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Tallahassee, Florida's Vibrant Capital City

© By Adam Southwood
 
Canopy Road

Freddy Cannon made Tallahassee famous in Rock 'n Roll circles with his song that featured a "Tallahassee lassie." Remember the lyrics? "Well, she comes from Tallahassee/She got a hi-fi chassis/Maybe looks a little sassy/But to me, she's real classy/"
     Stretching along the Panhandle, one discovers here that college town meets cultural center; politics meets performing arts, and history meets nature. Home to the state capital, two major universities and myriad museums and attractions, Tallahassee shares a deep-rooted history and culture with unmatched nature and outdoor recreation.
     Tallahassee boasts exceptional topography unique to the state and is one of the most biologically-diverse regions in the United States. Of 497 verified species of birds that reside in or visit Florida, 372 species can be viewed here. The West Indian Manatee, also known as the Florida Manatee, is a year-round resident in local rivers. The Nature Conservancy considers the Tallahassee region to be one of "America's Last Great Places."

Bald Eagle  Birding  Stork   Tallahassee Night

     Canopy roads, originally old Indian trails now lined with huge, moss-draped live oaks, provide scenic driving. Covering 78 miles, there are nine designated canopy roads throughout Tallahassee.
     Remarkably, Tallahassee was the only Confederate city east of the Mississippi that did not fall to Union troops. Put on your walking shoes and explore three historic districts, Downtown, the Park Avenue National Register Historic District, and the Calhoun Street National Register Historic District. Stroll back in time to catch a glimpse of Territorial life, antebellum homes, picturesque churches, the emancipation of slaves, and influential Florida governors.
     In 1539, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto arrived with his expedition setting up camp through the winter, therefore site of the first North American Christmas celebration.
     More Spanish explorers arrived during the1500s in search of gold, establishing more than 25 missions throughout North Central Florida. They played an important role in the settlement of Spanish America and Mission San Luis was the western capital, located on one of the region's highest hilltops. Today, visitors can explore the Mission San Luis where costumed interpreters re-enact life as depicted in the 1600s.
     After Florida became a territory of the United States in 1822, both St. Augustine and Pensacola vied to become the State Capital. Unable to come to an agreement, it was decided to locate the capital at a point between the two cities. Tallahassee's beauty attracted the search party and in 1824 the City of Tallahassee was created with a log cabin as the first Capitol Building. Step back in time with a visit to the Historic Capitol of Florida, originally built in 1845.
     The Tallahassee area, also known as "the red hills" region, was a land of rich agriculture and many large plantations were built with crops of cotton, corn and sweet potatoes. America's largest concentration of original plantations - 71 plantations, 300,000 acres - exists between Tallahassee and Thomasville, Georgia, 28 miles away, and several are open to the public.

Capitol Fountain  Capitol  Historic Capitol  Mission San Luis  Pebble Hill Plantation

     African American history witnessed historic events such as the 1865 reading of the Emancipation Proclamation on the front steps of the Knott House and the 1956 bus boycott that resulted in the abolishment of segregated seating on public transportation.
     The John G. Riley Museum of African American History & Culture and the South-eastern Regional Black Archives Research Center & Museums at FAMU are must-sees.

Adam Southwood writes for Canadian, U.S. and European magazines and newspapers. He is a graduate of McMaster University in Hamilton and UWO in London with an interest in culture and history and has produced several educational programs for TV.

Photo Credits
Courtesy of Tallahassee Convention & Visitors Bureau

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Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tallahassee
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Tallahassee
About.com: http://goflorida.about.com/od/tallahassee/a/capitalcity.htm
Tallahassee Convention & Visitors Bureau: http://www.visittallahassee.com/

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