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Largo
—  City  —

Flag
Nickname(s): "The City of Progress"
Location in Pinellas County and the state of Florida
Coordinates: 27°54′33″N 82°47′15″W / 27.90917°N 82.7875°W / 27.90917; -82.7875Coordinates: 27°54′33″N 82°47′15″W / 27.90917°N 82.7875°W / 27.90917; -82.7875
Country  United States
State  Florida
County  Pinellas
Incorporated June 6, 1905
Government
 - Type Commission-Manager
 - Mayor Patricia Gerard
Area [1] 1
 - Total 16.1 sq mi (41.8 km2)
 - Land 15.7 sq mi (40.6 km2)
 - Water 1.2 sq mi (1.2 km2)  2.85%
Elevation [2] 3 10 ft (10 m)
Population (1 July 2005)[3] 2
 - Total 74,473
 Density 4,625.65/sq mi (1,710.1/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 33770 - 33779
Area code(s) 727
FIPS code 12-39425[4]
GNIS feature ID 0285346[5]
Website http://www.largo.com/

Largo is the third largest city in Pinellas County, Florida, USA and is part of the Tampa Bay Area. Centrally located, it is the crossroads of the county. As of the 2000 census, the City had a total population of 69,371. As of 2004, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau was 71,704 [1].

Largo was first incorporated in 1905. In 1913, it became the first municipality in Pinellas County to adopt a Council-Manager government. It switched back and forth from "town" to "city" a few times, and became a city again in 1974. It was an exporter of agricultural products until the 1960s when the influx of people began to transform it into a bedroom community. From 1905 to 2005, Largo grew in area from 9/16ths of a square mile to about 17 square miles (44 km2), and in population from about 300 people to more than 70,000. Largo began as a rural farming community and became the third largest city in Florida's most densely populated county. Largo is also a sister city to Tosayamada, Kochi, Japan. In 2007, Largo had been named a National Arbor Day Tree City seventeen years in a row.

Contents

History

The original inhabitants of the Largo area were the Tocobaga. They are also known as the Safety Harbor culture from their archeological remains near present day Safety Harbor, Florida. The Spanish came to Florida in the 16th century. In the 18th century, the Tocobaga had been virtually destroyed after years of exposure to European diseases, Spanish colonization efforts and warfare between Spain and England. The Largo area, like the rest of Pinellas County, was largely deserted. In 1763, England won Florida from Spain. In 1783, Spain won it back, but was forced to cede the region to the United States in 1821, following Andrew Jackson's invasion. In 1845, a surveyor noted Lake Tolulu, apparently located south of East Bay Drive and roughly where the Largo Central Park Nature Preserve is today. Among the first homesteaders in the Largo area were the families of James and Daniel McMullen ca 1852.

Boardwalk across wetlands in Largo Central Park Nature Preserve, the bed of former Lake Largo.

The McMullens and other settlers raised cattle, grew citrus and vegetables and fished. During the American Civil War, many Largo area residents fought for the Confederate States of America. James and Daniel McMullen were members of the “Cow Cavalry” driving Florida cattle to Georgia and the Carolinas to help sustain the war effort. Other area residents served on blockade runners. Still others left the area to serve in the Confederacy’s armies. After the War, Largo area residents returned to farming, ranching and raising citrus. The Orange Blossom Railroad reached the area in 1888. By this time Lake Tolulu had been renamed Lake Largo, and residents of the community west of the lake adopted the name “Largo“.

Largo City Hall

The Town of Largo was incorporated in 1905. Lake Largo was drained in 1916 to make way for growth and development. Between 1910 and 1930, Largo's population increased about 500%. Then and for decades afterwards, Largo's economy was based on agriculture—citrus groves, cattle ranches, and hog farms as well as turpentine stills and sawmills. Largo is best remembered as "Citrus City," from the time it was a citrus packing, canning and shipping center.

The Great Depression was unkind to Largo. Largo lacked the financial resources to meet its obligations. Largo reverted to its 1913 boundaries and charter. The population dropped approximately 30%. The debt incurred by the issuance of bonds in the late 1920s was not paid off until after World War II.

Taylor Lake Park is a County Park in Largo on 8th Avenue SW.

The years after World War II saw rapid growth as people began moving into the area and Largo annexed surrounding lands. During the Nuclear Arms Race, electronics companies like General Electric and Honeywell boosted the economy. The population increased to about 5,000 in 1960, to about 20,000 in 1970, and to about 70,000 in 2005. Largo's original area was 9/16th of a square mile. By 1982, Largo had grown to about 13 square miles (34 km2) and covers about 17 square miles (44 km2) in 2005. The groves, farms, ranches and forests have mostly given way to homes and shopping centers and light industry. The increased population resulted in a need for increased city services. All departments saw rapid growth and improvements in quality, especially under the leadership of the late Mayor Thom Feaster. In 1995, Largo Central Park opened on the site of the old Pinellas County Fairgrounds. It is the setting for the Largo Cultural Center and the Largo Public Library.

In the 2006 commission elections, Largo achieved two milestones furthering its motto of "City of Progress." Democrat Patricia Gerard became the City's first female mayor. She narrowly defeated incumbent mayor Dr. Robert E. Jackson, Ph.D. in a bitterly contested race. (Dr. Jackson had been the longest serving elected Democrat in Pinellas County.) The voters' choice between these two candidates decided the major issue of the election: that the City would not revert to a mayor-dominated process of governance in lieu of the continuing role for the seven member Commission acting as non-partisans—that is, deliberating independently and equally with the Mayor and deciding democratically the political issues of the City.

Also, the City elected its first Commissioner of African-American descent, Rodney J. Woods, in a landslide against a former commissioner.

In February 2007, Largo made headline news when it was announced at a press conference that the City Manager, Steve Stanton was transsexual and that he was to transition to living as a woman. After several weeks of public debate, copious citizen input and frenzied media coverage, the City Commission voted 5:2 to remove Mr. Stanton from his position.

Geography

Largo is located at 27°54′30″N 82°46′40″W / 27.90833°N 82.77778°W / 27.90833; -82.77778 (27.908355, -82.777791)[6]. It is centrally located in Pinellas County, touching the Intracoastal Waterway to the southwest and Tampa Bay to the northeast. Clearwater is Largo's neighbor to the north. To the northwest are the towns of Belleair and Belleair Bluffs. The City of Pinellas Park lies south of eastern Largo. Seminole lies south of western Largo. The community of Ridgecrest forms a large enclave between western and central Largo. A number of county enclaves pepper the City of Largo.

In 2004, Largo's land area was about 17 square miles (44 km2) including 651 acres (2.6 km2) of park lands. The City of Largo's lowest elevation is sea level. At its highest, the City's elevation is about 69 feet (21 m). The City is dotted with a number of lakes, the largest of which is Taylor Lake at 53 acres. Allen's Creek drains northeast Largo, flowing into Tampa Bay. McKay Creek flows through southwest Largo into the Intracoastal Waterway. The McKay Creek basin is prone to flooding because of its size and its relative elevations.

Climate

Winter temperatures in Largo are generally milder than in many other parts of the country.

Largo is located on the Pinellas Peninsula, so that its climate is mediated by its close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and further mediated by Tampa Bay. In the winter, temperatures are warmer on the Pinellas Peninsula than on mainland Florida. Winters are generally drier than the rest of the year. Most of the rainfall occurs in the summer, when the sea breeze carries moisture from the Gulf of Mexico inland. Largo's record low is 22 F, recorded on December 13, 1962. Largo's record high is 100 F, recorded on July 5, 1995.

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high [°F] 69 71 75 80 86 89 90 90 88 83 77 71 80
Average low temperature [°F] 54 55 60 65 71 75 77 77 76 70 63 56 66
Rainfall (inches) 2.76 2.87 3.29 1.92 2.80 6.09 6.72 8.26 7.59 2.64 2.04 2.60 49.58

Demographics

Household income 2000 census data for Largo, Florida and environs. Area shown exceeds the corporate limits of the City of Largo.

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 69,371 people, 34,041 households, and 18,382 families residing in the City. The population density was 1,710.4/km² (4,429.1/mi²). There were 40,261 housing units at an average density of 992.6/km² (2,570.5/mi²). The racial makeup of the City was 99.71% White, 2.69% African American, 0.34% Native American, 1.69% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 0.99% from other races, and 1.49% from two or more races. 4.18% of the population is Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 34,041 households out of which 17.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.8% were married couples living together, 9.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.0% were non-families. 38.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.99 and the average family size was 2.59.

In the City the population was spread out with 15.6% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 25.1% from 25 to 44, 23.0% from 45 to 64, and 30.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 48 years. For every 100 females there were 87.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.9 males.

The median income for a household in the City was $32,217, and the median income for a family was $41,523. Males had a median income of $30,186 versus $24,477 for females. The per capita income for the City was $20,848. About 6.0% of families and 9.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.0% of those under age 18 and 8.6% of those age 65 or over.

Economy

The decline of agriculture with the influx of new residents beginning in the 1960s largely transformed Largo into a bedroom community. Electronics, though important, could not fill the gap left by agriculture. Other light manufacturers fill various niches. The vast majority of jobs in Largo are in services and in retail sales.

The health care industry continues to grow to meet the needs of an aging population. Hospitals are among the area's strongest employers. Largo Medical Center Hospital, owned by HCA, was built in 1978. It is the only hospital in Pinellas County with all private rooms. Sun Coast Hospital, a not-for-profit owned by a community foundation, was founded in 1957.

Infrastructure

Transportation

The City of Largo is served by two international airports, Tampa International Airport and St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport. St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport is located about six miles (10 km) east of downtown. Tampa International Airport is located about twenty miles (32 km) east of downtown on the other side of Tampa Bay. The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority provides bus service throughout Pinellas County and express service to Tampa. State Roads 686 and 688 pass through Largo to connect with Interstate 275, which connects with I-75. US 19 and US-19A run north-to-south through Largo. A grid of county roads connects Largo with its neighbors.

City of Largo Government Services

Gerard and Woods

The City of Largo has garnered a number of awards and certifications. In 1999, Largo Fire Rescue became the second agency in Florida to earn accreditation from the Commission on Fire Accreditation International. The Largo Police Department won accreditation by the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Agencies and the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. Largo's Solid Waste workers regularly win awards at the SWANA International Truck & Mechanic ROAD-E-O. Largo's CFO, Kimbal Adams, won the 2004 Florida League of City's CFO of the Year Award. In 2005, the "new" Largo Public Library won the award for the Best Design in the Government / Institutional category at the International Interior Design Association 2005 Forum Awards. In 2000, the library won the Genealogy Outstanding Achievement Award by the Florida State Genealogical Society

Commission

The Clocktower at Largo Central Park.

The City of Largo is governed by a commission of seven people elected at large to staggered, three year terms. The mayor acts as a member and presiding officer of the Commission. The Commission's role encompasses the setting of city policy, exercising those duties imposed by the charter and law. In so doing, the Commission executes the City's powers by the passage of resolutions and ordinances. The Commission appoints and directs the City Manager and approves the City Manager's appointments for City Attorney, Assistant City Manager, and City Clerk.

Administration

The City Manager directs the Administration in governing and providing municipal services to Largo. The Administrative Department includes the City Manager's Office, the City Attorney's Office, the City Clerk's Office, the Communications and Marketing Office, the Office of Management and Budget, and the City Attorney.

The City Manager is appointed by and answerable to the City Commission as a whole. The City of Largo is unusual in that a supermajority of commissioners is required to terminate the City Manager. The City Manager appoints and supervises all department directors, and with Commission approval, appoints the Assistant City Manager, the City Clerk, and the City Attorney.

Police

Largo Police Car

The Police Department's role encompasses law enforcement within the corporate limits of the City of Largo.

Fire Rescue

Largo Fire Rescue Station 41, the largest of Largo's fire stations.

Largo Fire Rescue provides fire protection and emergency medical services for the Largo and Highpoint Fire/EMS Districts as well as management support to the Harbor Bluffs Fire District. Fire & EMS Operations suppresses fires, provides hazardous materials response, and provides emergency medical services. There are also sections for Fire Prevention, Support Services and Administration .

Public Works

Largo Public Works Claw truck lifting a mattress.

The Public Works Department supports city owned infrastructure. Facility Management provides custodial, facility maintenance, construction project management and communications. Fleet Management coordinates vehicle purchasing and maintenance. Streets and Drainage provides installation and maintenance of roadways, storm drainage systems and traffic control signage. Solid Waste provides refuse, yard waste and recycling collection. The City of Largo Public Works Department is also an Accredited Agency.

Recreation, Parks and Arts

Largo, Florida's Ulmer Park bandstand

The Recreation, Parks and Arts Department's role encompasses recreational, cultural, environmental and athletic programs. The department maintains community parks, playgrounds and greenways, and offers educational and entertainment events and celebrations. The Recreation, Parks and Arts Department groups fourteen programs into four categories: Administration, Recreation, Parks, and Cultural Arts. Administration provides budgeting and administrative support and coordinates special events and marketing. Recreation consists of all recreation facilities and active recreation programming. Parks coordinates maintenance and improvement of city parks, facility landscaping, medians and greenways. Cultural Arts manages and coordinates cultural performances and educational activities at the Largo Cultural Center and Historic Largo.

Management Services

Waterslide at Largo, Florida Recreation Center Aquatic Center at Highland Recreation Center.

The Management Services Department's handles accounting, finance and information technology. Management Services primarily provides services to other City departments, but also serves the public through utility billing. The Accounting and Finance Division maintains all official City accounting records and is responsible for financial reporting and implementation of financial management policies. The Information Technology (IT) Division provides computer technology services to all departments

Environmental Services

Largo, Florida Environmental Services lift station, where 8th Avenue SW crosses McKay Creek.

Environmental Services' role encompasses waste water management and distribution of reclaimed water to customers within the Largo Sewer District. The boundaries of the Largo Sewer District are vastly greater than the corporate bounds of the City of Largo.

Environmental Services' network of sewer lines and lift stations, delivers wastewater to the City's award-winning wastewater treatment facility. It is made up of 380 miles (612 km) of sanitary sewer lines with 5200 manholes and 52 lift stations. The facility treats 13 million gallons of wastewater per day and serves approximately 100,000 customers. By-products of the treatment's process are sold in the form of effluent reclaimed water and high-grade pelletized solids for soil conditioning.

Largo Public Library

Largo, Florida's new 90,000+ square foot public library opened in July, 2005

The Largo Public Library is one of the most heavily used libraries in Pinellas County, with an annual circulation of over 700,000 items. The collection includes a variety of formats, including books, DVDs, CDs, videos, e-books and audio book collections.

The Largo Public Library houses several special collections, which include the genealogy collection, the Rugg Financial Center, the Pathways Career Center, the Small Business Resource Center, a large print collection and a parent-teacher collection. The library offers a variety of educational and cultural programs on subjects that include literary figures, historical topics, financial and legal issues, parenting, health, social issues and environmental concerns. It also has a specialized teen-only section which hosts multiple events.

Notable people from Largo

References

Sources

  • City of Largo Staff. Citizen's Academy Handbook. Largo. 2003.
  • Coughlin, Leo. Around Here Clearwater Gazette. Online. June 23, 2005.
  • de Quesada Jr, A.M. and Luisi, Vincent. Images of America Pinellas County. Tempus Publishing. Charleston, SC. 1998.
  • Pinellas County Planning Department as staff for the Pinellas County Planning Council. Pinellas County Historical Background. No city. No date.
  • Yahoo weather. Online. Jan. 4, 2006.

Further reading

External links








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