Clearwater is a city located in Pinellas County, Florida, United States, northwest of Tampa and St. Petersburg. To the west of Clearwater lies the Gulf of Mexico and to the southeast lies Tampa Bay. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 107,685. Clearwater is the county seat of Pinellas County and is the smallest of the three principal cities in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan area, most commonly referred to as the Tampa Bay Area.
|City of Clearwater|
|Re-Incorporated||May 27, 1915|
|• Mayor||George N. Cretekos|
|• City||35.82 sq mi (92.77 km2)|
|• Land||25.99 sq mi (67.31 km2)|
|• Water||9.83 sq mi (25.46 km2)|
|Elevation||30 ft (9 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||4,444.86/sq mi (1,716.14/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||0280543|
Present-day Clearwater was originally the home of the Tocobaga people. Around 1835, the United States Army began construction of Fort Harrison, named after William Henry Harrison, as an outpost during the Seminole Wars. The fort was located on a bluff overlooking Clearwater Harbor, which later became part of an early 20th-century residential development called Harbor Oaks. University of South Florida archaeologists excavated the site in 1962 after Mark Wyllie discovered an underground ammunition bunker while planting a tree in his yard.
The area's population grew after the Federal Armed Occupation Act of 1842 offered 160 acres (0.65 km2) to anyone who would bear arms and cultivate the land. Early settlers included the Stevens, Stevenson, Sever and McMullen families, who claimed and farmed large tracts of land. Prior to 1906, the area was known as Clear Water Harbor. The name "Clear Water" is thought to have come from a fresh water spring flowing from near where the City Hall building is located today. There were many other freshwater springs that dotted the bluff, many in the bay or harbor itself.
Originally part of Hillsborough County, the first road joining Clearwater and Tampa was built in 1849, which dramatically reduced the prior day-long commute between the cities.
During the American Civil War, Union gunboats repeatedly raided the community's supplies, as most of the able-bodied men were away fighting for the Confederate Army. The town began developing in the late nineteenth century, prompted by Peter Demens' completion of the first passenger railroad line into the city in 1888. Clearwater was incorporated in 1891, with James E. Crane becoming the first mayor. The area's popularity as a vacation destination grew after railroad magnate Henry B. Plant built a sprawling Victorian resort hotel named Belleview Biltmore just south of Clearwater in 1897.
By the early 1900s, Clearwater's population had grown to around 400, ballooning to nearly 1,000 in the winter. Clearwater's oldest existing newspaper, the Clearwater Sun, was first published on March 14, 1914. Clearwater was reincorporated, this time as a city, on May 27, 1915, and was designated the county seat for Pinellas County, which broke from Hillsborough County in 1912. In 1915, a bridge was built across Clearwater Harbor, joining the city with Clearwater Beach to the west. Clearwater Beach, although located on a separate barrier island, belongs to the city of Clearwater and fronts the Gulf of Mexico. A new, much higher bridge now arcs over the bay, replacing the former drawbridge; the connecting road is part of State Road 60 and is called Clearwater Memorial Causeway.
During World War II, Clearwater became a major training base for US troops destined for Europe and the Pacific. Virtually every hotel in the area, including the Belleview Biltmore and the Fort Harrison Hotel, was used as a barracks for new recruits. Vehicle traffic was regularly stopped for companies of soldiers marching through downtown, and nighttime blackouts to confuse potential enemy bombers were common practice. The remote and isolated Dan's Island, now the highrise-dominated Sand Key, was used as a target by U.S. Army Air Corps fighter-bombers for strafing and bombing practice.
Clearwater is located at .
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 39.2 square miles (101.6 km2), of which 25.6 square miles (66.2 km2) is land and 13.7 square miles (35.4 km2) (34.86%) is water.
Clearwater's downtown has been undergoing major redevelopment in recent years. General beautification has been done along with completion of several high-rise condos and a large marina. The Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) of Clearwater has played a major role in revitalizing housing of all income levels, creating opportunities for employment, and attracting the interest of both public and private investors. New bars, restaurants and other amenities are coming to the area, renamed the "Cleveland Street District". Royalty Theatre is also slated to be renovated. Another feature is Coachman Park which hosts events throughout the year. The downtown core is approximately 2 miles (3 km) from Clearwater Beach and 6 miles (10 km) from downtown Dunedin. The drive to both places, and many parts of downtown itself, feature views of the water and the Clearwater Memorial Causeway.
Clearwater has a humid subtropical climate. Clearwater is far enough south that it lies in the broad transition zone from subtropical to tropical climates. As such, Clearwater is mostly warm to hot year round, with few nights of frost. Most of the annual rainfall comes in the wet season (June through September), when daily thundershowers erupt due to the strong solar heating. The dry season starts in October and runs though May, at which time the weather is sunny, dry, and there is little change in daily weather.
|Climate data for Clearwater|
|Record high °F (°C)||86
|Average high °F (°C)||71.4
|Daily mean °F (°C)||62.3
|Average low °F (°C)||52.9
|Record low °F (°C)||24
|Average precipitation inches (cm)||2
As of 2010, there were 59,156 households out of which 19.5% were vacant. As of 2000, 21.7% of households had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.7% were married couples living together, 11.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.4% were non-families. 35.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.17 and the average family size was 2.79.
In 2000, the city's population was spread out with 19.1% under the age of 18, 8.0% from 18 to 24, 27.6% from 25 to 44, 23.8% from 45 to 64, and 21.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.8 males.
As of 2000, the median income for a household in the city was $36,494, and the median income for a family was $46,228. Males had a median income of $31,067 versus $25,066 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,786. About 8.4% of families and 12.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.8% of those under age 18 and 7.9% of those age 65 or over.
As of 2000, speakers of English as their first language were 84.43% of residents, Spanish as a mother tongue was 8.55%, Greek accounted for 1.15%, French made up 1.00% of speakers, German at 0.97%, and Italian speakers comprised 0.85% of the population.
Clearwater’s economy employs nearly 50,400 people. Major employers include Morton Plant Hospital, Tech Data, and Honeywell. Employment in Clearwater grew 1.84% from 2015 to 2016 with 50,345 people in the workforce. The most common job groups include Service, Sales & Office, Science, and Business. The median household income for Clearwater is $44,569, which is below the average for both the United States as well as the state of Florida.
In 2012, the city was listed among the 10 best places to retire in the U.S. by CBS Money Watch.
The Clearwater Public Art and Design Program, adopted by City Council in 2005, is funded through a 1% allocation on all city capital improvement projects valued at more than $500,000. The program commissions an average of 2-3 new projects per year.
The Capitol Theatre opened March 21, 1921. It was built by Senator-elect John Stansel Taylor. The theater's architect was Lester Avery and the contractor was John D. Phillipoff. Avery is known for his architecture in Miami. Philipoff also built the Coachman Building (1916), the Donald Roebling Estate in Belleair (added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979), the old Pinellas County Courthouse (added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992), other historical homes which have been saved, and did work at the Belleview Hotel.
Groundbreaking was December 6, 1920. The "New Capitol Theatre" was damaged in a storm on October 26, 1921 (so it had been completed). A theatre organ was installed in 1922, to accompany silent films with music. The organ was made and installed by the Robert Morton Organ Company.
The theatre was managed by various movie companies (EJ Sparks, Paramount, ABC-Southeastern Theatres, and Plitt Southern) and played the most recent movies of the day. The theatre also offered vaudeville on Friday nights in the 1930s. Headliners included Sally Rand, Fred Stone and his daughter, and Lum and Abner (of radio). The theatre was renovated in 1962. The Morton theatre organ was most likely removed during this renovation. When Plitt Southern did not renew their contract in 1979, Bill Neville and Jerry Strain tried to save the theatre with film classics and reduced prices. However, the theatre closed its doors on October 28, 1980.
Royalty Theater Company signed leases with the Taylor family in February 1981 when it then became known as the Royalty Theater (Clearwater, Florida). The building was renovated with Ron Winter of Winter Associates as the contractor and Scott Musheff as the architect.
During the renovations, Bill Neville's murdered body was found in the balcony.
The theatre remained in the Taylor family estate until it was sold in 1996. In July 2008 the building went into foreclosure.
In January 2009, the City of Clearwater and Ruth Eckerd Hall joined forces to purchase the theater (renamed Capitol Theater) as well as the neighboring Pat Lokey building. They plan to renovate and revitalize the historic Capitol Theater.
In 1911, the city of Clearwater witnessed a vast population increase as well as acquiring telephones, electricity, paved streets, and an ice factory. It is during this time that the Clearwater Library Association opened a subscription library on the second floor of the local People's Bank. Its popularity and support led to the request of $10,000 from the Carnegie Foundation to build a public library. The building was designed by Tampa architect F.J. Kennard. In its first year, the library had over 1,277 visitors and 2,792 books borrowed. As a vacation town, the library provided free access to materials for all residents and winter visitors.
During the Depression, the Clearwater Public Library faced many of the same threats seen at other libraries seen throughout the United States. This includes increased patron usage and dwindling budget. In the 1940s, the Clearwater library increased its staff from three assistants to five assistants. The library's collection also grew from 18,047 to over 100,000. To account for this increase, the Librarian and Board President Traver Bayly made an appeal to the City Commission for additional space.
As a result of segregation, the Clearwater Public Library was for white patrons only from its founding in 1911 to the mid-twentieth century. In 1950, the City Commission agreed to the building of the North Greenwood library. Designed by Architect Eugene Beach, the new library access to many information sources to the city's African Americans population. This library was renovated in 1984. The new Main library was rebuilt beginning in 2000. It opened in May 2004.
As the population continued to increase throughout the late twentieth century, the library system continued to grow. The Clearwater Public Library System now includes five libraries: Clearwater Main, Countryside, North Greenwood, Beach, and East. In recent years, the Clearwater Public Library System has become increasingly digital, providing patrons with access to computers, online databases, and an online library catalog. This was made possible by the Greater Clearwater Public Library Foundation, Inc. which formed in 1984. As a part of the library's Centennial Celebration, a project is commencing to add makerspaces to the libraries. The Main library's makerspace is the "Studio's at Main" and targets creative arts making.
The Clearwater Public Library System is a contributor to the Pinellas Memory Project. This system of libraries is part of the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative which seeks to provide patrons with access to information and programs to benefit the community.
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a small non-profit organization and aquarium. Opening in 1972 on Clearwater Beach, the aquarium is most famous for Winter, one of their resident dolphins. Winter was rescued as a calf in 2005 and is one of the first dolphins to have been fitted with a prosthetic tail. Winter lost her tail soon after being rescued due to severe injuries as a result of entanglement in a crab trap. The CMA has two other resident dolphins; Hope and Nicholas. Hope and Nicholas were both also rescued as calfs, though approximately 8 years apart from each other. All three dolphins are permanent residents and are unable to be released due to concerns of how they would fare, lacking major survival skills usually taught by a calf's mother. The aquarium is also home to otters, pelicans, nurse sharks, and turtles among several species of fish and other marine life. CMA also assists in animal strandings and other emergencies regarding sea life. Animals that have stranded are rehabilitated, and if possible, released back into the wild once they have made a full recovery. It has been featured as the main setting of the American family movie series Dolphin Tale.
Moccasin Lake Nature Park is a 51-acre nature preserve with a 5-acre lake that is owned and operated by the city. The preserve also features the Moccasin Lake Environmental Education Center, which offers environmental education classes, programs and camps. The Center features live rehabilitated birds of prey, reptiles, amphibians and aquatic wildlife. It opened in 1982. The City of Clearwater contains five pools: Ross Norton, North Greenwood, Morningside, the Longcenter, and Clearwater Beach. Swim lessons are offered throughout the year to patrons, and the pools have both a recreation summer pool league and the Clearwater Aquatics Team. These pools have participated in the World's Largest Swim Lesson.
The Clearwater City Council comprises the mayor and four council members, each of whom serves a four-year term. The council is responsible for setting policies and making decisions on local government issues including tax rates, annexations, property code variances and large contract awards. The city manager and city council are supported by the various city departments.
Tampa International Airport serves Clearwater and the rest of the Tampa Bay Area as the primary means of air travel. St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport has also seen its usage increase. The city owns Clearwater Air Park.
The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) bus service is currently Pinellas County's only general public transit. The service offers approximately 35 local routes, two express routes which cross Tampa Bay to the east, and a beach trolley that runs north and south along the county's roughly 25-mile-long (40 km) chain of barrier islands.
One of PSTA's transfer hubs, Park Street Terminal, is located in downtown Clearwater.
The major street arterial system in Clearwater is essentially an east-west, north-south oriented grid pattern. Gulf to Bay Boulevard (State Road 60) is the east-west backbone of the city, ending at Clearwater Beach on its west end and progressing over the Courtney Campbell Causeway on its east end en route to Tampa. SR 580, Sunset Point Road, Drew Street, Lakeview Road, and Belleair Road are the other heavily traveled east-west arterials in Clearwater. Major north-south routes include U.S. Route 19 Alternate, Myrtle Avenue, Missouri Avenue, Highland Avenue, Keene Road, Hercules Avenue, Belcher Road, and McMullen-Booth Road.
U.S. Route 19 is by far the area's most heavily traveled road, some parts of it carrying nearly 100,000 vehicles per day. As of October 2017, it is a limited-access highway in Clearwater South of State Road 580.
Beginning in the 1970s under the code-name Project Normandy, the Church of Scientology began targeting Clearwater in order to "establish area control" of the city and county. The operations were exposed in a Pulitzer Prize winning series of articles in the Clearwater Sun.
Gabe Cazares, who was the mayor of Clearwater at the time, went so far as to call it "the occupation of Clearwater" and later characterized it as a "paramilitary operation by a terrorist group." The Church of Scientology targeted Cazares, attempting to entrap him in a sex scandal. Scientology also staged a phony hit-and-run accident with Cazares in an attempt to discredit him. Cazares and his wife sued the Church of Scientology for $1.5 million. The church settled with Cazares in 1986.
Clearwater has city partnerships with the following cities:
Arbors Records is a record company and independent record label in Clearwater, Florida. It was founded by Mat and Rachel Domber in 1989 and was initially devoted to the recordings of their friend, Rick Fay.Arbors became known in the 1990s for swing music and Dixieland jazz, though its catalogue encompasses other forms of contemporary and classic jazz. Its roster includes Dan Barrett, Ruby Braff, Bob Wilber, Dave Frishberg, and Bucky Pizzarelli.Ben Diamond
Ben Diamond (born October 9, 1978) is a Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives, representing the 68th District, which includes most of the City of Saint Petersburg, Pinellas County.Calvary Christian High School (Florida)
Calvary Christian High School is a private, college preparatory Christian high school in Clearwater, Florida, in the United States.Capitol Theatre (Clearwater, Florida)
The Capitol Theatre, which was also known as the Royalty Theatre, is a historic theater in Clearwater, Florida. The theater has a seating capacity of 750 people. The theater is owned by the City of Clearwater and managed by Ruth Eckerd Hall. It opened in 1921 for vaudeville and movies. After it struggled economically it was renamed the Royalty Theatre. It was restored in 1999-2000 and reopened. It was bought by the City of Clearwater in 2008 and run by Ruth Eckerd Hall for acts such as the punk rock group Henry Rollins, comedian Steven Wright and singer Richard Marx. In 2013, the City of Clearwater launched an elaborate $11 million restoration of the theater as part of a broader downtown revitalization. The theater reopened in 2014 to much acclaim and finical success. Since the reopening that theater has played host to acts such as Jay Leno and B.B. King.Carpenter Complex
The Carpenter Complex is a complex of four baseball fields, training facilities, and offices in Clearwater, Florida. It opened as Carpenter Field in 1967. It is the Florida home of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball operations, spring training site for the Phillies’ minor league players, home to the Gulf Coast League Phillies, and adjacent to Spectrum Field, spring training home of the Philadelphia Phillies and regular season home of the Clearwater Threshers. While the Complex is now adjacent to Spectrum Field, the Phillies, until 2004, played spring training games a short drive away, which gave the Complex its own identity in the Phillies organizational structure and the team's history.
The Complex has four fields, each named for Phillies Hall of Fame players (all of whom trained with the Phillies in Clearwater and also were the first four Phillies to have their uniform numbers retired), Rich Ashburn Field, Robin Roberts Field, Mike Schmidt Field, and Steve Carlton Field. In 2004, the Phillies officially renamed the Complex The Paul Owens Training Facility at Carpenter Complex, which honored Paul Owens' memory but also served to distinguish the training fields from the primary spring ballpark, Spectrum Field, which is also at Carpenter Complex.Chris Latvala
Christopher John "Chris" Latvala (born December 29, 1981) is a Republican politician who is currently serving as a member of the Florida House of Representatives, he represents the 67th District, including Clearwater and Largo in northern Pinellas County, since 2014.Clearwater Athletic Field
Clearwater Athletic Field was a stadium in Clearwater, Florida. It was first used by professional baseball teams for spring training in 1923 and was the Phillies' first spring training ballpark in Clearwater. The grandstand sat approximately 2,000 and bleachers increased capacity to close to 3,000. Home plate was located on Pennsylvania Avenue, which ran south to north along the third base line, near Seminole Street. Left field ran parallel to Palmetto Street, and right field ran parallel to Greenwood Ave. The grandstand was destroyed by fire in April 1956.The North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex now stands on the site of ballpark. On March 19, 2016, the site of the ballpark was recognized as a Florida Heritage Site and the location added to the state's heritage map.Clearwater Historical Society (Clearwater, Florida)
The Clearwater Historical Society is an organization that researches and preserves the past of the city of Clearwater, Florida. In 1983, the Society moved to the historic Plumb House, 1380 South Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, Clearwater. The Plumb House is also home of the Plumb House Museum.Clearwater Threshers
The Clearwater Threshers are a minor league baseball team that currently plays in the Florida State League. Since 2009, the team competes in the North Division.
The team plays its home games at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida, which opened in 2004. Spectrum Field seats more than 7,000 fans. A single-game attendance record of 9,090 was set on July 3, 2008.The team is the High-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. The team has always been affiliated with the Phillies since 1985, the franchise's first season. From 1985 to 2003, the Clearwater Threshers were called the Clearwater Phillies. While as the Clearwater Phillies, the team played at Jack Russell Memorial Stadium from 1985 to 2003. When the team moved to the new Spectrum Field, it changed its name from Phillies to Threshers.Clearwater Women's Open
The Clearwater Women's Open was a tournament for professional female tennis players played on outdoor hard courts. The event was classified as a $25,000 ITF Women's Circuit tournament and was held in Clearwater, Florida, United States, from 2005 to 2012.Jack Russell Memorial Stadium
Jack Russell Memorial Stadium is a stadium in Clearwater, Florida. It opened as Jack Russell Stadium in 1955. It had a capacity of 4,744 when it opened; in 2003 seating capacity was 6,942 people. It was the spring training home of the Philadelphia Phillies Major League Baseball team from 1955 through 2003. Since 2017, it has been home to the Clearwater High School and St. Petersburg College baseball teams.The Clearwater Bombers, a softball team that won 10 National Amateur Softball Association titles between 1950 and 1973, played their home games there from 1955 through 1984. The name of the stadium was changed to Jack Russell Memorial Stadium following Jack Russell's death in November 1990.
In 2004, the Philadelphia Phillies moved to Bright House Networks Field, 4 miles to the east. Most of the ballpark was demolished on July 21, 2007. The dugouts, offices, and other elements were retained as the field has continued to be used for amateur baseball.
In 2019 it is serving as the temporary home field of the Dunedin Blue Jays.Matt Geiger
Matthew Allen Geiger (born September 10, 1969) is a retired National Basketball Association player who played at the center position.Melanie Margalis
Melanie Margalis (born December 30, 1991) is an American competitive swimmer who specializes in the freestyle, breaststroke and individual medley events.PODS (company)
PODS, or Portable On Demand Storage, is a moving and storage company. It was founded in 1998 and is based in Clearwater, Florida.Plumb House (Clearwater, Florida)
The Plumb House is a historic U.S home originally located on the northwest corner of Lakeview and South Fort Harrison Avenues in Clearwater, Florida. The house was built in about 1896 and used as a paint store on the ground level and apartments on the second floor. In December 1983, the house was moved to its current location at 1380 South Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Clearwater, and serves as the home for the Clearwater Historical Society and the Plumb House Museum.Robert Szasz
Robert Szasz, also known as The Happy Heckler, is a real estate developer and has been a well-known heckler at Tampa Bay Rays baseball games for several seasons.
A native of Toronto, Ontario, Szasz relocated to Florida in 1984 and resides in Clearwater, Florida. He held season tickets for the then Devil Rays from 2000 until the end of the 2008 season, sitting in club seats behind home plate at Tropicana Field. He would choose one player from the opposing team to insult during a game or series, waiting until the player stepped into the batter's box before shouting a barrage of insults regarding the player's playing ability. Between the typically small and quiet crowds at Devil Rays game during the early 2000s and his booming voice, Szasz's heckling was often heard on television and radio broadcasts of the team's games.
Szasz's heckling visibly rattled players on multiple occasions. He once heckled the Mariners' Bret Boone so viciously that when Boone struck out, he threw down his batting helmet and started yelling back at Szasz. In another instance, outfielder José Guillén offered Szasz an autographed baseball bat if he would stop heckling him in a game. Szasz says he didn't heckle with profanity, nor did he insult a player about a personal thing such as weight or height. He says he tried to only heckle a player on their baseball ability. Although rare, Szasz also heckled opposing pitchers.
Szasz became a controversial figure. Some fans, television viewers, and media that covered the Rays complained about his volume and abrasiveness, while others enjoyed his heckling. In any case, he became one of the more famous fans in Tampa Bay Rays baseball history, and was known throughout the American League.
In 2008, Szasz released a book entitled The Happy Heckler. Szasz did not renew his Rays season tickets for 2009 and was not heard heckling in Tropicana Field again until April 30, 2012, during a game against the Seattle Mariners.Ruth Eckerd Hall
Ruth Eckerd Hall is a 73,000-square-foot (6,800 m2) performing arts venue, located in Clearwater, Florida, in the Tampa Bay area and is part of the Richard B. Baumgardner Center for the Performing Arts.
The concert hall is named after Ruth Eckerd, the wife of businessman Jack Eckerd, and is a regular performance venue for the Florida Orchestra.
Its 2,180 seat auditorium features continental seating, with no center aisle.Spectrum Field
Spectrum Field (formerly Bright House Networks Field and Bright House Field) is a baseball stadium located in Clearwater, Florida, in the United States. The stadium was built in 2004 and has a maximum seating capacity of 8,500 people (7,000 fixed seats with additional grass berm seating for 1,500).
The ballpark is the spring training home of the Philadelphia Phillies, and also the home of their Class A affiliate, the Clearwater Threshers of the Florida State League. A sculpture titled The Ace—by artist Kevin Brady—stands at the ballpark's west entrance plaza.Tampa Bay Area
The Tampa Bay Area is a major populated area surrounding Tampa Bay on the west coast of Florida in the United States.