Lake Wales, Florida

Lake Wales, Florida

Location in Polk County and the state of Florida
Coordinates: 27°54′17″N 81°35′3″W / 27.90472°N 81.58417°W / 27.90472; -81.58417Coordinates: 27°54′17″N 81°35′3″W / 27.90472°N 81.58417°W / 27.90472; -81.58417
Country United States
State Florida
County Polk
  Total 14 sq mi (36.3 km2)
  Land 13.3 sq mi (34.6 km2)
  Water 0.7 sq mi (1.7 km2)
Elevation 148 ft (45 m)
Population (2007)
  Total 12,071
  Density 728.1/sq mi (280.8/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
  Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 33800-33898
Area code(s) 863
FIPS code 12-38950[1]
GNIS feature ID 0285290[2]
Website City of Lake Wales official site

Lake Wales is a city in Polk County, Florida, United States. The population was 14,225 at the 2010 census. As of 2014, the population estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau is 15,140. It is part of the LakelandWinter Haven Metropolitan Statistical Area. Lake Wales is located in central Florida, west of Lake Kissimmee and east of Tampa.


The B. K. Bullard House

The land around the present city was surveyed in 1879 by Sidney Irving Wailes, who changed the name of a lake, then known as Watts Lake, to Lake Wailes.[3]

The city of Lake Wales was established near the lake in 191112, planned by the Lake Wales Land Company.[4] The spelling Wales was used for the city, although the lake is still generally spelled Lake Wailes. Allen Carleton Nydegger, a Civil Engineer, was contracted by the Lake Wales Land Company to plot out the community of Lake Wales. He and his crew camped on the shores of Crystal Lake and spent months plotting out the new community. In 1925 the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad built a new line from Haines City joining lines to Everglades City. A depot was opened on this line at Lake Wales. The City of Lake Wales was officially incorporated in April 1917.[5]

In 2004, Lake Wales endured the effects of three hurricanes which came through the area: Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Frances and Hurricane Jeanne. The three hurricanes brought hurricane-force winds to the Lake Wales area within a space of 44 days.

Geography and climate

The town lies near the geographical center of the Florida peninsula. Lake Wales is located on the Lake Wales Ridge,[6] a sandy upland area running roughly parallel to both coasts in the center of the peninsula. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.0 square miles (36 km2), of which 13.4 square miles (35 km2) is land and 0.7 square miles (1.8 km2) (4.71%) is water.

Lake Wales is located in the humid subtropical zone of the (Köppen climate classification: Cfa).[7] In 2004, the eyes of Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne all passed near the town. Virtually all physical damage has been restored.

Wildlife and environmental lands

Grassy Lake Preserve is a 185 acres (0.75 km2) preserve located behind Janie Howard Wilson Elementary School. Grassy Lake is primarily made up of Lake Wales Ridge scrub land.

Government and politics

Lake Wales, Florida has a commission/manager form of government. Five city commissioners are elected to serve two-year terms. Four of the commission members are elected by the citizens at large but must reside in the district represented by the seat to which they are elected and the other commission member is elected by the citizens at large to serve as mayor and can reside in any district of the city.[8]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201515,541[9]9.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[10]

As of the census[1] of 2010, there were 14,225 people[11] (2014 Estimate put the population at 15,140, according to the U.S. Census Bureau), 5,038 households, and 3,778 families residing in the city. The population density was 761 inhabitants per square mile (294.8/km²). There were 6,900 housing units at an average density of 344.5 per square mile (133.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 65% White, 27.5% African American, 0.50% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 3.9% from other races, and 2.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 15.6% of the population.

There were 5,038 households out of which 23.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.1% were married couples living together, 17.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.7% were non-families. 29.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.4 and the average family size was 2.92.

In the city the population was spread out with 26.5% under the age of 19, 6.0% from 20 to 24, 20.2% from 25 to 44, 24.2% from 45 to 64, and 23% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42.1 years. For every 100 females there were 88.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.1 males.[12]

The median income for a household in the city was $36,285, and the median income for a family was $47,785. Males had a median income of $33,896 versus $28,631 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,106. About 20.8% of families and 26.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 42.1% of those under age 18 and 7.9% of those age 65 or over.[13]

Local attractions

The sign at Spook Hill

Notable people


Bus service is provided to Winter Haven and Frostproof by Winter Haven Area Transit.

Lake Wales Municipal Airport (FAA LID: X07) is a public-use airport located 2 miles (3.2 km) west of the central business district of the city of Lake Wales in Polk County, Florida, United States. The airport is publicly owned.[1]

Chalet Suzanne Air Strip This single grass strip four miles north of downtown serves light aircraft arriving at the Chalet Suzanne Inn and Restaurant, a local landmark.


Lake Wales is part of the Tampa/St. Pete television market, the 13th largest in the country and part of the local Lakeland/Winter Haven radio market, which is the 94th largest in the country.[20][21]


Lake Wales is home to twelve schools, six of which are charter, three of which are traditional public schools and three private schools. Dale R Fair Babson Park Elementary, Hillcrest Elementary, Janie Howard Wilson Elementary, Polk Avenue Elementary and Lake Wales High School were converted to charter status in the Fall of 2004.[22] Edward W. Bok Academy Middle opened in the Fall of 2008 to create a seamless K-12 charter system.[23] McLaughlin Middle School and Fine Arts Academy, Roosevelt Academy Of Leadership And Applied Technology School, and Spook Hill Elementary School are still traditional public schools. Lake Wales Lutheran School, Candlelight Christian Academy, and The Vanguard School are private.[24]

The district is home to 4,675 students: 56.56% White, 31.38% Black, .3% Asians, 11.66% Hispanic and .11% Native America.

Lake Wales is also home to two colleges, Warner University and Webber International University. The J.D. Alexander Center, a satellite campus of Polk State College is located in downtown Lake Wales in 2009.[24]

Retirement villages

Lake Wales has three retirement villages. Two of them are outside city limits, but are considered to be part of Lake Wales, because it is the closest city. The first retirement village is Tower Lakes, which is on US 27. The second is Saddlebag Lake Resort, 9 miles from Lake Wales. Indian Lakes is 20 miles from Lake Wales. These last two are located on Hesperides Road.


  1. 1 2 "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  2. "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  3. Morris, A. (1974) Florida Place Names University of Miami Press
  4. Frisbie, L.K. (1976) Yesterday's Polk County Imperial Publishing Company, Bartow, FL
  5. Adams, William (1992). Historic Lake Wales. St. Augustine, Florida: Southern Heritage Press. p. 20. ISBN 1-881470-00-8.
  6. "The Lake Wales Ridge: Ancient sands, diverse biota". Archbold Biological Station. 2010-09-24.
  7. "World Map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification updated". University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna. 2008-11-06. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  8. "About Lake Wales Government". City of Lake Wales. Retrieved 2014-04-29.
  9. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  10. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  11. "US Census".
  12. "Factfinder - US Census". 2010.
  13. "Factfinder US Census". 2010.
  14. "Pat Borders Statistics and History -". Retrieved 7 April 2011.
  15. "Wade Davis Statistics and History -". Retrieved 7 April 2011.
  16. " - Bio". Retrieved 7 April 2011.
  17. "College Football Hall of Fame || Famer Search". Retrieved April 7, 2011.
  18. "Dominique Jones NBA & ABA Statistics |". Retrieved 7 April 2011.
  19. "Amare Stoudemire NBA & ABA Statistics |". Retrieved 7 April 2011.
  20. "Top Nielsen Markets". TV By the Numbers. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
  21. "Arbitron Markets". Arbitron. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
  22. Dunn, Andrew (June 23, 2004). "Lake Wales Charter School Contracts OK'd". The Ledger. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  23. Carpenter, Maya (June 16, 2008). "Teachers prepare for opening bell; 92,236 students expected". Winter Haven News Chief. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  24. 1 2 "About Lake Wales". City of Lake Wales. Retrieved 2011-10-23.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Lake Wales.

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/1/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.