Lake City, Florida

Lake City, Florida

Despite being located in a rapidly growing region of North Florida, Lake City is like a breath of fresh air. The slow pace of life, southern hospitality, abundant resources, both natural and historical, make a refreshing change from the average city of its size with a population of over twelve thousand people. Exotic wildlife, white water, crystal clear springs, and vibrant history make Lake City a popular tourist destination.

The Columbia County Courthouse in Lake City, Florida, on April 16, 2022. File photo: Roberto Galan, Shutter Stock, licensed.
The Columbia County Courthouse in Lake City, Florida, on April 16, 2022. File photo: Roberto Galan, Shutter Stock, licensed.

About The Community

Lake City is Columbia County’s economic and governmental center and is a good place to live. Small wonder, then, that the population has doubled in the last 25 years. The city has taken care to maintain its small town charm while it grows and supports modern conveniences and amenities. Thousands work in professions that range from mining to manufacturing. Tourism thrives here because of the numerous lakes.


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Lake De Soto in downtown Lake City, Columbia County, Florida. File photo: Francisco Blanco, Shutter Stock, licensed.
Lake De Soto in downtown Lake City, Columbia County, Florida. File photo: Francisco Blanco, Shutter Stock, licensed.

There are five major lakes in Lake City namely, Alligator Lake, Gwen Lake, Hamburg Lake, Lake Isabella, and Lake De Soto. Alligator Lake is the largest lake in Columbia County and is a shallow, fertile lake with fringing marshes and cypress swamps. There are active sinkholes in the lake bottom, which unplug during droughts and drain most of the lake. About fifty years ago, private landowners built dikes and drained large tracts of land for agriculture. This was the period of rapid growth of the city and polluted water was piped through storm drains into Alligator Lake, because awareness of the environment and effects of pollution were not high.


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Efforts are on to restore Alligator lake and bring it back to its former beauty and a successful fishery project was launched. Experts have plans to make breaches and install culverts in the dikes as well as to build bridges and water control structures. Alligator Lake now has recreational facilities including a canoe ramp, canoe trails, picnic facilities, playgrounds, and an extensive hiking trail network along the dikes and adjacent lands.


Vicinity of Lake City


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A small game hunting area functions on the former farmlands within the dikes, which is open to waterfowl hunting. Fishing and hunting are major attractions on Lake Alligator.

Lake City Medical Center
North Florida Lake City Medical Center on January 18 2022, during the Omicron Coronavirus pandemic. File photo: Mathew Cowger, Shutter Stock, licensed.

The medical needs of the community are looked after by Lake City Medical Center and Shands at Lake Shore. The latter is a 99-bed acute care hospital with a wide range of healthcare programs and has served Columbia and surrounding counties since 1911. Shands Lake Shore specializes in computer-assisted orthopedic surgeries, including total knee replacement, treatment of fractures, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis. Lake City Community College meets the higher educational needs of the local students.

The Battle of Olsutee Monument, historical site in Lake City, Florida. File photo: Kevin Winkler Photography, Shutter Stock, licensed.
The Battle of Olsutee Monument, historical site in Lake City, Florida. File photo: Kevin Winkler Photography, Shutter Stock, licensed.

The Lake City Historic Commercial District in Lake City’s downtown commercial area on North Marion Street has two discontinuous areas because some buildings were razed to the ground in the forties. There is an active downtown revitalization project of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Main Street Program that has induced new private investors and businesses have moved into the area. You can get a glimpse into the life of the last hundred years by participating in an excellent tour developed by the Main Street Program.

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