| United States of America|
62.4 sq mi
| Devils Millhopper Geological State Park, Florida Museum of Natural History, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo|
University of Florida, Santa Fe College, Florida School of Massage, Academy For Five Element Acupuncture, Dragon Rises College of Oriental Medicine
Gainesville is the county seat and largest city in Alachua County, Florida, and the principal city of the Gainesville, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The population of Gainesville in the 2013 US Census was 127,488, a 2.4% growth from 2010. Gainesville is the largest city in the region of North Central Florida.
Gainesville is home to the University of Florida, the nations eighth largest university campus by enrollment, as well as to Santa Fe College. The Gainesville MSA was ranked as the #1 place to live in North America in the 2007 edition of Cities Ranked and Rated. Also in 2007, Gainesville was ranked as one of the "best places to live and play" in the United States by National Geographic Adventure. Gainesville was ranked as the "5th meanest city" in the United States by the National Coalition for the Homeless twice, first in 2004 for its criminalization of homelessness and then in 2009 for its ordinance restricting soup kitchens to 130 meals a day.
Circa 12,000 years ago Paleo-Indians lived in Florida, but fewer than 100 sites have been found. Although it is not known for certain whether any permanent settlements from that period were in the present city limits of Gainesville, archeological evidence of human presence exists. With the end of the ice age to the north, sea levels rose so that coastal Florida became inundated and Floridas land mass shrank while the southeastern United States became wetter than it had been, so the Paleo-Indians required fewer moves between water spots and more populous camps inhabited for longer periods of time emerged; among the spots where camps from this later period have been found is around Paynes Prairie very close to Gainesville.
Eventually more complex social organization and agricultural practices emerged into what archeologists classify as the Deptford culture (2500 ? 100 BC). A Deptford culture campsite has been excavated beneath the subsequent Alachua culture "Law School Burial Mound" on the grounds of the University of Florida. Around the 1st century AD, Deptford people commenced moving into the environs of Gainesville to take advantage of wetlands in the environs of Paynes Prairie and northern Orange Lake, becoming the Cades Pond culture.
In the 7th century the Deptford people were displaced by migrants thought to be from the Ocmulgee culture of the river valleys of southern Georgia, dubbed the Alachua culture since most of their villages have been found in present-day Alachua County. The UF campus burial mound was built about 1000 A.D. by Alachua culture inhabitants who probably lived along the shore of Lake Alice.
Alachua culture villages budded off to form clusters connected by a series of forest trails, many of which are still in use as paved roads; among these clusters are some in the present city limits of Gainesville near the Devils Millhopper and near Moon Lake (the eastern shore of which is 0.4 miles (0.64 km) from the city limits) as well as northwest of and north-central of Paynes Prairie, and west of Newnans Lake.
In the recorded period, the region was home to the Potano, a Timucua chiefdom descended from Alachua culture people (the town of Potano was in what is now the San Felasco Hammock northwest of Gainesville).
Gainesville is located at 29°3955" North, 82°2010" West (29.665245, ?82.336097), which is roughly the same latitude as Houston, Texas. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 62.4 square miles (161.6 km2), of which 61.3 square miles (158.8 km2) is land and 1.1 square miles (2.8 km2) is water. The total area is 1.74% water.
Gainesvilles tree canopy is both dense and species rich, including broadleaf evergreens, conifers, and deciduous species; the city has been recognized by the National Arbor Day Foundation every year since 1982 as a "Tree City, USA".
Gainesville is the only city with more than 10,000 residents in the Gainesville, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area (Alachua and Gilchrist counties), and it is surrounded by rural area, including the 21,000-acre (8,500 ha) wilderness of Paynes Prairie on its southern edge. The city is characterized by its medium size and central location, about 90 minutes driving time from either Jacksonville or Orlando, two hours driving time from Tampa, and five hours driving time from either Atlanta or Miami. The area is dominated by the presence of the University of Florida, which in 2008 had been the third largest university campus in the USA and as of fall 2011 was the seventh largest campus by enrollment in the USA.
Numerous guides such as the 2004 book Cities Ranked and Rated: More than 400 Metropolitan Areas Evaluated in the U.S. and Canada have mentioned Gainesvilles low cost of living. The restaurants near the University of Florida also tend to be inexpensive. The property taxes are high to offset the cost of the university, as the universitys land is tax-exempt. However, the median home cost remains slightly below the national average, and Gainesville residents, like all Floridians, do not pay state income taxes.
Gainesville is known as a supporter of the visual arts. Each year, two large art festivals attract artists and visitors from all over the southeastern United States.
Cultural facilities include the Florida Museum of Natural History, Harn Museum of Art, the Hippodrome State Theatre, and the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Smaller theaters include the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre (ART) and the Gainesville Community Playhouse (GCP). GCP is the oldest community theater group in Florida; in 2006, it christened a new theater building.
The presence of a major university enhances the citys opportunities for cultural lifestyles. The University of Florida College of Fine Arts is the umbrella college for the School of Music, School of Theatre and Dance, School of Art and Art History, and a number of other programs and centers including The University Galleries, the Center for World Art, and Digital Worlds. Collectively, the College offers many performance events and artist/lecture opportunities for students and the greater Gainesville community, the majority of which are offered at little or no cost.
Since 1989, Gainesville has been home to Theatre Strike Force, the University of Floridas premier improv troupe. In addition Gainesville also plays host to several sketch comedy troupes and stand-up comedians.
In April 2003, Gainesville became known as the "Healthiest Community in America" when it achieved the only "Gold Well City" award given by the Wellness Councils of America (WELCOA). Headed up by Gainesville Health & Fitness Centers, and with the support of Shands HealthCare and the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, 21 businesses comprising 60 percent of the city’s workforce became involved in the "Gold Well City" effort. As of July 2011, Gainesville remained the only city in the country to reach the achievement.
The counties surrounding Alachua County vote strongly Republican, while Alachua County votes strongly Democratic. In the 2008 election, there was a 22% gap in votes in Alachua County between Barack Obama and John McCain, while the remaining eleven candidates on the ballot and write-in votes received approximately 1.46% of the vote.