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Sanford is a city in and the county seat of Seminole Countymarker, Floridamarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 38,291 at the 2000 census. As of 2006, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau was 49,124. An older agricultural and resort area, Sanford is home to the Delta Connection Academy, Seminole State College of Floridamarker and the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardensmarker. The city is situated beside Lake Monroemarker and the St. Johns River. It is part of the OrlandomarkerKissimmeemarker Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Fort Mellon in c.
Historic clock in downtown Sanford
The Timucuan Indians once inhabited the shores of Lake Monroemarker, where the domain of Chief Utina extended to just north of Lake Georgemarker. By 1760, however, war and disease had decimated the tribe, which would be replaced by the Seminole Indians. Florida was acquired by the United Statesmarker from Spainmarker in 1821, but the Seminole Warsmarker would delay settlement. In 1835, the Indians burned the port of Palatkamarker on the St. Johns River, then the major artery into Central Floridamarker from the East Coast. Consequently, an army garrison was established upstream on the southern side of Lake Monroe near a trading post. Called Camp Monroe, the log breastwork was attacked on February 8, 1837. It would be strengthened and renamed Fort Mellon in honor of Captain Charles Mellon, the sole American casualty.

General Zachary Taylor had a road built connecting a string of defenses from Lake Monroe to Fort Brookemarker (now Tampamarker). The town of Mellonville was founded around Fort Mellon in 1842 by Daniel Stewart. In 1845, Florida became a state and Mellonville became county seat of Orange County, formerly called Mosquito County with its county seat across the lake at Enterprisemarker. Orange groves were planted, with the first fruit packing plant built in 1869. In 1870, "General" Henry Shelton Sanford bought to the west of Mellonville and laid out the community of Sanford. Believing it would become a transportation hub, he called it "The Gateway City to South Florida." Several groups of Swedes were imported as indentured servants to do the back-breaking labor of establishing a new town and clearing the sub-tropical wilderness in advance of creating a citrus empire, arriving by steamboat in 1871. Incorporated in 1877 with a population of 100, Sanford absorbed Mellonville in 1883. The South Florida Railroad ran a line from Tampa to Sanford, where the Jacksonville, Tampa and Key West Railroad ran a line to Jacksonvillemarker, and the area became the largest shipper of oranges in the world. Arriving by steamer in April 1883, President Chester A. Arthur vacationed a week at the Sanford House, a lakeside hotel built in 1875 and expanded in 1882.

In 1887, the city suffered a devastating fire, followed the next year by a statewide epidemic of yellow fever. When the Great Freeze of 1894 and 1895 ruined the citrus industry, farmers diversified by growing vegetables as well. Celery was first planted in 1896, and until 1974 the community would be nicknamed Celery City. In 1913, Sanford became county seat of Seminole County, created from Orange County. Agriculture continued to dominate the economy until 1940, when it proved cheaper to cultivate produce in frost-free South Floridamarker.

In 1942, Naval Air Station Sanfordmarker was established, which conducted operational training in the PV-1 Ventura, PBO Hudson, F4F/FM-1 Wildcat and the F6F Hellcat. At its peak in 1943-45, NAS Sanfordmarker was home to approximately 360 officers, 1500 enlisted men and 150 WAVES and included an auxiliary airfield to the east near Lake Harney known as Outlying Field Osceola. The base was inactivated and reduced to caretaker status in 1946, but was reactivated in 1950 in response to the Korean War and the Cold War. A major construction program ensued, with NAS Sanford redeveloped as a Master Jet Base for carrier-based A-3 Skywarrior and later A-5A and RA-5C Vigilante aircraft. At its peak in the mid-1960s, the base was home to nearly 4000 military personnel, comprising the air station personnel complement, an Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department, the Navy Dispensary, the Marine Barracks, a Replacement Air Group/Fleet Replacement Squadron for the RA-5C, and nine deployable Fleet RA-5C squadrons that routinely deployed aboard large aircraft carriers to the Mediterranean and the Pacific, the latter heavily enagaged in combat operations during the Vietnam War.

As a result of the increasing costs of the Vietnam War and concurrent domestic federal social programs, NAS Sanfordmarker was one of several stateside military installations identified for closure by the Department of Defensemarker in 1967. Flight operations were rapidly scaled down during 1968 as the squadrons of Reconnaissance Attack Wing ONE transferred to the former Turner AFBmarker, renamed NAS Albany, Georgia. This resulted in a significant economic downturn for the City of Sanford and Seminole County with the departure of all military personnel and their families. The airfield was conveyed to the City of Sanford via quitclaim deed by the General Services Administration (GSA) in 1969, renamed Sanford Airport and redeveloped as a general aviation facility. Subsequently renamed Sanford Regional Airport, then Central Florida Regional Airport, the airport commenced commercial airline service in 1995 and was renamed Orlando Sanford International Airportmarker the following year. The Navy's presence is commemorated on the airport by two historical markers and the NAS Sanford Memorial Park, which was dedicated on Memorial Day in May 2003 and includes a restored RA-5C Vigilante on permanent static display.

The opening of Walt Disney Worldmarker in October 1971 shifted the economy of Central Florida further toward tourism and residential development, the center of which is Orlandomarker. But because of Sanford's former preeminence as a trade center, the city retains a significant collection of older commercial and residential architecture, on streets shaded by live oaks hung with Spanish moss. Its location on Lake Monroe and access to the navigable waterway of the St. Johns River has made it Central Florida's additional center for numerous marinas, allowing access for pleasure boats and commercial vessels to and from the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway via Jacksonvillemarker and Mayportmarker to the north.

Sanford has been the setting for several recent movies, including My Girl (1991), Passenger 57 (1992), Rosewood (1997), and Monster (2003).

Image:St. Johns River near Sanford.jpg|St. Johns River in c. 1910Image:Looking Northwest from Sanford House, Sanford, FL.jpg|Lake Monroe in c. 1912Image:Park Ave., Sanford, FL.jpg|Park Avenue in c. 1910Image:Celery Growing, Sanford, FL.jpg|Celery Growing in c. 1912

Notable natives and residents


As of the census of 2000, there were 38,291 people, 14,237 households, and 9,168 families residing in the city. The population density was 773.6/km² (2,004.1/mi²). There were 15,623 housing units at an average density of 315.7/km² (817.7/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 59.73% White, 32.14% African American, 0.45% Native American, 1.05% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 4.25% from other races, and 2.31% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.38% of the population.

There were 14,237 households out of which 31.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.5% were married couples living together, 19.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.6% were non-families. 27.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.13.

In the city the population was spread out with 26.8% under the age of 18, 10.7% from 18 to 24, 32.5% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 10.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 99.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $31,163, and the median income for a family was $36,687. Males had a median income of $28,101 versus $21,723 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,219. About 13.2% of families and 17.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.4% of those under age 18 and 13.1% of those age 65 or over.


While once a hub for Central Florida transportation with its port on the St. Johns River, Sanford is now home to the Orlando Sanford International Airportmarker (primarily flights to the United Kingdom, other US locations and the Republic of Ireland). Sanford is also home to the southern terminus of the Auto Train which connects Eastern Seaboard travelers and their vehicles to the Washington, D.C.marker/Mid-Atlantic region.

Sanford sits near the northern end of the I-4 Corridor between Daytona Beachmarker and Orlando. The Central Florida GreeneWay (officially Seminole Expressway or simply SR 417 along its Seminole County portion) begins in Sanford at Interstate 4 and forms the Eastern Beltway around Orlando ending at Walt Disney World. When it opened it was the most expensive toll road in the United Statesmarker costing $5 one way end-to-end.

Sites of interest


  2. "'A Decidedly Mutinous Spirit': The 'Labor Problem' in the Postbellum South as an Exercise of Free Labor" in Florida's Working-Class Past, University Press of Florida, forthcoming.
  3. Gigi applauds money but rules what's missed from the Orlando Sentinel July 24, 2007

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