of Marion County and home to approximately 48,900
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
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
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.
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
Cultural attractions include
the Appleton Museum of Art and the Ocala Civic
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.
City of Ocala www.ocalafl.org
Ocala Marion County Chamber of Commerce
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