Pahokee, Florida

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Pahokee, Florida
Nickname(s): Muck City (shared with nearby Belle Glade, Florida)
Location in Palm Beach County and the state of Florida
Location in Palm Beach County and the state of Florida
Coordinates: 26°49′29″N 80°39′35″W / 26.82472°N 80.65972°W / 26.82472; -80.65972Coordinates: 26°49′29″N 80°39′35″W / 26.82472°N 80.65972°W / 26.82472; -80.65972
Country United States
State Florida
County Palm Beach
 • Mayor Keith W. Babb, Jr. (D)[1][2]
 • Total 5.54 sq mi (14.36 km2)
 • Land 5.54 sq mi (14.36 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
Elevation 13 ft (4 m)
Population (2010)[4]
 • Total 5,649
 • Estimate (2016)[5] 6,094
 • Density 1,099.40/sq mi (424.48/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 33476
Area code(s) 561
FIPS code 12-53800[6]
GNIS feature ID 0288376[7]
Royal Palms line the main thoroughfare through downtown Pahokee.

Pahokee is a city located on the shore of Lake Okeechobee in Palm Beach County, Florida, United States. The population was 5,649 in the 2010 census.

Pahokee's residents, according to the 2010 Census, are 56% African-American; almost all the rest are Hispanic, primarily Mexicans or descendants of Mexicans. In 2018 the Mayor, Kenneth W. Babb, and the other four members of the City Commission are all African-American.[8]

As an isolated community, Pahokee is a town where "everyone knows everybody", and has a strong sense of community.[9]


Pahokee was incorporated in 1922.[10] The name "Pahokee" means 'grassy waters' in the Creek language.[11] Local residents refer to Pahokee as "The Muck", which refers to the mineral-rich dark soil in which sugar cane, citrus fruits and corn are grown by agribusinesses. In the 1930s it was known as the "Winter Vegetable Capital of the World".[9]

The city was severely affected, as were the other communities to the south of the lake, by the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane.[12]


Pahokee was founded on the produce grown in the muck, the fertile bottom of the Everglades after part of it was drained in the early twentieth century. In 1939, the Federal Writers' Project guide said of Pahokee: "From Christmas until April, Pahokee is a 24-hour town; long trains of refrigerated cars roll out for northern markets day and night." "The streets are noisy and crowded; bars restaurants and gambling places are never closed."[13]

In 1963, with access to Cuban sugar restricted, a sugar plant was built, and agriculture shifted to the mechanized crop of sugar cane. The plant closed in 2009.[9]

As a result, it is one of two Palm Beach County cities—the other is South Bay—on a list of 13 Florida municipalities in "a state of financial emergency."[when?] Records[which?] suggest it has been on the list continually since 1994. Unemployment exceeds 25%. Taxable property values dropped from about $99 million in 2007 to $66 million in 2014. A fifth of the population has migrated in the past 15 years. Dissolution of the city has been proposed.[14]

A Better Pahokee[edit]

On November 15, 1996, the old Pahokee High School building, built in 1928, was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.[15]

Everglades Regional Medical Center[edit]

A major eyesore in Pahokee are the ruins of Everglades Regional Medical Center, at 200 S. Barfield Highway. It was founded in 1936 as Everglades General Hospital; the current building opened in 1950. The 63-bed general hospital, financially unviable, closed in 1998 after years of contention, a change from public to private ownership, and three lawsuits.[16] Care was consolidated at Glades General Hospital (replaced in 2009 with Lakeside Medical Center) in nearby Belle Glade.[17]

Glades Health Care Center[edit]

Adjacent to the former hospital, at 230 S. Barfield Highway, is Glades Health Care Center, a 120-bed skilled nursing facility, with about 70 full-time employees.[18]



Pahokee belongs to the School District of Palm Beach County.

  • Pahokee Elementary School, 560 East Main Place (grades pre-K–5). Enrollment: 375 (2015). Pahokee Elementary School is an IB (International Baccalaureate) school. Enrollment is 63% black, 35% Hispanic, 1% white, 1% other. 96% are from low-income families.[19]
  • K. E. Cunningham/Canal Point Elementary School, 37000 Main Street, Canal Point (grades K–5). Enrollment: 329. The racial makeup of the student body is 69% black, 29% Hispanic, 2% white. 99% of the students are from low-income families.[20]
  • Pahokee Middle–High School, 900 Larrimore Rd. (grades 6–12). Enrollment: 857 (2015). Enrollment is 68% black, 39% Hispanic, 2% white, 1% other. 93% are from low-income families.[21]
Pahokee High School is best known for its football program that consistently ranks among the state's best. Pahokee, together with nearby rival Belle Glade, with whom it competes each year in the "Muck Bowl", has "sent at least 60 players to the National Football League". "In Muck City, football is salvation, an escape from the likelihood of prison or early death."[22] "Football is the chief subject taught at Pahokee High," a town historian wrote in 1963.[9] In 2014 five former Blue Devils were in the NFL, the second most from any high school in the country.[9]

Public charter[edit]

  • Glades Academy, 7368 State Road 15 (grades K–8). Enrollment: 195 (2015). Enrollment is 72% black, 18% Hispanic, 9% white, 1% other. 97% are from low-income families.[23]


  • Everglades Preparatory Academy, 380 East Main St. (grades 9–12). Enrollment: 106 (2016). (There is another, unrelated Everglades Preparatory Academy in Homestead, Florida.) Enrollment is 92% black, 6% Hispanic, 2% white. 90% are from low-income families.[24]
  • The Shepherd's School, 1800 Bacom Point Road, a Christian school (grades K–12). Enrollment: 71 (2016).

Miracle Village[edit]

One of the most contentious recent issues in Pahokee stems from the founding of Miracle Village. Miracle Village, founded by a minister, offers a small residential community for registered sex offenders, who sometimes have great difficulty in finding housing, or are homeless (see Julia Tuttle Causeway sex offender colony), because of Florida's strict regulations limiting where sex offenders can live. It is located about 3 miles east of Pahokee, on Muck City Road, in a former migrant worker facility, surrounded by sugar cane fields.

Pahokee in the media[edit]

On December 18, 2009, Damien Cave, Miami Bureau Chief of the New York Times, wrote an article describing Pahokee's economic plight and the town's hopes that a new marina project might help rejuvenate business.[25] There has been a significant move towards regeneration with the re-opening of the Pahokee Marina Tiki Bar and Restaurant now known as 'Pahokee Mo's' and new Dollar General store. Governor Rick Scott also pledged $1.3 million towards the restoration of Pahokee's infrastructure in late 2014.[26] This is in addition to $200,000 pledged by Senator Abruzzo in 2014.[27]

Movies about Pahokee[edit]

Chasing Rabbits (2008)[edit]

A short by Aaron Kyle. Rabbit hunting as running training for would-be football players.[28] Famous Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden makes a cameo appearance. Days after its release it was shown on ESPN,[29] and an Adidas commercial was made using footage from it.[30]

Banished (2013)[edit]

See under Miracle Village (community)#Banished

Murder of a Small Town (2015)[edit]

  • "James Patterson headed west to ask 'What the hell happened here?' in the PBS documentary that examines unemployment, crime, drugs and high school football in “Murder of a Small Town."[31] The documentary deals with Belle Glade as well as Pahokee.[32]

Pahokee Florida 2015[edit]

  • Pahokee Florida 2015 is an aerial view of the town and surrounding area, without narration. It is available on YouTube.

The Send-Off (2016)[edit]

The Rabbit Hunt (2017)[edit]

  • The Rabbit Hunt, another short by Patrick Bresnan and Yvette Lucas. It differs from Chasing Rabbits in its approach to the topic, although the action scenes are similar. The rabbits are driven out of the sugar cane fields by the harvesting machinery, or by smoky, slow-moving fires (humidity is high) deliberately set after harvest to clean up leaves and other waste. The emerging rabbits are killed with clubs, gutted, skinned, cooked, and eaten, or sold to others as meat. Rabbits are a food source for a very poor community; the atmosphere has been called "primitive". "In the Florida Everglades rabbit hunting is a rite of passage for young men, practiced since the early 1900s. The Rabbit Hunt follows a family as they hunt in the fields of an industrial sugar farm."[35] Everyone who appears in the film is African-American. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2017, and won the award of Outstanding Non-fiction Short in the Cinema Eye awards of the Museum of the Moving Image.[36]

Second Chance Sex Offenders (2018)[edit]

See under Miracle Village (community)#Second Chance Sex Offenders.

Pahokee (2019)[edit]

  • Bresnan and Lucas spoke of their intention to follow their shorts with a full-length feature. The IMDb lists their movie, entitled simply Pahokee, which is in post-production and is scheduled for a 2019 release.

Bresnan and Lucas are also the makers of Roadside Attraction (2017), which focuses on observers of President Trump's plane, when it visits Palm Beach International Airport.

Local media[edit]

In 2018, there are no active local media in Pahokee.

Pahokee's most recent local newspaper was 'A Better Pahokee', a free digital e-newspaper, founded in 2013 by Jessie Tsang and Minister Freddie Lee Peterkin.[37] It ceased issuing new material in 2016.

There are no radio stations in Pahokee. In Belle Glade (10.6 miles (17.1 km)) there is WSWN Sugar 900, a gospal station, and WBGF, which simulcasts (repeats) the programming of WZFL (Islamorada, Florida), a dance music station. There are three additional stations in Clewiston, Florida (17 miles (27 km)).


Pahokee is located at 26°49′29″N 80°39′35″W / 26.82472°N 80.65972°W / 26.82472; -80.65972 (26.824717, -80.659660).[38]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.4 square miles (14 km2), all land.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1930 2,256
1940 4,766 111.3%
1950 4,472 −6.2%
1960 4,709 5.3%
1970 5,663 20.3%
1980 6,346 12.1%
1990 6,822 7.5%
2000 5,985 −12.3%
2010 5,649 −5.6%
Est. 2016 6,094 [5] 7.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[39]

As of the census[6] of 2000, there were 5,985 people, 1,710 households, and 1,328 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,109.4 inhabitants per square mile (428.7/km²). There were 1,936 housing units at an average density of 358.9 per square mile (138.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 25.21% White[40] 56.06% African American, 0.10% Native American, 0.50% Asian, 15.20% from other races, and 2.92% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 29.46% of the population. Whites not of Hispanic origin made up 13.6% of the populace.

There were 1,710 households out of which 44.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.3% were married couples living together, 22.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.3% were non-families. 18.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.35 and the average family size was 3.79.

In the city, 38.4% of the population were under the age of 18, 10.3% were aged 18 to 24, 25.0% from 25 to 44, 18.1% from 45 to 64, and 8.2% were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26 years. For every 100 females there were 104.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $26,731, and the median income for a family was $26,265. Males had a median income of $28,859 versus $20,066 for females. The per capita income for the city was $10,346. About 29.4% of families and 32.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 39.9% of those under age 18 and 32.0% of those age 65 or over.

In 2000, 72.78% of the population spoke only English at home, while those who spoke Spanish made up 26.65%, and those who spoke French Creole made up 0.56%.[41]

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ "February 2016 Voter Guide" (PDF). League of Women Voters of Palm Beach County. February 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 April 2016. Retrieved 12 April 2016. 
  2. ^ "Keith W. Babb Jr., Mayor". City of Pahokee, Fl. Archived from the original on 20 April 2016. Retrieved 12 April 2016. 
  3. ^ "2016 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Jul 7, 2017. 
  4. ^ "Annual Estimates of the population for the Incorporated Places of Florida". US Census Bureau. Archived from the original (XLS) on 2009-02-07. Retrieved 2007-08-15. 
  5. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
  6. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  7. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  8. ^ "City Commission". Retrieved February 4, 2018. 
  9. ^ a b c d e DeGregory, Lane (December 4, 2014). "In Pahokee, football serves as a way out". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved February 10, 2018. 
  10. ^ Kleinberg, Eliot (Sep 16, 1987). "A Town By Any Other Name". The Palm Beach Post. pp. D7. Retrieved 30 May 2015. 
  11. ^ "Pahokee Florida Profile and Resource Guide, City or community of Pahokee, Florida Facts, Information, Relocation, Real Estate, Advertising". 
  12. ^ Leyshon, Hal (September 19, 1928). "Storm Victims Filthy Black From Muck Water; Cabins Floating Coffins". The Bee. Danville, Virginia. p. 3 – via 
  13. ^ Federal Writers' Project (1939). Florida. A Guide to the Southernmost State. New York: Oxford University Press. 
  14. ^ Kleinberg, Eliot (August 21, 2015). "Dissolution talk once again a song on the jukebox in Pahokee". Palm Beach Post. Retrieved February 10, 2018. 
  15. ^ Emporis. "Old Pahokee High School". Retrieved February 4, 2016. 
  16. ^ Abandoned Florida (May 5, 2012). "Everglades Regional Medical Center". Retrieved February 4, 2018. 
  17. ^ Abandoned Florida (May 25, 2017). "Glades General Hospital". Retrieved February 4, 2018. 
  18. ^ Hospital-Data.Com. "Glades Health Care Center". Retrieved February 4, 2018. 
  19. ^ GreatSchools. "Pahokee Elementary School". Retrieved February 7, 2018. 
  20. ^ GreatSchools. "K. E. Cunningham/Canal Point Elementary School". Retrieved February 7, 2018. 
  21. ^ GreatSchools. "Pahokee Middle–High School". Retrieved February 7, 2018. 
  22. ^ Ovaska, Mark (February 2, 2012). "Muck City. Way Out". New York Times. Retrieved February 6, 2018. 
  23. ^ GreatSchools. "Glades Academy Elementary Scgool Inc". Retrieved February 7, 2018. 
  24. ^ GreatSchools. "Everglades Preparatory Academy". Retrieved February 7, 2017. 
  25. ^ Cave, Damien (2009-12-19). "A Town's Hopes (and Doubts) Ride on a New Marina". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  26. ^ Derby, Kevin (December 12, 2014). "Rick Scott Showcases Rural Road Improvements in Palm Beach County". Sunshine State News. Archived from the original on January 23, 2015. 
  27. ^ "Commission Workshop Minutes" (PDF). City Commission of the City of Pahokee. December 6, 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 23, 2015. 
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  32. ^ Shammas, Brittany (April 2, 2015). "Novelist James Patterson chronicles ups and downs in impoverished So. Fla. towns". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved February 2, 2018. 
  33. ^ "The Send-Off (2016)". IMDb. Retrieved February 4, 2018. 
  34. ^ "The Send-Off (2016) Awards". =IMDb. 
  35. ^ Billington, Alex (November 7, 2017). "Worth Watching. Watch: Award-Winning 'The Rabbit Hunt' Short from Patrick Bresnan". Vimeo. Retrieved February 4, 2018. 
  36. ^ Kilday, Gregg (January 14, 2018). "'Strong Island' Takes Top Cinema Eye Documentary Honors". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 25, 2018. 
  37. ^ A Better Pahokee (2016). "About". Retrieved February 4, 2018. 
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  39. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
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  43. ^ "Dwight Bentley - 2011 Football". 
  44. ^ "Anquan Boldin NFL & AFL Football Statistics -". Retrieved 15 May 2011. 
  45. ^ "Kevin Bouie". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 3 August 2014. 
  46. ^ Shandel Richardson (January 12, 2005). "Dowdell Proves He's Street-smart". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved May 31, 2011. He managed to stay away from the street-football games in Pahokee... 
  47. ^ "Rickey Jackson NFL & AFL Football Statistics -". Retrieved 15 May 2011. 
  48. ^ "Janoris Jenkins - Florida Football". Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  49. ^ "Eric Moore Past Stats, Statistics, History, and Awards -". 2011. Archived from the original on 21 November 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  50. ^ "Martavious Odoms Stats, News, Videos, Pictures, Bio - Michigan Wolverines - ESPN". Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
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  55. ^ "Mel Tillis Comes Back Home For Fair". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. January 14, 2005. Retrieved May 31, 2011. ... Mel Tillis was just a skinny kid with a stutter from Pahokee 
  56. ^ "'Football killed him': The legacy of Pahokee's Andre Waters". Palm Beach Post. Sep 14, 2010. Retrieved June 1, 2011. The Pahokee native 
  57. ^ "Riquna Williams - Sun Sentinel". Retrieved 1 June 2011. 

External links[edit]