Oldsmar, Florida

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Oldsmar, Florida
Aerial view of Oldsmar from the east
Aerial view of Oldsmar from the east
Where Business Meets Prosperity
Location in Pinellas County and the state of Florida
Location in Pinellas County and the state of Florida
Coordinates: 28°2′3″N 82°39′54″W / 28.03417°N 82.66500°W / 28.03417; -82.66500Coordinates: 28°2′3″N 82°39′54″W / 28.03417°N 82.66500°W / 28.03417; -82.66500
Country United States
State Florida
County Pinellas
 • Total10.10 sq mi (26.15 km2)
 • Land8.95 sq mi (23.17 km2)
 • Water1.15 sq mi (2.98 km2)
7 ft (2 m)
 • Total14,898
 • Density1,665.33/sq mi (642.97/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Code
Area code(s)813
FIPS code12-51350[2]
GNIS feature ID0288131[3]

Oldsmar is a city in Pinellas County, Florida, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 13,591.[4] The Oldsmar name dates to April 12, 1916 when automobile pioneer Ransom E. Olds purchased 37,541 acres (151.92 km2) of land by the northern part of Tampa Bay to establish "R. E. Olds-on-the-Bay". The name was later changed to Oldsmar, then to "Tampa Shores" in 1927, and finally back to Oldsmar in 1937. Ransom Olds named some of the original streets himself, such as Gim Gong Road for Lue Gim Gong.[5]

Oldsmar includes several parks along Tampa Bay, historic bungalows, a downtown, and a commercial area along West Hillsborough Avenue. The historical society operates a museum in Oldsmar, and the city erected a new library in 2008. It also includes a thoroughbred racetrack called Tampa Bay Downs.

In hopes of returning to the days of "Old Florida", Oldsmar's downtown is currently undergoing redevelopment efforts. Oldsmar celebrates its history every year with Oldsmar Days and Nights, including parades, car shows (featuring the Oldsmobile), and carnival rides. Notable Oldsmar businesses include the nearby Tampa Bay Downs, Lockheed Martin and the production office of Nielsen Media Research.


Oldsmar is located at 28°02′31″N 82°40′35″W / 28.042061°N 82.676350°W / 28.042061; -82.676350.[6]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.7 square miles (25.0 km2), of which 8.7 square miles (22.5 km2) is land and 0.97 square miles (2.5 km2) (9.83%) is water.[7]


A number of archeological digs in the Oldsmar area revealed small campsites as well as permanent villages that date from the Archaic period (c. 8000 to 1000 BCE) .[8][9]

In 1916, Ransom E. Olds purchased 37,541 acres (151.92 km2) on the northern tip of Tampa Bay in order to design a planned community. The property appealed to Olds because of its proximity to several other towns (including Tampa and Tarpon Springs) as well as being located on the Tampa and Gulf Coast division of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad.[10] The town went through a number of name changes. Initially, it was called R. E. Olds-on-the-Bay and then changed to Oldsmar. In 1927 the name was again changed, this time to Tampa Shores. And finally, in 1937, it went back to its old name of Oldsmar.[11]

Shortly after purchasing the property, Olds formed the Reo Farms Company (renamed Reolds Farms Company) in order to administer to the creation of his new town. Architects and city planners were hired to create drafts and laborers were hired for construction. The town possessed the staples of any small town, such as churches, schools, and a bank, as well as a railroad depot, sawmill, and dock facilities on the 10 miles of waterfront that faced Old Tampa Bay. Outside of town, tracts of land were parcelled up for agriculture. To advertise how good the land was for growing crops and raising livestock, the Reolds Farms Company built a model farm. On the farm was a herd of cattle, horses, pigs, and other livestock. They also had plots planted with potatoes, turnips, beets, celery, and citrus fruits, among other crops.[12] An oil well was drilled but was never productive.[13][14]

Oil well and drilling equipment - Oldsmar, Florida

The company also initiated a large publicity campaign to attract Northerners into becoming residents. One of the more popular slogans used was "Oldsmar for Health, Wealth and Happiness." Tours were also planned with Pullmans chartered between Detroit and Oldsmar. To accommodate prospective residents and other tourists a 60-room hotel called the Wayside Inn was built.[15][16]

In 1919, the city's first library was started by the Woman's Club. It would later be donated to the city in 1977.[17]

Original city plans included a golf course and a luxurious hotel on the bay, but neither ever materialized. A sawmill and foundry that made cast-iron engines for tractors and grove heaters were though established. The mill produced the sturdy Olds Chair (also called the Oldsmar Chair), made out of either yellow pine or cypress. It was similar to the Adirondack chair and was sold throughout the United States.

Olds provided financial backing for the Kardell Tractor and Truck Company to move into town. Renamed Oldsmar Tractor Company, Olds had hoped it would devise a machine to cut through palmetto roots, which had proven impervious to earth-moving technology of the day.

Oldsmar had farms of dairy, peppers, tomatoes, corn, gladioli, and grapes. In the early days, it was not uncommon for cattle and hogs to run loose through town. A huge banana plantation was established on the bay, but the winters were too harsh for it to flourish for long. The waters at the northern end of the bay were clean during the 1920s and 1930s. Fishing, oystering, and crabbing were popular. Townspeople could take their catch to the Rex Cafe to be cooked; fish fries and dances were weekly events.

A casino was constructed by the bay, attracting busloads of people from Tampa and Pinellas County on weekends. The Oldsmar Casino later changed its name to the Two Bits Club.

Oldsmar's pier stretched out a thousand feet into Tampa Bay and during Prohibition, boats loaded with coconuts concealing bottles of rum would arrive there. The pier was sturdy and wide enough to accommodate two cars side by side.

The city sits on a plateau with an elevation never rising over 20 feet (6.1 m) above sea level. In 1921, the town was hit by a devastating hurricane. Large pine trees were uprooted and most of the town was flooded by water reaching levels 14 feet (4.3 m) above normal. Some of the city's oldest homes remain on Park Boulevard. Many homes still standing after the hurricane were moved by barge to St. Petersburg during the 1920s and 1930s.

Olds had over $4.5 million invested in the community by 1923. When he realized Oldsmar was not growing as anticipated, he began liquidating his assets by first selling unplatted parcels of land. The racetrack was nearly completed when he traded it for the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater. The rest of the land was traded for the Belerive Hotel in Kansas. By the time Olds left town, he had suffered a loss of nearly $3 million. While Olds envisioned a city of 100,000, the population was around 200 when he left.

Harry A. Prettyman, a St. Louis promoter, and his associates continued to sell lots in town following Olds's departure. Prettyman staged promotional gimmicks like Gold Rushes where pieces of gold were buried on a vacant lot and everyone got to dig for it. In 1927 Prettyman was caught selling underwater lots. To avoid scandal, the town of Oldsmar was renamed Tampa Shores. It wasn't until 1935 that the last of the property owned by Olds was finally sold.

On February 5, 2021, someone hacked into the city's water supply system and attempted to poison the water by raising the amount of lye to a lethal level. The hack was caught and lye levels were set to normal before it could impact water consumed by the public.[18][19]


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[20]

As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 11,910 people, 4,536 households, and 3,329 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,335.9 inhabitants per square mile (515.5/km2). There were 4,839 housing units at an average density of 542.8 per square mile (209.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 90.44% White, 2.96% African American, 0.29% Native American, 2.80% Asian, 0.16% Pacific Islander, 1.29% from other races, and 2.07% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.67% of the population.

There were 4,536 households, out of which 37.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.9% were married couples living together, 12.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.6% were non-families. 19.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 5.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 3.00.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 26.6% under the age of 18, 6.6% from 18 to 24, 35.2% from 25 to 44, 20.4% from 45 to 64, and 11.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $50,354, and the median income for a family was $53,142. Males had a median income of $37,083 versus $30,329 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,671. About 2.8% of families and 4.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.6% of those under age 18 and 4.9% of those age 65 or over.


Oldsmar hosts an office of Nielsen Media Research. Most of the employees of Nielsen Media Research work in Oldsmar and the company's media measurement work originates from the office. The Associated Press said that the Oldsmar building, with a cost figure of $80 million, was its "nerve center." In 2003 the company moved into its Oldsmar complex and consolidated its employees there, with workers from Dunedin and other areas in Pinellas County moving into the Oldsmar building.[21] Major defense contractor and aerospace company Lockheed Martin has a facility in Oldsmar employing approximately 450 workers.[22]


Oldsmar is part of the Pinellas County Schools district and is served by Countryside High School, along with sections served by East Lake High School.

Notable people[edit]



  1. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 31, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  3. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  4. ^ "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Oldsmar city, Florida". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
  5. ^ Oldsmar Historical Society - Brief History of Oldsmar
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  7. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Oldsmar city, Florida". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
  8. ^ Anderson, David G.; Sassaman, Kenneth E. (2012). Recent Developments in Southeastern Archaeology: From Colonization to Complexity. Washington, DC: Society for American Archaeology Press.
  9. ^ Williams, J. R. (1975). THE STATUS OF PREHISTORIC SITES IN PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA. Florida Scientist, 38(2), 73–76. http://www.jstor.org/stable/24319629. Accessed 18 February 2022, pp. 74-75
  10. ^ Niemeyer, G. A. (1967). “Oldsmar for Health, Wealth, Happiness.” The Florida Historical Quarterly, 46(1), 18–28. http://www.jstor.org/stable/30140213. pp. 19
  11. ^ Jasper, C. & McCook, K. (1998). The Florida Library History Project. University of South Florida, Tampa. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED422005.pdf on 2022-02-19. p. 210.
  12. ^ Niemeyer (1967). pp. 20-21
  13. ^ Jasper & McCook (1998). p. 211
  14. ^ "Oldsmar will drill for oil". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
  15. ^ Niemeyer (1967). pg. 22
  16. ^ Kite-Powell, Rodney (11 January 2022). "The Road To Oldsmar". Tampa Magazine. Retrieved 23 March 2022.
  17. ^ Jasper & McCook (1998). p. 211
  18. ^ Greenberg, Andy (8 February 2021). "A Hacker Tried to Poison a Florida City's Water Supply, Officials Say". Wired. Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  19. ^ Kephart, Tim (19 May 2021). "Report: Oldsmar water hack came after city computer visited compromised website". ABC News. Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  20. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  21. ^ "Univision sues over Nielsen's meters." Associated Press at the St. Petersburg Times. June 11, 2004. Retrieved on August 28, 2011.
  22. ^ "Lockheed Martin Corporation Corporate Profile" Dun & Bradsheet

(Excerpted from Reflections of Oldsmar, 1996)

  • Ransom Eli Olds and the American Dream contributed by Ann Liebermann
  • Modern Oldsmar: Rediscovered at Last contributed by Paula Geist

External links[edit]