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Clearwater is a city located in Pinellas County, Floridamarker, USA, nearly due west of Tampamarker and northwest of St. Petersburgmarker. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 108,787; however, according to the 2005 U.S. Census Bureau's estimates, the city's population fell slightly to 108,687. It is the county seat of Pinellas County. Clearwater is the smallest of the three principal cities in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan area, most commonly referred to as the Tampa Bay Areamarker.


Clearwater at daybreak, as seen from Clearwater Beach
Present-day Clearwater was originally the home of the Tocobaga people.

Around 1835, the United States Army began construction of Fort Harrison, named after William Henry Harrison, as an outpost during the Seminole Warsmarker. The fort was located on a bluff overlooking Clearwater Harbor, which later became part of an early 20th century residential development called Harbor Oaks. University of South Floridamarker archaeologists excavated the site in 1977 after Alfred C. Wyllie discovered an underground ammunition bunker while digging a swimming pool on his estate.

The area's population grew after the Federal Armed Occupation Act of 1842 offered to anyone who would bear arms and cultivate the land. Early settlers included the Stevens, Stevenson and McMullen families, who claimed and farmed large tracts of land. Prior to 1906, the area was known as Clear Water Harbor. The name "Clear Water" is thought to have come from a fresh water spring flowing from near where the City Hall building is located today. There were many other freshwater springs that dotted the bluff, many in the bay or harbor itself.

View north from Sand Key toward Clearwater Beach
Originally part of Hillsborough Countymarker, the first road joining Clearwater and Tampamarker was built in 1849, which dramatically reduced the prior day-long commute between the cities.

During the American Civil War, Union gunboats repeatedly raided the city's supplies as most of the able-bodied men were away fighting for the Confederate States of America army. The town began developing in the late nineteenth century, prompted by Peter Demens' completion of the first passenger railroad line into the city in 1888. Clearwater was incorporated in 1891, with James E. Crane becoming the first mayor. The area's popularity as a vacation destination grew after railroad magnate Henry B. Plant built a sprawling Victorian resort hotel named Belleview Biltmoremarker just south of Clearwater in 1897.

Pinellas County Courthouse in Clearwater
the early 1900s, Clearwater's population had grown to around 400, ballooning to nearly 1,000 in the winter. Clearwater was reincorporated, this time as a city, on May 27, 1915, and was designated the county seat for Pinellas Countymarker, which broke from Hillsborough County in 1912. Also in 1915, a bridge was built across Clearwater Harbor, joining the city with Clearwater Beach to the west. Clearwater Beach, although located on a separate barrier island, belongs to the city of Clearwater and fronts the Gulf of Mexico. A new, much higher bridge now arcs over the bay, replacing the former drawbridge; the connecting road is part of Florida State Road 60 and is called Clearwater Memorial Causeway.

During World War II, Clearwater became a major training base for U.S. troops destined for Europe and the Pacific. Virtually every hotel in the area, including the Belleview Biltmore and the Fort Harrison Hotelmarker, was used as a barracks for new recruits. Vehicle traffic was regularly stopped for companies of soldiers marching through downtown, and nighttime blackouts to confuse potential enemy bombers were common practice. The remote and isolated Dan's Island, now the highrise-dominated Sand Key, was used as a target by U.S. Army Air Corps fighter-bombers for strafing and bombing practice.

Geography and climate

Clearwater is located at .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 97.7 km² (37.7 mi²). 65.5 km² (25.3 mi²) of it is land and 32.2 km² (12.4 mi²) of it (32.98%) is water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 108,787 people, 48,449 households, and 27,422 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,660.8/km² (4,302.1/mi²). There were 56,802 housing units at an average density of 867.2/km² (2,246.3/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 83.85% White, 9.79% African American, 0.32% Native American, 1.64% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 2.48% from other races, and 1.85% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.97% of the population.

There were 48,449 households out of which 21.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.7% were married couples living together, 11.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.4% were non-families. 35.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.17 and the average family size was 2.79.

In the city the population was spread out with 19.1% under the age of 18, 8.0% from 18 to 24, 27.6% from 25 to 44, 23.8% from 45 to 64, and 21.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 91.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $36,494, and the median income for a family was $46,228. Males had a median income of $31,067 versus $25,066 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,786. About 8.4% of families and 12.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.8% of those under age 18 and 7.9% of those age 65 or over.


Clearwater City Hall looking up and east from the foot of the bluff toward the rear of the building.
City of Clearwater is administered by a Council-Manager form of government, and the City Manager serves as the Chief Executive and Administrative Officer of the City.

The Clearwater City Council comprises the Mayor and four Council members each of whom serves a four year term. The Council is responsible for setting policies and making decisions on local government issues including tax rates, annexations, property code variances and large contract awards.

The City Manager and City Council are supported by the various City Departments.

See also: List of Mayors of Clearwater, Floridamarker.

Annual events

Clearwater Beach sunset
  • Imagine International Film Festival
  • Fun N Sun Festival (April - May)
  • Clearwater Celebrates America (July 4)
  • Clearwater Jazz Holiday (October)
  • Hispanic Heritage Festival (October)
  • Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3 (November 2006-2010)


View east along SR 580 approaching Summerdale Drive


Tampa International Airportmarker serves Clearwater and the rest of the Tampa Bay Areamarker as the primary means of air travel. St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airportmarker, however, has seen an increase in usage recently with 747,369 passengers accounted for in 2007.

Public transportation

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) bus service is currently Pinellas Countymarker's only general public transit. The service offers approximately 35 local routes, two express routes which cross Tampa Bay to the east, and a beach trolley that runs north and south along the county's roughly 25-mile long chain of barrier islands.

One of PSTA's transfer hubs, Park Street Terminal, is located in downtown Clearwater.

Plans are in the making for a future regional transit system to be called TBARTA. Presently, the Tampa/Hillsborough County area has a separate transit system called HARTline.

Major roads

The major street arterial system in Clearwater is essentially an east-west, north-south oriented grid pattern. Gulf to Bay Boulevard is the east-west backbone of the city, ending at Clearwater Beach on its west end and progressing over the Courtney Campbell Causeway on its east end en route to Tampamarker. SR 580, Sunset Point Road, Drew Street, Lakeview Road, and Belleair Road are the other heavily traveled east-west arterials in Clearwater. Major north-south routes include U.S. Route 19 Alternate, Myrtle Avenue, Missouri Avenue, Highland Avenue, Keene Road, Hercules Avenue, Belcher Road, and McMullen-Booth Road.

U.S. Route 19 is by far the area's most heavily traveled road, some parts of it carrying nearly 100,000 vehicles per day. It is a limited-access highway for a majority of its length in Clearwater, with an exception being the portion between Druid Road and Haines Bayshore Road. Plans are being developed to upgrade this piece to freeway standards, however.

Art and culture

Clearwater Beach, looking south from Pier 60.
Clearwater Public Art and Design Program
The Clearwater Public Art and Design Program, adopted by City Council in 2005, is funded through a 1% allocation on all City capital improvement projects valued at more than $500,000 and includes a similar, citywide requirement on all private development projects valued in excess of $5,000,000. Eligible private developers have two options to satisfy the Public Art Ordinance: dedicate 1% of the project's aggregate job value toward the installation of on-site public art; or contribute 0.75% of the project's aggregate job value to the City's Public Art Discretionary Fund, to be used to supplement and initiate public art projects throughout the city. The Public Art and Design Program is overseen by a seven-member Board, appointed by City Council and composed of local arts supporters and administrators, design professionals and private citizens. The Program seeks to “enhance Clearwater for those who visit and live within the city and to contribute to a legacy for generations to come” through the commission of unique, public artworks that enhance the City's diversity, character and heritage.
Sightseeing and fishing boats docked at the Clearwater Marina
Ruth Eckerd Hallmarker
( Official Site)

The Capitol/Royalty Theatre

The Capitol Theatre was built by Senator-elect John S. Taylor (aka “Handsome Jack” Taylor or “Jack Taylor”), who also built the historical Rolyat Hotel in 1926 (currently part of Stetson University Law School). The contractor for the Capitol Theatre was a father and son team John and Ivan Phillipoff , who also built the Coachman Building (1916), the Roebling Estate in Bellaire (added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979), the old Pinellas County Courthouse (added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992), other historical homes which have been saved, and did work at the Belleview Hotel

Groundbreaking was Dec 6, 1920. The “New Capitol Theatre” was damaged in a storm on Oct 26, 1921 (so it had been completed). A Robert Morton Wicks Opus 415 Organ was installed in 1922.

Donald Roebling was a frequent patron, having his own double seat installed at the theatre.

The theatre was managed by various movie companies (EJ Sparks, Paramount, ABC-Southeastern Theatres, and Plitt Southern) where it played the most recent movies of the day. The theatre also offered vaudeville on Friday nights in the 1930s. Headliners included Sally Rand, Fred Stone and his daughter, and Lum and Abner (of radio).

The theatre was renovated in 1962. The Robert Morton Wicks Opus 415 was most likely removed during this renovation.

When Plitt Southern did not renew their contact in 1979, Bill Neville and Jerry Strain tried to save the theatre with film classics and reduced prices. However, the theatre closed its doors on Oct 28, 1980.

Royalty Theater Company signed leases with the Taylor family in February 1981. From hereon, the theatre became known as the Royalty Theater. The building was renovated with Ron Winter of Winter Associates as the contractor and Scott Musheff as the architect.

During the renovations, Bill Neville’s murdered body was found in the balcony.

The theatre remained in the Taylor family estate until it was sold in 1996. In July 2008 the building went into foreclosure.

JANUARY 2009 - The City of Clearwater and Ruth Eckerd Hall join forces to renovate and revitalize the historic Capitol Theatre.

International Arts and Film Foundation
( Official Site)


Bright House Fieldmarker in Clearwater is the spring training home of Major League Baseball's Philadelphia Phillies.


The worldwide headquarters of the Church of Scientology is located in downtown Clearwater, Florida. Officially known in Scientology as Flag Land Basemarker, this international headquarters was founded in the late 1970s when an anonymous Scientology-founded group called "United Churches of Florida" purchased the Fort Harrison Hotelmarker for $3 million. The citizens and City Council of Clearwater did not realize that the building's owners were actually the Church of Scientology until after the building's purchase. Clearwater citizen's groups, headed by Mayor Gabe Cazares, rallied against Scientology establishing a base in the city (repeatedly referring to the organization as a cult), but Flag Land Base was established nonetheless. In response, the Church smeared him with false sex allegations and a faked hit and run incident. Concerns were further raised when it was revealed the purchases had been part of Project Normandy, a plan to take over the city by infiltrating government offices and media centers, which came out as part of investigations into the Guardian's Office dirty-tricks campaigns known as Operation Snow White.

In the years since its foundation, Flag Land Base has expanded as the church has gradually purchased additional property in the downtown Clearwater area. Scientology's largest project in Clearwater has been the construction of a huge high-rise complex called the "Super Power Building", an enormous structure whose highest point, when completed, will be a huge Scientology cross that will tower over the city. Its relationship with the city has not always been smooth (such as the 1997 protest against Chief Klein and the Clearwater Police Department).Former Mayor of Clearwater, Gabe Cazares said in an interview that Clearwater was now completely occupied by Scientology.


Famous current and former residents

Sister cities

Clearwater has city partnerships with the following cities:


  2. Clearwater Roars Into the 1900s- Freedom Magazine Presents The History of Clearwater Part III
  4. Northpinellas: Fiesta is on, but dancers in limbo
  5. Ironman 70.3 -
  7. St. Petersburg Times, (State Edition), January 8, 2007, pg. 2
  9. Ivan Phillipoff, Contractor (obituary), St. Petersburg Times. 1985, March 19.,4944752&dq=theatre+clearwater+phillipoff
  13. "Old Homes May Find Place In History," St. Petersburg Times. 1975 June 16.,491932&dq=henry+plant+clearwater+phillipoff
  14. Personals. The Evening Independent. 1923, December 26. (scroll down/right page),3652567&dq=john-phillipoff
  16. "Invitation", The Evening Independent. 1920, Dec 7.,3738850&dq=theatre+clearwater+taylor
  17. "Clearwater Swept By Fury of Storm," St. Petersburg Times. 1921, October 27.,1860580&dq=capitol+theater+clearwater+damage+storm
  18. "Old Days: Movie Houses Were King," St. Petersburg Times. 1981, April 8.,8176267&dq=clearwater+capitol+movie+houses+were
  19. Old Days: Movie Houses Were King," St. Petersburg Times. 1981, April 8.,8176267&dq=clearwater+capitol+hamilton
  20. "Two More Shops Open Along Cleveland Street", St. Petersburg Times, 1962, Oct 9.,4021303&dq=capitol+theater+clearwater
  21. "Royalty Can Start Renovating New Home Now That Papers Are Signed," St. Petersburg Times, 1981, September 30.,6907944&dq=clearwater+royalty
  22. "Royalty Theatre Off To Good Start At Capitol With Oliver," St. Petersburg Times, 1981, December 3.,2478432&dq=scott+musheff+theater+clearwater
  23. "Clearwater negotiating to buy old Royalty Theatre building," St. Petersburg Times, 2008, October 5.
  24. St. Pete Times Special Report on Scientology
  25. Northpinellas: For the disadvantaged and against Scientology
  26. Northpinellas: Chief Klein's balance isn't an act
  27. CATALANELLO, REBECCA. "Knievel, rapper eye mediation". St. Petersburg Times. July 11, 2007.
  28. Carmichael bio
  29. Tampabay: Hulk's house off market
  30. Farley, Robert. "Manse with celebrity ties hits market." St. Petersburg Times. North Pinellas section, page 1. October 10, 2002. Online. August 9, 2008.

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