Tallahassee (pop. 150,000) became the capital of Florida in 1824. It was a compromise between the two largest Floridian cities at the time, St. Augustine and Pensacola. Both cities were alternating as capitals during Florida's early history, which proved to be remarkably inefficient and a travel nightmare for lawmakers on both ends. So the government decided to build a capital right between the two cities, which was the human geographical center of Florida since the peninsula was mostly uninhabited. At first, Tallahassee basically consisted of a log cabin which served as state capitol: in its early years, the town was a Wild West-style settlement, and Ralph Waldo Emerson called it "a grotesque place...rapidly settled by public officers, land speculators, and desperados."

The city eventually grew, however, with the help of an expanding agricultural industry in the Florida panhandle. A Greek Revival-style capitol building was completed in 1845, expanded over the next century, and eventually replaced with a 22-story behemoth in 1977.

In addition to housing the Florida Legislature, Florida Supreme Court, and governor's mansion, Tallahassee is also the only Florida city that has two state universities: Florida State University and Florida A&M University. The former is one of the state's top three universities, regaled for its American football teams, while the latter is an historically black college that caters primarily to undergraduates.

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