Arcadia, Florida
Arcadia Historic District
Arcadia Historic District
Official seal of Arcadia, Florida
Location of Arcadia in DeSoto County, Florida....
Location of Arcadia in DeSoto County, Florida....
Coordinates: 27°12′54″N 81°51′32″W / 27.215°N 81.859°W / 27.215; -81.859Coordinates: 27°12′54″N 81°51′32″W / 27.215°N 81.859°W / 27.215; -81.859
CountryUnited States
The City of Arcadia1886
Named forArcadia Albritton
 • TypeCouncil-Manager
 • MayorSusan Coker
 • Deputy MayorAlice Frierson
 • CouncilmanJoseph Fink
 • CouncilwomanJudy Hinson Wertz Strickland
 • CouncilmanDelshay Turner
 • Total4.43 sq mi (11.48 km2)
 • Land4.43 sq mi (11.47 km2)
 • Water0.01 sq mi (0.02 km2)
60 ft (20 m)
 • Total7,420
 • Density1,675.70/sq mi (647.01/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
34265, 34266 & 34269
Area code863
FIPS code12-01750

Arcadia is a city and county seat of DeSoto County, Florida, United States.[2] The population was 7,637 as of the 2010 census,[3] with an estimated population of 7,722 in 2014.[4] Arcadia's Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Arcadia, Florida" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (January 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
First National Bank of Arcadia pictured in this 1905 postcard
First National Bank of Arcadia pictured in this 1905 postcard
Presbyterian Church pictured in this 1907 postcard
Presbyterian Church pictured in this 1907 postcard

According to The Atlas of Florida, "The Rev. James Madison ("Boss") Hendry (1839–1922) named the town in honor of Arcadia Albritton (1861–1932), a daughter of Thomas H. and Fannie (Waldron) Albritton, pioneer settlers. Arcadia had baked him a cake for his birthday and he appreciated it so much that he named the city after her."[5]

In 1886, transportation improved in Arcadia when the Florida Southern Railway (later the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad) was built through Arcadia on its way from Bartow to Punta Gorda. The railway caused Arcadia to grow significantly, which led to Arcadia becoming incorporated a year later.[6] A second railroad line, the Charlotte Harbor and Northern Railway (later the Seaboard Air Line Railroad), was built through Arcadia from 1907 to 1910 on its way from Mulberry to Boca Grande. Both lines have since been consolidated into a single line by CSX with the Seaboard line surviving north of Arcadia and the Atlantic Coast Line surviving to the south. Arcadia was also served by the short-lived East and West Coast Railway which connected Arcadia with Bradenton from 1915 to 1934.[7]

During the late 19th century 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 the present-day counties of Charlotte, Hardee, Glades and Highlands. Prior to this breakup Arcadia's population had grown considerably, with over 1,000 permanent residents and 3,000 square miles (7,800 km2) for ranching.

On Thanksgiving Day in 1905 the town was destroyed by a large-scale fire that originated from a mid-town livery stable. 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.

Oak Street is the "main street" in Arcadia. The downtown is far more elaborate than neighboring counties' downtown areas, as Arcadia is older and was their county seat prior to the formation of their present counties. Arcadia is also home to many early 20th century homes, houses of worship and several historic public buildings.

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 Aeronautical Institute (now Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University). Carlstrom Field, one of several satellite fields in the Fort Myers area, also trained pilots for the Royal Air Force until its closing in 1945.

Arcadia's historic buildings include the Johnson-Smith House, William Oswell Ralls House and Micajah T. Singleton House. Also, approximately 3,400 acres which includes the downtown area are part of the Arcadia Historic District.

After three Arcadia children, the Ray brothers, were diagnosed with HIV in 1986, school officials refused to let them attend school. The Ray family won a $1.1 million judgement against the county school system, but were forced to leave Arcadia after their home was burned down in 1987.[8]

Hurricane Charley and The 21st Century

In 2004, Arcadia was heavily damaged during Hurricane Charley. During the storm, the eye went over the city. Arcadia had winds measured up to 109 MPH at 5:27pm. It is suspected that the winds were stronger outside the city, but cannot be proven due to lack of equipment outside the city. The city only shelter, The Turner Agri Civic Center, was a shelter made for winds over 100 MPH, but it collapsed during the storm. Everyone evacuated into the hallways and the kitchen of the Turner Center prior to the collapse.[9] The people in the Turner Agri Civic Center were evacuated to DeSoto High School, which shortly later, part of its roof collapsed. In the center of the town, the Old Opera House's Roof was peeled off, causing severe water damage. The Hurricane severely damaged downtown, especially businesses on Oak Street and Polk Street. Eventually, The Red Cross shelter was forced to evacuate due to the collapsing of the building. The city water tower crumpled along Florida State Road 70, but was never replaced after the hurricane. The cities only hospital was heavily damaged, with 35 windows shattering, Part of the roof peeled back, which exposed equipment and patients to be exposed to the wind driven rain. This would case an estimated $2.3 Million dollars in damages to the hospital.[10] Hurricane Charley caused 3,600 homes to be destroyed or heavily damaged, and displaced 16,000 people.[11] The exact amount of damages is not known, but it was millions of dollars in damages. 2 people died in DeSoto County during the storm, and 150 people were injured. Many residents of the town, left and never came back. [12]

After Hurricane Charley the people in DeSoto High School were taking to the middle school near by, where at least 75 people spent the night in the Middle School's Gymnasium.[13] The Hurricane caused downtown to be heavily damaged. The storm caused 90% of homes in DeSoto County to be damaged and 60% to be inhospitable or destroyed. The National Guard was deployed to the city, and started the cleanup process and enforced a strict curfew in the city. The people in Arcadia came together and started helping each other from the storm, from feeding people to rebuilding people, the people came together. Though, during the rebuilding process, the first wave of the Great Recession began. Arcadia was able to rebuild their homes and bring new homes to the city. Downtown Arcadia was able to rebuild, but some parts of the county are still damaged from Hurricane Charley. It took about 12 years to rebuild, but parts of the City and County are still damaged from it.

In 2017, Hurricane Irma went over the city as a Category 1 Hurricane. The Hurricane did not cause huge damages to the city. Some of the downtown area was damaged, with The Oak Park Inn taking lots of damage. The Oak Park Inn was not able to open for 4 months after the storm. Parts of DeSoto County was flooded, with especially communities on the Peace River. The storm dropped 10-15" of rain near Morgan Park, on the Peace River. The river and it's tributaries flooded roadways, homes and parks. It is unknown how much in damages were caused. [14]

In March of 2020, Arcadia declared a Local State of Emergency in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.[15] DeSoto county has had 10,174 cases of COVID-19.


Arcadia is located slightly northwest of the center of DeSoto County at 27°13'N 81°52'W (27.2176, –81.8599). The Peace River flows past the west side of the city on its way southwest to tidewater at Punta Gorda. Most of Arcadia is more than 40 feet above sea level and portions of Arcadia near the center of the city are as high as 65 feet above sea level giving Arcadia one of the highest elevations for a city in Florida.

U.S. Route 17 passes through the center of Arcadia, leading north 50 miles (80 km) to Bartow and southwest 26 miles (42 km) to its terminus at Punta Gorda. Florida State Road 70 crosses US 17 in the center of Arcadia and leads east 64 miles (103 km) to Okeechobee and west-northwest 48 miles (77 km) to South Bradenton. Via SR 72, which splits from SR 70 just west of Arcadia, it is 44 miles (71 km) west to South Sarasota.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Arcadia has a total area of 4.1 square miles (10.6 km2), of which 0.01 square miles (0.02 km2), or 0.15%, is water.[3]


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[16]

As of the 2020 census,[17] there was a population of 7,420 and 2,953 households.

5.1% of the population were under 5 years old, 26.2% were under 18 years old, and 13.7% were 65 years and over. 49.9% of the population were female.

70.9% of the population were white, 19.5% were black or African American, 0.3% were Asian, 6.2% were two or more races, and 34.2% were Hispanic or Latino.

There were 256 veterans living in the city and 14.7% of the population were Foreign born persons.

69.5% of the households had a computer and 58.0% had a broadband internet subscription.

80.9% of the population 25 years and older were high school graduates and 15.2% of that same population had a Bachelor’s degree or higher.

7.4% of the population under 65 years old had a disability and 17.3% of that same population did not have health insurance.

The median household income was $34,003 and the per capita income was $18,376. 30.2% of the population lived below the poverty threshold.


The City of Arcadia was created by an act of the Florida Legislature in 1886. Currently the city is governed by a council/manager form of government, with five council members elected at large to four-year terms of office who in turn appoint a city manager to run the daily operation of the city. The council annually chooses a mayor and deputy mayor who serve in the capacity of chairman of meetings and at ceremonial functions. Also elected by the residents is a City Marshal who acts as Chief of Police. In addition to police service, the city provides residents with a water/sewer system, trash pickup, planning and zoning services, and public works.


Arcadia Municipal Airport is a public-use airport located 1 mile (1.6 km) southeast of the central business district. The City of Arcadia operates the day-to-day operations of the airport. The airport not only has a deep history of aviation, with the old Carlstrom & Dorr training fields in DeSoto County. It is leading the State in low fuel prices and has a nice Fly-In & Camp Out facility called Aviation City.

Annual events

Arcadia Municipal Airport hosts an annual Aviation Day event in the month of March. Currently the event consists of a static display of aircraft, biplane rides, helicopter rides, and a skydiving demonstration, but bigger plans are in the works.

Arcadia is located on the Peace River, the major tributary of the Charlotte Harbor estuary. The river offers fine canoeing, shark tooth hunting and natural habitats. Tours, recreational accessories and accommodations are readily available.

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 month of March, the Fourth of July holiday, and in the fall. From the profits of these events many local charities, college scholarships and causes receive funding.

Arcadia is one of the largest groupings of antique dealers in the state, all located conveniently in the downtown area. The local dealers' association sponsors a "4th Saturday Antique Fair" each month from 8 am to 3 pm, bringing an additional 60 to 120 independent dealers in for the event.

Arcadia has numerous parades throughout the year—a Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade, a March Rodeo Parade, a Cinco de Mayo Parade, an Independence Day Parade, an October Homecoming Parade, a Veterans Day Parade and a Christmas Parade.


Notable people

This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (May 2021) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)


According to the Köppen climate classification system, Arcadia has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa), with hot, humid summers and warm, drier winters.

Climate data for Arcadia, Florida, 1991–2020 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 73.5
Daily mean °F (°C) 60.3
Average low °F (°C) 47.1
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.31
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 5.3 4.8 4.9 5.1 6.4 14.1 15.2 15.9 12.6 6.3 4.4 5.1 100.1
Source: NOAA[19][20]


  1. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 31, 2021.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  3. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Arcadia city, Florida". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved October 19, 2015.[dead link]
  4. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Archived from the original on May 23, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  5. ^ "City Name Origins". Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  6. ^ "History of Arcadia, Florida". Arcadia Main Street. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  7. ^ Turner, Gregg (2003). A Short History of Florida Railroads. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-2421-4.
  8. ^ "The Ray Brothers, a Sad Story of Ignorance and Intolerance". THE UNFINISHED PYRAMID. 2019-01-27. Retrieved 2022-09-11.
  9. ^ "2004 Hurricane Charley 10 year anniversary". South Dade News Leader. Retrieved 2022-07-25.
  10. ^ "Desoto Memorial Hospital Recovers from Hurricane Charley |". Retrieved 2022-07-25.
  11. ^ "Arcadia Moves On 10 Years After Hurricane Charley". WUSF Public Media. 2014-08-10. Retrieved 2022-07-25.
  12. ^ Cummings, Ian; Herald-Tribune (2014-08-08). "In DeSoto County, Charley's wounds linger". Extra. Retrieved 2022-07-25.
  13. ^ Snyder, David; Finkel, David (August 16, 2004). "Fla. Begins Recovery From Deadly Storm". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 25, 2022.
  14. ^ Kimel, Earle. "Peace River crests near record high, flooding homes". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Retrieved 2022-07-25.
  15. ^ "COVID-19 – City of Arcadia". Retrieved 2022-07-25.
  16. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  17. ^ "QuickFacts Arcadia city, Florida". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 20 June 2022.
  18. ^ Lane, Mark (1970). Arcadia. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. ISBN 978-0030818547.
  19. ^ "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved May 23, 2021.
  20. ^ "Summary of Monthly Normals 1991-2020". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved May 23, 2021.