Wildwood, Florida

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Wildwood, Florida
Wildwood City Hall
Wildwood City Hall
Location in Sumter County and the state of Florida
Location in Sumter County and the state of Florida
Coordinates: 28°51′31″N 82°2′19″W / 28.85861°N 82.03861°W / 28.85861; -82.03861Coordinates: 28°51′31″N 82°2′19″W / 28.85861°N 82.03861°W / 28.85861; -82.03861
Country  United States
State  Florida
County  Sumter
 • Total 5.2 sq mi (13.4 km2)
 • Land 5.2 sq mi (13.4 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation 66 ft (20 m)
Population (2000)
 • Total 3,924
 • Density 754.6/sq mi (292.8/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 34785
Area code(s) 352
FIPS code 12-77675[1]
GNIS feature ID 0293301[2]

Wildwood is a city in Sumter County, Florida, United States. The population was 3,924 at the 2000 census. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2004 estimates, the city had a population of 3,598.


Wildwood is located at 28°51′31″N 82°2′19″W / 28.85861°N 82.03861°W / 28.85861; -82.03861 (28.858610, -82.038499).[3]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 13.4 [[km2]] (5.2 mi2), all land.


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 3,924 people, 1,640 households, and 1,074 families residing in the city. The population density was 759.7 inhabitants per square mile (293.0/km2). There were 2,062 housing units at an average density of 399.2 per square mile (154.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 64.76% White, 32.93% African American, 0.13% Native American, 0.13% Asian, 0.97% from other races, and 1.10% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.42% of the population.

There were 1,640 households out of which 23.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% were married couples living together, 17.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.5% were non-families. 30.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 20.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.81.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.3% under the age of 18, 6.5% from 18 to 24, 18.4% from 25 to 44, 19.0% from 45 to 64, and 33.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 48 years. For every 100 females there were 83.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $23,357, and the median income for a family was $27,247. Males had a median income of $23,250 versus $18,103 for females. The per capita income for the city was $11,758. About 17.3% of families and 21.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 39.6% of those under age 18 and 8.1% of those age 65 or over.


I. E. Barwick is considered to have founded Wildwood in 1877, according to Wanton S. Webb's History of Florida, which was published near the end of the nineteenth century.

Wildwood was home to Buddy's Bar-B-Que, a notable holdout against Florida's smoking ban, located on US 301. It received moderate local media attention in July 2004, due to a 10-foot-long (3.0 m), 5-foot-tall (1.5 m), fiberglass pig attached to the roof of the building. Formerly just decoration, it now has a section of PVC pipe protruding from its rear end painted to resemble a cigarette. Attached to cooking smoke from inside, the restaurant's slogan is "Home of the Smokin' Pig". Signs indoors state that smoking is permitted, although donations are accepted to pay for smoking fines. Buddy's has since closed.

Crossroads of Florida[edit]

Old railroad station

Wildwood is located at the juncture of Interstate 75, Florida's Turnpike, State Road 44, and U.S. Highway 301. For many years Wildwood was the northern control city on Turnpike road signs however this was replaced with Ocala, Florida beginning in 2007. Because of its centralized location and easy access to both coasts, it is often referred to as "The Crossroads of Florida". CSX railroad also has a station located on Main Street in Wildwood. The station was also a stop along Amtrak's national commuter route until 2004.[4] Today, the former station is a CSX maintenance yard. In addition there is an abandoned railroad spur owned by the Florida Midland Railroad that once led to Leesburg, but now runs along County Road 44A and was the home for some abandoned freight cars until some point in the first decade of the 21st Century.

In the 20th Century Wildwood was the dividing yard for the Seaboard Airline Railroad (Seaboard Coastline in later years) where southbound passenger trains were divided up into east coast (Miami) and west coast (Tampa and south) sections and northbound trains from both coasts joined together.

Notable residents[edit]

  • Ellis Johnson, former player of the National Football League.
  • Ron Dixon, former player of the National Football League.
  • Dan Sikes, former professional American golfer.
  • Marvin Coleman, former player in the Canadian Football League.
  • Keith Jones, Emmy-Award Winning Analyst for Sun Sports.
  • Dana Fuchs, singer, songwriter, actress and voice over talent most famous for her role as Sadie in the 2007 film Across the Universe
  • Elizabeth Cook, American country music singer.
  • Madam Barbara Stephenson, United States Ambassador. Madam Stephenson grew up in Wildwood and attended the Wildwood schools. She graduated Valedictorian from WHS in 1976. She taught English at the University of Florida for a time.


  1. ^ a b "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. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  4. ^ Amtrak passenger service is provided by bus connection to Jacksonville FL and Lakeland FL.Wildwood Amtrak Station (USA RailGuide -- TrainWeb)