Nearly five centuries have passed since Ponce de Leon claimed for the king of Spain the area that now contains Ocala, the seat of Marion County in North Central Florida. Located midway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, Ocala was incorporated in 1885, when it was home to just 803 inhabitants, and has grown steadily since that time. At the turn of the twentieth century, the city covered four square miles and had a population of 3,380, making Ocala the seventh largest town in Florida. From its Native American heritage, which includes important episodes in the life of Seminole leader Osceola, to its natural beauty featured in such places as the Ocala National Forest and the world-famous Silver Springs, Ocala has had a rich and fascinating past. Widely known today as champion thoroughbred horse country, Ocala and its environs also boast neighborhoods of well-preserved Victorian homes and other historic structures, a thriving business community, and a diverse populace that is dedicated to the constant improvement of this singular city. In 1995, Ocala was honored with the designation of "All America City" by the National Civic League. Paying tribute to this one-of-a-kind city, its residents--both past and present--and the story it has to tell, this volume of more than 200 vintage images showcases Ocala's rich historical legacy and the men and women who made it all possible.
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