History Happened Here

A campaign commemorating Florida's diverse cities.
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Lake Wales

Polk County

Year Founded: 1917


The city government was established in 1917 and chartered in 1921. The city government initially began with an elected mayor, an elected city clerk and an elected five-member Commission. In the mid-1950s, the city changed to a council-manager form of government. The city’s name is derived from Lake Wailes, a lake around which the city was developed. Lake Wailes was named after Sidney Wailes, land agent for the State of Florida during the 1870s. Wailes assisted a surveyor and civil engineer (A.C. Nydegger) in obtaining the contract to survey the central Florida ridge area. Mr. Nydegger, in turn, named the lake after Wailes. The spelling of the city’s name changed through usage.

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