Gainesville is a city located in Alachua County, Florida. With a 2020 population of 134,945, it is the 15th largest city in Florida and the 205th largest city in the United States. Gainesville is currently growing at a rate of 0.40% annually and its population has increased by 8.52% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 124,354 in 2010. Spanning over 64 miles, Gainesville has a population density of 2,140 people per square mile.
The average household income in Gainesville is $54,605 with a poverty rate of 31.44%. The median rental costs in recent years comes to $930 per month, and the median house value is $154,400. The median age in Gainesville is 26.1 years, 26.1 years for males, and 26 years for females. For every 100 females there are 90.8 males.
Gainesville is located in Alachua County, where it has been designated as the county city. The city has been ranked as one of the best places in the U.S. to live.
Gainesville Population and Labor Statistics
The University of Florida is the largest employer in the city, with over 27,000 employees. UF Health, Alachua County School Board, Gainesville Veterans Administration Medical Center, and the City of Gainesville are other top employers, providing jobs to thousands of residents.
Gainesville Population Growth
Since the census taken in 1890, Gainesville has seen nothing but growth across its population. By 1930, the city had over 10,000 residents. This number had nearly tripled by the 1950 census. The population grew significantly between 1950 and 1960, exploding from over 29,000 residents to over 64,000. By 2000, the population had nearly reached 100,000. Recent estimates show that the population has grown by 5.8% since the 2010 census. At this rate, the population will reach 150,000 soon.
The Gainesville region was originally inhabited by Paleo-Indians approximately 12,000 years ago. The European explorer Hernando de Soto passed through the area in 1539. Once the Europeans arrived, many Native Americans perished from diseases that were brought over.
The city of Gainesville was founded to serve as the Alachua County seat because of its position along the Florida Railroad Company’s route. The original proposed name of the city was Hogtown, but a settlement located near Westside Park already had this name, so the city name was adopted. This former site was later annexed in 1961.
In 1854, the public sale of lots was ordered. Two years later, a courthouse was constructed, and the following year, a well was dug and a jail was constructed. The property values during this time began to rise quickly. The city continued to grow and by the end of the 1850s, there were multiple stores and hotels.
Gainesville was incorporated as a city in 1866, but the government was weak at this time. The city was reincorporated in 1869 by order of the Florida legislature. After the Civil War, the city’s economy revolved around cotton shipping and was the leading shipping facility in the state. More railroads arrived, continuing the growth of the city. For a brief period, citrus growing became an important part of the economy but ended following freezes.
Heading into the 20th century, Gainesville became known as a rough city. Lots of violence included severe injuries and killings. This included racial violence.
In the 20th century, a new charter was requested and was granted in 1905. The borders of the city were also expanded. A bond issue was offered this year and was used to launch a sewer system and pave roads. A generating plant was built in 1914. The University of Florida had also been established by this time.
The city faced its hardships in the 20th century, including exhausting its water supply. A new well was drilled and a water tower built. Agriculture remained the dominant industry in Gainesville. It was also still a major shipping point through until a boll weevil infestation destroyed crops.
In the 1920s, a land boom occurred, and new subdivisions were developed. More schools opened, the government added a city manager, and the police force expanded. The city continued to grow. When the Great Depression hit, Gainesville wasn’t affected nearly as bad as other cities and had a lower unemployment rate than many other areas in the country. During World War II, the city continued to grow both in terms of the economy and population. The airport was updated, and the hospital was expanded, while the university was used to train military personnel. Following the war, enrollment at the University of Florida grew, bringing veterans and their families to the area.
The city continued to see a pattern of growth through the 1960s when it became known for college activism. This rose again during the 1980s. Today, the city has been named as one of the best places to live in the U.S. It is known for its low cost of living. One drawback is that with so many educated residents, the job market is quite weak and the median income falls below the national average. The city welcomes many visitors each year, who come to see the cultural facilities and festivities, historic sites and landmarks, and other attractions that Gainesville has to offer.