|City of Gainesville|
Downtown Gainesville at night
Citizen centered. People empowered.
Location in Alachua County and the state of Florida
|Incorporated||April 14, 1869|
|o Mayor||Lauren Poe (D)|
|o City Commission|
|o City Manager||Lee R. Feldman, ICMA-CM|
|o City||64.24 sq mi (166.39 km2)|
|o Land||63.07 sq mi (163.34 km2)|
|o Water||1.18 sq mi (3.04 km2) 1.74%|
|Elevation||152 ft (54 m)|
| o Estimate |
|o Density||2,124.64/sq mi (820.33/km2)|
|o Urban||187,781 (US: 187th)|
|o Metro||288,212 (168th)|
|o CSA||400,814 (US: 99th)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (EST)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
32601-32614, 32627, 32635, 32641, 32653
|GNIS feature ID||0282874|
Gainesville is the county seat of, and the largest city in, Alachua County, Florida, and is both the principal city of the Gainesville, Florida, metropolitan statistical area and the largest city in North Central Florida. In 2019 the US Census Bureau estimated Gainesville's population at 133,997, a 7.6% increase from 2010, and the metropolitan statistical area's population at 288,212.
Gainesville is home to the University of Florida, the fifth-largest public university campus by enrollment in the United States.
There is archeological evidence, from about 12,000 years ago, of the presence of Paleo Indians in the Gainesville area, although it is not known if there were any permanent settlements. A Deptford culture campsite existed in Gainesville and was estimated to have been used between 500 BCE and 100 CE. The Deptford people moved south into Paynes Prairie and Orange Lake during the first century and evolved into the Cades Pond culture. The Deptford people who remained in the Gainesville area were displaced by migrants from southern Georgia sometime in the seventh century. These migrants evolved into the Alachua culture and they built their burial mound on top of the Deptford culture campsite. When Europeans made first contact in the area, the Potano lived in the area. They were descendants of the Alachua culture people. European contact diminished the numbers of native peoples (through disease, enslavement, war) and Spanish colonists began cattle ranching in the Paynes Prairie area in the 18th century. The Spanish ceded Florida to the US in 1821.
Gainesville was established in 1854 and named after Edmund P. Gaines. The town of Gainesville was incorporated in 1869 and chartered as a city in 1907. The University of the State of Florida was moved from Lake City to Gainesville in 1906 and its name was simplified to University of Florida in 1909.
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". A 2016 ecological assessment indicates Gainesville's urban tree canopy covers 47 percent of its land area.
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 from Tampa, and five hours from either Atlanta or Miami. The area is dominated by the University of Florida, which in 2008 was the third-largest university by enrollment in the US, and as of 2016 was the fifth-largest.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Gainesville's climate is defined as humid subtropical (Köppen: Cfa). Due to its inland location, Gainesville experiences wide temperature fluctuations, and it is part of USDA Plant hardiness zone 9a. 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. Average temperatures range from the low 70s (21-23 °C) at night to around 92 °F (33 °C) during the day. The all-time record high of 104 °F (40 °C) was reached on June 27, 1952. From November through March, Gainesville experiences a somewhat different climate from much of Florida, with 16 nights of temperatures at freezing or below and sustained freezes 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 1977, 1996, 2010 and 2016. The daily average temperature in January is 54.3 °F (12.4 °C); on average, the window for freezing temperatures is December 4 to February 24, allowing a growing season of 282 days. As with the rest of the state, cold temperatures are almost always accompanied by clear skies and high pressure systems; snow is therefore rare. Temperatures reaching 100 °F (38 °C) or falling below 20 °F (-7 °C) are rare, having respectively last occurred on June 4, 2019, and January 11, 2010.
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 and a noticeable, 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 47.33 inches (1,200 mm) of rain per year, earning it the nickname "Rainesville". June through September accounts for a majority of annual rainfall, while autumn and early winter is the driest period.
|Climate data for Gainesville Regional Airport, Florida (1981-2010 normals, extremes 1890-present)|
|Record high °F (°C)||89
|Mean maximum °F (°C)||80.1
|Average high °F (°C)||66.2
|Daily mean °F (°C)||54.3
|Average low °F (°C)||42.3
|Mean minimum °F (°C)||23.6
|Record low °F (°C)||10
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||3.33
|Average precipitation days||8.9||7.2||7.9||5.8||6.5||14.7||15.4||16.1||11.6||7.3||6.1||6.9||114.4|
This section needs to be updated.May 2020)(
Since the 1990s, suburban sprawl has been a concern for a majority of the city commissioners. 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 is also seeing active redevelopment. Many gentrification plans rely on tax incentives that have sparked controversy and 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."
Gainesville's east side houses the majority of the city's African-American community, while the west side consists of the mainly student and white resident population. West of the city limits 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 community's attention. 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:
Additionally, the University of Florida Campus Historic District, consisting of 11 buildings and 14 contributing properties, lies within the city's boundaries. 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:
|2018 Estimates||Gainesville||Alachua County||Florida|
|Population, percent change, 2000 to 2010||+30.3%||+13.5%||+17.6%|
|Population density||2,028.4/sq mi||282.7/sq mi||350.6/sq mi|
|White or Caucasian (including White Hispanic)||66%||70%||77.4%|
|(Non-Hispanic White or Caucasian)||57.3%||61.4%||54.1%|
|Hispanic or Latino (of any race)||10.7%||9.8%||25.6%|
|Black or African-American||22%||20.6%||16.9%|
|Native American or Native Alaskan||0.3%||0.3%||0.5%|
|Pacific Islander or Native Hawaiian||0.1%||0.1%||0.1%|
|Two or more races (Multiracial)||3.8%||2.8%||2.1%|
The US Census Bureau estimated Gainesville's population at 133,857 in 2018, a 7.7% increase from 2010. At the 2010 census there were 51,029 households, with 2.2 persons per household. Children under the age of 5 were 4.4% of the population, under 18 13.4%, and people 65 years or over were 8.3% of the population. 64.9% of the population was white, 23.0% black, 6.9% Asian, 0.3% American Indians and Alaska Natives, 0.1% Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, 1.9% some other race, and 2.9% reporting two or more races. 10.0% were Hispanic or Latino of any race, and 58.7% were non-Hispanic whites. 51.6% of the population were female. In 2007-11, the estimated median household income was $30,952 and the per capita income was $19,100.
As of 2000, 87.10% of residents spoke English as their first language, while 6.31% spoke Spanish, 1.28% spoke Chinese, 0.55% spoke French, 0.52% spoke Korean, and 0.50% spoke German as their mother tongue. In total, 12.89% of the population spoke languages other than English.
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. The median income in Gainesville 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 as a means of refreshing the UF football team. UF still receives a share of the profits from the beverage, but Gatorade's headquarters are now in Chicago.
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|
|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|
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.
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 2017-18 fiscal year.
Middle schools in the county run from 6th to 8th grades.
High schools in Gainesville run from 9th to 12th grades.
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 conveniently located library facility regardless of an individual's county of residence.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (September 2015)
The council-manager government is the form of municipal government used in Gainesville. The day-to-day operations of the city are run by a professional city manager who is appointed by the elected city commission.
The legislative power of the city is vested in a city commission of seven members, one of whom is the mayor. The mayor and two other commissioners are elected at-large, while the other four are elected from single-member districts to represent a quarter of the city.
The city commission is responsible for legislative functions such as establishing policy, passing local ordinances, voting appropriations, and developing an overall vision, like a corporate board of directors, in addition to appointing several professional staff persons.
The mayor is presiding officer of the city commission and has a voice and a vote in its proceedings but no veto power.
Municipal elections are nonpartisan and use a two-round system, i.e., if no candidate receives a majority of the vote, a runoff election ensues between the two candidates who received the most votes.
The mayor and other commissioners are elected to a term the length of which is in transition; in any case, neither the mayor nor any other commissioner may serve more than two consecutive terms, excepting following a partial term created by a vacancy. Mayoral terms are reckoned separately from terms as another commissioner, allowing a commissioner to serve more consecutive terms by alternating between the positions.
Law enforcement is provided by Gainesville Police Department, except on the University of Florida campus, which operates the University Police Department.
Fire protection within the city limits is provided by the Gainesville Fire Rescue, while the surrounding county is served by the Alachua County Fire Rescue. Alachua County Fire Rescue provides ambulance services for the whole county.
Gainesville's city hall is at 200 E University Avenue.
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).
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.
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.
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. The earliest route reached the town in 1859. As traffic and business patterns changed, the less heavily used railroads were abandoned beginning in 1943, and some routes realigned, with the last trains running in the middle of Main Street in 1948.
Passenger service included different Atlantic Coast Line Railroad (ACL) trains: the Havana Special, the West Coast Champion from New York City, and the Dixie Flyer from Chicago. Chicago service was furnished by a transfer at Jacksonville to the West Coast Champion. In 1967, the service continued on through Seaboard Coast Line Railroad which was created as a merger of ACL and Seaboard Air Line. However, by its final year of service, 1970, service was reduced to a Jacksonville-Gainesville-Ocala-St. Petersburg section (SCL #93 south/#94 north). Service into Gainesville ended at the end of April, 1970 at Amtrak's creation.
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.
This section needs to be updated.May 2020)(
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), Actors' Warehouse, 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 offered at little or no cost.
In April 2003, Gainesville became known as the "Healthiest Community in America" when it won 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 win the award.
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 other 11 candidates on the ballot and write-in votes received approximately 1.46% of the vote.
The National Coalition for the Homeless cited Gainesville as the 5th meanest city in the United States for its criminalization of homelessness in the Coalition's two most recent reports (in 2004 and 2009), the latter time for its meal limit ordinance. Gainesville has a number of ordinances targeting the homeless, including an anti-panhandling measure and one prohibiting sleeping outdoors on public property. In 2005, the Alachua Board of County Commissioners and the Gainesville City Commission responded by issuing a written "Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness"; which was followed by the 2010 "A Needs Assessment of Unsheltered Homeless Individuals In Gainesville, Florida" presentation to a joint meeting of Gainesville and Alachua County Commissions. An indoor homeless shelter was built on the site of the former Gainesville Correctional Institution grounds, with surrounding area designated for tents.
Gainesville is renowned in recreational drug culture for "Gainesville Green", a particularly potent strain of marijuana. Orange and Blue magazine published a feature article in 2003 about the history of Gainesville Green and the local marijuana culture in general. In the mid-1990s, several Gainesville Hemp Festivals took place outside the Alachua County courthouse.
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 the location of independent labels No Idea Records and Elestial Sound, and the former home of Plan-It-X Records, which moved to Bloomington, Indiana. For two years, the Gainesville nonprofit Harvest of Hope Foundation hosted the Harvest of Hope Fest in St. Augustine. Gainesville is also the home of Florida Rocks, the founders of "Santa Jam", who hold concerts every December throughout North Florida as a toy fundraiser for sick, injured, and homeless children and a showcase for local musicians. Since 2011 they have distributed nearly 700 toys to hospitals, local churches, homeless charities, and needy families across the area.
No Idea Records puts on an annual three-day rock festival known as The Fest, typically 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. The Phoenix family is still a presence in Gainesville, with Rain Phoenix's band Papercranes and Liberty Phoenix's store, Indigo.
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.
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 Bill Cosby, who was part owner of the 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, competing in 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 40 national team championships, including two men's basketball titles, three football titles, four men's golf titles, and seven women's tennis titles.
Roughly since the 2006 founding of Grooveshark, a Gainesville-based music streaming service, Gainesville has seen an increase in the number of technology-based startup companies founded and developed in the city, particularly the downtown area. Among them are Digital Brands, SharpSpring, Fracture, Optym, and Feathr. The city celebrates Josh Greenberg Day annually in April, in honor of the late founder of Grooveshark and his contributions to the community's startup culture.
The New York Times Editing Center also resides in Gainesville.
Arbitron ranks the Gainesville-Ocala market as the nation's 83rd-largest. Thirteen radio stations are licensed to operate in the city of Gainesville--five AM stations, six commercial FM stations, and two low-power non-commercial FM stations. Three of the stations (WRUF, WRUF-FM, and WUFT-FM) are operated by broadcasting students at the University of Florida. WUFT-FM is the city's NPR member station, while the WRUF stations are operated as commercial stations.
Gainesville is the 162nd-largest television market in the nation, as measured by Nielsen Media Research. Broadcast television stations in the Gainesville market include WCJB, an ABC/CW affiliate in Gainesville; WGFL, a CBS affiliate broadcasting from High Springs; WNBW, a NBC affiliate in Gainesville; WOGX, a Fox owned-and-operated station (O&O) from Ocala; WMYG-LP, an analog MyNetworkTV affiliate broadcasting from Lake City; and WUFT, the PBS station affiliated with the University of Florida in Gainesville.
Gainesville has one cable television station called Community 12TV, which is carried on area COX systems. Community 12TV presently airs local government meetings and other public affairs programming as well as content from The Florida Channel.
Based on Eco sample plot data collected, the estimated average tree canopy cover of Gainesville is 47%