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Tallahassee At A Glance

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Tallahassee is a college city and the capital of Florida. From prehistory to European contact to United States Civil War, the city has an interesting history. Learn about this city of 182,000 and what makes it tick today.

Brief History

Mounds of the Mississippian Indians dating around 1200 AD show a thriving early population. Apalachee Indians lived here for over 1,000 years until Spanish explorers brought disease and wars nearly wiping out these early inhabitants in the early 1600s. Spanish missions built around this time were destroyed by Creek Indians and British troops in 1704. Soon after this destruction, the last of the Apalachee Indians left the area and Creek Indians (later to be known as Seminoles) from neighboring southern areas make this their home until driven out by General Andrew Jackson's invasion of Florida in 1818. The Spanish relinquished the area to the British in 1763 in a land exchange only to get it back 20 years later. The Territory of Florida was born in 1822 through a congressional act and a few years later, Tallahassee was named the county seat and state capital. The third oldest railroad in America, St. Marks, was built in 1834.

Known as the capital of the "Cotton Belt," the city was also the main center of the slave trade. Joining with the Confederates in the U.S. Civil War, the state succeeded from the Union. Four years later, Tallahassee remained the only non-captured Confederate capital in the east. After the Civil War, the economy was based on citrus, lumber, naval stores and cattle ranching. A small city until World War II, the universities and government brought increased growth while tourism and big business turned to south Florida. A failed move was made to relocate the capital to Orlando.

Recently, the city infamously recounted state ballots for the 2000 United States presidential election amid unfair voting cries that resulted in court rulings. Once a stronghold of slavery, in 2014 Tallahassee held a civil rights heritage walk that was awarded "Project of the Year for Diversity Exemplary Practices" by the state chapter of the American Public Works Association.

Here and There

Located inland in the Florida Panhandle, Tallahassee is colder and hotter than the rest of the state, reaching temperatures as hot as 100 degrees and snowing several times over the last 100 years. It is midway between St. Augustine on the east coast and Pensacola to the west. The Tallahassee Regional Airport, city-wide bus services on Star Metro, Interstate 10 and numerous state routes provide transportation avenues in/out and around the city.

People

Tallahassee's residents are about 35 percent African American, 57 percent White and 4 percent Asian. Six percent of the city's inhabitants are Hispanic. Most speak English with some Spanish and Greek also spoken.

Places

The last few years show Tallahassee ranking among the top 50 cities for livability. Tallahassee has many city neighborhoods, each with their own personality. The eclectic and affluent resident and business All Saints District is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city dating to 1858. Part of the 1824 land grant of Marquis de Lafayette, the Lafayette Park area has history and centers around the lovely park of the same name. The Smokey Hollow community honors the historic black-owned homes of the area, only two of which remain today. The Riley House and Museum is one of those homes that is now a museum honoring African-American culture and history.

Economy

As the state capital, jobs in government abound. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Marshals Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal employees have bases in Tallahassee. Various local and state government employers are also numerous. The healthcare industry and schools provide a large number of jobs for residents too.

Education

Tallahassee is the place to be for higher education in the sun. In fact, in 2007 the city was ranked No. 2 in Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine's "Top Ten College Towns for Grownups" list and again as No. 2 on Epodunk's list of medium-sized city college towns. Choose from the states premiere research institution at Florida State University or Florida A and M University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Tallahassee Community College and a score of other institutions for higher learning.

Sites and Entertainment

With two lakes (Lake Marquette and Lake Jackson) and bordering the Apalachicola National Forest to the south, nature lovers will find plenty to keep them active. See an early archaeological site of the Mississippian culture at Lake Jackson Archaeological State Park. Get a view of the U.S. Civil War at Natural Bridges Battlefield Historic State Park. Ride your bicycle, jog or walk on the St. Mark's Trail, formerly used to transport lumber. Fun local events include a pro rodeo, food truck Thursday and restaurant week.

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