The county and Gainesville also changed dramatically in the postwar years. By 1970, Alachua County had 104,000 inhabitants with three- fourths of them residing in or around Gainesville. Increasingly, the county's economy was dependent on the city's educational and medical facilities. Agriculture employed less than 20 percent of the area's workforce, although the region still led North Florida in the production of peanuts, corn, tobacco, nuts and certain fruits.
During these years, the county's smaller towns changed from being farm centers to become havens for artists, retirees and Gainesville professionals. They also attracted tourists to their historic downtowns. The county's natural wonders, including Paynes Prairie and the Devil's Millhopper were protected by becoming state parks, and historic sites such as the Rawlings house, the Haile Plantation and the Dudlley Farm were preserved. With a population of more than 200,000, the county offers abundant archaeological, historical and natural sites to visitors and residents alike.
Downtown Gainesville has become a professional and government center while retail stores and merchants have moved to large malls in the northwest and southwest areas of the city, especially around Interstate 75. In the 1980s, neighborhoods surrounding Downtown Gainesville such as the Duck Pond, the Southeast and Pleasant Street created historic districts, which helped preserve their unique residential character.
These preservation efforts spurred the city to sponsor restoration projects for the Thomas Center, the Hippodrome, the Seagle Building and the American Legion Building. A new courthouse and a new library were built, while older buildings, including the Star Garage, the Florida Theater and the Bethel Gas Station, were restored. As a climax to these revitalization efforts, Money Magazine named Gainesville the most liveable city in America in 1995.