Gainesville is the county seat of, and the largest city in, Alachua County, Florida, and is the largest city in North Central Florida. Gainesville is home to the University of Florida, the fifth-largest public university campus by enrollment Gainesville’s 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”. A 2016 ecological assessment indicates Gainesville’s urban tree canopy covers 47 percent of its land area.in the United States. Gainesville is surrounded by rural area, including the 21,000-acre 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 from Tampa, and five hours from either Atlanta or Miami. The area is dominated by the University of Florida.
The city’s flora and fauna are also distinct from coastal regions of the state, and include many deciduous species, such as dogwood, maple, hickory and sweet gum, alongside palms, live oaks, and other evergreens. Thus the city enjoys brief periods of fall color in late November and December and a noticeable, prolonged spring from mid-February through early April. This is a generally pleasant period, as colorful blooms of azalea and redbud complement a cloudless blue sky, for this is also the period of the lowest precipitation and lowest humidity. The city averages 47.33 inches of rain per year, earning it the nickname “Rainesville”. June through September accounts for a majority of annual rainfall, while autumn and early winter is the driest period.
The Florida Gators is the varsity team of the University of Florida, competing in the Southeastern Conference of the National Collegiate Athletic Association since 1933. It has been ranked in the top 10 in the NACDA ranking since the 1983–84 season. It has won 40 national team championships, including two men’s basketball titles, three football titles, four men’s golf titles, and seven women’s tennis titles.
The sports drink Gatorade was invented in Gainesville in the 1960s as a means of refreshing the UF football team. UF still receives a share of the profits from the beverage, but Gatorade’s headquarters are now in Chicago.
Gainesville is well known for its music scene and has spawned a number of bands and musicians, including Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Stephen Stills, Don Felder and Bernie Leadon of The Eagles, Charles Bradley, Less Than Jake, Sister Hazel, and For Squirrels. It is also the location of independent labels No Idea Records and Elestial Sound, and the former home of Plan-It-X Records.
Between 1987 and 1998, Gainesville had a very active rock music scene, with Hollywood star River Phoenix having the local club Hardback Cafe as his main base. Phoenix’s band Aleka’s Attic was a constant feature of the rock scene. The Phoenix family is still a presence in Gainesville, with Rain Phoenix’s band Papercranes and Liberty Phoenix’s store, Indigo.
Gainesville is still known for its strong music community and was named “Best Place to Start a Band in the United States” by Blender magazine in March 2008. The article cited the large student population, cheap rent, and friendly venues.
Gainesville’s reputation as an independent music mecca can be traced back to 1984 when a local music video station was brought on the air. The station was called TV-69, broadcast on UHF 69 and was owned by Cozzin Communications. The channel drew considerable media attention thanks to its promotion by Bill Cosby, who was part owner of the station when it started. TV-69 featured many videos by punk and indie-label bands and had several locally produced videos (“Clone Love” by a local parody band, and a Dinosaur Jr. song).
Opened in 1969, the Gainesville Raceway is a dragstrip that hosts the Gatornationals, one of the four NHRA major races.
Roughly since the 2006 founding of Grooveshark, a Gainesville-based music streaming service, Gainesville has seen an increase in the number of technology-based startup companies founded and developed in the city, particularly the downtown area. Among them are Digital Brands, SharpSpring, Fracture, Optym, and Feathr. The city celebrates Josh Greenberg Day annually in April, in honor of the late founder of Grooveshark and his contributions to the community’s startup culture.
Gainesville heavily promoted solar power by creating the first feed-in tariff (FIT) in the United States. The FIT allowed small businesses and homeowners to supply electricity into the municipal power grid and paid a premium for the clean, on-site generated solar electricity. The FIT ended in 2013, but the city is still seen as a leader in solar power. This increase in solar installations put Gainesville at number 5 in the world in solar installed per capita, beating Japan, France, China and all of the US.
Gainesville is served by The Gainesville Sun and The Independent Florida Alligator, the student newspaper for the University of Florida and Santa Fe College. The New York Times Editing Center also resides in Gainesville.
Gainesville’s Points of interest include:
34th Street Wall
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field
Civic Media Center
Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park
Florida Museum of Natural History, including the Butterfly Rainforest exhibit
Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail State Park
Harn Museum of Art
Hippodrome State Theatre
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Ichetucknee Springs State Park
Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park
Morningside Nature Center
The Oaks Mall
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park
Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo
Stephen C. O’Connell Center
William Reuben Thomas Center
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