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Gainesville, Georgia
Downtown Gainesville
Downtown Gainesville
"Queen City of the Mountains",
"Poultry Capital of the World"
Location in Hall County and the state of Georgia
Location in Hall County and the state of Georgia
Gainesville, Georgia is located in Metro Atlanta
Gainesville, Georgia
Gainesville, Georgia
Location in Metro Atlanta
Country United States
State Georgia
County Hall
Gainesville 1818
Named for Edmund P. Gaines
 • City 35.37 sq mi (91.61 km2)
 • Land 33.42 sq mi (86.57 km2)
 • Water 1.95 sq mi (5.04 km2)
1,250 ft (381 m)
 • City 42,296
 • Density 1,265.40/sq mi (488.57/km2)
 • Metro
Time zone UTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP Code
30501, 30503-30504, 30506-30507
Area code(s) 770
FIPS code 13-31908
GNIS feature ID 0355972

The city of Gainesville is the county seat of Hall County, Georgia, United States. As of the 2020 census, the city had a population of 42,296. By 2019 the population had risen to an estimated 43,232. Because of its large number of poultry processing plants, it is often called the "Poultry Capital of the World." Gainesville is the principal city of, and is included in, the Gainesville, Georgia Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Gainesville, Georgia Combined Statistical Area.


Gainesville was established as Mule Camp Springs by European-American settlers in the early 1800s. Less than three years after the organization of Hall County on December 15, 1818, Mule Camp Springs was renamed as Gainesville on April 21, 1821. It was named in honor of General Edmund P. Gaines, a hero of the War of 1812 and a noted military surveyor and road-builder. Gainesville was selected by the legislature to be the county seat, and was chartered by the Georgia Legislature on November 30, 1821.

A gold rush that began in nearby Lumpkin County in the 1830s resulted in an increase in the number of settlers and the beginning of a business community. In the middle of the nineteenth century, Gainesville had two important events. In 1849, it became established as a resort center, with people attracted to the springs. In 1851, much of the small city was destroyed by fire.

After the American Civil War, Gainesville began to grow from 1870. In 1871 the Airline Railroad, later named the Georgia Southern Railroad, began to stop in Gainesville, increasing its ties to other markets and stimulating business and population. It grew from 1,000 in 1870, to over 5,000 by 1900.

By 1898, textile mills had become the primary driver of the economy, with the railroad integral to delivering raw cotton and carrying away the mills' products. With the revenues generated by the mills, in 1902, Gainesville became the first city south of Baltimore to install street lamps. On March 1, 1905, free mail delivery began in Gainesville and on August 10, 1910 the US Gainesville post office was opened. On December 22, 1915 the city's first skyscraper, the Jackson Building, had its formal opening. In 1919 Southern Bell made improvements to the phone system.

City services began in Gainesville on February 22, 1873 with the election of a City Marshal, followed by solid waste collection in 1874. In 1890, a bond issue to fund the waterworks was passed, and the original water distribution system was developed.

In 1943, at the height of World War II, Gainesville contributed to the war effort by leasing the airport to the US government for $1.00. The military used it as a Naval Air Station for training purposes. In 1947, the airport was returned to the City of Gainesville, improved by the addition of two 4,000 ft landing strips (one of which was later lengthened to 5,500 ft).

After World War II, a businessman named Jesse Jewell started the poultry industry in north Georgia. Chickens have since become the state's largest agricultural crop. This $1 billion a year industry has given Gainesville the title "Poultry Capital of the World."

In 1957, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed Lake Sidney Lanier, by constructing Buford Dam on the Chattahoochee River. The river also flows through Alabama and Florida. Named after an American poet, the lake is located along the border with Forsyth County, The manmade lake covers more than 38,000 acres and is a center of outdoor recreation. Not far from the major metropolitan area of Atlanta, Georgia, this is the most visited Corps-created lake in the nation. It has an economic impact of more than $2 billion annually.

During the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Gainesville served as the venue for the rowing and kayaking medal competitions, which were staged on Lake Lanier.

Gainesville gained accreditation of its Parks and Recreation Department in 2001. This was the third department in the state to be accredited. The Lakeside Water Treatment Plant opened in 2002. The city has sponsored new social activities, including the Spring Chicken Festival in 2003, the Art in the Square gathering in 2004, and "Dredgefest" in 2008.

2008 also saw the reopening of the Fair Street Neighborhood Center, the reopening of the Linwood Water Reclamation Facility Grand, and the completion of the Longwood Park Fishing Pier.


River Forks Park
Lake Lanier at River Forks Park

Gainesville is located at 34°18′16″N 83°50′2″W / 34.30444°N 83.83389°W / 34.30444; -83.83389 (34.304490, -83.833897).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 29.1 square miles (75 km2), of which, 27.1 square miles (70 km2) of it is land and 2.0 square miles (5.2 km2) of it (6.94%) is water.

Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, parts of Gainesville lie along the shore of one of the nation's most popular inland water destinations, Lake Lanier. Named after Confederate Veteran, Georgia author and musician Sidney Lanier, the lake was created in 1956 when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dammed the Chattahoochee River near Buford, Georgia and flooded an Appalachian mountain valley. Although created primarily for hydroelectricity and flood control, it also serves as a reservoir providing water to the city of Atlanta. The lake is also a very popular recreational attraction for all of north Georgia.

Much of Gainesville is heavily wooded, with both deciduous and coniferous trees.


Gainesville has a subtropical climate with mild, yet extremely varying winters and very hot summers.

Winters are generally mild, with average temperature highs in the high 40s to mid 50s and lows in the low to mid 30s. However, temperatures can swing up and down in days, often one after another, since cold fronts and warm fronts visit frequently. It is not uncommon to see 70s for highs two days and temperatures in the teens for lows the next. Annual snowfall only yields an average of 1 inch, and accumulations for more than a day are rare. Gainesville is located in USDA Hardiness Zone 8a, enabling hardy palm trees and cacti to withstand frigid nights. The record low temperature (-14 °F) was recorded in January 1985.

Spring sees highs in the 70s and 80s with lows in the 40s and 50s although March is the wettest month of the year on average.

Summer heat can be intense, but generally highs are in the mid to upper 80s. Gainesville's altitude shaves a few degrees off the summer heat. The area is extremely humid, and the heat index can reach the 100s. The record high (107 °F) was recorded in June and July 1952.

Fall has temperatures similar to spring but with much less humidity, especially later in the season. In late October to November the leaves are in the midst of changing colors to brilliant reds, yellows, golden oranges and purples.

Climate data for Gainesville, Georgia
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 51
Average low °F (°C) 32
Source: Weatherbase

Severe weather

While Gainesville does not sit in Tornado Alley, a region of the United States where severe weather is common, Supercell thunderstorms can sweep through any time between March and November, being primarily concentrated in the spring. Tornado watches are frequent in the spring and summer, with a warning appearing at least biannually, occasionally with more than one per year.

Tornado activity in the Gainesville area is above Georgia state average and is 108% greater than the overall U.S. average.

Gainesville was the site of the fifth deadliest tornado in U.S. history in 1936, in which Gainesville was devastated and 203 people were killed. Gainesville was also the site of another deadly F4 on June 1, 1903, which killed 98 people.

In April 1974, an F4 tornado 22.6 miles away from the Gainesville city center killed six people and injured thirty. In December 1973, a category F3 tornado 2.1 miles away from the city center injured twenty-one people. Both storms caused between $500,000 and $5,000,000 in property damages.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 344
1870 472 37.2%
1880 1,919 306.6%
1890 3,202 66.9%
1900 4,382 36.9%
1910 5,925 35.2%
1920 6,272 5.9%
1930 8,624 37.5%
1940 10,243 18.8%
1950 11,936 16.5%
1960 16,523 38.4%
1970 15,459 −6.4%
1980 15,280 −1.2%
1990 17,885 17.0%
2000 25,578 43.0%
2010 33,804 32.2%
2020 42,296 25.1%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Gainesville racial composition
Race Num. Perc.
White (non-Hispanic) 17,852 42.21%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 6,033 14.26%
Native American 60 0.14%
Asian 1,450 3.43%
Pacific Islander 29 0.07%
Other/Mixed 1,222 2.89%
Hispanic or Latino 15,650 37.0%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 42,296 people, 13,314 households, and 8,796 families residing in the city.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 33,804 people, 11,273 households, and 7,165 families residing in the city. The population density was 1.161.6 people per square mile (450.7/km2). There were 12,967 housing units at an average density of 445.6 per square mile (172.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 54.2% White, 15.2% African American, 0.6% Native American, 3.2% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 23.4% from other races, and 3.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 41.6% of the population.

There were 11,273 households, out of which 30.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.3% were married couples living together, 18.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.4% were non-families. 28.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 3.64% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.85 and the average family size was 3.55.

Age distribution was 33.9% under the age of 20, 9.5% from 20 to 24, 29.2% from 25 to 44, 16.7% from 45 to 64, and 10.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29.5 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.6 males. For every 100 females age 20 and over, there were 84.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $38,119, and the median income for a family was $43,734. Males had a median income of $26,377 versus $20,531 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,439. About 24.9% of families and 29.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 40.7% of those under age 18 and 17.6% of those age 65 or over. In May 2013, the unemployment rate was 6.9%, less than the overall rate in Georgia of 8.3%, the US of 7.6%

Of the population aged 15 years and over, 31.0% have never been married; 50.0% are now married; 2.4% are separated; 7.7% are widowed; and 9.9% are divorced.


Major roads

  • I-985.svg Interstate 985
  • Georgia 347.svg State Route 347
  • US 23.svg U.S. Route 23
  • US 129.svg U.S. Route 129
  • US 129 Business.svg U.S. Route 129 Business
  • Georgia 11.svg State Route 11
  • Georgia 11 Business.svg State Route 11 Business
  • Georgia 13.svg State Route 13
  • Georgia 53.svg State Route 53
  • Georgia 53 Connector.svg State Route 53 Connector
  • Georgia 60.svg State Route 60
  • Georgia 60 Connector.svg State Route 60 Connector
  • Georgia 284.svg State Route 284
  • Georgia 365.svg State Route 365
  • Georgia 369.svg State Route 369

Pedestrians and cycling

  • Highlands to Island Trail (Under construction)
  • Midtown Greenway
  • Wilshire Trails

Mass transit


  • Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport (GVL), built in 1940, is a city-owned airport with two runways (5,500 ft and 4,001 ft), and supports air taxi operations, itinerant operations, local operations, and military operations. Aircraft include 116 single engine aircraft, 21 multi-engine aircraft, 2 jet engine aircraft and 1 helicopter. In addition, Gainesville has three heliports, Beaver Trail, Lanier Park Hospital and Latham Creek.


Poultry farming

The poultry farming industry in Gainesville began to develop after World War II, when Jesse Jewell, a Gainesville feed salesman, began his business. The format he developed was to sell North Georgia farmers baby chicks and feed on credit. When the chicks were grown, Jewell would buy back the adult chickens (broilers) at a price that would cover his costs and guarantee farmers a profit. Once Jewell signed on enough farmers to produce broilers for him, he invested in his own processing plant and hatchery.

As of 2013, poultry farming remains a significant economic driver in Gainesville, representing six of its top ten employers (7,600 employees), nearly one-quarter of the total population in the city in 2010 (and a higher proportion of the working-age population). It is the most well-known business in the area, with statewide revenue exceeding $3 billion. These jobs have attracted numerous Hispanic workers, adding to the diversity of families in the city and county. The proportion of Hispanic and Latino residents is more than 40 percent of the city's population, where the jobs are.

Top employers

According to Gainesville's 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Northeast Georgia Health System 5,030
2 Fieldale Farms 2,400
3 Pilgrim's 1,600
4 Mar-Jac 1,250
5 Kubota 960
6 Coleman Natural 900
7 The Longstreet Clinic 580
8 Koch Foods 521
9 ZF 440
10 MP Equipment 110


Three African Americans, Beulah Rucker, E. E. Butler, and Ulysses Byas were educational pioneers in Gainesville and Hall County. Rucker founded Timber Ridge Elementary School, the first school for Black children in Gainesville, in 1911. In 1951 she established a night high school for African-American veterans, which was the only High School for veterans in Georgia. E. E. Butler served as an educator for just one year before earning his Physician's license. In 1954, he became one of two who became the first Black men on the Gainesville City Schools Board of Education, a very unusual situation in the United States. When the schools were integrated in 1969, Byas, like most Black school principals was offered a demotion. Rather than take a job as an assistant principal at Gainesville High School, he moved to Tuskegee, Alabama, where he became the nation's first Black school superintendent.

Historical schools

E. E. Butler High School was a segregated school created in 1962 in response to court demands for equalization of resources for Black students. After the integration of public schools, it was closed in 1969.

Gainesville City School District

The Gainesville City School District holds pre-school to grade twelve, and consists of five elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school. The district has 282 full-time teachers and over 4,438 students. Its lone high school, Gainesville High School boasts several notable alumni, including Deshaun Watson, Texans quarterback, Cris Carpenter, former professional baseball player (St. Louis Cardinals, Florida Marlins, Texas Rangers, Milwaukee Brewers), Tasha Humphrey, professional basketball player, and Micah Owings, current professional baseball player (Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres). The mascot for Gainesville High School is the Red Elephant.

Hall County School District

The Hall County School District holds pre-school to grade twelve, and consists of twenty-one elementary schools, six middle schools, and seven high schools. The district has 1,337 full-time teachers and over 21,730 students. The high schools in this district have produced a number of notable alumni including, Connor Shaw, starting quarterback for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks football team; Casey Cagle, Lt. Governor, State of Georgia; James Mills, Georgia State Representative; A.J. Styles, professional wrestler; Deshaun Watson, starting quarterback for the Houston Texans, Mike "MoonPie" Wilson, former NFL football player; Chester Willis, former NFL football player; Jody Davis, former catcher for Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves baseball teams; Billy Greer, bass guitarist for progressive rock band Kansas; Corey Hulsey, former NFL Oakland Raiders football player; Robin Spriggs, author and actor; and Martrez Milner, American football tight end.

Private education

Gainesville has three private schools: Riverside Military Academy which is a private, college preparatory, boarding and day school for boys in grades 7 through 12; Lakeview Academy, a private, nondenominational, college preparatory school; and Brenau Academy, a female, college preparatory, residential school for grades 9-12, which is a part of the Brenau University system.

Higher education

Gainesville has four institutions of higher education: University of North Georgia (formerly Gainesville State College), which was established January 8, 2013, as a result of the consolidation of North Georgia College and State University and Gainesville State College; Brenau University, a private, not-for-profit, undergraduate- and graduate-level higher education institution; the Interactive College of Technology; and Lanier Technical College.


The Hall County Library, with an operating income of $3,078,611, offers a collection of 292,717 books, 1,355 e-books, 32,858 audio materials, 26,616 video materials, 36 local licensed databases, 146 state licensed databases, 821 print serial subscriptions, and 36 electronic serial subscriptions.

Notable people

See also

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