National Register Listings in
Polk County, Florida

Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Depot Auburndale Citrus Growers Association Packing House Auburndale City Hall Babson Park Woman's Club Bartow Downtown Commercial District Baynard, Ephriam M., House Beacon Hill-Alta Vista Residential District Biltmore-Cumberland Historic District Bok Mountain Lake Sanctuary and Singing Tower Brown, Lawrence, House Bullard, B. K., House Casa De Josefina Central Avenue School Central Grammar School, Old Chalet Suzanne Christ Church Church of the Holy Spirit Cleveland Court School Cox, John F., Grammar School Craney Spec Houses Historic District Cypress Gardens Davenport Historic District Dixie Walesbilt Hotel Dixieland Historic District Downtown Haines City Commercial District Downtown Winter Haven Historic District Dundee ACL Railroad Depot, Old East Lake Morton Residential District El Retiro First Baptist Church Florida Southern College Architectural District Fort Meade Historic District Frostproof High School, Old Griffin Grammar School Haines City National Guard Armory, Old Henley Field Ball Park Holland, Benjamin Franklin, House Homeland School Interlaken Historic Residential District Jenks, Holland, House Johnson, C. L., House Lake Hunter Terrace Historic District Lake Mirror Promenade Lake of the Hills Community Club Lake Wales City Hall Lake Wales Commercial Historic District Lake Wales Historic Residental District Lakeland High School, Old Lewis, W. Henry, House Mann Manor Mountain Lake Colony House Mountain Lake Estates Historic District Munn Park Historic District North Avenue Historic District Northeast Bartow Residential District Oak Hill Cemetery Oates Building Polk County Courthouse, Old Polk Hotel Polk Theatre and Office Building Pope Avenue Historic District Roosevelt School Shell Hammock Landing South Bartow Residential District South Florida Military College South Lake Morton Historic District Spook Hill St. Mark's Episcopal Church Swearingen, John J., House Thompson and Company Cigar Factory Tillman, G. V., House Winston School Winter Haven Heights Historic Residential District Woman's Club of Winter Haven
Florida was once a Spanish colony for over 250 years, from 1565 to 1821, before being ceded to the United States as part of the Adams-OnĂ­s Treaty.
Polk County, located in central Florida, has a rich history dating back thousands of years. The area was originally inhabited by various indigenous tribes, including the Tocobaga, Calusa, and Seminole Indians. These tribes thrived in the area prior to European colonization.

In the early 16th century, Spanish explorers arrived in Florida, claiming the land for the Spanish Crown. The region that would become Polk County was part of the Spanish territory until the United States acquired Florida from Spain in 1821. Shortly after, in 1838, the area was established as a county and named after James K. Polk, the 11th President of the United States.

During the mid-19th century, Polk County experienced a boom in its population and economy. The arrival of the railroads in the 1880s played a significant role in this growth, as it allowed for the transportation of goods and people more efficiently. This led to the development of agricultural industries, specifically citrus farming and phosphate mining, which became the county's major economic drivers.

Throughout the 20th century, Polk County continued to evolve. It became a popular destination for retirees and vacationers seeking warmer weather and access to nearby attractions like Walt Disney World. The county also played a crucial role in the aerospace industry, as it was home to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and supported NASA's space shuttle program.

Today, Polk County remains an important part of Florida's economy and culture. It continues to embrace its agricultural heritage, with citrus farming, cattle ranching, and the production of other crops being significant contributors to the local economy. The county's central location and transportation infrastructure also make it an attractive destination for businesses and tourists alike.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Polk County, Florida.

  • 1838 - Polk County was created on February 8, 1838, and named after James K. Polk, the 11th President of the United States.
  • 1849 - The first permanent settlement called "Fort Meade" was established in what is now Polk County.
  • 1881 - The city of Bartow became the county seat of Polk County.
  • 1885 - The phosphate industry began to flourish in Polk County, leading to substantial economic growth.
  • 1908 - The city of Lakeland was incorporated and quickly grew as a center for citrus production.
  • 1930s - Polk County experienced a significant boom in tourism thanks to the opening of Walt Disney World in nearby Orange County.
  • 1981 - The city of Winter Haven became home to the first Legoland theme park in the United States.
  • 2004 - The County Commission approved the development of a new 1,300-acre nature park called Circle B Bar Reserve.