Lake Placid, Florida

Coordinates: 27°17′42.9″N 81°22′21.5″W / 27.295250°N 81.372639°W / 27.295250; -81.372639
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Lake Placid, Florida
Official logo of Lake Placid, Florida
The Caladium Capital of the World,
Town of Murals
Location in Highlands County and the state of Florida
Location in Highlands County and the state of Florida
Coordinates: 27°17′42.9″N 81°22′21.5″W / 27.295250°N 81.372639°W / 27.295250; -81.372639
Country United States
State Florida
(as Lake Stearns)
1 December 1925
(as Lake Placid)
6 June 1927
 • TypeMayor-council
(Strong Mayor)
 • MayorJohn Holbrook
 • Total4.71 sq mi (12.21 km2)
 • Land4.66 sq mi (12.07 km2)
 • Water0.05 sq mi (0.13 km2)  1.4%
Highest elevation173 ft (53 m)
Lowest elevation72 ft (22 m)
 • Total2,360
 • Density506.22/sq mi (195.47/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
33852, 33862
Area code863
FIPS code12-38625
GNIS feature ID285272[5]
WebsiteTown of Lake Placid

Lake Placid is a town in Highlands County, Florida, United States. As of the 2010 census the population was 2,223 and in 2018 the estimated population was 2,439.[6] It is part of the Sebring Metropolitan Statistical Area.

The town has two nicknames: "Town of Murals" and "The Caladium Capital of the World". Lake Placid has 47 murals painted on buildings throughout the town,[7] and 98 percent of the world's caladium bulbs come from Lake Placid.[8] There are 14 caladium farms, spanning 1,200 acres, and these plants have been grown in the area since the 1940s.[9] In 2013, Reader's Digest named Lake Placid America's Most Interesting Town.[10][11]

The town is home to the Lake Placid Tower, a closed concrete block observation tower that is 240 feet (73 m) tall according to early sources[12] or 270 feet (82 m) tall according to late sources.[13] However, government sources exclude a 270-foot height, allowing only a 240-foot height.[14][15]


Lake Placid, which was formerly called "Lake Stearns", was chartered on December 1, 1925. Dr. Melvil Dewey, the inventor of the Dewey Decimal System, and the founder of the Lake Placid Club in Lake Placid, New York, proposed that Lake Stearns change its name to "Lake Placid". On April 29, 1927, the Lake Stearns Commissioners accepted Dr. Dewey's proposal. Subsequently, they submitted a request to the Florida State Legislature. On June 6, 1927, the community was chartered as the town of Lake Placid.


Lake Placid is located in central Highlands County at 27°17′42.9″N 81°22′21.5″W / 27.295250°N 81.372639°W / 27.295250; -81.372639 (27.29525, –81.37263).[16] U.S. Route 27 passes through the town, leading north 16 miles (26 km) to Sebring, the county seat, and south 58 miles (93 km) to Clewiston.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Lake Placid has a total area of 3.650 square miles (9.45 km2), of which 3.599 square miles (9.32 km2) are land and 0.051 square miles (0.13 km2), or 1.4%, are water.[16]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[17]

As of the census of 2010,[18] there were 2,223 people, 841 households, 490 family households, and 1,040 housing units in the town.

The racial makeup of the town was 69.6% White, 7.1% Black and African American, 0.4% American Indian and Alaska Native, 1.2% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, 18.9% Some Other Race, and 2.7% from Two or More Races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 46.1% of the population.[18]

There were 841 households, of which 58.3% were family households – with one or more people related to the householder or related to one of a same-sex couple by birth, marriage or adoption; and 41.7% were nonfamily households – including same-sex couples with no other relatives. Family households included 29.0% with their own children under 18 years, 37.0% were a husband-wife family, 6.4% were a male householder with no wife present, 14.9% were a female householder with no husband present. Nonfamily households consisted of 12.2% males living alone – 5.8% 65 years and older – and 19.7% females living alone – 19.7% 65 years and older. The average household size was 2.63 and the average family size was 3.21. The median age of the population was 34.4 years.[18]

From the 2016 American Community Survey, the population was spread out, with 10% under 5 years old, 15.3% from 5 to 14, 45.2% from 15 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 16.1% who were 65 years of age or older (significant margins of error causes total to exceed 100%). The sex ratio was 106.3 males per 100 females. The educational attainment of the population who were a high school graduate or higher was 59.2%, while 12.3% had a bachelor's degree or higher. The poverty rate of the population 25 years and older was 61.0% if less than a high school graduate, 52.2% if a high school graduate, 26.8% with some college, and 13.4% with a bachelor's degree or higher. The median earnings of the population 25 years and over during the past 12 months was $14,938, consisting of $10,625 if less than a high school graduate, $15,187 if a high school graduate, $18,988 with some college, and $147,961 with a bachelor's degree. The per capita income was $17,318. 54.7% of all people had incomes below the poverty level. All figures from the survey had significant margins of error.[18]



Lake Placid is located in a fringe viewing area; its television stations originate in distant cities. Local television services offer signals from WFTV, the ABC affiliate in Orlando, WINK, the CBS affiliate in Fort Myers/Naples, WFLA, the Tampa Bay area NBC affiliate, and WTVT, the Tampa Bay area Fox affiliate. There are no TV stations whose studios or broadcasting towers are located in Lake Placid.


Lake Placid is part of the Sebring radio market, which is ranked as the 288th largest in the United States by Arbitron.[19] It is the city of license for WWTK 730 kHz and is in that station's primary coverage area, however, there are no radio stations whose studios or broadcasting towers are located in Lake Placid.


The Highlands News-Sun, a Sebring-based newspaper published daily, is currently the only commercial newspaper circulating in Lake Placid. The Journal, a locally based weekly publication, had circulated for almost 60 years in Lake Placid, but ceased publication.

Notable people[edit]

Points of interest[edit]

Lake Placid Tower[edit]

Lake Placid Tower

The structure, built by Ridge Builders, and previously called the Happiness Tower, is a closed concrete block observation tower located on US Highway 27.[20] It is 240 feet (73.2 m) tall according to early sources (before 1982),[12] although later sources (after 1986) have indicated that it is 270 feet (82.3 m) tall.[13] Because its antennae are 392 feet (119.5 m) above sea level,[15] and it rests on ground 142 feet (43 m) above sea level[14] (392–142=250), only the 240-foot architectural height is plausible. It has three observation levels, at 192 feet (58.5 m) behind windows, at 200 feet (61.0 m) on a balcony, and at 225 feet (68.6 m) atop the elevator shaft.[12] It was designed by architect A. Wynn Howell of Lakeland, built in 1960, and opened January 1, 1961.[12][21][22] It was the tallest concrete block structure in the world when it opened.[12]

For years, the tower was open to tourists who could take a 65 second elevator ride to the observation deck.[23] Because of sluggish sales, the tower closed in 2003 and is now a cell phone tower.[24][25]

Historical Society Depot Museum[edit]

The Old Lake Placid Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Depot, now the Historical Society Depot Museum of the Lake Placid Historical Society, is a historic Atlantic Coast Line Railroad depot in Lake Placid, Florida. It is located at 12 East Park Street and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Wall murals[edit]

There are 47 large murals on the sides of buildings in Lake Placid's "uptown" area. These have become a tourist attraction.[26] The Welcome Center sells a booklet with a map of the murals that provides specifics about the history that each one depicts, as well as information about the artist(s).[27]

The murals were planned in 1992 by Harriet and Bob Porter[28] and were painted in subsequent years by various artists, most depicting the history of the area. Some feature the trompe-l'œil technique.[29]

Toby’s American Clown Museum and School[edit]

Lake Placid is home to the American Clown Museum and School, which was founded in 1993.[30] Here more than 700 significant pieces of clown memorabilia can be found.[31]

Sister cities[edit]


  1. ^ "Town of Lake Placid Departments". Town of Lake Placid. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
  2. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 31, 2021.
  3. ^ North Magnolia Avenue
  4. ^ Lake June in Winter
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  6. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 30, 2019.
  7. ^ "The Town of Murals". Lake Placid Mural Society. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  8. ^ Swanson, Yvonne (11 August 2007). "Caladiums please the eye". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
  9. ^ Gross, Bonnie. "Local color: Lake Placid Caladium Festival, July 27–29". Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  10. ^ "Home". Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  11. ^ Newspapers, Mid Florida. "Highlands News-Sun". Mid Florida Newspapers. Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  12. ^ a b c d e Kimberly D. Hinder, "Florida's Earliest Tourist Towers: Placid Tower", Looking beyond the highway: Dixie roads and culture, ed. Claudette Stager and Martha Carver, University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, 2006. Cites Sebring News articles from early 1961. "either an enclosed observation deck at 192 feet or an open observation deck at 200 feet ... the crow's nest, which was 225 feet above ground. Lauded as the world's tallest concrete-block structure when it opened, the tower topped off at 240 feet". "A. Wynne Howell" (sic).
  13. ^ a b HTN Tower Story "Two Hundred and Seventy Feet", "Three Hundred and Sixty".
  14. ^ a b US Topo, Lake Placid, FL, 2015. USGS. Save then open to access images button at upper left.
  15. ^ a b Miami Sectional Aeronautical Chart, Scale 1:500,000, 1 FEB 2018, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). PDF 69.3 MB.
  16. ^ a b "National Places Gazetteer Files: Florida". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Jul 7, 2017.
  17. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  18. ^ a b c d "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Lake Placid town, Florida. Retrieved 2018-04-15.
  19. ^ "Ratings–Sebring Market". Arbitron. Archived from the original on 2008-04-08. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
  20. ^ Kim Leatherman, "Falling down?", Highlands News-Sun, January 16, 2019, pp. A1, A5.
  21. ^ "Architectural Helps for Tourism", Florida Architect, 12/7, July 1962. "Built of reinforced concrete faced with ceramic tile and capped by roof tracery of gold anodized aluminum".
  22. ^ Placid Tower under construction "A. Wynn Howell" on sign.
  23. ^ Kim Leatherman, "Happiness Tower code issues being resolved", Highlands News-Sun, January 17, 2019, pp. A1, A5.
  24. ^ CHL Tower Group 2003 deed, Highlands County Property Appraiser, "Consideration: $1,190,000.00" "6th day of November, 2003".
  25. ^ Joey Vars, "Forgotten Tourist Tower" Crow's Nest. The e-print version of this article, by Joey Vars, is at "Forgotten Tourist Tower", Feb 2-8, 2015, Volume 49, Issue 19, p. 4. "At 270 feet high," "A. Wyatt Howell" (sic).
  26. ^ "The Town of Murals". Lake Placid Mural Society. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  27. ^ "Town of Murals: Lake Placid, Florida". Floridiana Magazine. 23 April 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  28. ^ "Lake Placid, Florida: Town of Murals, Caladiums and Clowns". 5 October 2018. Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  29. ^ Johnson, Gunnar. "Florida travel: Lake Placid full of murals, caladiums and clowns". Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  30. ^ "Toby the Clown Foundation, Lake Placid, Florida". Retrieved 2020-12-01.
  31. ^ "Toby the Clown Foundation, Lake Placid, Florida - Clown School". Retrieved 2020-12-01.
  32. ^ "Lake Placid, New York and Lake Placid, Florida sign Sister City Proclamation", Lake Placid, Adirondacks USA, November 2011.
  33. ^ Michelle Carter, (May 13, 2011), "Sister Cities program falls on hard times", Lompoc Record, Lake Placid added to Lompoc Sister Cities program in October 1996.

External links[edit]