Leon County Courthouse
Location within the U.S. state of Florida
Florida's location within the U.S.
|Founded||December 29, 1824|
|Named for||Juan Ponce de León|
|o Total||702 sq mi (1,820 km2)|
|o Land||667 sq mi (1,730 km2)|
|o Water||35 sq mi (90 km2) 5.0%%|
| o Estimate |
|o Density||435/sq mi (168/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
|Congressional districts||2nd, 5th|
Leon County is included in the Tallahassee metropolitan area. Tallahassee is home to two of Florida's major public universities, Florida State University and Florida A&M University, as well as Tallahassee Community College. Together these institutions have a combined enrollment of more than 70,000 students annually, creating both economic and social effects.
The United States finally acquired this territory in the nineteenth century. In the 1830s, it attempted to conduct Indian Removal of the Seminole and Creek peoples, who had migrated south to escape European-American encroachment in Georgia and Alabama. After many Seminole were forcibly removed from the area or moved south to the Everglades during the Seminole Wars, planters developed cotton plantations based on enslaved labor.
By the 1850s and 1860s, Leon County had become part of the "cotton kingdom" of the Deep South. It ranked fifth of all Florida and Georgia counties in the production of cotton from the 20 major plantations. Uniquely among Confederate capitals east of the Mississippi River, in the American Civil War Tallahassee was never captured by Union forces. No Union soldiers set foot in Leon County until the Reconstruction Era.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 702 square miles (1,820 km2), of which 667 square miles (1,730 km2) are land and 35 square miles (91 km2) (5.0%) are water. Unlike much of Florida, most of Leon County has rolling hills, part of north Florida's Red Hills Region. The highest point is 280 feet (85 m), located in the northern part of the county.
Leon County encompasses basement rock composed of basalts of the Triassic and Jurassic from ~251--145 million years ago interlayered with Mesozoic sedimentary rocks. The layers above the basement are carbonate rock created from dying foraminifera, bryozoa, mollusks, and corals from as early as the Paleocene, a period of ~66--55.8 Ma.
During the Eocene (~55.8--33.9 Ma) and Oligocene (~33.9--23 Ma), the Appalachian Mountains began to uplift and the erosion rate increased enough to fill the Gulf Trough with quartz sands, silts, and clays via rivers and streams. The first sedimentation layer in Leon County is the Oligocene Suwannee Limestone in the southeastern part of the county as stated by the United States Geological Survey and Florida Geological Survey.
Sediments were laid down from the Pleistocene epoch (~2.588 million--12 000 years ago) through Holocene epoch (~12,000--present) and are designated Beach ridge and trail and undifferentiated sediments.
During the Pleistocene, what would be Leon County emerged and submerged with each glacial and interglacial period. Interglacials created the topography of Leon as it is known now.
Three sites within Leon County have yielded fossil remnants of the Miocene epoch. The popflock.com resource article, "Leon County, Florida paleontological sites", provides more information about the Griscom Plantation Site, Seaboard Air Line Railroad Site, and Tallahassee Waterworks Site. It identifies fossils found at these sites by genus and species.
As of the census of 2010, there were 275,487 people, and 108,592 households residing in the county. The population density was 413.2 people per square mile (159.5/km²). There were 123,423 housing units at an average density of 185 per square mile (71.4/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 63.0% White, 30.3% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 2.9% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, and 2.2% from two or more races. 5.6% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 108,592 households out of which 24.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.9% were married couples living together, 13.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.8% were non-families. 31.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.92.
In the county, the population was spread out with 20.0% under the age of 18, 26.3% from 18 to 24, 22.7% from 25 to 44, 22.4% from 45 to 64, and 8.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 27.8 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.57 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.03 males.
The adult citizens of Leon County enjoy the highest level of education in the state of Florida followed by Alachua County with a total of 67.8%.
Source of above:
The median income for a household in the county was $37,517, and the median income for a family was $52,962. Males had a median income of $35,235 versus $28,110 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,024. About 9.40% of families and 18.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.20% of those under age 18 and 8.20% of those age 65 or over.
Following Reconstruction, white Democrats regained power in Leon County and voters have historically voted for Democratic Party candidates at the national level. Tallahassee is one of the few cities in the South known for progressive activism.
The county has voted Democratic in 24 out of the past 29 presidential elections since 1904. (Until the late 1960s, blacks were essentially disenfranchised in Florida and other Southern states.) Since the civil rights era, Tallahassee has elected black mayors and black state representatives. Its political affiliations likely draw from the high number of students, staff, and faculty associated with Florida State University, Florida A&M University, and Tallahassee Community College in Tallahassee, as well as the concentration of government employees in the capital city.
As of December 2, 2018, there were 112,572 Democrats, 58,083 Republicans, and 44,007 with other affiliations out of a total of 214,662 voters in Leon County.
Rep. Loranne Ausley (D), District 9, represents the northern half of Leon County, including most of Tallahassee. Rep. Jason Shoaf (R), District 7, represents the southern portion of the county. Shoaf was elected a special election. Rep. Ramon Alexander (D), District 8, represents a west-central portion of the county.
All of Leon County is represented by Bill Montford (D), District 3 in the Florida Senate.
Leon County is part of two congressional districts. The northern and eastern portion of Leon County, including 61% of Tallahassee, is part of the 5th Congressional District, a minority-majority district that extends across northern Florida. It is represented by Al Lawson (D). The remainder of the county (the southeastern corner and 39% of Tallahassee), is part of the 2nd Congressional District, which has a white majority and is represented by Neal Dunn (R).
Voters of Leon County have gone to the polls four times to vote on consolidation of Tallahassee and Leon County governments into one jurisdiction. This proposal would combine police and other city services with the already shared (consolidated) Tallahassee Fire Department, Tallahassee/Leon County Planning Department, and Leon County Emergency Medical Services. Tallahassee's city limits would (at current size) increase from 98.2 square miles (254 km2) to 702 square miles (1,820 km2). Roughly 36 percent of Leon County's 250,000 residents live outside the Tallahassee city limits.
The proponents of consolidation have stated that the new jurisdiction would attract business by its very size. Merging of governments would cut government waste, duplication of services, etc. However, Professor Richard Feiock of Florida State University said in a 2007 study that he could not conclude that consolidation would benefit the local economy.
The Leon County Sheriff's Office provides police patrol, detective service, court protection, coroner service, and county prison operation for the unincorporated part of Leon County. Fire and Emergency medical services are provided by the Tallahassee Fire Department and Leon County Emergency Medical Services respectively.
Tallahassee is the only incorporated municipality within Leon County. Its policing is provided by the Tallahassee Police Department. Established in 1826, TPD is recognized as being the third-longest accredited law enforcement agency in the country.
Florida State University (commonly referred to as Florida State or FSU) is an American public space-grant and sea-grant research university. Florida State is located on a 1,391.54-acre (5.631-sq km) campus in the state capital of Tallahassee, Florida, United States. In 2017, it had nearly 42,000 students.
The university is classified as a Research University with Very High Research by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university comprises 16 separate colleges and more than 110 centers, facilities, labs and institutes that offer more than 360 programs of study, including professional school programs. The university has an annual budget of over $1.7 billion. Florida State is home to Florida's only National Laboratory - the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory and is the birthplace of the commercially viable anti-cancer drug Taxol. Florida State University also operates The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the State Art Museum of Florida and one of the largest museum/university complexes in the nation.
The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Florida State University is home to nationally ranked programs in many academic areas, including law, business, engineering, medicine, social policy, film, music, theater, dance, visual art, political science, psychology, social work, and the sciences. Florida State University leads Florida in four of eight areas of external funding for the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
Florida Governor Rick Scott and the state legislature designated Florida State University as one of two "preeminent" state universities in the spring of 2013 among the twelve universities of the State University System of Florida.
FSU's intercollegiate sports teams, commonly known by their Florida State Seminoles nickname, compete in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I and the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). The Florida State Seminoles athletics program are favorites of passionate students, fans and alumni across the United States, especially when led by the Marching Chiefs of the Florida State University College of Music. In their 113-year history, Florida State's varsity sports teams have won 20 national athletic championships and Seminole athletes have won 78 individual NCAA national championships.
Founded on October 3, 1887, Florida A&M University (FAMU) is a public, historically black university that is part of the State University System of Florida and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. FAMU's main campus comprises 156 buildings spread over 422 acres (1.7 km2) on top of the highest geographic hill of Tallahassee. In 2016 it had more than 9600 students. The university also has several satellite campuses. Its College of Law is located at its site in Orlando, and its pharmacy program has sites in Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa. Florida A&M University offers 54 bachelor's degrees and 29 master's degrees. The university has 12 schools and colleges and one institute.
FAMU has 11 doctoral programs, which include 10 Ph.D. programs: chemical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, industrial engineering, biomedical engineering, physics, pharmaceutical sciences, educational leadership, and environmental sciences. Top undergraduate programs are architecture, journalism, computer information sciences, and psychology. FAMU's top graduate programs include pharmaceutical sciences, along with public health, physical therapy, engineering, physics, master's of applied social sciences (especially history and public administration), business, and sociology.
Tallahassee Community College (TCC) is a member of the Florida College System. Tallahassee Community College is accredited by the Florida Department of Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Its primary campus is located on a 270-acre (1.092 km2) campus in Tallahassee. The institution was founded in 1966 by the Florida Legislature.
TCC offers Bachelor's of Science, Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, and Associate of Applied Sciences degrees. In 2013, Tallahassee Community College was listed 1st in the nation in graduating students with A.A. degrees. TCC is also the #1 transfer school in the nation to Florida State University. As of Fall 2015, TCC reported 38,017 students.
In partnership with Florida State University, Tallahassee Community College offers the TCC2FSU program. This program provides guaranteed admission into Florida State University for TCC Associate in Arts degree graduates.
Public schools in Leon County are administered and under the operation of the Leon County School District. LCS is operated by a superintendent, 5 board members, and 1 Student Representative. There are:
Leon County has 7 branches that serve the area.
The official name of the library system is the LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Libraries System. The name was changed on September 17, 1993 from the original name of the Leon County Public Library in honor of LeRoy Collins, the 33rd Governor of Florida.
The Carnegie Library of Tallahassee provided library services to the black community prior to desegregation. This library was the first and only public library in the city of Tallahassee until 1955. The philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie offered the city of Tallahassee money to build a public library in 1906. According to an article written in Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, The library was built on the campus of Florida A&M University because the city refused the donation based on the fact that it would have to serve the black citizens. "The facility boasted modern amenities such as electricity, indoor plumbing and water supplied by the city. In later years, the Library served as an art gallery, religious center, and in 1976, became the founding home of the Black Archives Research Center and Museum. By functioning both as a repository for archival records and a museum for historical regalia, the center continues to render academic support to educational institutions, civic, political, religious and Museum. By functioning both as a repository for archival records and a museum for historical regalia, the center continues to render academic support to educational institutions, civic, political, religious and social groups, as well as, public and private businesses throughout Florida and the nation." The building was designed by noted architect William Augustus Edwards and was built in 1908. On November 17, 1978, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
The Carnegie Library of Tallahassee which only served the black community became the only free public library in the city until 1955. According to the Leon County Public Library's website, the American Association of University Women formed the Friends of the Library organization in 1954. The formation of the Friends of the Library was in direct response to the fact that "Tallahassee was the only state capital in the United States not offering free public library service."  One year later, the library was established in May by legislative action and was developed by citizens and civic groups. In 1956 the first Leon County free public library opened on March 21. The first building used to house the library was The Columns, one of the oldest remaining antebellum homes in the Leon County area located at Park Avenue and Adams street (the building today is home of the James Madison Institute).
In order to expand library services the Junior League of Tallahassee donated a bookmobile to the library. The vehicle was later donated to the Leon County Sheriff's Office to be used as a paddy wagon for its Road Prison. In 1962 the library moved to the old Elks Club building at 127 North Monroe Street. Public transit in the city of Tallahassee was desegregated by 1958, yet it would several more years before the public library system would experience integration.
In the early 70's Jefferson and Wakulla counties joined the Leon County Public Library System, forming the Leon, Jefferson, and Wakulla County Public Library System. According to the library's web site, "Leon County provided administrative and other services to the two smaller counties, while each supported the direct costs of their library services and their share of Leon's administrative costs." In 1975 the system started a branch library in the Bond community, a predominantly black community on the city's Southside. Wakulla County left the library cooperative in 1975 to start its own library system and in 1978 the main library moved to a location in Tallahassee's Northwood Mall. Jefferson County left the library cooperative in 1980 and the library reverted to the Leon County Public Library. In 1989 "ground breaking was held on March 4 for a new $8.5 million main library facility with 88,000 feet of space. The site was next door to the library's original home, The Columns, which had been moved in 1971 to 100 N. Duval." The new library had its grand opening in 1991 and was renamed in 1993 in honor of former Governor LeRoy Collins.