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A view of Lakeland's business district, early 1920s

Lakeland is a city in Polk County, Floridamarker, United Statesmarker, located approximately midway between Tampamarker and Orlandomarker along Interstate 4. According to the 2006 U.S. Census Bureau estimate, the city had a population of 89,108. Lakeland is a principal city of the Lakeland-Winter Haven, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had an estimated population of 561,606 in July, 2006. It is twinned with Richmond Hill, Ontariomarker.


Lakeland was first settled in the 1870s and began to develop as the rail lines reached the area in 1884. It was incorporated 1 January 1885. The town was founded by Abraham Munn (a resident of Louisville, Kentuckymarker), who purchased of land in what is now downtown Lakeland in 1882 and platted the land for the town in 1884. Among the names considered (and rejected) for the town by its residents were Munnville, Red Bug and Rome City.

The Florida boom resulted in the construction of many significant structures in Lakeland, a number of which are today listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This list includes the Terrace Hotel, New Florida Hotel (Regency Towers), Polk Theatremarker, Promenade of Lake Mirrormarker, Polk Museum of Artmarker (not a product of the 20's boom), Park Trammell Building (formerly the Lakeland Public Library and today the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce), and others. The city also has several historic districts with many large buildings built during the 1920s and 1940s. The Cleveland Indians held spring training here from 1923 to 1927 at Henley Field Ball Parkmarker. Parks were developed surrounding Lake Mirror including Barnett Children's Park, Hollis Gardens, and the newest, Allen Kryger Park.

The "boom" period went "bust" quickly, and years passed before the city recovered. Part of the re-emergence was due to the arrival of the Detroit Tigers in 1934 for spring training. (The team continues to train at Lakeland's Joker Marchant Stadiummarker and owns the city's Florida State League team, the Lakeland Flying Tigers.) The development of the Lakeland Municipal Airport as a major facility in central Florida transportation was another factor. The 1930’s also featured the arrival of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1938 he came to Lakeland at the request of Florida Southern Collegemarker President Ludd Spivey to design a "great education temple in Florida." For 20 years Wright worked on his "true American campus" creation. In his original master plan he called for 18 buildings (and several other structures), nine of which were completed and nine left on the drawing board. All of the buildings were built out of what Wright called his "textile block system," the first use of such a system in Florida. He called his project "A Child of the Sun," so named from the architect’s own description of being "out of the ground, into the light, a child of the sun." It is the largest one-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in the world, and in many ways helped to form a pattern for many colleges in Florida and other areas of the country in the future years.

During World War II, Lakeland made an important contribution to the war effort. Hundreds of young British airmen were taught to fly at Lakeland's Lodwick airfield by volunteer flight instructors, a collection of barnstormers and independent pilots. These British airmen enjoyed the hospitality of Lakeland during their training and then returned home to fight in the Battle of Britain. Their skills in downing German warplanes were crucial to Britain's survival. Later, when America entered the war, the Army Air Corps relied on training fields like Lodwick to train pilots for its fighters, bombers, and transport planes.In 1990, Lakeland made its Hollywoodmarker debut when the Southgate Shopping Center was featured in the hit movie Edward Scissorhands, starring Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder.

It is also mentioned near the end of the Sublime song "April 26, 1992 " when lead singer Bradley Nowell lists the cities burning across the United Statesmarker. Skunk Records co-founder and Sublime’s unofficial fourth member, Michael Happoldt, grew up in Lakeland.

Lakeland made national headlines on September 28, 2006 when Polk Countymarker Sheriff's Deputy Vernon "Matt" Williams and his K-9 partner, Diogi, were shot and killed after a routine traffic stop in the Wabash area of the town. The incident sparked outrage among the central Florida law enforcement community. More than 500 law officials came together in search of Angilo Freeland, the suspect wanted in connection with the murder. The next morning Freeland was found hiding under a fallen tree. Nine SWAT members fired 110 shots at Freeland, hitting him 68 times and killing him on the spot. "God will be his judge and jury now" said Sheriff Grady Judd, adding "we ran out of bullets" on Oct 1, 2006 to the Orlando Sentinel when asked why the police had shot Freeland 68 times. Deputy Williams and Diogi were laid to rest on October 3, 2006 after a funeral that included a one-hour and 45 minute procession to Auburndalemarker.

Lakeland is home to one of the first Hindu temples in the United States and the Publix Super Markets' headquarters. The first Red Lobster restaurant was opened at Lakeland; however, the original restaurant has since closed.


Lakeland is located at (28.041248, -81.958978). Lakeland is above sea level. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of . of it is land and of it (10.90%) is water.

In July 2006, Scott Lake, one of the city's lakes, was almost totally drained by a cluster of sinkholes The lake later partially refilled.


Lake Mirror Park in downtown Lakeland is lined by City Hall and Lakeland Terrace Hotel.
  • Downtown (includes the Munn Park District)
  • Lake Beulah
  • Westgate
  • Waterford
  • Central Avenue
  • Lake Hunter Terrace
  • Dixieland (Historic District)
  • Beacon Hill
  • Camphor
  • Southwest
  • Imperial
  • Raintree
  • Lake Somerset
  • Golf Course
  • Edgewood
  • Lake Hollingsworth
  • Cleveland Heights
  • Lake Bentley
  • Lake Horney
  • Florida Southern College
  • Cumberland
  • Biltmore
  • East Lake Morton (Historic District)
  • South Lake Morton (Historic District)
  • Crystal Lake
  • Lime Street
  • Lake Bonny
  • Shore Acres
  • Edgewater Beach
  • Parker Street
  • North Lake Wire
  • John Cox
  • Lakeshore
  • Tigertown
  • Granada
  • Watson
  • Swannanoa
  • Paul A Diggs
  • Valencia Heights
  • Pinehurst
  • Webster Park South
  • Webster Park North
  • Harmony Hills
  • Orangewood
  • Jewel Avenue
  • North Lake Bonnet
  • South Lake Bonnet
  • Robson
  • Combee Settlement
  • Lake Hollingsworth Terrace
  • Edgewood Park


As of the census of 2000, there were 78,452 people, 33,509 households, and 20,373 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,711.3/mi2 (660.8/km2). There were 38,980 housing units at an average density of 850.3/mi2 (328.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 73.52% White, 21.26% African American, 0.28% Native American, 1.34% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 1.76% from other races, and 1.79% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.41% of the population.

There were 33,509 households out of which 23.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.5% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.2% were individuals and non-traditional families. 32.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.82.

In the city the population was spread out with 21.4% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 24.7% from 25 to 44, 20.6% from 45 to 64, and 23.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 86.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,119, and the median income for a family was $40,468. Males had a median income of $32,137 versus $23,771 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,760. About 10.7% of families and 15.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.2% of those under age 18 and 9.1% of those age 65 or over.

Lakeland has seen explosive growth. According to The Tampa Tribune the population in 2020 is projected to be 115,000 residents.


Lakeland is governed by a six member city council. Four members are elected from districts. The other two are elected at large. The mayor is elected in citywide vote.


The local newspaper is The Ledger, owned by The New York Times.

The local radio stations are:


High Schools



Polk State College shares a campus with a regional campus of the University of South Floridamarker. In July 2008, USF Lakeland was granted partial autonomy by Gov. Charlie Crist and became the University of South Florida Polytechnic. USFP plans a new campus located just inside the Lakeland's northeast border at the intersection of I-4 and Polk Parkway.

Traviss Career Center is a vocational school. It is NAFTC´s Training Center.


Club League Venue Established Championships
Lakeland Flying Tigers FSL, Baseball Joker Marchant Stadiummarker 1963 3

Attractions and points of interest

Historic districts

Buildings and locations

Notable Lakelanders






Sister Cities


  1. Resume of Colonel Grady C. Judd, Jr
  2. Information about Deputy Williams' funeral.

External links

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