Largo the third largest city in Pinellas County, Florida, USA, and is part of the Tampa Bay Area. Centrally located, it is the crossroads of the county. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 77,648, up from 69,371 at the 2000 census. Largo was first incorporated in 1905. In 1913, it became the first municipality in Pinellas County to adopt a council-manager government. It switched back and forth from “town” to “city” a few times, and became a city again in 1974.
It was an exporter of agricultural products until the 1960s when the influx of people began to transform it into a bedroom community. From 1905 to 2010, Largo grew in area from 9/16ths of a square mile to about 19 square miles ,and in population from about 300 people to more than 70,000. Largo began as a rural farming community and became the third largest city in Florida’s most densely populated county.
The years after World War II saw rapid growth as people began moving into the area and Largo annexed surrounding lands. During the nuclear arms race, electronics companies like General Electric and Honeywell boosted the economy.
The population increased to about 5,000 in 1960, to about 20,000 in 1970, and to about 70,000 in 2005. Largo’s original area was 9/16th of a square mile.
By 1982, Largo had grown to about 13 square miles and to about 19 square miles in 2010. The groves, farms, ranches and forests have mostly given way to homes and shopping centers and light industry. The increased population resulted in a need for increased city services. All departments saw rapid growth and improvements in quality, especially under the leadership of the late Mayor Thom Feaster. In 1995, Largo Central Park opened on the site of the old Pinellas County Fairgrounds. It is the setting for the Largo Cultural Center and the Largo Public Library.
In the 2006 commission elections, Largo achieved two milestones furthering its motto of “City of Progress”. Democrat Patricia Gerard became the city’s first female mayor. She narrowly defeated incumbent mayor Robert E. Jackson, in a bitterly contested race. (Dr. Jackson had been the longest serving elected Democrat in Pinellas County). The voters’ choice between these two candidates decided the major issue of the election: that the city would not revert to a mayor-dominated process of governance in lieu of the continuing role for the seven-member commission acting as non-partisan, that is, deliberating independently and equally with the mayor and deciding democratically the political issues of the city.
On August 24, 2009, the iconic Largo Clock Tower, which was constructed shortly after completion of Largo Central Park, was demolished. City officials made the change because of the tower’s decay and because a deteriorating landmark at a busy intersection is not an uplifting and memorable sight. The area surrounding the clock tower was replaced with a small garden area, in order to incorporate the area into Largo Central Park.
Largo is centrally located in Pinellas County, touching the Intracoastal Waterway to the southwest and Tampa Bay to the northeast. Clearwater is Largo’s neighbor to the north. To the northwest are the towns of Belleair and Belleair Bluffs. The city of Pinellas Park lies south of eastern Largo. Seminole lies south of western Largo. The unincorporated community of Ridgecrest forms a large enclave between western and central Largo. A number of county enclaves pepper the City of Largo.
In 2010, Largo’s total area was 18.6 square miles, of which 17.6 square miles was land and 0.97 square miles was water. As of 2004, there were 651 acres of park lands. The city’s lowest elevation is sea level. At its highest, the city’s elevation is about 69 feet. Largo is dotted with a number of lakes, the largest of which is Taylor Lake at 53 acres. Allen’s Creek drains northeast Largo, flowing into Tampa Bay. McKay Creek flows through southwest Largo into the Intracoastal Waterway. The McKay Creek basin is prone to flooding.