seat of Alachua County; area ~49 square miles;
Timucua Indians were the first
known inhabitants of the Gainesville area, while
Spanish colonial cattle ranchers were the first
The first permanent settlement
on the site was established along the Florida
Railroad Company's line about 1830. It was named
for General Edmund P. Gaines, a figure of the War of 1812
and commander of U.S. Army troops in Florida
during the Second Seminole War. The city became
the seat of Alachua County in 1854.
Gainesville was the scene of
small-scale fighting in the Civil War. On
February 15, 1864, about fifty Union troops
entered the city intending to capture two trains.
The Second Florida Cavalry successfully repulsed
the raid; the raiding party was subsequently
defeated at the Battle of Olustee on February 19.
On August 17, 1864, three hundred Union troops
occupying the city were attacked by the Florida
Cavalry. The Battle of Gainesville resulted in
the Union troops being driven out of town after
suffering significant casualties.
After the war, Gainesville
prospered as a major citrus growing and shipping
center. The prosperity ended, however, when the
great freezes of 1894 and 1899 destroyed entire
orchards. The citrus industry moved south to the
Orlando area, and Gainesville's future seemed
The city's fortunes took a
major turn for the better when the University of
Florida was created by the Florida Legislature in
1905. Gainesville was chosen as the site for the
university, and the first classes were held at
Buckman Hall in the fall of 1906.
The University of Florida is a
principal contributor to the Gainesville economy.
Other industries include production and
transportation of beef cattle, poultry, and
lumber. Chief manufactures include sporting
goods, batteries, electronic parts, and plastics.
Being located almost exactly
half way between Atlanta and Miami (five hours
either way), Gainesville is an important stop for
Gainesville is served by the
School Board of Alachua County.
The University of Florida is
the fourth-largest university in the United
States. Santa Fe Community College, one of the
nation's largest community colleges, is also
Dozens of examples of restored
Victorian and Queen Anne style residences
constructed during the city's agricultural
heydays of the 1880's and 1890's are listed on
the National Register of Historic Places, as are
several commercial structures.
Cultural attractions include
the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Harn
Museum of Art, the Hippodrome State Theatre, the
Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing
Arts, The Civic Media Center, and Kanapaha
Gainesville Raceway hosts one
of the largest national events on the NHRA
circuit every March -- the Gatornationals.
Gatorade was invented
in Gainesville as a means of refreshing the
University of Florida football team. The
university still receives a share of the profits
from sales of the drink.
City of Gainesville www.cityofgainesville.org
Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce
War of 1812
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