Arcadia, Florida

Infobox Settlement
official_name = Arcadia, Florida
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settlement_type = City
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mapsize = 250x200px
map_caption = Location in DeSoto 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|DeSoto
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area_total_km2 = 10.5
area_land_km2 = 10.5
area_water_km2 = 0
area_total_sq_mi = 4
area_land_sq_mi = 4
area_water_sq_mi = 0
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population_as_of = 2000
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population_total = 6604
population_density_km2 = 629
population_density_sq_mi = 1651
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timezone = Eastern (EST)
utc_offset = -5
timezone_DST = EDT
utc_offset_DST = -4
latd = 27 |latm = 13 |lats = 3 |latNS = N
longd = 81 |longm = 51 |longs = 36 |longEW = W
elevation_footnotes =
elevation_m = 18
elevation_ft = 59
postal_code_type = ZIP codes
postal_code = 34265, 34266, 34269
area_code = 863
blank_name = FIPS code
blank_info = 12-01750GR|2
blank1_name = GNIS feature ID
blank1_info = 0294235GR|3
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Arcadia is a city in DeSoto County, Florida, United States. The population was 6,604 as of the 2000 census. According to the U.S Census estimates of 2005, the city grew to 7,151. [] It is the county seat of DeSoto CountyGR|6; it is also DeSoto County's only incorporated community. The city was devastated by Hurricane Charley in 2004.


Arcadia is located at coor dms|27|13|3|N|81|51|36|W (27.217585, -81.859917).GR|1

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.5 km² (4.0 sq mi). 4.0 square miles (10.5 km²) of it is land and 0.25% is water.

Name Origin

"The Rev. James Hendry named the town in honor of Arcadia Albritton, a daughter of pioneer settlers who baked him a cake for his birthday. He appreciated it so much he named the city after her." [] Verbal History has it that Arcadia Coker, who married an Albritton changed the name of the town "Tater Hill Bluff" to "Arcadia" after his wife to be as a wedding present to her.


During the late 1800s Arcadia was the county seat of what would become many counties. In 1921 legislation enacted called for Arcadia to remain the county seat of Desoto County and resulted in the creation of present day counties of Charlotte, Hardee, Glades and Highlands. Prior to this break up Arcadia's population had grown considerably with over 1,000 permanent residents and boasted 3,000 square miles for ranching. During Thanksgiving Day in 1905 the town was destroyed by a large-scale fire that originated from a mid-town livery stable. Furthermore the fire was exacerbated because the town did not have a working water system or fire department. The estimated monetary damage was $250,000 but there was no loss of life. Much of the business district was not spared. It would be years before the town recovered.

From 1917 to 1922, Arcadia was the home of Carlstrom Field, a grass airfield of the U.S. Army Air Service named for deceased aviation pioneer Victor Carlstrom. Carlstrom Field was used for pilot training both during and after World War I. In May 1941 the site again became an airfield for military primary flight training, operated by the Embry-Riddle Academy. Carlstrom Field, one of several satellite fields in the Fort Myers Area, trained pilots for the Royal Air Force until its closing in 1945.

In 1968 Arcadia resident James Joseph Richardson was convicted of poisoning his seven children. Richardson, a farm worker, was released from prison in 1989 after a deathbed confession from Betsy Reese where she claimed to have been responsible for the murders. Richardson had originally been sentenced to death but the sentence was commuted to natural life following a 1972 US Supreme Court decision that overturned the death penalty. Reese had been employed by the Richardsons when the seven children died. Despite the lack of physical evidence to exonerate Richardson and a decision that was deemed controversial, then Dade County State Attorney Janet Reno filed a motion to drop the charges and began the process for his release.

In 1986 brothers Ricky, Robert and Randy Ray were diagnosed with HIV. The brothers contracted the virus through tainted blood products they were prescribed for hemophilia. The following year the Ray brothers along with their parents, Arcadia natives Louise and Clifford Ray, petitioned and later sued De Soto County School Board in order for their children to attend classrooms.

The lawsuit was eventually sent to the federal court system that ruled in favor of the Rays. The media coverage portrayed Arcadia in a callous light, but residents insisted that the issue was not so much that the brothers' condition, but rather the danger of exposure that could result from hemophiliac condition.

Following the legal victory, the Rays' mobile home was burned to the ground. At the time of the fire an uncle was the only person in the structure; he escaped unharmed. The media presented the legal case and subsequent fire as a hallmark event in history of AIDS and the United States. After a twelve month investigation the State of Florida failed to determine if the fire was arson or accidental. The Ray family relocated to a neighboring county.


As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 6,604 people, 2,289 households, and 1,533 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,635.6 people per square mile (631.1/km²). There were 2,604 housing units at an average density of 644.9/sq mi (248.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 62.11% White, 28.09% African American, 0.38% Native American, 0.82% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 7.18% from other races, and 1.41% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 20.05% of the population.

There were 2,289 households out of which 34.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.9% were married couples living together, 20.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.0% were non-families. 25.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.75 and the average family size was 3.22.

In the city the population was spread out with 29.2% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 27.2% from 25 to 44, 19.0% from 45 to 64, and 14.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 102.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $25,025, and the median income for a family was $29,593. Males had a median income of $22,518 versus $18,666 for females. The per capita income for the city was $11,893. About 20.2% of families and 25.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.1% of those under age 18 and 8.2% of those age 65 or over.


Arcadia's local economy is heavily reliant upon agriculture. Primary agriculture elements include citrus, cattle and watermelons. Additionally Arcadia has experienced a surge in home development due in part to residents relocating from surrounding counties and commuting to their work destinations. During the winter months many retirees from the mid west relocate to Arcadia, which provides a needed contribution to the local economy.


Arcadia Municipal Airport is a public-use airport located convert|1|mi|km southeast of the central business district.

Annual Events

Arcadia hosts DeSoto County's annual fair usually in the month of January. While traditional aspects of a fair or carnival are provided, the event also presents livestock shows consisting of swine and cattle, which are presented by the local FFA and 4-H.

Arcadia is also the home of three rodeos. These events, which are managed by the local rodeo association, occur during the months of March, 4th of July holiday and in the Fall. From the profits of these events many local charities, college scholarships and causes receive funding.

During the month of May a local watermelon festival is held. The month of May is also the height of watermelon harvesting season. The festival has a variety of pageants, contests and draws local tourists. The festival is part of the Florida Watermelon Association.


External links

* [ City of Arcadia]


* [ WZZS-FM (106.9 The Bull)]
* [ WZSP-FM (105.3 La Zeta)]

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