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Arcadia is a city and county seat of DeSoto County, Florida, United States. The population was 6,604 as of the 2000 census. Arcadia’s Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“The Rev. James Madison (“Boss”) Hendry (1839–1922) named the town in honor of Arcadia Albritton (1861–1932), a daughter of Thomas H. and Fannie (Waldron) Albritton, pioneer settlers. Arcadia had baked him a cake for his birthday and he appreciated it so much that he named the city after her.”
During the late 19th century Arcadia was the county seat of what would become many counties. In 1921 legislation enacted called for Arcadia to remain the county seat of Desoto County and resulted in the creation of present day counties of Charlotte, Hardee, Glades and Highlands. Prior to this break up Arcadia’s population had grown considerably with over 1,000 permanent residents and boasted 3,000 square miles (7,800 km2) for ranching. During Thanksgiving Day in 1905 the town was destroyed by a large-scale fire that originated from a mid-town livery stable. Furthermore the fire was exacerbated because the town did not have a working water system or fire department. The estimated monetary damage was $250,000 but there was no loss of life. Much of the business district was not spared. It would be years before the town recovered.
Oak Street is “main street” in Arcadia and is picturesque in its quaint beauty. Arcadia’s downtown is far more elaborate than neighboring county’s downtown areas, as it is older and was their county seat prior to the formation of their present counties. Beside the historic downtown area, Arcadia is also home to many stately start of the 20th century homes, houses of worship and several historic public buildings.
From 1917 to 1922, Arcadia was the home of Carlstrom Field, a grass airfield of the U.S. Army Air Service named for deceased aviation pioneer Victor Carlstrom. Carlstrom Field was used for pilot training both during and after World War I. In May 1941 the site again became an airfield for military primary flight training, operated by the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Institute (now Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University). Carlstrom Field, one of several satellite fields in the Fort Myers Area, also trained pilots for the Royal Air Force until its closing in 1945.
The city was devastated by Hurricane Charley on Friday, August 13, 2004.
Arcadia was featured in an episode of the “Travel Channel” show “Cash & Treasures Treasure Hunter: Kirsten Gum”, the episode aired in 2006. The episode included locals helping Kirsten dig for fossil shark teeth in the Peace River.
On October 27, 2009, President Barack Obama visited Arcadia. He became the first sitting president to do so.
Arcadia is located at 27°13’N 81°52’W (27.2176, -81.8599). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.0 square miles (10.4 km2), all but 0.25% of which is land.
As of the census of 2000, there were 6,604 people, 2,289 households, and 1,533 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,635.6 people per square mile (631.1/km²). There were 2,604 housing units at an average density of 644.9 per square mile (248.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 62.11% White, 28.09% African American, 0.38% Native American, 0.82% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 7.18% from other races, and 1.41% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 20.05% of the population.
There were 2,289 households out of which 34.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.9% were married couples living together, 20.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.0% were non-families. 25.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.75 and the average family size was 3.22.
In the city the population was spread out with 29.2% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 27.2% from 25 to 44, 19.0% from 45 to 64, and 14.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 102.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.5 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $25,025, and the median income for a family was $29,593. Males had a median income of $22,518 versus $18,666 for females. The per capita income for the city was $11,893. About 20.2% of families and 25.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.1% of those under age 18 and 8.2% of those age 65 or over.