Tallahassee is the capital city of Florida. Situated in Leon County, it became Florida’s capital in 1824, growing over the years to become the state’s eighth-most populous city in 2022, with a population of 201,731 residents. The Tallahassee metropolitan area serves as a bustling hub for trade, agriculture, and governance in the Florida Big Bend and Panhandle regions.
History & Indigenous Heritage
Before European settlers arrived, indigenous communities had occupied the Tallahassee region for thousands of years. Evidence of the Mississippian culture’s earthwork mounds can be found near the picturesque Lake Jackson. Dating back to the year 1200 CE, these remarkable mounds have been preserved in the Lake Jackson Archaeological State Park.
In the mid-16th century, the expedition led by Hernando de Soto briefly occupied Anhaica, located where present-day Tallahassee stands. Anhaica is believed to be the site of the first Christmas celebration in the continental United States, though this remains unverified by historical records.
The name “Tallahassee” is derived from the Muskogean language and often interpreted as “old fields” or “old town.” This signifies the arrival of the Creek people to the region during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, where they encountered land that had been cleared and abandoned by the Apalachee tribe.
Law, Government and Politics
Tallahassee has a rich political history, being the seat of Florida’s government. The city government comprises of elected officials, including the mayor and city commissioners, who oversee various city departments. It is part of Florida’s 2nd congressional district, with the United States Postal Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and United States Army Reserve having a presence in the city.
The city has seen multiple referendums on consolidating city and county governments over the years, but these efforts have not succeeded thus far. Advocates argue that consolidation would attract businesses, cut government waste, and streamline services, while opponents maintain that it would not necessarily benefit the local economy.
Demographics & Population
Tallahassee is home to 201,731 residents living in 75,949 households. Approximately 16.7% of these households have children under 18 and the average household size was 2.23. The city also has a diverse demographic makeup, with 56.2% identifying as White, 35.0% as Black, and 4.6% as Asian, among other ethnicities. About 6.3% identified as Hispanic or Latino.
Economically, the median household income from 2009 to 2013 was $39,524, with 30.2% estimated to be below the poverty level. Educationally, 54.4% of residents over 25 held at least a Bachelor’s, Master’s, professional, or doctorate degree, surpassing state and national averages. Almost 90% of the residents speak English as their primary language, with small percentages speaking other languages.
Education and Healthcare
Tallahassee’s status as Florida’s capital means it hosts numerous government agencies and offices. These include the Florida State Capitol, the Supreme Court of Florida, and the Florida Governor’s Mansion, alongside nearly 30 state agency headquarters. The city also nurtures a vibrant legal and business community, housing numerous law firms, lobbying organizations, and trade associations, including the prestigious Florida Bar and the Florida Chamber of Commerce. The Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare and Capital Regional Medical Center serve the city’s healthcare needs, with several medical research institutions and clinics also present.
Tallahassee is celebrated for its esteemed higher education institutions. Florida State University (FSU) and Florida A&M University (FAMU) are both located in the city, contributing significantly to its academic and cultural vitality. Florida State University, in particular, ranks among the nation’s top public research universities. FSU’s competitive sports scene, led by the renowned Florida State Seminoles, is a significant source of local pride. The Seminoles have claimed numerous national and conference championships and the football program in particular, draws large crowds, significantly contributing to the local economy.
Geography & Climate
Tallahassee’s geography is unique by Florida standards. Nestled in the Red Hills Region, it boasts hilly terrain ranging from sea level to over 200 feet in elevation, featuring one of the city’s highest points—the State Capitol. The city encompasses two large lake basins, Lake Jackson and Lake Lafayette, and borders the northern end of the Apalachicola National Forest. The flora and fauna in Tallahassee resemble those found in the mid-south and low country regions of South Carolina and Georgia. Cold-hardy palm trees like the Sabal palmetto thrive alongside pines, magnolias, hickories, and various oaks. The Southern Live Oak, an iconic tree, graces the cityscape.
Tallahassee experiences a humid subtropical climate characterized by long, hot summers, mild winters, and drier springs and autumns. Summer brings intense, brief showers and thunderstorms, with July’s daily mean temperature averaging 82.9 °F. Conversely, winters are cooler, with January averaging 51.0 °F and occasional freezing temperatures.
While snow and ice are rare, the city has seen flurries every few years, with measurable snowfall occurring only occasionally. Hurricanes occasionally brush the area, with Hurricane Kate and Hurricane Hermine (2016) being notable direct hits.
Nearby Cities and Suburbs
Notable neighborhoods near Tallahassee include All Saints, Frenchtown (Florida’s oldest historically black neighborhood), Killearn Estates, SouthWood, Midtown, and Indian Head Acres. The city also boasts gated communities such as Golden Eagle and Lafayette Oaks, while the Tallahassee Ranch Club lies southeast of the city.
The city’s influence extends to neighboring areas like Crawfordville, Havana, Lamont, Lloyd, Midway, Monticello, and Quincy, making it a central hub in North Florida’s Big Bend region.
Urban Planning and Expansion
Urban planning in Tallahassee has been shaped by various initiatives over the years. It began with the 1947 Taylor Plan, aimed at consolidating government buildings into a downtown Capitol Center. In 1974, the Capitol Center Planning Commission envisioned a more expansive city core, projecting the need for additional government facilities, housing units, open spaces, and retail areas. These plans were mainly focused on responsible growth and efficient infrastructure development.
Tallahassee-Leon County Planning Department’s commitment to compact growth policies has led to a substantial reduction in sprawl between 2000 and 2010. This approach aims to protect natural lands while fostering economic growth.
Art, Museums, and Festivals
Tallahassee has a lively arts and culture scene, and the Railroad Square Art Park is a big part of it. Located off Railroad Avenue, this area is full of metal art sculptures and shops selling unique artwork and collectibles. It’s a favorite spot for local artists and shops. Every first Friday of the month, Railroad Square hosts a special event called ‘First Friday.’ It’s a free gallery hop with live music, open art galleries, and food trucks. This event draws in thousands of people of all ages, making it a must-visit for a fun night out. Also, museums like the Museum of Fine Arts, Tallahassee Museum and the Museum of Florida History are great places to explore the region’s rich history.
Tallahassee knows how to throw a party, folks! This city keeps the good times rollin’ all year long with a bunch of awesome festivals and events. Enjoy the Downtown Getdown, a lively Florida State Seminoles Pep Rally, try out some Greek cuisine at the Greek Food Festival, celebrate spring at Springtime Tallahassee, savor fine food and wine at the Tallahassee Wine and Food Festival, and enjoy the festive holiday spirit at the Winter Festival.
Tallahassee is home to the competitive Florida State Seminoles, competing in various sports through Florida State University. The Seminoles have claimed numerous national and conference championships, making them a source of pride for the city. The football program, in particular, draws large crowds, significantly contributing to the local economy.
Places of Interest
Tallahassee has a lot to offer for visitors. Nature lovers can enjoy Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park and Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park. History enthusiasts can explore Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park and Mission San Luis de Apalachee.
The city also has some beautiful churches like the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More and St. John’s Episcopal Church. If you’re into sports, catch a game at Doak Campbell Stadium. These are just a few of the attractions that make Tallahassee such a great place to visit.
Getting Around the City
Tallahassee International Airport serves as a gateway to the city. StarMetro provides public bus services, while Greyhound and Megabus connect the city to intercity destinations. Rail freight service is managed by the Florida Gulf & Atlantic Railroad.
Tallahassee is easily accessible by road, thanks to its major highways like Interstate 10, U.S. Route 90, and U.S. Route 27. Additionally, Tallahassee’s proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 20 miles to the south, means you’ve also got the option to travel by sea.
Tallahassee is the perfect place to be for history buffs, nature lovers, and anyone in search of some good old-fashioned Southern charm. From its historic sites and thriving arts scene to its lush parks and lively festivals, the city’s got it all. So, why wait? Plan your visit, pack your bags and soak up some of that “homegrown, hometown” vibe!
Read Also: Florida Facts
Q : Which universities are located in Tallahassee?
A : Florida State University (FSU) and Florida A&M University (FAMU).
Q : Why is Miami not the capital of Florida?
A : Tallahassee was chosen as the capital due to its geography and logistical convenience for government officials.
Q : How many people live in Tallahassee, Florida?
A : As of 2022, Tallahassee’s population is approximately 201,731.