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Lakeland, Florida

Local Details

Learn more about Lakeland, Florida using the City Guide below. Plan a trip, find local shopping centers, or just discover what makes Lakeland, Florida so great!

Current Temperature

  • 9:38 AM EST Feb. 17

City Guide

Lakeland is a city in Polk County, Florida, United States, located approximately midway between Tampa and Orlando along Interstate 4. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 78,452 and is the largest city in Polk County. According to the 2004 U.S. Census Bureau's Estimates, the city had a population of 88,357. As of 2006, the population is 100,000.

Lakeland's sister cities are; Richmond Hill in Canada, Imabari in Japan, and Balti in Moldova.


Lakeland was first settled in the 1870s, developed as the railroad reached the area in 1884, and was incorporated January 1, 1885. The town was founded by Abraham Munn (a resident of Louisville, Kentucky), who purchased 80 acres 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 Theatre, Promenade of Lake Mirror, Polk Museum of Art, 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 Park. Many new parks have been privately funded surrounding Lake Mirror. They are the 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 Stadium 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 College President Ludd Spivey to design a "great education temple in Florida." For 20 years Wright worked on his "true American campus" creation. He planned 18 structures, 12 of which were completed and six left on the drawing board. 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 on-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in the world.

During World War 2, Lakeland made an important contribution which directly contributed to the defeat of Hitler. Hundreds of young British men 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, then returned home to fight the Battle of Britain. Their skills in shooting down German warplanes was crucial to Britain's survival. When America entered the war, the Army Air Corps relied on training fields like Lodwick to supply pilots for its fighters, bombers and transport planes.

In 1990 Lakeland made its Hollywood 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 29, 1992 (Miami) when lead singer Bradley Nowell lists the cities burning across the United States.

Lakeland made national headlines on September 28, 2006 when Polk County Sheriff's Deputy Vernon "Matt" Williams and his K-9 partner, Diogi, were shot and killed after a routine traffic stop in the Kathleen area of the town. The incident sparked outrage among the central Florida law enforcement community. More than five-hundred 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. He was shot 68 times, and died on the scene. Deputy Williams and Diogi were laid to rest on October 3, 2006 after a funeral that included an one-hour and 45 minute procession to Auburndale.

Lakeland is home to one of the first Hindu temples in the United States. Publix Super Markets is also headquartered here. The first Red Lobster restaurant was opened here, however the original restaurant has since closed.

Lakeland is located in Polk County Florida. The largest county in the state of Florida, Polk County is also known as the lightning capital of the world.


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 660.8/km² (1,711.3/mi²). There were 38,980 housing units at an average density of 328.3/km² (850.3/mi²). 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 non-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.


The local newspaper is The Ledger.

The local radio stations are:

  • WLKF 1430 AM
  • WONN 1230 AM
  • WWAB 1330 AM
  • WPCV 97.5 FM
  • WWRZ 98.3 FM


High Schools

  • George W. Jenkins High School
  • Kathleen High School
  • Lakeland High School
  • Lake Gibson High School
  • Lois Cowles Harrison Center for the Visual and Performing Arts
  • McKeel Academy of Technology
  • Santa Fe Catholic High School
  • PCC Collegiate High School
  • Victory Christian Academy


  • Florida Southern College
  • Polk Community College
  • Southeastern University of the Assemblies of God


University of South Florida currently shares a campus with PCC, but has started plans for a 15,000-student, four-year campus just outside incorporated Lakeland.

Attractions and points of interest

Historic districts and City Neighborhoods

  • Beacon Hill-Alta Vista Residential District
  • Biltmore-Cumberland Historic District
  • Dixieland Historic District
  • East Lake Morton Residential District
  • Lake Hunter Terrace Historic District
  • Munn Park Historic District
  • South Lake Morton Historic District

Buildings and locations

  • Carpenter's Home Church - a local/regional megachurch
  • Central Avenue School
  • Cleveland Court School
  • John F. Cox Grammar School
  • Florida Southern College
  • Henley Field Ball Park
  • Hollis Gardens
  • Lake Mirror Promenade
  • Lake Parker Park
  • Lakeland Center
  • Old Lakeland High School
  • Lakeland Public Library
  • Joker Marchant Stadium
  • James Henry Mills Medal of Honor Parkway
  • The Mad Hatter Cafe - A non-profit youth organization
  • Oates Building
  • Polk Community College
  • Polk Museum of Art
  • Polk Theatre
  • Silver Moon Drive-In
  • Southeastern University of the Assemblies of God
  • University of South Florida, Lakeland campus
  • USA International Speedway
  • Winston School
  • Without Walls International Church

Notable Lakelanders

  • Lindsey Alley, former Mouseketeer of the New Mickey Mouse Club and actress.
  • Wayne Anderson, NASCAR Nextel Cup driver
  • Andy Bean, PGA Tour golfer.
  • Lawton Chiles, now deceased former Senator and Governor of Florida.
  • Desmond Clark, NFL Player: Chicago Bears
  • Copeland, alternative/emo band
  • Denison Marrs, former emo/space rock band
  • Lance Davis, former Major League baseball player: Cincinnati Reds (born in Winter Haven, resided in Lakeland)
  • Matt Diaz, Major League baseball player: Atlanta Braves
  • Samantha Dorman, Playboy Playmate
  • Rhea Durham, Victoria's Secret model
  • Paul Edinger, former NFL player: Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears
  • Faith Evans, Singer.
  • Justin Forsett, University of California-Berkeley running back
  • Matt Grothe, Quarterback, South Florida Bulls football team, a Big East Conference program. A graduate of Lake Gibson High School.
  • Lee Janzen, PGA Tour golfer who has won the U.S. Open twice.
  • George W. Jenkins, founder of Publix Super Markets.
  • Neva Jane Langley, Miss America (1953)
  • Chris Elrod, Christian comedian and writer
  • Frances Langford, famous singer, actress, and radio star during the 1930s and 1940s.
  • Ray Lewis, NFL player: Baltimore Ravens. Super Bowl champion; 2-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year; Super Bowl MVP
  • Howard Marshall, Former NASA scientist, former Cypress Gardens ski performer, PCC Collegiate High School teacher.
  • Mike Marshall, Bluegrass musician and world renowned mandolinist.
  • Rocco Mediate, PGA Tour golfer.
  • Freddie Mitchell, Former NFL Player: Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs
  • R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
  • Kara Monaco, Playboy Playmate
  • Joe Nemechek, NASCAR Nextel Cup driver.
  • Lance Niekro, Major League baseball player: San Francisco Giants
  • Joe Niekro, former Major League baseball player
  • John Wesley "Boog" Powell, MLB player: Baltimore Orioles
  • Andrew Reynolds, Professional skateboarder
  • Forrest Sawyer, NBC reporter and anchor.
  • Rod Smart, NFL player: Carolina Panthers; former XFL player "He Hate Me".
  • Britney Spears, American pop singer, lived here from 1998-1999 when her career started.
  • John Daniel "J. D." Sumner, American singer and songwriter.
  • Keydrick Vincent, NFL player: Baltimore Ravens
  • Lou Whitaker, former Major League baseball player: Detroit Tigers


  • Lakeland Amtrak Station
  • Lakeland Linder Regional Airport

Local Communities Outside the City Limits

  • Imperial Lakes Community is located off of Shepherd Road.

Sister Cities

  • Balti, Moldova
  • Imabari, Japan
  • Richmond Hill, Canada

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