Timucua fled and ended up living in the vicinity of St. Augustine.

Spanish colonists began cattle ranching in the Paynes Prairie area using Timucua labor, and the largest hacienda (ranch) became known as La Chua (which combines the Spanish definite article La with the Timucuan word Chua, meaning "sinkhole"). Although La Chua was destroyed by the above-mentioned raiders from Carolina, the ranch nevertheless gave its name to the Alachua band of the Seminole tribe who settled in the region in the 18th century under the leadership of the great chief Ahaya the Cowkeeper.

Between 1763 and 1784 what is now Gainesville fell within the jurisdiction of the colony of British East Florida.

Early American settlement

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. It is generally accepted that 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.

It is claimed that Gainesville was originally named Hogtown; however, Hogtown was actually an early 19th-century settlement in and around what is now Westside Park (in the northeast corner of the intersection of NW 8th Avenue and 34th Street) where a historical marker notes Hogtown's location at that site. Hogtown is the eponymous village of the adjacent Hogtown Creek, which flows 5.7 miles (9.2 km) through Gainesville. Hogtown continued to exist until after Gainesville was founded, as evidenced on a map showing both towns, which was published in 1864 based on surveys from 1855. Two residents of Hogtown played a prominent role in establishing Gainesville. William Lewis, who owned a plantation in Hogtown, delivered 20 votes pledged to him to create a new town on the expected route of the railroad, in an attempt to have the new town named Lewisville. Tillman Ingram, who also owned a plantation and a sawmill in Hogtown, helped swing the vote to move the county seat to the new town by offering to build a new courthouse at a low price. Residents of Newnansville, disgruntled at losing the county seat, called the site chosen for the new town "Hog Wallow", because of its location between Hogtown and Paynes Prairie. The former site of Hogtown was annexed by the City of Gainesville in 1961.

A town site of 103.25 acres (41.78 ha) was purchased for $642.51. The County Commission ordered the public sale of lots in the town site in 1854, but no deeds were recorded until 1856. A courthouse was constructed in Gainesville in 1856, and the county seat was then officially moved from Newnansville. A jail was built in 1857, and a well was dug and a pump for public use installed the same year. Property values rose quickly. A city block on the edge of town purchased for $14.57 in 1857 sold for $100 in 1858. The railroad from Fernandina reached Gainesville in 1859, and connected to Cedar Key the next year. By that time, there were eight or nine stores and three hotels surrounding the courthouse square.

Secession and the Civil War

Dsg Gainesville Confederate Statue 20050507
Confederate statue in downtown Gainesville

In the 1850s secessionist sentiment was strong in Gainesville. Half of the white residents in Gainesville had been born in South Carolina (where secessionist sentiments were very strong), or had parents who had been born in that state. Aside from a few foreign-born residents, the other whites in town had also been born in Florida or other Southern states. Another factor was fear of blacks. Blacks, mostly slaves, were a majority of the population in Alachua County (although there were few in Gainesville itself). John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859 frightened the whites in Gainesville, leading them to organize a militia company called the Gainesville Minutemen.

The Gainesville Minute Men were incorporated into the First Florida Regiment soon after Florida seceded from the Union. Several more companies were recruited in Gainesville and Alachua County during the Civil War. During the war Gainesville served as a depot for food requisitioned by the Confederate government from the surrounding area. A small post on the east side of Gainesville called Fort Lee was an induction point for men entering the Confederate States Army.

Fighting on a small scale reached Gainesville twice. On February 15, 1864, a small Union raiding party occupied Gainesville. Elements of the Second Florida Cavalry attempted to drive the Union force from the town but were defeated in a street battle. The raiding party was associated with a larger Union invasion of Florida that was defeated at the Battle of Olustee five days later. The Union troops did not seize or destroy any property on this raid, but did distribute food stores to the residents, who were suffering from shortages. Six months later, early in the morning of August 17, 1864, 265 Union troops and 15 "loyal Floridians" reached Gainesville. The troops stopped just east of town to prepare breakfast and care for their horses. A small home guard of 30 to 40 old men and boys attacked the Union camp, and were easily driven off. The Union troops then broke ranks and started looting the town. While the Union troops were scattered throughout the town a large number of Confederate troops were spotted approaching. The Union troops resisted the Confederate advance for an hour and a half, but were finally driven from Gainesville with heavy casualties.

After the Civil War

For several months following the Civil War, the 3rd United States Colored Troops were stationed in Gainesville, which encouraged freed men to settle there. At the same time black farm laborers were recruited from Georgia and South Carolina to help harvest what was expected to be a very large cotton crop, but heavy rain ruined the cotton, and the recently arrived blacks were left without work. Black residents soon outnumbered whites in Gainesville, which had had 223 white residents in 1860. Vagrancy and theft became major problems in Gainesville, and large numbers of blacks were arrested by federal troops.

White residents resumed political life in Florida immediately after the end of the Civil War. Gainesville incorporated as a city in 1866, but the city government was weak and the council did not maintain a regular schedule of meetings. With military control asserted over Florida in 1867 as part of Reconstruction, the reconstituted Florida legislature required all cities to re-incorporate, and Gainesville did so in 1869. During Reconstruction Gainesville blacks were elected to a number of state and local offices. Blacks had largely been disenfranchised by the 1890s, however.

Downtown Gainesville on Alachua Avenue (now University Avenue) circa 1882

Following the Civil War, the city prospered as an important cotton shipping facility. Florida produced more Sea Island Cotton in the 1880s than any other state, and Gainesville was the leading shipping point for cotton in Florida. Two more railroads had reached Gainesville by the 1880s, and citrus and vegetables had become important local crops. However, the citrus industry ended when the great freezes of 1894−95 and 1899 destroyed the crops, and citrus growing was largely abandoned in the area. Phosphate mining and lumbering became important parts of the local economy. A manufacturing area grew up south of downtown, near the railroads.

The first school for blacks in Gainesville, the Union Academy, was established in 1866 by the Freedmen's Bureau to educate freed slaves. White residents of Gainesville were opposed to education for blacks and treated the teachers at the school badly, including incidents of boys throwing "missiles" into the classrooms. By 1898 the school served 500 students, and it continued in operation until 1929. White students had only private schools available before 1869, including the East Florida Seminary, which moved from Ocala in 1866 and merged with the Gainesville Academy (founded in 1856). Even after a public school system had been established in Alachua County, most white children who went to school did so at private schools, and the Union Academy was in session for a larger part of the year, and its teachers were better paid, than was the case for the public schools. Public education remained underfunded into the 1880s, classes having to meet in abandoned houses or rented rooms. The school year for public schools was as short as three months for some years. The first public school building was built in 1885. The Gainesville Graded and High School, with twelve classrooms and an auditorium, opened in 1900, and most of the private schools closed soon after. The county school board also provided some funds for upkeep of the Union Academy.

There was no dedicated church building in Gainesville in the first years of its existence. A church built in 1859 by the Presbyterians was shared by itinerant preachers of several denominations until 1874. The Methodist mission to Gainesville lapsed during the Civil War, and a church they had built was used by a black congregation after the war. Several white Protestant denominations organized congregations and built churches in the 1870s. Catholics, who had been holding services in private homes for 25 years, built a church in 1887. Jewish families began moving to Gainesville in the late 1860s. Although a Jewish cemetery was established in 1872, there was no synagogue in Gainesville until 1924.

Gainesville was a rough town after the Civil War and into the early 20th century. Whites and blacks commonly carried firearms, and gunshots were often heard at night. Killings and serious injuries were frequent. Some of the violence was racial. Young Mens Democratic Clubs (usually a cover name for the Ku Klux Klan), formed in the late 1860s to fight political domination by Republican northerners and blacks, reportedly burned the homes of many Republicans and killed nineteen people, including five blacks.

Gville Epworth Hall02
Epworth Hall, built in 1884; used by the East Florida Seminary until it merged with the University of Florida

A volunteer fire department was organized in 1882, but was unable to stop several fires in 1884 that burned most of the wooden buildings in downtown Gainesville. The burned buildings were replaced with brick structures. A brick courthouse replaced the old wooden one in 1885. Public utilities were gradually installed in the city late in the 19th century; gas in 1887, water in 1891, and telephones and electricity later in the 1890s. By 1900 Gainesville was the seventh largest city in Florida, with over 3,600 residents.

The Republican Party remained strong in Gainesville even after the end of Reconstruction in 1876 because of the large number of blacks and Northern whites who had moved there after the Civil War. Some Southerners had also joined the Republican Party. Alachua County was one of the few counties in Florida that was won by the Republican Party in the election of 1880. In the 1880s Republicans and Democrats reached an accommodation. In the election of 1883 most city races were won by wide majorities, with both Republicans and Democrats, white and blacks, being elected. There was tension within the Republican Party between blacks and Northern whites, however. By 1885 the arrival of whites from northern states and the departure of blacks gave Gainesville a white majority. The imposition by the Florida Legislature in 1889 of a poll tax and a de facto literacy test in the form of separate ballot boxes for each office, which required voters to be able to read labels on the boxes to vote correctly, effectively disenfranchised most blacks. Some blacks switched to the Democratic Party, further weakening the Republicans, and the Republican Party ceased to be a factor in Gainesville politics in the 1890s.

20th century

Gainesville FL 1900
Gainesville, circa 1900

Major change came to Gainesville early in the 20th century. Citizens felt that the city did not have sufficient resources and powers to provide the services demanded in a growing city. The state legislature was asked to grant Gainesville a new charter, and in 1905 it did so, also enlarging the city limits. The city offered its first bond issue the same year. Money from bond issues was used to start a sewer system and pave important streets, initially with crushed rock, and after 1910, with bricks. When private companies were unable to provide adequate electric service to Gainesville, the city built a generating plant, which became operational in 1914.

Another development in 1905 had a significant impact on the future of Gainesville. At the time, Florida was funding eight post-secondary schools. Concerned about rising requests for funding and duplication of course offerings, the state legislature passed the Buckman Act, consolidating the eight institutions into four segregated schools, including, for white men, the University of the State of Florida (renamed University of Florida in 1909). Gainesville competed for the university, with Lake City as its principal rival. Gainesville offered free water for the school from the city system, 500 acres (200 ha) west of the city, purchase of the East Florida Seminary site from the state for $30,000, and $40,000 cash. The fact that Alachua was a dry county, banning the sale of all alcohol other than low-alcohol beer, was viewed as a factor in favor of Gainesville. The state selected Gainesville, causing the biggest celebration in the history of the city.

The university opened with 136 students in the fall of 1906. For the first decade of the school's existence it was in a rural setting, connected to downtown Gainesville by a single crushed rock road. The school had to close its gates at night to keep wandering cows out. Buildings at the university were originally built with state funds, but in 1919 the city contributed $1,000 for a new gymnasium to help bring the New York Giants to town for spring training. As the university grew, commercial establishments spread westward along University Avenue and new subdivisions were developed near the campus.

Gainesville FL Boulware Springs04
Boulware Springs Waterworks

The city experienced growing pains in the first decades of the century. The city's only water supply had been Boulware Springs for many years, but the limits of its supply had been reached, and the city could no longer connect new subdivisions to city utilities. A bond issue was required to drill a well and build a water tower. A fire house was built in 1903, and the fire department was modernized, replacing its last horses with motorized equipment in 1913. However, the department remained a volunteer organization until the 1920s.

Gainesville's economy was still dominated by agriculture. Gainesville was a major shipping point for cotton until the industry was devastated by the boll weevil infestation in 1916-18, after which cotton was abandoned as a crop in the area. Truck farming had become important in north central Florida, with large shipments of vegetables and melons from Gainesville to markets in the northern US. Phosphate mining continued to be important, although starting to decline, and industries such as processing naval stores and making fertilizer thrived in Gainesville. World War I severely affected the economy in Gainesville. Markets in Europe, in particular Germany, were cut off by the war, and phosphate mining and the naval stores industry went into a slump, aggravated by the loss of cotton processing and shipping.

Boom and bust

Gainesville participated in the national economic boom that followed the end of World War I. In 1925, Gainesville was swept up by the land boom that had started in Miami Beach earlier in the year. New subdivisions were platted and auctioned, binders on property were sold and resold with ever increasing prices, and almost 100 real estate brokers and agents were registered in Gainesville on the first day licenses were required. Plans were floated to build a modern first-class hotel in Gainesville. After a false start in which the financing plans fell through, a developer from southern Florida who had become heavily involved in the real estate market in Gainesville, W. McKey Kelly, put forward plans for a ten-story, 120-room hotel. Construction on the Hotel Kelly, also known as the Dixie Hotel, started in 1926, but Kelly ran out of money before construction was completed, and the collapse of the land boom doomed the project. The unfinished hotel sat empty for more than a decade until a federal grant and private donation allowed its completion as the Seagle Building.

Glen Springs hosted the first concrete swimming pool in Gainesville in the mid-1920s. It was a popular recreation site for over 40 years.

Changes in city government occurred in the 1920s. The city changed its charter to add a city manager. The police force was increased from three men to nine, and a desk sergeant was available to answer a telephone 24 hours a day. A county hospital opened in Gainesville in 1928. More streets were paved, using asphalt rather than bricks. Increasing demand for electricity led the city commission to consider contracting with Florida Power and Light rather than issuing bonds to expand the city generating capacity, but voters passed an amendment to the city charter forbidding any such deal. With a booming population, schools had become overcrowded. Gainesville High School was opened in 1926 and expanded two years later. The old Gainesville Graded and High School became an elementary school. Lincoln School, offering 12 grades for blacks, opened in 1923. It was the first public high school for blacks in Gainesville.

The collapse of the land boom in 1925–1926 had not been as severe in Gainesville as in southern Florida, but did cool off the local economy. As a result, the Wall Street Crash of 1929 was not felt as strongly as in many other places. The city of Gainesville remained solvent throughout the Great Depression, and unemployment was lower than in most of the country. Agriculture continued to be a mainstay of the local economy. In 1922 tung trees were planted in Alachua County, and Gainesville became the center of tung oil production in the United States. Tung oil had previously been available only from China. Both tung oil and tung tree seeds were shipped around the world from Gainesville. The University of Florida, with about 1,000 employees and 2,000 students, helped stabilize the local economy during the Depression. In the middle and late 1930s various New Deal programs brought money and employment to Gainesville. Utility lines were extended, streets paved and sidewalks installed. The Seagle Building was completed and occupied by the University of Florida. An airport, Gainesville's first, was built.

World War II and after

World War II brought economic and population growth to Gainesville. Even before the United States entered the war, the opening of Camp Blanding affected Gainesville, with soldiers on leave visiting the city, and officers renting housing for their families. The airport was improved and taken over by the Army Air Corps as the Alachua Army Airbase. Agriculture prospered and local industries received contracts for producing military supplies. Building construction also increased. The hospital was expanded with financial help from the federal government. The university was used to train enlisted men, air cadets and officers.

The end of World War II brought even more growth to Gainesville. The G.I. Bill allowed war veterans to attend college, and enrollment at the University of Florida boomed. More than half of the approximately 9,000 students at the university in 1946-47 were veterans. Many of the veterans had families, straining housing availability in the city. The university became co-educational in 1947, with the admission of over 800 women. The population of Gainesville doubled from 1940 to 1950, with construction and employment at the university becoming more important in the city's economy. The city's power plant was inadequate for demand. The federal government had required the city to buy electricity from private power companies rather than expand its own generating capacity during World War II. After the voters again rejected a proposal for the city to buy electric power wholesale, the city embarked on a major expansion of power generation. The water and sewer systems also were greatly expanded. The airport was returned to the city, and scheduled passenger flights started in 1950. The police department expanded from about 10 officers in the 1930s to 40 by 1950. Also in 1950, the old system of named streets was replaced by a quadrant system of numbered streets.

The rapid growth of Gainesville put a strain on the public schools. When residents voted down proposals to issue bonds for school construction, the school board acquired surplus barracks from army bases to use as temporary classroom. The newer residents helped to pass school bond issues beginning in the 1950s. The return of veterans to Gainesville and the growth of the university also began to influence politics in Gainesville. In the 1930s, land ownership in and around Gainesville, and with it political power, had become concentrated in fewer hands. Veterans returning to the city after World War II had difficulty entering financial and political inner circles. University faculty and staff had been well integrated into the community before the war, but the growth after the war brought in many faculty who were dissatisfied with the political status quo in Gainesville. To avert tensions with local politicians, J. Hillis Miller, president of the university from 1947 to 1953, barred university faculty and staff from participating in local politics.

During the 1960s, Gainesville became a center for college activism, and was described by then-professor Marshall Jones as "The Berkeley of the South". The city was the center of the Gainesville Eight case in the 1970s, in which eight activists were accused of conspiracy to violently disrupt the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach. After their acquittal, activism declined, but rose again during the mid-1980s, as the University of Florida became the state's focal point for anti-apartheid activism.

The city gained notoriety in 2010 and 2011 after local church Dove World Outreach Center was involved in anti-sharia law campaigns, Quran burnings and the promotion of the "Innocence of Muslims" movie trailer.


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 62.4 square miles (161.6 km2), of which 61.3 square miles (158.8 km2) is land and 1.1 square miles (2.8 km2) is water. The total area is 1.74% water.

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

Gainesville is the only city with more than 10,000 residents in the Gainesville, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area (Alachua and Gilchrist counties), and it is surrounded by rural area, including the 21,000-acre (8,500 ha) wilderness of Paynes Prairie on its southern edge. The city is characterized by its medium size and central location, about 90 minutes driving time from either Jacksonville or Orlando, two hours driving time from Tampa, and five hours driving time from either Atlanta or Miami. The area is dominated by the presence of the University of Florida, which in 2008 had been the third largest university campus in the USA and as of fall 2011 was the seventh largest campus by enrollment in the USA.


Gainesville's climate is defined as humid subtropical (Köppen: Cfa). Due to its inland location, Gainesville experiences wide temperature fluctuation for Florida. During the hot season, from roughly May 15 to September 30, the city's climate is similar to the rest of the state, with frequent afternoon thunderstorms and high humidity. Temperatures range from the low 70s (21–23 °C) at night to around 92 °F (33 °C) during the day on average. The all-time record high of 104 °F (40 °C) was reached on June 27, 1952. From November through March, however, the Gainesville area has a climate distinct from much of peninsular Florida with 16 nights of freezing or below temperatures and sustained freezes occurring every few years. The all-time record low of 6 °F (−14 °C) was reached on February 13, 1899, and the city experienced light snow and freezing rain on Christmas Eve, 1989. Traces of snow were also recorded in 1976, 1996 and again on December 26, 2010. The daily average temperature in January is 54.3 °F (12 °C). In average winters, Gainesville will see temperatures drop below 30 °F (−1 °C). As with the rest of the state, cold temperatures are almost always accompanied by clear skies and high pressure systems; snow is therefore rare.

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 mid 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 the lowest precipitation and lowest humidity. The city averages 47.56 inches (1,210 mm) of rain per year. June through September accounts for a majority of annual rainfall, while autumn and early winter is the driest period.

Climate data for Gainesville, Florida (1981−2010 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 89
Average high °F (°C) 66.2
Average low °F (°C) 42.3
Record low °F (°C) 10
Precipitation inches (mm) 3.35
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 8.7 7.5 8.1 5.9 6.4 14.6 15.3 15.9 11.5 7.1 6.3 7.0 114.1
Source: NOAA (extremes 1890−present)


Dsg Alachua County Courthouse Family and Civil Justice Center 20050507
Alachua County Courthouse Family and Civil Justice Center
University Corners.Gainesville Florida
University Corners, viewed from the main entrance to the University of Florida, February 2012. This was the future site of The Standard apartment complex, expected to open in the fall of 2017.
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Gainesville's Downtown

Since the 1990s, suburban sprawl has been a concern for a majority of 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. Many gentrification plans rely on tax incentives that have sparked controversy, and even so are sometimes unsuccessful. University Corners, which would not have been proposed without a $98 million tax incentive program by the city was to be "a crowning jewel of the city's redevelopment efforts", 450 condos and hotel units and 98,000 square feet (9,100 m2) of retail space in eight stories covering three city blocks, on 3.4 acres (1.4 ha) purchased for $15.5 million. 19 thriving businesses were demolished in April 2007, but in May 2008 deposit checks were refunded to about 105 people who reserved units, and in July 2008 developers spent "$120,000 to beautify the site, so we won't have this ugly green fence."

The east side of Gainesville houses the majority of the African-American community within the city, while the west side consists of the mainly student and white resident population. West of the city limits there are large-scale planned communities, most notably Haile Plantation, which was built on the site of its eponymous former plantation.

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 that replaced the grand courthouse became known to some locals as the "air conditioner". Additional destruction of other historic buildings in the downtown followed. Only a small handful of older buildings are left, like the Hippodrome State Theatre, at one time a federal building. 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 that blend in with existing historic structures. There is a proposal to rebuild a replica of the old courthouse on a parking lot one block from the original location.

Helping in this effort are the number of areas and buildings 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 1880s and 1890s can be found in the following districts:

  • Northeast Gainesville Residential District
  • Southeast Gainesville Residential District
  • Pleasant Street Historic District

Additionally, the University of Florida Campus Historic District, consisting of eleven buildings, plus an additional fourteen contributing properties, lie within the boundaries of the city. Most of the buildings in the Campus Historic District are constructed in variations of Collegiate Gothic architecture, which returned to prominence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Historic structures on the Register in and around downtown are:

Developments and expansions

  • Celebration Pointe
  • Innovation Square
  • University Corners
  • The Continuum – Graduate and Professional Student Housing
  • Embassy Suites 12 Stories. (Would be Tallest building in Downtown Gainesville)


Gainesville Demographics
2020 Census Gainesville Alachua County Florida
Total population 141,085 278,468 21,538,187
Population, percent change, 2010 to 2020 +13.3% +12.3% +14.6%
Population density 2,226.72/sq mi 318.25/sq mi 401.64/sq mi
White or Caucasian (including White Hispanic) 57.5% 61.1% 57.7%
(Non-Hispanic White or Caucasian) 53.0% 57.6% 51.5%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 13.8% 12.1% 26.5%
Black or African-American 20.6% 18.7% 15.0%
Asian 7.8% 6.5% 3.0%
Native American or Native Alaskan 0.3% 0.3% 0.4%
Two or more races (Multiracial) 10.9% 9.9% 16.5%
Some other race 3.7% 3.4% 7.3%
Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 2,790
1900 3,633 30.2%
1910 6,183 70.2%
1920 6,860 10.9%
1930 10,465 52.6%
1940 13,757 31.5%
1950 26,861 95.3%
1960 29,701 10.6%
1970 64,510 117.2%
1980 81,371 26.1%
1990 84,770 4.2%
2000 95,447 12.6%
2010 124,354 30.3%
2020 141,085 13.5%
U.S. Decennial Census

The US Census Bureau estimated Gainesville's population at 141,085 in 2020, a 13.3% increase from 2010 population of 124,504. At the 2010 census there were 63,612 housing units, with 57,808 occupied and 5,804 vacant. Children under 18 years of age numbered 19,897 in 2020, comprising 14.1% of the population, and people 65 years or over were estimated at 14,245 in 2019, or 10.8% of the population. In 2020, 57.5% of the population was White, 20.6% Black, 7.8% Asian, 0.3% American Indians and Alaska Natives, 3.7% some other race, and 10.0% reporting two or more races. The population of Gainesville was 13.8% Hispanic or Latino of any race and 52.1% female in 2020. In 2015-2019, the estimated median household income was $37,264 and the per capita income was $23,018.


As of 2019, 82.90% of residents age five and older spoke English at home, while 8.20% spoke Spanish, 1.93% spoke Chinese, 0.96% spoke French, Haitian Creole, or Cajun, 0.78% spoke Vietnamese, 0.55% spoke Russian, Polish, or other Slavic language, 0.50% spoke Tagalog, 0.34% spoke Korean, and 0.37% spoke German, 0.35% spoke Arabic, 2.14% spoke some other Indo-European Language, 0.75% spoke some other Asian or Pacific Islander language, and 0.24% spoke some other and unspecified language. In 2015, 0.61% of residents age five and older spoke Hindi at home.


Dsg Gainesville 13th and University Intersection Approach 20050507
Heading east on University Avenue, approaching 13th Street (US 441) intersection

In 2009, the Gainesville metropolitan statistical area (MSA) ranked seventh highest in the United States in percentage of commuters who biked to work (3.3 percent).

Major roads

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

  • I-75.svg I-75 runs northwest and southeast across the western edge of the city, with interchanges at SR 121/SR 331 (exit 382), SR 24 (exit 384), SR 26 (exit 387), and SR 222 (Exit 390).
  • US 441.svg US 441 is the main local north–south road through Gainesville. It runs on the eastern edge of the University of Florida. It is known to locals as 13th Street, before curving to the northwest and finally joining SR 20, converting into an additional hidden state road. At the intersection of SR 121, the DeSoto Trail moves from SR 121 to US 441.
  • Florida 20.svg SR 20 runs northwest and southeast through Gainesville. In east Gainesville, the road again becomes a stand-alone four-lane highway as it heads to Hawthorne, Interlachen, and Palatka. Northwest of Gainesville, SR 20 coincides with US 441 as a hidden state road through the town of Alachua before splitting at the fork a half-mile from downtown High Springs. SR 20 then coincides with US 27 as it heads to Fort White, Branford, Mayo, Perry, and Tallahassee.
  • Florida 24.svg SR 24 runs northeast and southwest through Gainesville. The northeast corner of SR 24 and SR 222 is the site of the Gainesville Regional Airport, before heading to Waldo, Starke, and Jacksonville (Via.U.S. Route 301)(Gainesville-Jacksonville Highway). Southwest of Gainesville, SR 24 passes through the towns of Archer and Bronson before ending at Cedar Key.
  • Florida 26.svg SR 26 is the main local east–west road through Gainesville. West of the city, it spans from Fanning Springs to Trenton, Newberry, and Jonesville. Eastward, SR 26 heads to Melrose before reaching its terminus at Putnam Hall in Putnam County.
  • Florida 120.svg SR 120 runs east and west through the city. Its western end is at the junction with US 441, its eastern end at the junction with SR 24.
  • Florida 121.svg SR 121 runs north and south on the western part of the city. The DeSoto Trail breaks away as SR 121 heads north to Lake Butler, Raiford, and Macclenny. Southward, it travels to Williston before reaching its terminus at Lebanon Station.
  • Florida 222.svg SR 222 runs east and west on the northern part of the city. Its western end of state maintenance is at the junction with I-75 before continuing as County Road 222 to County Road 241, while its eastern end is at the junction with SR 26 a few miles east of the Gainesville Regional Airport.
  • Florida 331.svg SR 331 runs northeast and southwest through the city. It also serves as a truck route for State Roads 24, 26, and 121. Despite skirting the Gainesville City Limits, SR 331 runs north and south as a four-lane divided rural highway.

The city's streets lie on a grid system, with four quadrants (NW, NE, SW and SE). All streets are numbered, except for a few major thoroughfares, many of which are named for the towns they lead to (such as Waldo Road (SR 24), Hawthorne Road (SR 20), Williston Road (SR 121/SR 331), Archer Road (also SR 24) and Newberry Road (SR 26)). Streets called Avenues, Places, Roads or Lanes (often remembered by use of the acronym "APRiL") generally run east–west, while other streets (including Streets, Drives, Terraces, and Ways) generally run north–south.

Intercity rail

Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach buses connect with Jacksonville (Amtrak station) to the north and Lakeland (Amtrak station) to the south. Bus service connects with Amtrak's Silver Service. Amtrak service is available at Palatka, 32 miles (51 km) to the east.

At one time, Gainesville had railroad lines extending in six directions and was served by several depots, one of which, the Seaboard Air Line Depot, survives and has been restored and lies in a city park. The earliest route reached the town in 1859. By the 1940s, traffic and business patterns changed, Seaboard Air Line Railroad (SAL) had ended its Jacksonville-Waldo-Gainesville-Inverness-Tampa train and its Jacksonville-Waldo-Gainesville-Cedar Key train and the less heavily used railroads were abandoned beginning in 1943. Some routes realigned, with the last trains running in the middle of Main Street in 1948.

Passenger service by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad (ACL) included: an overnight local train from Jacksonville, due south from Gainesville to Ocala, Clearwater and St. Petersburg and the West Coast Champion from New York City running on the same route during the daytime. Chicago service on the ACL's Dixie Flyer was furnished by a transfer at Jacksonville. In 1967, upon the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad from the merger of ACL and SAL, the overnight local train through Gainesville was terminated. However, by 1968, the Champion was diverted east via a route through Palatka and Orlando. The Jacksonville-Gainesville-Ocala-St. Petersburg route became a local section (SCL #93 south/#94 north). Service into Gainesville ended at the end of April, 1971 at Amtrak's creation.

By the 1980s, the only freight operator into the city was the Seaboard System (formerly the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad, now merged into CSX).

Airport, bus, and others

In addition to its extensive road network, Gainesville is served by Gainesville Regional Transit System, or RTS, Florida's fourth-largest mass transit system. The area is also served by Gainesville Regional Airport ("GNV") in the northeast part of the city, with daily service to Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Miami, and Charlotte, North Carolina.

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


Gainesville is known as a supporter of the visual arts. Each year, two large art festivals attract artists and visitors from all over the southeastern United States.

Cultural facilities include the Florida Museum of Natural History, Harn Museum of Art, the Hippodrome State Theatre, and the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. 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 presence of a major university enhances the city's opportunities for cultural lifestyles. The University of Florida College of the Arts is the umbrella college for the School of Music, School of Theatre and Dance, School of Art and Art History, and a number of other programs and centers including The University Galleries, the Center for World Art, and Digital Worlds. Collectively, the College offers many performance events and artist/lecture opportunities for students and the greater Gainesville community, the majority of which are offered at little or no cost.

Since 1989, Gainesville has been home to Theatre Strike Force, the University of Florida's premier improv troupe. In addition Gainesville also plays host to several sketch comedy troupes and stand-up comedians.

In April 2003, Gainesville became known as the "Healthiest Community in America" 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 July 2011, Gainesville remained the only city in the country to reach the achievement.

Music scene

Gainesville is well known for its music scene and has spawned a number of bands and musicians, including Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Stephen Stills, Don Felder and Bernie Leadon of The Eagles, The Motels, Against Me!, Charles Bradley, Less Than Jake, Hot Water Music, Loyal Revival, John Vanderslice, Sister Hazel, Hundred Waters, and For Squirrels. It is also currently the location of independent labels No Idea Records and Elestial Sound, and it is also the former home of Plan-It-X Records, which moved to Bloomington, Indiana. For two years, the Gainesville non-profit Harvest of Hope Foundation hosted the Harvest of Hope Festival in St. Augustine, Florida. Gainesville is also the home of, the founders of 'Santa Jam' who hold concerts every December throughout North Florida as a toy fundraiser for sick, injured, and homeless children, as well as being a local musician showcase. Since 2011 they have distributed nearly 700 toys to hospitals, local churches & homeless charities, and to needy families across the area.

No Idea Records puts on an annual three-day rock festival known as The Fest, which typically occurs during the last weekend in October, coinciding with the annual Florida-Georgia football game (played in Jacksonville) to minimize tensions between the largely out of town music festival goers with the University of Florida students and alumni.

Between 1987 and 1998, Gainesville had a very active rock music scene, with Hollywood star River Phoenix having the local club Hardback Cafe as his main base. Phoenix's band Aleka's Attic was a constant feature of the rock scene, among others. The Phoenix family is still a presence in Gainesville with Rain Phoenix's band Papercranes and Liberty Phoenix's store, Indigo.

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. The article cited the large student population, cheap rent, and friendly venues as reasons.

Over the past decade, Gainesville has been home to a wide variety of bands, from the Latin/afrobeat sounds of Umoja Orchestra, to the rock of Morningbell, to ska staples The Know How.

Gainesville's reputation as an independent music mecca can be traced back to 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 considerable media attention thanks 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 indie-label bands and had several locally produced videos ("Clone Love" by a local parody band, and a Dinosaur Jr. song).


The Florida Gators is the varsity team of the University of Florida, and competes at the Southeastern Conference of the National Collegiate Athletic Association since 1933. It has been ranked in the top 10 in the NACDA ranking since the 1983–84 season. it has won 32 national team championships, including two men's basketball titles, three football titles, four men's golf titles, and six women's tennis titles.

The Gainesville Raceway is a dragstrip opened in 1969 that hosts the Gatornationals, one of the four NHRA major races.

Annual cultural events

  • The Spring Arts Festival, hosted each year, usually in early April, by Santa Fe College (formerly Santa Fe Community College), is one of the three largest annual events in Gainesville and is known for its high quality, unique artwork.
  • The nationally recognized The Downtown Festival and Art Show, hosted each fall by the City of Gainesville, attracts award-winning artists and draws a crowd of more than 100,000.
  • The Hoggetowne Medieval Faire has attracted thousands of fairgoers for over 20 years.
  • The Gainesville Improv Festival provides a venue for new talent.

Points of interest

Devil's Millhopper - 2
Boardwalk at the Devil's Millhopper
Gville Newnans Lake02
Newnans Lake

Sister cities

Gainesville maintains sister city relationships with five cities in four separate arrangements:


Numerous guides, such as the 2004 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, but the median home cost is slightly below the national average, and Gainesville residents, like all Floridians, do not pay state income taxes.

The city's job market scored only 6 out of a possible 100 points 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. Gainesville's median income is slightly below the U.S. average.

Gainesville heavily promoted solar power by creating the first feed-in tariff (FIT) in the United States. The FIT allowed small businesses and homeowners to supply electricity into the municipal power grid and paid a premium for the clean, on-site generated solar electricity. The FIT started with a rate of $0.32 per kilowatt-hour and allowed a person or business to enter into a 20-year contract where Gainesville Regional Utilities would purchase the power for 20 years. The FIT ended in 2013, when the rate was set at $0.18 per kWh, but the city is still seen as a leader in solar power. This increase in solar installations put Gainesville at number 5 in the world in solar installed per capita, beating Japan, France, China and all of the US.

The sports drink Gatorade was invented in Gainesville in the 1960s to help refresh the UF football team. UF still receives a share of the profits from the beverage, but Gatorade's headquarters are now in Chicago.

Spring Hill UF Health - panoramio
Spring Hill UF Health building

The Florida Department of Citrus's department of economic research is on the UF campus.

Top employers

The city's economic engine is the University of Florida, which is by far the largest employer in the area and brings in a large amount of state and federal money. According to Gainesville's 2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:

No. Employer No. of Employees
1 University of Florida 27,567
2 UF Health 12,705
3 Gainesville Veterans Administration Medical Center 6,127
4 Alachua County School Board 3,904
5 City of Gainesville 2,072
6 North Florida Regional Medical Center 2,000
7 Gator Dining Services 1,200
8 Nationwide Insurance 960
9 Alachua County 809
10 Publix 780


Greater Gainesville (Alachua County) is home to many startups with over 160 high growth enterprises. Gainesville is also home to dozens of organizations that support startups along their entire continuum of growth.


Century Tower (upright2) (University of Florida)
Century Tower, University of Florida

The Gainesville urban area is served by Alachua County Public Schools, which has 75 different institutions in the county, most 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 UF athletic events, including SEC football games, create hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional revenue. According to a 2019 study by the university's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the university contributed $16.9 billion to Florida's economy and was responsible for over 130,000 jobs in the 2017–2018 fiscal year.


Gainesville's schools began desegregating in the 1960s and its high schools were integrated from 1968 to 1970, the "colored" schools having been either closed or integrated.

Elementary schools

  • Boulware Springs Charter School
  • Chiles Elementary School
  • Duval Elementary School
  • Caroline Beatrice Parker Elementary School
  • Foster Elementary School
  • Glen Springs Elementary School
  • Hidden Oak Elementary School
  • Idylwilde Elementary School
  • Lake Forest Elementary School
  • Littlewood Elementary School
  • Meadowbrook Elementary School
  • WA Metcalfe Elementary School
  • Norton Knights Elementary School
  • Rawlings Elementary School
  • Talbot Elementary School
  • Terwilliger Elementary School
  • Wiles Elementary School
  • Williams Elementary School

Middle schools

Middle schools in the county run from 6th to 8th grades.

  • Howard Bishop Middle School
  • Fort Clarke Middle School
  • Kanapaha Middle School
  • Lincoln Middle School
  • Westwood Middle School

High schools

High schools in Gainesville run from 9th to 12th grades.

  • Buchholz High School
  • Eastside High School
  • Gainesville High School
  • Loften High School

Private schools

Gainesville FL Oak Hall School Cofrin AC01
Oak Hall School Cofrin Arts Center
  • Brentwood School
  • Countryside Christian School
  • Cornerstone Academy
  • Gainesville Country Day School
  • Millhopper Montessori School
  • Oak Hall School
  • Queen of Peace Academy
  • St. Patrick Interparish School
  • The Rock School
  • Trilogy School of Learning Alternatives
  • Westwood Hills Christian School
  • St. Francis Academy
  • Newberry Christian Community School

Colleges and universities

Gville UF Sledd Hall02
Sledd Hall at the University of Florida
  • University of Florida
  • Santa Fe College
  • Saint Leo University (Gainesville Education Center)
  • City College (Gainesville campus)

Developmental research schools

  • P. K. Yonge Developmental Research School

Public libraries

The Alachua County Library District provides public library service to Gainesville and to all of Alachua County. 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 convenient library facility regardless of an individual's county of residence.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Gainesville (Florida) para niños

National Hispanic Heritage Month on Kiddle
Outstanding Hispanic athletes
Oscar De La Hoya
Michael Carbajal
Lee Trevino
Lorena Ochoa
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Gainesville, Florida Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.