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Crestview, Florida

Coordinates: 30°45′15″N 86°34′22″W / 30.75417°N 86.57278°W / 30.75417; -86.57278
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Crestview, Florida
City of Crestview
Okaloosa County's Courthouse (built 2018-2019)
Okaloosa County's Courthouse (built 2018-2019)
Location in Okaloosa County and the state of Florida
Location in Okaloosa County and the state of Florida
Coordinates: 30°45′15″N 86°34′22″W / 30.75417°N 86.57278°W / 30.75417; -86.57278
Country United States
State Florida
 • TypeCouncil-Manager[2]
 • MayorJB Whitten
 • Mayor Pro TemDouglas Capps
 • Council MembersJoe Blocker,
Andrew Rencich,
Cynthia Brown, and
Ryan Bullard
 • City ManagerTim Bolduc
 • City ClerkMaryanne Girard
 • Total17.27 sq mi (44.74 km2)
 • Land17.03 sq mi (44.11 km2)
 • Water0.24 sq mi (0.63 km2)
236 ft (72 m)
 • Total27,134
 • Density1,593.12/sq mi (615.12/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
32536, 32539
Area code850
FIPS code12-15475[4]
GNIS feature ID0281044[5]

Crestview is the largest city in Okaloosa County, Florida, United States. The population was 27,134 at the 2020 census, up from 20,978 at the 2010 census.[6] It is the county seat of Okaloosa County.[7] With an elevation of 235 feet (72 m) above sea level, it is one of the highest points in the state.

Crestview is a principal city of the Crestview—Fort Walton BeachDestin, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Former Okaloosa County courthouse in March 2008 (replaced in 2018)

Crestview was largely an outgrowth of the coming of railroad service to the west Panhandle of Florida.[8]

The Pensacola and Atlantic Railroad Company, chartered in 1881, opened its line between Pensacola and Chattahoochee in January 1883. Soon two express passenger trains, the Atlantic Express and the Gulf Express, and a local accommodation train that stopped everywhere, were in daily operation. The expresses took about six hours to make the run, the local, thirteen hours. When the railroad company was unable to cover the interest owed bondholders, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad covered the shortfalls until 1885, and then foreclosed, merging the route into their system as the L & N's Pensacola and Atlantic Division.[9]

In 1894, sawmill operator W. B. Wright opened the 26-mile (42 km) Yellow River Railroad between Crestview and Florala, Alabama via Auburn, Campton, and Laurel Hill. The L & N supplied the line with freight cars, and in 1906, purchased the operation,[10] as the Yellow River Branch. This line, without any major shippers on it to make it profitable, was used for freight car storage for a time in the early 1980s and then was abandoned with 25.3 miles of the route lifted after May 1985,[11] although the right of way still exists, with some portions paved as local streets.

Crestview was officially incorporated as a city in 1916.[1] The 1920 US Census for the City of Crestview showed that the population consisted of 500 residents.[12]

On July 23, 1920, Crestview hosted the first public hanging for Okaloosa County. Robert Blackwell was convicted of killing Nancy and Bud Davis in 1917, and received the death penalty. One week prior to the date of his hanging, Blackwell confessed, and his confession was printed in area newspapers on his hanging day.[13] The second and last Okaloosa County hangings took place in Crestview, Florida on September 23, 1921. Thousands of curious onlookers came from surrounding states. Putnam Ponsell and Jacob Benjamin Marin were publicly hanged for killing John F. Tuggle. This double hanging in 1921 was the last public hanging in Florida.[14]

Smith-Johnson Company, Inc. opened a garment factory in Crestview in 1937 that utilized 250 machines and employed "around 300 persons".[15]

A modern bus terminal served by the Greyhound Lines' Jacksonville-Los Angeles route, as well as connections north to Atlanta, Memphis and New York,[16] featuring waiting rooms, lounge, smoking rooms, restaurant, and loading concourse, opened on the corner of Ferdon and Pearl Streets on Friday 9 May 1941. As per the standards of the era, it was segregated.[17]

As nearby Eglin Field was expanded into a major testing base, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad laid a long sidetrack in Crestview in the spring of 1941 to handle the number of oil tank cars required to supply the Asphault Products Company with material for the vast paving job of the ten new airfields. A fleet of trucks were operated round the clock to offload an estimated 180 car loads of petroleum product for the task.[18]

A recreation center for enlisted men at the expanding Eglin Field was opened in Crestview on Saturday, June 21, 1941, through the efforts of the Community Recreation Council, the Works Progress Administration, and the Okaloosa Progressive Association.[19][20]

In late January 1943, a "misunderstanding" by the constabulary of Crestview put the community off limits to military personnel from Eglin Field. The Pensacola News Journal reported on 31 January that the town was off the "black list." According to the front-page report, "The out-of-town bounds restrictions that had been imposed on Crestview by Eglin field [sic] authorities were lifted at noon today [30 January], after a conference of town officials and Eglin authorities, and it was stated that soldiers from the field may visit the town. Billy Powell, town marshal, whose arrest of a soldier for reckless driving and an Eglin officer for interference, precipitated the trouble during the week, has been suspended by the town council. Powell was himself put in the county jail by an MP detachment from Eglin field and stayed there until his attorney, John M. Coe, Pensacola, released him through circuit court action."[21] The servicemen involved had taken a convoy of newly trained Aviation Engineering Battalion personnel to load on a train at Crestview when the over-zealous marshal tried to arrest a black jeep driver for a U-turn, thus leading to the unpleasantness. After Eglin Commanding Officer Brigadier General Grandison Gardner explained the economics of wartime to the city fathers, they chose a more reasonable replacement for town marshal.[citation needed]

On July 31, 1949, the L&N inaugurated the Gulf Wind streamliner through Crestview between New Orleans and Jacksonville, in conjunction with the Seaboard Air Line Railroad, replacing the heavyweight New Orleans-Florida Limited. It operated until April 30, 1971, when Amtrak took over most U.S. rail passenger service and discontinued this route.[citation needed]

In the 1960s, Crestview was the location for the studio of the Apache Records label.[22]

As part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure round, Crestview experienced further population growth as the U.S. Army's 7th Special Forces Group relocated from Fort Bragg, North Carolina to a newly built cantonment facility on the northern end of the Eglin Air Force Base reservation, approximately six miles south of the city.

In 2007, George Whitehurst, who had been mayor for nearly 20 years, resigned, leading to the election of David Cadle. Cadle had retired in 2006 as the long-time director of the Crestview High School band, The Big Red Machine.[23] Cadle was replaced in 2019 by a retired member of the US Air Force, former high school teacher and city council member, JB Whitten, as the city switched to a council-manager form of government.[2]

In September 2022, two planes owned by Vertol, a Destin, Florida corporation with ties to congressman Matt Gaetz and Governor Ron DeSantis transported 50 Venezuelan asylum seekers from San Antonio, Texas to Crestview airport, en route to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. The passengers did not disembark from the planes. DeSantis had received an appropriation of $12 million to transport migrants out of the state, funding under the purview of attorney Larry Keefe, DeSantis' public safety czar, who was in charge of immigrant affairs. Vertol was paid $615,000 on September 8 for the transport, and received another $980,000 less than two weeks later. The immigrants had been solicited by a recent U.S. Army retiree, Perla Huerta, to travel to Massachusetts where those so recruited had been misled to believe they would receive English lessons, funds, legal services, jobs and housing at their destination. Notification had not been given to the destination community regarding their impending arrival and needs.[24]


Crestview, Florida from above



Crestview is located halfway between Destin and Pensacola. [25]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.8 square miles (33 km2), of which 12.8 square miles (33 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) (0.23%) is water.



Crestview's climate is officially described as humid subtropical (Köppen Cfa). In summer, Crestview has some of the hottest temperatures in the state, with an average summer high of 92 °F (33 °C). Lows in summer average in the high 60s to low 70s, with each year seeing a handful of 100 °F+ days. The all-time record high is 105 °F (41 °C), recorded on July 14, 1980.[26] On average, the city receives 63.6 inches (1,620 mm) of rainfall annually.

Winters compare to those of interior Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia. Highs average in the lower to mid 60s (16°-19 °C), and lows average upper 30s (almost 4 °C). The all-time record low is 8 °F (−13 °C), on January 13, 1981; however, nearby areas such as DeFuniak Springs and Tallahassee hit 0 °F (−17.8 °C) and −2 °F (−18.9 °C) respectively before the airport records for Crestview began. The city lies within the USDA Hardiness Zone 8, the coldest temperature of the season is typically between 10 °F (−12 °C) and 20 °F (−7 °C). On average there are 38.5 nights where the temperature falls below freezing, with the average window for freezes being November 10 through March 23. Snowfall occurs every three years on average, however, significant amounts only happen once every 10 years.

Vegetation here consists of typical Floridian vegetation as well as several deciduous species from further north. Some palm trees are found here, although only cold-hardy varieties like the state tree, the Sabal palmetto, as well as types of dogwood, maple, hickory, and sweet gum. Blueberries are a native crop raised for sale locally, in addition to Strawberries. In 1919, M.A. Sapp reported shipping his blueberries from May 10 until the end of August, netting $605.85 for his crop, in addition to that which he shared with friends and family.[27] Fall foliage can be seen in November and December, and Spring blossoms occur from early March through May. Summer typically lasts from late April to early October, and winter lasts from mid-December through mid-February.

Climate data for Crestview, Florida (Bob Sikes Airport), 1991–2020 normals, extremes 1948–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 85
Mean maximum °F (°C) 76.8
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 62.7
Daily mean °F (°C) 50.6
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 38.5
Mean minimum °F (°C) 20.3
Record low °F (°C) 8
Average precipitation inches (mm) 5.66
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 10.1 9.0 8.2 7.7 8.4 12.7 15.9 14.9 10.2 7.3 7.5 9.9 121.8
Source: NOAA[28][29]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[30]

2010 and 2020 census

Crestview racial composition
(Hispanics excluded from racial categories)
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race Pop 2010[31] Pop 2020[32] % 2010 % 2020
White (NH) 14,208 15,964 67.73% 58.83%
Black or African American (NH) 3,793 4,905 18.08% 18.08%
Native American or Alaska Native (NH) 85 118 0.41% 0.43%
Asian (NH) 636 763 3.03% 2.81%
Pacific Islander or Native Hawaiian (NH) 55 76 0.26% 0.28%
Some other race (NH) 65 173 0.31% 0.64%
Two or more races/Multiracial (NH) 746 2,146 3.56% 7.91%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 1,390 2,989 6.63% 11.02%
Total 20,978 27,134

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 27,134 people, 8,984 households, and 5,971 families residing in the city.[33]

As of the 2010 United States census, there were 20,978 people, 7,319 households, and 5,150 families residing in the city.[34]

2000 census


As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 14,766 people, 5,297 households, and 3,893 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,153.7 inhabitants per square mile (445.4/km2). There were 5,918 housing units at an average density of 462.4 per square mile (178.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 74.71% White, 18.41% African American, 0.60% Native American, 2.28% Asian, 0.15% Pacific Islander, 1.22% from other races, and 2.62% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.26% of the population. The population estimate for 2005 was 17,707 people.

In 2000, there were 5,297 households, out of which 40.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.5% were married couples living together, 16.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.5% were non-families. 22.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.65 and the average family size was 3.09.

In 2000, in the city, the population was spread out, with 29.2% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 32.5% from 25 to 44, 17.8% from 45 to 64, and 11.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.5 males.

In 2000, the median income for a household in the city was $23,122, and the median income for a family was $31,824. Males had a median income of $27,829 versus $19,261 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,479. About 45.2% of families and 59.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 56.2% of those under age 18 and 30.4% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture




The city's first library was founded in the 1940s. In 2002, the Crestview Robert L. F. Sikes Public Library opened. The library is part of the Okaloosa County Public Library Cooperative.[35]



The public schools in Crestview are served by Okaloosa County School District.

Public high school

  • Crestview School, the first school for African-Americans in Crestview, was built in 1926. In 1944, a city block was purchased for a new high school for black students. In 1945, Crestview Colored High School was built on School Avenue. Later, it was renamed after George Washington Carver, and eventually was renamed Carver-Hill School in honor of the efforts of Ed Hill.
  • After integration in 1966, high school students were transferred to the previously all-white Crestview High School and Carver-Hill was utilized for younger students until 1982, when it was converted to administrative use.[36]

Public middle schools

  • Davidson Middle School and Shoal River Middle School are located at the north and south ends of the city, respectively.

Public elementary schools

  • Northwood Elementary School and Riverside Elementary School are located at the north south ends of the city.





Bob Sikes Airport is a public-use airport located 3 miles (4.8 km) northeast of the central business district. It was established in 1941.

Major highways through Crestview are:

From early 1994 through August 2005, Crestview was served by the tri-weekly Amtrak Sunset Limited, but service east of New Orleans to Jacksonville and Orlando was suspended due to damage to the rail line of CSX by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. This was previously the route of the Gulf Wind streamlined passenger train, operated by the Louisville and Nashville Railroad.

Sister cities



  1. ^ a b "MUNICIPAL DIRECTORY - Florida League of Cities". www.floridaleagueofcities.com.
  2. ^ a b Wilde, Ashleigh. "Whitten holds meeting to discuss a 'new view' for Crestview". NWF Daily News. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  3. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 31, 2021.
  4. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  6. ^ "QuickFacts - Crestview city, Florida; United States". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved May 4, 2022.
  7. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  8. ^ Turner, Gregg M., "A Journey Into Florida Railroad History", University Press of Florida, Gainesville, 2008, Library of Congress card number 2007050375, ISBN 978-0-8130-3233-7, p. 109.
  9. ^ Turner, Gregg M., "A Journey Into Florida Railroad History", University Press of Florida, Gainesville, 2008, Library of Congress card number 2007050375, ISBN 978-0-8130-3233-7, p. 110.
  10. ^ Turner, Gregg M., "A Journey Into Florida Railroad History", University Press of Florida, Gainesville, 2008, Library of Congress card number 2007050375, ISBN 978-0-8130-3233-7, pp. 166-67.
  11. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 10, 2011. Retrieved May 18, 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ Crestview, the Forkland, Betty Sanders Curenton, Claudia Garrett Patten, ISBN 0-9725265-0-1
  13. ^ The Okaloosa News Journal, July 23, 1920
  14. ^ The Okaloosa News-Journal, September 23, 1921
  15. ^ Crestview, Florida, "Work To Pick Up In Factory!" Okaloosa News-Journal, Monday 15 April 1940, Volume 26, Number 16 - Extra, pp. 1-2.
  16. ^ Display advert, The Okaloosa News-Journal, Friday 9 May 1941, Volume 27, Number 18, p. 4, Section 2.
  17. ^ Crestview, Florida, "New Bus Station Now Open", The Okaloosa News-Journal, Friday 9 May 1941, Volume 27, Number 18, p. 1.
  18. ^ Crestview, Florida, "Crews Work 24 Hours A Day To Haul Asphault", Okaloosa News-Journal, May 23, 1941, Vol. 27, No. 20, p. 1.
  19. ^ Crestview, Florida, "Recreation Center Is Now Assured For Men Of Eglin Field: To Be Opened With Ceremonies Saturday, June 21st", Okaloosa News-Journal, June 13, 1941, Volume 27, Number 23, p. 1.
  20. ^ Crestview, Florida, "Crestview Highly Commended For Opening Recreation Center For Eglin Enlisted Men - Crestview People Did Not Shirk Duty When Need Explained", Okaloosa News-Journal, October 31, 1941, Volume 27, Number 42, p. 4.
  21. ^ Special, "Crestview Is Off Eglin's 'Black List'", Pensacola News Journal, January 31, 1943, p. 1.
  22. ^ Crestview, Florida, "Local Recording Company Issues First Discs Here", The Okaloosa News-Journal, Thursday 3 March 1960, Volume 46, Number 9, page A-5.
  23. ^ Ziglar, Adam (April 29, 2006), "Band director David Cadle retiring after 28 years with the Big Red Machine", Crestview News Bulletin, Crestview, p. 1
  24. ^ The Story Behind DeSantis's Migrant Flights to Martha's Vineyard, New York Times, Edgar Sandoval, Miriam Jordan, Patricia Mazzei and J. David Goodman, October 2, 2022. Retrieved October 2, 2022.
  25. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  26. ^ "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  27. ^ The Punta Gorda Herald, Vol XXXII, Number 43, Thursday, October 23, 1919
  28. ^ "NOWData – NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  29. ^ "Summary of Monthly Normals 1991–2020". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  30. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  31. ^ "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE - 2010: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) - Crestview city, Florida". United States Census Bureau.
  32. ^ "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE - 2020: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) - Crestview city, Florida". United States Census Bureau.
  33. ^ "S1101 HOUSEHOLDS AND FAMILIES - 2020: Crestview city, Florida". United States Census Bureau.
  34. ^ "S1101 HOUSEHOLDS AND FAMILIES - 2010: Crestview city, Florida". United States Census Bureau.
  35. ^ "About Us". The City of Crestview, Florida. Retrieved April 23, 2024.
  36. ^ Freeman, Danielle (February 29, 2016). "Carver-Hill High School And The Early Education Of Afro-Americans in Crestview". www.wuwf.org.