History of Tallahassee
The name Tallahassee derives from a Muskogean word meaning “old fields.” The Apalachee tribes had a town called Anhaica in the area of the present-day Tallahassee. In the winter of 1538 members of Hernando de Soto expedition arrived to the town and celebrated what is now believed to be the first Christmas in the United States. Throughout the 17th century, many missions were established in the territory of the Apalachee. The main purpose of the missions was to provide labor and supplies for St. Augustine colony. Tallahassee was chosen as the capital of Florida because it was situated at equal distances from the capitals of Spanish colonies of East Florida and West Florida. At the time, Tallahassee was abandoned and the third legislative session of Florida (the first one to be held in Tallahassee) was actually held in a simple log building. This was in 1824. Afterwards, during Florida’s territorial era, Tallahassee began growing and developing into a proper town. A new capitol was built in 1845. The building is today known as “the Old Capitol” since it was replaced in 1970 by a modern high rise building.
Tallahassee was the center of the Cotton Belt and a major slave trade center. It was the only Confederate capital that was not captured by the Union forces during the American Civil War. In the 19th century the city started establishing itself as an important university town with the foundation of the first institutions of the future Florida State University.
After the Civil War, most of the Florida economy moved to southern and eastern regions of the state. The abolition of slavery greatly affected the cotton and tobacco-based economy and the city shifted to other products, mainly citrus, lumber and cattle, as well as tourism and naval stores. The former plantations were purchased by wealthy northerners who used them as hunting preserves.
Tallahassee remained a small southern town until the 1950s. Most of its economy relied on education and government. In 1960s there was a lot of talk about moving the capital to Orlando but Tallahassee remained the state capital and its status was permanently confirmed in 1977 with the construction of the new capitol building, the third-tallest one in the USA.
The city was in the center of international attention for several weeks during the 2000 presidential elections that involved certain controversies and a long process of counting and recounting the ballots.
Tallahassee Geography and Climate
Tallahassee is located in the southern portion of the Red Hills Region, above Cody Sharp, and its area is much hillier than the rest of the state. There are two lake basins within the city limits - Lake Jackson and Lake Lafayette. The northern boundary of the Apalachicola National Forest is located just outside the city. The climate in Tallahassee is humid subtropical. The summers are long and hot and the winters are mild and short.
As of 2010, the population of Tallahassee consists of 57.4% Whites, 35% Blacks, 6.3% Hispanics or Latinos, 3.7% Asians, 0.2% Native Americans, 0.1% Pacific Islanders, 2.3% of two or more races and 1.3% of some other race. The residents of Leon County (including Tallahassee) are the most highly educated in Florida.
Politically, Tallahassee was always a traditionally Democratic city, also well-known for left-wing activism, which is rare in the South.
As for the economy, like in many other state capitals in the USA, state government is the largest employer in Tallahassee. In addition, the city is considered to be the agricultural and trading center of the Florida Panhandle. High-tech and manufacture industry are currently growing very fast. In addition to state government and institutions of higher education, the largest employers in Tallahassee include General Dynamics Land Systems, Municipal Code Corporation, Florida Bar, Florida Chamber of Commerce and the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.
Education and Culture
The largest and the most important institution of higher education in Tallahassee is the Florida State University, the flagship university of the State University System of Florida. Florida State consists of 15 colleges and 39 centers, labs and facilities. Other large schools in the city include Tallahassee Community College and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.
Tallahassee hosts a number of annual events and festivals, such as Tallahassee Wine and Food Festival, Greek Food Festival, Springtime Tallahassee, Southern Shakespeare Festival and Downtown Getdown. Some of the places of interest for locals and tourists include Tallahassee Antique Car Museum, Florida Museum of History, Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park, Young Actors Theatre, Mary Brogan Museum or Art and Science and Goodwood Museum and Gardens.
Some of the music groups that hail from Tallahassee include Creed, Dead Prez, Mira and Look Mexico. “Tallahassee” is also the name of the critically acclaimed album by The Mountain Goats.
Transportation in Tallahassee
Tallahassee is served by the Tallahassee Commercial Airport and Tallahassee Regional Airport (currently being considered for the status of an international airport). Mass transit in the city is provided by the StarMetro, greyhound and Nova 2010.
Amtrak’s Sunset Limited line used to stop in Tallahassee but was discontinued after the Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The main freight line in the city is provided by CSX.
As for the road transportation, Tallahassee has one interstate highway passing through (I-10) and there are also three U.S. routes and three state roads.