Located in the northern portion of Florida, Ocala boasts of being the site of more than 1,200 thoroughbred farms and training centers, which have produced several important champions, including Needles, winner of the Kentucky Derby, and Affirmed, the winner of the 1978 Triple Crown.
Fun Facts About Ocala, Florida:
- The horse industry creates approximately 44,000 jobs and contributes millions of dollars to the economy every year. Additionally, visitors are attracted to Ocala's numerous equestrian events, including parades, rodeos, barrel races and much more.
- Officially established in 1846, Ocala received its name from a derivation of the Timucua word "Ocali," which means "Big Hammock."
- The city developed and grew around Fort King and experienced a burst of economic growth in 1881 with the arrival of the railroad.
- Two years later, on Thanksgiving Day 1883, the center of the city was devastated by a fire. This led to residents rebuilding with stronger and more resistant materials, including brick and granite, leaving the traditional use of lumber behind. Because of this, Ocala became known as "The Brick City."
- Tourism is another one of Ocala's major industries, offering a number of historical sites, including the Crystal River Archaeological State Park and the Ocala National Forest, which houses the largest and most important sand pines forest in the world, together with natural springs and a myriad of hiking and horseback riding trails that visitors can enjoy, making this 1995 All-America City Award-winning location a great place to visit.