Downtown Revitalization: Tallahassee

December 4, 2012 48 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

A brief tour around the downtown of Florida's capital city: Tallahassee.

About Tallahassee

Tallahassee is the capital of Florida and the only incorporated municipality in Leon County. Capital since 1824 (then the Florida Territory), Tallahassee is home to several colleges and universities, most notably Florida State University, Florida A&M University, and Tallahassee Community College.

Of interesting note, during the 1960s there was a movement to transfer the capital to Orlando and the city is considered one of the few traditionally left wing communities in the South.  In addition, voters have gone to the polls four times since the consolidation of Jacksonville to merge the city with 702 square mile Leon County.  All efforts have resulted in resounding defeats.

Tale of the Tape:

Tallahassee City Population 2011: 182,965 (City); 369,758 (Metro) - (incorporated in 1824)

Jacksonville Pop. 2011: 827,908 (City); 1,360,251 (Metro-2011) - (incorporated in 1832)

City population 1950: Jacksonville (204,517); Tallahassee (73,958)

City Land Area

Tallahassee: 100.3 square miles
Jacksonville: 757.7 square miles

Metropolitan Area Growth rate (2010-2011)

Tallahassee: +0.64%
Jacksonville: +1.09%

Urban Area Population (2010 census)

Tallahassee: 240,223 (ranked 153 nationwide)
Jacksonville: 1,065,219 (ranked 40 nationwide)

Urban Area Population Density (2010 census)

Tallahassee: 1,899.0 people per square mile
Jacksonville: 2,008.5 people per square mile

City Population Growth from 2000 to 2011

Tallahassee: +32,341
Jacksonville: +92,405

Convention Center Exhibition Space:

Tallahassee: Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center (1980) - 35,000 square feet
Jacksonville: Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center (1985) - 78,500 square feet

Connected to or across the street from Convention Center:

Tallahassee: N/A
Jacksonville: N/A

Tallest Building:

Tallahassee: Florida State Capitol - 322 feet
Jacksonville: Bank of America Tower - 617 feet

Fortune 500 companies 2012 (City limits only):

Tallahassee: N/A
Jacksonville: CSX (226), Winn-Dixie Stores (363), Fidelity National Information Services (425), Fidelity National Financial (472)

Urban infill obstacles:

Tallahassee: West Tennessee Street is hostile to pedestrians.
Jacksonville: State & Union Streets cut off downtown Jacksonville from Springfield.

Downtown Nightlife:

Tallahassee:  The Tennessee Strip, the Gaines Street corridor and Midtown Tallahassee.
Jacksonville: East Bay Street

Common Downtown Albatross:

Several blocks of major office buildings that turn their back to the street.

Who's Downtown is more walkable?

Tallahassee: 86 out of 100, according to
Jacksonville: 88 out of 100, according to

Downtown Tallahassee

Downtown Tallahassee Sights and Scenes

Tallahassee was named Florida's capital in 1824 because of its central location between Florida's then-largest cities, St. Augustine and Pensacola.  The "New Classicism" Capitol complex design, which includes a 22-story office building, was a joint venture of Reynolds, Smith and Hills of Jacksonville and Edward Durell Stone of New York.

As visitors to and residents of Tallahassee have noticed over the years, from a direct view from the front, the new capitol building looks somewhat phallic, an impression aided by the delicate placement of the domed wings on either side of the base as it looms over the old capitol building. All official photos seem to be taken from the South West or North West as it gives the best view of the building while de-emphasizing its masculine qualities. Local legend has it, when the newer road, Apalachee Parkway,was built leading to the front of the capitol building it was designed to prevent viewers from finding a good spot to view this edifice head on. From the only places you could see it, large trees have been planted to prevent the view. This architectural edifice has been the brunt of jokes for years, including the sale of boxer shorts with the silhouette of the building silk screened over the fly under the brand name "legislative briefs."

Monroe Street

Monroe Street is the major north-south street in Tallahassee.  North of downtown, the street is home to a mix of commercial uses, including the Tallahassee Mall.  South of downtown, the street eventually connects Tallahassee with Florida's Gulf Coast.  The Old State Capitol is located at the intersection of Monroe Street and Apalachee Parkway.  

Park Avenue Chain of Parks

Seven Parks located on Park Avenue in downtown Tallahassee work together to create the Park Avenue Chain of Parks. These seven parks sit on a total of 5.85 acres and provide shade and recreation to the downtown area. In addition, the chain of parks contain old live oak trees, rose bushes, and azaleas.

Bloxham Park is located on Park Avenue between Calhoun and Monroe Street and is named in honor of William D. Bloxham, a Tallahassee native who served as Florida’s governor in the late 19th century.

Cherokee Park is located on Park Avenue between Bronough Street and Boulevard Street and was named in honor of the Cherokee Rose.

E. Peck Green Park is located between Bronough and Duval Street. The park features a large covered gazebo, park benches, and picnic tables. The park was named in honor of E. Peck Greene, who was a long time leader in the city’s beautification efforts and a consultant for the planning of the chain of parks.

Genevieve Randolph Park is located on Park Avenue between Meridian and Gadsden Street and is named for Genevieve Randolph, who started the Tallahassee Improvement Association in 1891. The park contains a rose peace garden and open green space.

Lewis Park was the first park created in the Park Avenue Chain of Parks. It is located between Calhoun and Gadsden Street and features open green space and park benches. The park is named for Capt. William C. Lewis, a prominent resident who lived in the downtown area.

McCarty Park is located between Duval and Adams Street. The park features the Walter Lanier “Red” Barber Camellia Garden, named in honor of Walter Lanier Barber, who was a famous baseball announcer for teams like the Cincinnati Reds, Brooklyn Dodgers, and the New York Yankees.

Ponce De Leon Park is located between Adams Street and Monroe Street and is used very often for events such as the “Celebration of Lights” and “Downtown Market Place”, with “Downtown Market Place” being held every Saturday morning at the park.

Kleman Plaza

Kleman Plaza is an important civic space in the heart of downtown that links the commercial core, the State Capitol, the Civic Center and City Hall.  Constructed on the top of a 1,022 space underground parking garage, the Plaza includes green space, an amphitheater, the Challenger Learning Center & IMAX Theater, Mary Brogan Museum, Plaza Tower Condominiums, Tallahassee Center Condominiums, retail and restaurant space.

Randon Downtown Tallahassee

The Museum of Florida History

The Doubletree Hotel

College Street

College Street connects Florida State University with downtown Tallahassee.

Highpoint Center, a 15-story, 73,642 square foot Class A office building completed in 1990, is the tallest structure on College Street.

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