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the seat of Marion County and home to approximately 48,900 people
Ocala was established in 1846, near the site of Fort King, a military outpost of the Seminole Wars. In 1853, the State of Florida chose Ocala as the site of the East Florida Seminary, the first state-accredited educational institution in Florida and the predecessor to the University of Florida. The railroad reached the city in 1881.
On Thanksgiving Day 1883, much of downtown Ocala was destroyed by fire. Buildings were rebuilt with brick, granite, and steel, and by 1888 Ocala was known state-wide as "The Brick City."
In December 1890, the Farmers' Alliance and Industrial Union helds its national convention in Ocala. At the convention, delegates adopted a platform that included abolition of national banks, low-interest government loans, free and unlimited coinage of silver, reclamation of excess railroad lands by the federal government, a graduated income tax, and direct election of U.S. Senators. Much of this platform later became part of the Populist Party's platform.
In 1956, Needles became the first Florida-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby. In 1978, Marion County-bred and -raised Affirmed won the Triple Crown. Today, the Ocala area is one of the major Thoroughbred centers of the world, with over 600 internationally recognized horse farms, earning it the nickname "Horse Country."
Major employers in Ocala include: Emergency One, fire rescue vehicle manufacturer; Closet Maid, vinyl-coated shelving manufacturer; Cingular Wireless Call Center; K-Mart Distribution Center; Mark IV, automotive hoses; and Lockheed Martin, circuit boards.
Ocala is home to Webster College and Central Florida Community College.
Sites and Attractions
Ocala is known for being the "gateway" to Ocala National Forest, the second-largest national forest in the state. Silver Springs, one of the largest artesian spring formations in the world and one of the earliest tourist attractions in Florida, is also located nearby.
Cultural attractions include the Appleton Museum of Art and the Ocala Civic Theatre.
Several structures in Ocala are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and many historic homes are preserved in Ocala's large residential Historic District.
Ocala was named an All-America City in 1995.
Ocala is a Timucua word of unknown meaning.
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This page was last updated on June 22, 2017.