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Florence is a city in and the county seat of Lauderdale County, Alabama. It is the largest and the most prominent city of the Metropolitan Statistical Area known as "The Shoals". Florence serves as the primary economic nerve center for northwestern Alabama. The area was settled in 1818, and named after Florence in Italy. It was incorporated in 1826. Florence has a total area of 25.0 square miles. 24.9 square miles of the area is land, and 0.1 square miles (0.40%) is water. Wilson Lake, Wheeler Lake and Pickwick Lake are all located here. These are formed due to dams constructed on Tennessee River. It is self-proclaimedly known as "Alabama's Renaissance City".
Tourism is the major economic activity here. The city hosts a number of popular festivals, such as W.C. Handy Music Festival in the summer, and the Renaissance Faire in the fall. Another attraction is the Rosenbaum House, the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home in the state. Public schooling here is administered by Florence City Schools. The city is also home to the University of North Alabama, originally founded as LaGrange College in 1830. The city also has a number of private schools.
Other cultural attractions here include The Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts, the Indian Mound and Museum, the Children's Museum of the Shoals and the Forks of Cypress. Seven major parks are present within city limits. Two more are being constructed. The Sweetwater Arts and Entertainment District is envisioned as a place that would serve the tourists visiting the city, as well as the student population. The closest hospital is the local Elizabeth Coffee Memorial Hospital, on Marengo Street. The local airport is the Wilson Creek Airport. The cost of living here is 17.10% than the country average, making living here significantly cheaper.