Bartow, Florida

Bartow, Florida

Infobox Settlement
official_name = Bartow, Florida
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settlement_type = City
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map_caption = Location in Polk County and the state of Florida

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subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = flag|United States
subdivision_type1 = State
subdivision_name1 = flag|Florida
subdivision_type2 = County
subdivision_name2 = noflag|Polk
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leader_title = Mayor
leader_name = James F. Clements
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established_date = 1851
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area_total_km2 = 29.4
area_land_km2 = 29.1
area_water_km2 = 0.4
area_total_sq_mi = 11.4
area_land_sq_mi = 11.2
area_water_sq_mi = 0.1
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population_as_of = 2005
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population_total = 16,278
population_density_km2 = 527.6
population_density_sq_mi = 1366.5
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timezone = Eastern (EST)
utc_offset = -5
timezone_DST = EDT
utc_offset_DST = -4
latd = 27 |latm = 53 |lats = 33 |latNS = N
longd = 81 |longm = 50 |longs = 23 |longEW = W
elevation_footnotes =
elevation_m = 37
elevation_ft = 121
postal_code_type = ZIP codes
postal_code = 33830-33831
area_code = 863
blank_name = FIPS code
blank_info = 12-03675GR|2
blank1_name = GNIS feature ID
blank1_info = 0278138GR|3
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Bartow is a city located in the U.S. State of Florida in Central Florida east of the Tampa Bay area. The population was 15,340 at the 2000 census. According to the U.S Census estimates of 2005, the city had a population of 16,278. [] It is the county seat of Polk County.GR|6

The town of Bartow was named in honor of Francis S. Bartow, the first Confederate officer to die in the American Civil War. Residents of the city are known as "Bartowans". While Bartow itself is not a very large city - the Polk County cities of Lakeland and Winter Haven have larger populations - Bartow does have the distinction of being the second largest in geographical area . The city has been called "The City of Oaks", "The City of Oaks and Azaleas" and "The Capitol of Imperial Polk County."


In the early 19th century, very few people lived in Florida, especially the area south of Gainesville. Heat and humidity, dangerous wildlife, and uncharted swampland made a comfortable life in southern Florida an uncertainty. A bigger threat to any would-be settlers was the Seminoles, a Native American tribe native to Florida. While a few of the Seminole had left for Oklahoma, some decided to stay in Florida and make life rough for any new settlers who tried to make a living. After the Second Seminole War ended in 1842, southern Florida seemed ripe for settlement. Still, many felt uneasy about the continued Seminole presence in the Everglades and stories were always told about hostile encounters "not far away". So most of the early settlements in peninsular Florida were set up as forts, to discourage any Seminole attacks - just in case. In 1850, the first permanent new settlers came to the area near the headwaters of the Peas River or Peace River and established Fort Blount. This settlement was somewhat stalled by the American Civil War a decade later, although the Polk County government was established in 1861. After the war, in 1867, the county commissioners decided the county seat should be named after General Francis Bartow, the first Confederate officer to die in the war, and so, the name of Fort Blount was changed to Bartow. A few years later, thanks to land donations from Jacob Summerlin, the Polk County government was firmly established in Bartow.

Geography and climate


Bartow is located at coor dms|27|53|33|N|81|50|23|W (27.892551, -81.839636)GR|1 which is approximately 38 miles east of Tampa, 55 miles southwest of Orlando, and 15 miles west of Lake Wales. The cities of Bartow, Lakeland, and Winter Haven form an equilateral triangle pointed downward with Bartow being the south "point", Lakeland the west "point", and Winter Haven the east "point". The city is located near the headwaters of the Peace River at Lake Hancock. The major roads which go through Bartow are U.S. Highway 17, U.S. Highway 98, and State Road 60.

According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2000 the city had a total area of 29.4 km² (11.4 mi²). 29.1 km² (11.2 mi²) of it is land and 0.4 km² (0.1 mi²) of it (1.23%) is water. Since then, the city has annexed much land, quadrupling in size. Much of that land is undeveloped, although the city has rezoned much of it for residential use and it is estimated that the population of Bartow may increase threefold in the next couple of decades.


The climate of Bartow, like most of Florida, is humid subtropical. Most of the inland areas farthest away from the ocean tend to have more extreme temperature ranges than those areas on the coast. Since Bartow is one of the cities furthest from the coast in peninsular Florida, it can be among the hottest places in the state on some summer days, and during the occasional winter Arctic blast, it has had temperatures in the teens (Fahrenheit).

While Bartow's distance from the coast has offered protection from most of the effects of landfalling hurricanes which occasionally cross the state, Bartow has on rare occasion been affected severely, most recently in 2004 when Hurricanes Charley, Francis and Jeanne crossed the state with the center of all three storms coming close to Bartow. The most severe of these, Charley rapidly crossed Polk County as a Category 3 storm, destroying up to a third of Bartow's famous oak trees.

Physiography and soils

Bartow is located on the South Central Florida Ridge, as classified by the USDA. [] Many soils in the Bartow area are sandy throughout; others have sandy surface layers and clayey subsoils, and the eastern outskirts of town have a clay-rich floodplain through which the Peace River flows. Drainage outside of the floodplain ranges from good to excessive for the most part except for a poorly drained band which cuts across the northern part of town. Much of Bartow is built on the Fort Meade soil series, which is well drained, high in organic matter, and rich in phosphorus -- an uncommon combination in Florida, much appreciated by area gardeners. [] [] .

People and culture


As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 15,340 people, 5,531 households, and 3,777 families residing in the city. The population density was 527.4/km² (1,366.5/mi²). There were 6,099 housing units at an average density of 209.7/km² (543.3/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 65.91% White, 28.39% African American, 0.46% Native American, 0.92% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 2.22% from other races, and 2.03% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.11% of the population.

There were 5,531 households out of which 29.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.4% were married couples living together, 16.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.7% were non-families. 27.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 3.02.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.7% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 28.0% from 25 to 44, 21.4% from 45 to 64, and 16.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 98.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $38,568, and the median income for a family was $44,093. Males had a median income of $31,716 versus $21,309 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,487. About 9.7% of families and 13.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.7% of those under age 18 and 9.4% of those age 65 or over.

Historic buildings and landmarks

*Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church- 205 East Stanford Street. Built in 1926;Neogothic styling. One of the largest church buildings in Bartow.
*Conant House- 1010 South Broadway. Example of Colonial revival style.
*First Methodist Church- 310 South Broadway. Build in 1907, this is a fine example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture. One of the first two churches in Bartow.
*Hugh Wear House- 310 South Orange Avenue. Built in 1889, but burned to the ground in the 1990s.
*Redeemer Lutheran Church - 390 East Parker Street. Gothic Revival architecture with a cross-shaped floor plan.
**(built as Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, transferred ownership when the Episcopal parish outgrew it and built a new sanctuary)
*South Florida Military Academy- 1140 South Broadway. This school was eventually amalgamated into the University of Florida.
*Stuart Hotel- 145-195 South Central Avenue. Three-story brick building built in 1914.
*Swearingen-Langford House- 690 East Church Street (in Church Street Historic District). Neoclassical brick home built in 1925; location for a movie and several commercials.
*Thomas Lee Wilson House- 555 East Stanford Street. Was used as the Funeral Parlor in the movie "My Girl".
*Windsweep- 935 South Oak Avenue. Built in 1909, this house was the residence used in the movie "China Moon".
*The Wonder House- 1075 Mann Road. Features natural air-conditioning (using rainwater), secluded outdoor bathtubs, and numerous mirrors that let residents see who was at the door from other parts of the home.

Annual Events



The city has a semi-weekly newspaper the [ Polk County Democrat] , which in spite of its name, is actually a fairly conservative newspaper in its editorial content. The Ledger, which is based in Lakeland, is the most common daily newspaper in Bartow. The Tampa Tribune is also read by many residents. While there are no television stations located in Bartow, broadcast signals from Tampa Bay area television stations are available. Most cable and satellite providers offer Tampa Bay and Orlando area stations. There are two radio stations that broadcast from within the city, WQXM (1460 AM)(formerly WBAR till 9/2004)(was WRMX from 9/2004 to 10/2004) and WWBF (1130 AM)(changed from WPUL in 1984).

Attractions in Nearby Cities

*Cypress Gardens Adventure Park

*Florida Flywheelers Antique Engine and Tractor Club Inc


The Schools in Bartow are under direction of the School Board of Polk County, Florida.

High Schools -
Bartow High School (Formerly Summerlin Institute);International Baccalaureate World School (located on the BHS Campus);Summerlin Academy (Opened Fall 2006)

Middle Schools - Bartow Middle School (Formerly Bartow Junior High School);Union Academy Magnet Middle School (Formerly Union Academy High School )

Elementary Schools - James E. Stephens Elementary School;Gibbons Street Elementary School;Floral Avenue Elementary School;Bartow Elementary Academy

Other Schools - Gause Academy; Polk Life and Learning Center

Private Schools- First Methodist School;Word of Life Christian School

Government and Politics

The city commission consists of five commissioners, each serving a three-year term. The commissioners elect the mayor each year, rotating the position among the commissioners. The city executive powers rest with the city manager, as contracted by the city commission.

The city maintains its own police, fire, and utilities services.

The Bartow Public Library is located at 2150 S. Broadway Avenue. The library first opened for public use May 19,1897, making it the first public library in Central Florida. The City of Bartow built its first library building using a Carnegie grant of $8,000, opening on February 8, 1915.


treet Layout

The city is laid out in a typical four quadrant grid. The north-south axis is Broadway Avenue, and the east-west axis is Main Street. At the center of the grid is the historic downtown of Bartow which includes the old courthouse, the new courthouse, and the County Administration building as well as other government offices. As a typical rule, most of the residential (especially the older neighborhoods) are in the southern half of town.



The major highways which run through Bartow are US 98, US 17, and State Road 60. US 17 provides easy access to Winter Haven and Ft. Meade. Going north on US 98 from Bartow is a 15 minute drive to Lakeland. West on State Road 60 leads to Tampa, while east takes one to Lake Wales, and further down, to Vero Beach. The quickest route to Orlando from Bartow is Interstate 4 via the Polk Parkway, which is accessed from US 98 between Bartow and Lakeland.

For small aviation needs, Bartow Municipal Airport is available. Both Tampa International Airport and Orlando International Airport are less than an hour away.

Bartow has its own bus system, the Bartow Shuttle which runs from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Citrus Connection has buses that serve the Bartow downtown area from Lakeland, and Winter Haven Area Transit serves Bartow from Winter Haven and Fort Meade.


The Phosphate mining industry located west of Bartow is the largest in the United States. While Polk County is no longer the leading citrus growing county in the United States, it still plays a role in the economy of Bartow and Polk County. As the seat of government of a county with almost half a million people, State and County governments are a large employer in Bartow. The local Ford dealership, Bartow Ford, is one of the largest new car dealerships in the country with some of the highest sales in the nation.

Notable natives, citizens, and associated people

* Spessard Holland- Former Florida governor and U.S. senator.
* Keydrick Vincent - NFL player (Baltimore Ravens), born in Bartow: Apr 13, 1978
* Marcus Floyd - NFL player (Carolina Panthers), born in Bartow: Oct 12, 1978
* Ray Lewis - NFL linebacker (Baltimore Ravens), born in Bartow: May 15, 1975
* Theron Smith - NBA player (Charlotte Bobcats), born in Bartow: Oct 3, 1980
* Tracy McGrady - NBA player (Houston Rockets), born in Bartow: May 24, 1979
* Jacob Summerlin- King of the Crackers, first child born in Florida after ceded from Spain, founder of Bartow and Orlando, Florida.
* Evander McIvor Law- Confederate General during American Civil War.
* Stephen H. Grimes- Former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice.
* Adam Putnam- Current U.S. Congressman, Florida 12th District.
* Katherine Harris- Former U.S. Congressman, Florida 13th District; Florida's Secretary of State during the controversial Florida Recount of 2000
* Ken Riley- Born in Bartow: August 6, 1947. Former NFL Cornerback with the Cincinnati Bengals [1969-1983) - Ken was one of the best cornerbacks of all time. He set the team single season record for interceptions (9) and the career record (65). In his last two seasons of play, Riley led the AFC with five and eight interceptions respectively. At the time of his retirement, Ken Riley was rated third in the NFL record book for all-time career interceptions with 65. Despite his accomplishments, Riley has not been voted into the NFL's Hall of Fame despite having been repeatedly nominated for that honor.
* James "Bubba" Stewart was born in Bartow and is now the worlds foremost Supercrosser.
* Riskay the contemporary female rapper was raised in Bartow.


External links

* [ Bartow Chamber of Commerce]
* [ City of Bartow, Florida]

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