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Belle Glade, Florida
City of Belle Glade
Welcome sign
Welcome sign
Nickname(s): 
Muck City
Motto(s): 
Her Soil is Her Fortune
Location of Belle Glade, Florida
Location of Belle Glade, Florida
Country  United States of America
State  Florida
County Flag of Palm Beach County, Florida.png Palm Beach
Settled (Hillsboro Settlement) c. 1912–April 8, 1928
Incorporated (Town of Belle Glade) April 9, 1928
Incorporated (City of Belle Glade) September 11, 1945
Government
 • Type Commissioner-Manager
Area
 • Total 7.03 sq mi (18.21 km2)
 • Land 6.97 sq mi (18.06 km2)
 • Water 0.06 sq mi (0.15 km2)
Elevation
16 ft (5 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 16,698
 • Density 2,395.01/sq mi (924.66/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
33430
Area code(s) 561
FIPS code 12-05200
GNIS feature ID 0278445
Website http://www.bellegladegov.com/

Belle Glade is a city in Palm Beach County, Florida, United States, on the southeastern shore of Lake Okeechobee. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 17,467.

Belle Glade (and the surrounding area) is sometimes referred to as "Muck City" due to the large quantity of muck, in which sugarcane grows, found in the area. Despite being located in the South Florida region of the state, Belle Glade is culturally more associated with the Florida Heartland.

For a time during the early to mid 1980s, the city had the highest rate of AIDS infection per capita (37 cases in a population of roughly 19,000) in the United States. According to the FBI, in 2003, the city had the second highest violent crime rate in the country at 298 per 10,000 residents. In 2010, the Palm Beach County sheriff's office estimated that half of the young men in Belle Glade between the ages of 18 and 25 had felony convictions.

Geography

Belle Glade is located at 26°41′07″N 80°40′17″W / 26.685264°N 80.671275°W / 26.685264; -80.671275.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.7 square miles (12 km2), of which 4.7 square miles (12 km2) are land and 0.21% is water.

History

The existence of Belle Glade is related to the federal project of draining the land around Lake Okeechobee, the acreage to be used for agriculture. The town was built in 1925 and destroyed three years later by a hurricane which killed thousands of people. The town was subsequently rebuilt. The area around Lake Okeechobee is fertile and farming has been an important industry.

Many migrant farmworkers from Belle Glade appeared in the 1960 television documentary, Harvest of Shame.

Men and women still gather around 5 a.m. in the same lot you see at the beginning of Harvest of Shame, waiting for buses to take them to the fields. The "loading ramp," as it's called, is a bleak, empty lot, surrounded by some small buildings with bars on the windows and a boarded up storefront.

As of May 2014 the city has plans "to demolish the loading ramp and turn it into a park."

The town is known for its football tradition, and together with nearby Pahokee has "sent at least 60 players to the National Football League".

Points of interest

The Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail runs through Belle Glade.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1930 926
1940 3,806 311.0%
1950 7,219 89.7%
1960 11,273 56.2%
1970 15,949 41.5%
1980 16,535 3.7%
1990 16,177 −2.2%
2000 14,906 −7.9%
2010 17,467 17.2%
2020 16,698 −4.4%
U.S. Decennial Census
Belle Glade Amphitheater
Belle Glade Amphitheater

2020 census

Belle Glade racial composition
(Hispanics excluded from racial categories)
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race Number Percentage
White (NH) 1,091 6.53%
Black or African American (NH) 9,432 56.49%
Native American or Alaska Native (NH) 3 0.02%
Asian (NH) 77 0.46%
Pacific Islander (NH) 3 0.02%
Some Other Race (NH) 31 0.19%
Mixed/Multi-Racial (NH) 259 1.55%
Hispanic or Latino 5,802 34.75%
Total 16,698

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 16,698 people, 6,642 households, and 3,760 families residing in the city.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 6,368 households, out of which 11.3% were vacant. In 2000, 39.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.9% were married couples living together, 22.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.3% were non-families. 23.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.04 and the average family size was 3.62.

In popular culture

In CBS Reports' 1960 program Harvest of Shame, Belle Glade plays a prominent role as a source of migrant agricultural labor.

The final scenes of the crime novel Pretty Little Things by Jilliane Hoffman take place in a sugarcane plantation near Belle Glade.

The high school football culture of Belle Glade is the subject of the non-fiction book, Muck City: Winning and Losing in Football's Forgotten Town by author Bryan Mealer.

The psychedelic pop band of Montreal released a track titled, "Belle Glade Missionaries" on their 2013 album, Lousy with Sylvianbriar.

In Zora Neale Hurston's novel "Their Eyes Were Watching God" characters Janie and Tea Cake join other African American migrant workers in picking beans in Belle Glade.

  • Florida, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides, 2004, pg. 124
  • Ovaska, Mark, "The Way Out", New York Times, February 2, 2013. "In Muck City, football is salvation, an escape from the likelihood of prison or early death."



Economy

Belle Glade Industrial Park
Belle Glade Industrial Park

The cane sugar mill of the "Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative" (SCGC) is located at Belle Glade. During the crop season the factory employs 550 people.

As of Feb. 2013, the official unemployment rate was about 15%; however, the town's mayor suggested the actual unemployment rate was closer to 40%. The number of jobs available locally dropped as local agriculture shifted from vegetables to sugarcane, a more highly mechanized crop.

The United States Postal Service operates the Belle Glade Post Office.

The Florida Department of Corrections operated the Glades Correctional Institution in an unincorporated area in Palm Beach County near Belle Glade. It was founded in 1932, employed about 350, had a capacity of 918 inmates and was scheduled for closure in December 2011.

Education

School District of Palm Beach County operates public schools.

Elementary schools

  • Gove Elementary
  • Belle Glade Elementary
  • Glade View Elementary
  • Pioneer Park Elementary
  • Sellew Belle Glade Excel Charter School

Middle schools

  • Lake Shore Middle School

High schools

  • Glades Central High School

Private schools

  • Glades Day School
  • Lakeside Academy

College

  • Palm Beach State College – Belle Glade Campus

Notable people

Images for kids

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