Belle Glade, Florida

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Belle Glade, Florida
The former sign at the entrance to Belle Glade
The former sign at the entrance to Belle Glade
Location of Belle Glade, Florida
Location of Belle Glade, Florida
Coordinates: 26°41′7″N 80°40′17″W / 26.68528°N 80.67139°W / 26.68528; -80.67139Coordinates: 26°41′7″N 80°40′17″W / 26.68528°N 80.67139°W / 26.68528; -80.67139
Country United States
State Florida
County Palm Beach
 • Total 4.7 sq mi (12.1 km2)
 • Land 4.6 sq mi (12.0 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 16 ft (5 m)
Population (2010)[1]
 • Total 17,467
 • Density 3,109.1/sq mi (1,200.4/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 33430
Area code(s) 561
FIPS code 12-05200[2]
GNIS feature ID 0278445[3]
African American migratory workers by a juke joint in Belle Glade, 1941. Photo by Marion Post Wolcott.

Belle Glade is a city in Palm Beach County, Florida, United States on the southeastern shore of Lake Okeechobee. According to the U.S Census estimates of 2011, the city had a population of 17,667.[1]

Belle Glade (and the surrounding area) is sometimes referred to as "Muck City" due to the large quantity of muck, in which sugarcane grows, found in the area.[4] About half the sugarcane in the nation is grown in the plains around Belle Glade and nearby Clewiston. Despite being located in the South Florida region of the state, Belle Glade is culturally more associated with the Florida Heartland.

For a time during the early to mid 1980s, the city had the highest rate of AIDS infection per capita (37 cases in a population of roughly 19,000) in the United States.[5] According to the FBI, in 2003, the city had the second highest violent crime rate in the country at 298 per 10,000 residents.


Belle Glade is located at 26°41′07″N 80°40′17″W / 26.685264°N 80.671275°W / 26.685264; -80.671275.[6]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.7 square miles (12 km2), of which 4.7 square miles (12 km2) are land and 0.21% is water.


The existence of Belle Glade is related to the federal project of draining the land around Lake Okeechobee, the acreage to be used for agriculture. The town was built in 1925 and destroyed three years later by a hurricane which killed thousands of people. The town was subsequently rebuilt. The area around Lake Okeechobee is fertile and farming has been an important industry.[7]

Many migrant farmworkers from Belle Glade appeared in the 1960 television documentary, Harvest of Shame.

Men and women still gather around 5 a.m. in the same lot you see at the beginning of Harvest of Shame, waiting for buses to take them to the fields. The "loading ramp," as it's called, is a bleak, empty lot, surrounded by some small buildings with bars on the windows and a boarded up storefront.[8]

As of May 2014 the city has plans "to demolish the loading ramp and turn it into a park."[8]

The town is known for its football tradition, and together with nearby Pahokee has "sent at least 60 players to the National Football League".[9]


The cane sugar mill of the "Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative" (SCGC) is located at Belle Glade. During the crop season the factory employs 550 people.[10]

As of Feb. 2013, the official unemployment rate was about 15%; however, the town's mayor suggested the actual unemployment rate was closer to 40%. The number of jobs available locally dropped as local agriculture shifted from vegetables to sugarcane, a more highly mechanized crop.[9]

Government and infrastructure[edit]

The United States Postal Service operates the Belle Glade Post Office.[11]

The Florida Department of Corrections operated the Glades Correctional Institution in an unincorporated area in Palm Beach County near Belle Glade.[12] It was founded in 1932, employed about 350, had a capacity of 918 inmates [12] and was scheduled for closure in December 2011.[13][13]

Points of interest[edit]

The Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail runs through Belle Glade.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1930 926
1940 3,806 311.0%
1950 7,219 89.7%
1960 11,273 56.2%
1970 15,949 41.5%
1980 16,535 3.7%
1990 16,177 −2.2%
2000 14,906 −7.9%
2010 17,467 17.2%
Est. 2015 18,251 [14] 4.5%
U.S. Decennial Census[15]

As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 14,906 people, 4,854 households, and 3,431 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,206.2 inhabitants per square mile (1,237.7/km²). There were 5,374 housing units at an average density of 1,155.9 per square mile (446.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 13.8% White (non-Hispanic), 50.68% Black or African American, 27.57% Hispanic or Latino of any race, 0.17% Native American, 0.19% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 9.70% from other races, and 8.93% from two or more races.[16]

There were 4,854 households out of which 39.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.9% were married couples living together, 22.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.3% were non-families. 23.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.04 and the average family size was 3.62.

In the city, the population was spread out with 33.5% under the age of 18, 10.0% from 18 to 24, 27.1% from 25 to 44, 20.7% from 45 to 64, and 8.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 103.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $22,715, and the median income for a family was $26,756. Males had a median income of $26,232 versus $21,410 for females. The per capita income for the city was $11,159. About 28.5% of families and 32.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 41.1% of those under age 18 and 21.4% of those age 65 or over.

As of 2000, speakers of English as a first language accounted for 61.03% of all residents, while Spanish as a mother tongue consisted of 26.87%, Haitian Creole comprised 11.00%, and French made up 1.07% of the population.[17]

As of 2000, Belle Glade had the tenth highest percentage of Haitian residents in the United States, at 11.50% of the populace.[18] It also had the sixtieth highest percentage of Cuban residents nationally, at 5.98% of the population.[19]


School District of Palm Beach County operates public schools.

Elementary schools[edit]

  • Gove Elementary
  • Belle Glade Elementary
  • Glade View Elementary
  • Pioneer Park Elementary
  • Sellew Belle Glade Excel Charter School

Middle schools[edit]

  • Lake Shore Middle School

High schools[edit]

Private schools[edit]


Notable people[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

In CBS Reports' 1960 program Harvest of Shame, Belle Glade plays a prominent role as a source of migrant agricultural labor.

The final scenes of the crime novel Pretty Little Things by Jilliane Hoffman take place in a sugarcane plantation near Belle Glade.

The high school football culture of Belle Glade is the subject of the non-fiction book, Muck City: Winning and Losing in Football's Forgotten Town by author Bryan Mealer.

The psychedelic pop band of Montreal released a track titled, "Belle Glade Missionaries" on their 2013 album, Lousy with Sylvianbriar.

In Zora Neale Hurston's novel "Their Eyes Were Watching God" characters Janie and Tea Cake join other African American migrant workers in picking beans in Belle Glade.


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts: Belle Glade (city), Florida". US Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-02-02. 
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  4. ^ Adelson, Eric. "The Chase". ESPN The Magazine. ESPN. Retrieved 23 May 2011. 
  5. ^ AEGiS-Miami Herald: PLAGUE BAFFLES TOWN Belle Glades AIDS rate tops in U.S
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  7. ^ Gorman, Juliet. "Introduction to Belle Glade". Archived from the original on 14 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-08. 
  8. ^ a b "In Confronting Poverty, 'Harvest Of Shame' Reaped Praise And Criticism". NPR. Retrieved 2014-05-31. 
  9. ^ a b Ovaska, Mark, "The Way Out", New York Times, February 2, 2013. "In Muck City, football is salvation, an escape from the likelihood of prison or early death."
  10. ^ press release of SCGC, added 2011-04-24[dead link]
  11. ^ "Post Office™ Location - BELLE GLADE." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on August 26, 2011.
  12. ^ a b "Glades Correctional Institution." Florida Department of Corrections. Retrieved on August 26, 2011. Archived September 26, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ a b Kam, Dara, and Jennifer Sorentrue, "Rep. Bernard: State prisons chief says Glades prison will close Dec. 1", Palm Beach Post, September 21, 2011.
  14. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Demographics of Belle Glade, FL". Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  17. ^ "MLA Data Center Results of Belle Glade, FL". Modern Language Association. Archived from the original on July 31, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  18. ^ "Ancestry Map of Haitian Communities". Archived from the original on 11 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  19. ^ "Ancestry Map of Cuban Communities". Archived from the original on 7 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  20. ^ "Reidel Anthony Past Stats, Statistics, History, and Awards -". Archived from the original on 28 May 2011. Retrieved April 24, 2011. High School: Glades Central (Belle Glade, FL) 
  21. ^ "Player Bio: Brad Banks :: Football". Archived from the original on November 25, 2010. Retrieved April 24, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Jessie Hester Past Stats, Statistics, History, and Awards -". Retrieved April 24, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Santonio Holmes Past Stats, Statistics, History, and Awards -". Archived from the original on 19 May 2011. Retrieved April 24, 2011. 
  24. ^ "James Lee Past Stats, Statistics, History, and Awards -". Retrieved April 24, 2011. 
  25. ^ "Louis Oliver Past Stats, Statistics, History, and Awards -". Retrieved April 24, 2011. 
  26. ^ "Fred Taylor Past Stats, Statistics, History, and Awards -". Archived from the original on 28 May 2011. Retrieved April 24, 2011. High School: Glades Central (Belle Glade, FL) 
  27. ^ "Andre Waters Past Stats, Statistics, History, and Awards -". Retrieved April 24, 2011. 
  28. ^ "Rhondy Weston Past Stats, Statistics, History, and Awards -". Retrieved June 3, 2014. 
  • Mealer, Bryan (2012). Muck city: winning and losing in football's forgotten town. New York: Crown Archetype. ISBN 9780307888624. 


  • Florida, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides, 2004, pg. 124

External links[edit]