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20 Facts About Gainesville, FL

Paul first visited Gainesville in 2007. Three years later he relocated to the city and has been living there ever since.

University Avenue in downtown Gainesville, where you will find plenty of bars and restaurants.  The city is also home to colleges, theaters, sports stadia, and a planetarium.

University Avenue in downtown Gainesville, where you will find plenty of bars and restaurants. The city is also home to colleges, theaters, sports stadia, and a planetarium.

Located in north central Florida, Gainesville is probably most famous for being home to the University of Florida and the Gator sports teams. However, there are many other interesting things about the city.

20 Gainesville Facts

  1. Gainesville is the largest city in Alachua County.
  2. The city's population was estimated at 133,857 in 2018.
  3. The University of Florida is the 6th largest university campus by enrollment.
  4. UF sports teams are commonly known as "Florida Gators".
  5. The climate of the city is humid subtropical.
  6. 2007 edition of Cities Ranked and Rated ranked Gainesville the number one place to live in the USA.
  7. Santa Fe College was ranked the 11th best community college by the New York Times.
  8. Gainesville is within easy driving distance of Jacksonville, Tampa, and Orlando.
  9. Gatorade was developed at the University of Florida.
  10. Gainesville is famous for its music scene, successful associated acts include Tom Petty and Stephen Stills.
  11. The Phoenix family, famous for their movie acting and musical offspring have strong connections with the city.
  12. The city has twice been ranked the 5th meanest city in the USA for its treatment of homeless people.
  13. The Devil’s Millhopper is a deep limestone sinkhole in the Gainesville.
  14. The Florida Museum of Natural History is the oldest natural history museum in the state.
  15. The Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art is one of the largest art museums in the southeast.
  16. The city has a strain of marijuana named after it, known as "Gainesville Green."
  17. The Lake Alice wildlife area on the UF campus provides public access to alligators, birds, and other wildlife.
  18. The city attracted unwelcome international attention in 2010 and 2011 when a local church organized a Koran-burning event.
  19. College activism was so rampant in the 1960s, the city was nicknamed "The Berkeley of the South".
  20. As well as having large numbers of young people, many older people are drawn to the city by the local Shands Hospital.

I will explain each of the facts in more detail below.

The Hippodrome State Theater, sometimes referred to locally as the "Hipp".  Built in 1911, the building previously served as a post office and a courthouse, before becoming a theater in 1973.

The Hippodrome State Theater, sometimes referred to locally as the "Hipp". Built in 1911, the building previously served as a post office and a courthouse, before becoming a theater in 1973.

1. Gainesville is the largest city in Alachua County, both in terms of population and area covered. It is also the county seat. The city occupies an area of 62.4 square miles (161.6 km2).

2. The Gainesville population, according to a 2018 US Census estimate was 133,857, a 7.6% increase from 2010. It is the only city with a population above 10,000 in the Gainesville, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area (Alachua and Gilchrist counties).

3. The University of Florida, which is located in the city, is the 6th largest university campus by enrollment in the USA. It is also the largest and oldest university in the state.

4. The UF sports teams are commonly known as "Florida Gators" and represent the college in many sports, including football, basketball, gymnastics, and baseball.

The University Century Tower, built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of university.  It also serves as a tribute to the alumni who died in the two world wars.

The University Century Tower, built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of university. It also serves as a tribute to the alumni who died in the two world wars.

5. The Gainesville climate is humid subtropical. It has mild winters and warm and humid summers. The average June high temperature is 89 F and the average January high temperature is 65 F. From June through to September, afternoon thunderstorms are a common occurrence.

6. The 2007 edition of Cities Ranked and Rated placed the Gainesville Metropolitan Statistical Area the number one place to live in the USA. National Geographic Adventure also ranked the city was as one of the "best places to live and play" in 2007.

7. Santa Fe College has more than 17,000 students and was ranked the 11th best community college by the New York Times. In 2015 it received the Aspen Award against national competition, for Community College Excellence.

8. There are three major cities within a two hour drive of Gainesville: Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville. The cities of Atlanta and Miami are around five hours drive away.

9. The sports drink, Gatorade was developed in 1965 at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Its inventor was university professor, Robert Cade. The drink was developed to help the college's athletes by replenishing lost carbohydrates and using water and electrolytes to replace those lost in sweat during sport activities.

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10. Gainesville is famous for its music scene and has produced numerous successful acts over the years, including Tom Petty and Stephen Stills. Bernie Leadon and Don Felder from The Eagles also have connections with the city.

11. The Phoenix family, famous for their movie acting and musical offspring, River, Rain, Joaquin, Liberty and Summer, have had a presence in Gainesville for many years.

River Phoenix.  The acting and musical Phoenix family have had strong associations with the city over many years.

River Phoenix. The acting and musical Phoenix family have had strong associations with the city over many years.

12. The National Coalition for the Homeless has ranked Gainesville the 5th meanest city in the USA on two occasions. The first time was in 2004 for criminalizing homelessness and second time was in 2009 for imposing restrictions on soup kitchens.

13. The Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park in Gainesville is home to a limestone sinkhole. The place gets its name from having a similar appearance to the hopper of a mill, as well as having animal bones in its basin, which legend has it were from creatures who had entered the sinkhole to meet the devil.

The city has numerous attractive state parks for public use.  The Devil's Millhopper is a giant ancient sinkhole that can be descended via a boardwalk.

The city has numerous attractive state parks for public use. The Devil's Millhopper is a giant ancient sinkhole that can be descended via a boardwalk.

14. The Florida Museum of Natural History is the state’s official natural history museum. It was founded in 1891 and relocated to the University of Florida campus in 1906.

15. The Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art was established in 1990 and houses more than 7,000 works, focusing on African, Asian, modern and contemporary art, plus photography. It is one of the largest university art museums in the Southeast.

16. The city has a strain of marijuana named after it, known as "Gainesville Green." It is renowned amongst smokers for being particularly potent. At its most popular during the 1970's, it was considered superior to rival Mexican and Jamaican strains.

17. Alligators, birds, and other wildlife can be seen in Gainesville at the Lake Alice wildlife area, which is on the University of Florida campus. There are also two bat houses nearby.

Young alligator shows his teeth at Lake Alice, Gainesville, Florida.  The Lake is located on the university campus.  It is common to see alligators, Florida softshell turtles and many bird types there.  There are also bat houses not far from the lake

Young alligator shows his teeth at Lake Alice, Gainesville, Florida. The Lake is located on the university campus. It is common to see alligators, Florida softshell turtles and many bird types there. There are also bat houses not far from the lake

Bats emerging from the UF bat houses at sunset.  There was originally only one bat house, but due in part to overpopulation, it collapsed.  The original bat house was restored and another was built beside it.

Bats emerging from the UF bat houses at sunset. There was originally only one bat house, but due in part to overpopulation, it collapsed. The original bat house was restored and another was built beside it.

18. The city attracted unwelcome national and international attention in 2010 and 2011 when the Dove World Outreach Center, a local church organized and advertised a Koran-burning event.

Terry Jones, pastor of Dove World Outreach Center, who first attained national and international attention in 2010 for his scheme to burn Korans on the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.  He and his group left Gainesville in 2013.

Terry Jones, pastor of Dove World Outreach Center, who first attained national and international attention in 2010 for his scheme to burn Korans on the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. He and his group left Gainesville in 2013.

19. The city was a center for college activism in the 1960s and was once described as being the "The Berkeley of the South" by a former UF political science professor.

20. As well as having large numbers of young people, Gainesville has also become a popular place for older people to retire to in recent years, due in part to the quality of healthcare provided by the local Shands Hospital.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Paul Goodman

Comments

Paul Goodman from Florida USA on June 19, 2012:

I love Gainesville. Okay, it's not a huge city, but there is still plenty going on.