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Main article: History of Tampa, Florida
Hillsborough County Courthouse, circa 1891
Hillsborough County Courthouse and Confederate Monument in Tampa
Hillsborough County was created on January 25, 1834, from Alachua and Monroe Counties, during the U.S. territorial period (1822–1845). The new county was named for Wills Hill, the Earl of Hillsborough, who served as British Secretary of State for the Colonies from 1768 to 1772. The County was created through efforts by Augustus Steele.
The county's 1834 area was much larger and included eight other present-day counties: Charlotte County, DeSoto, Hardee, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, and Sarasota.
The last significant change in Hillsborough County's borders was the separation of its western section to create Pinellas County in 1911.
On New Year's Day in 1914, the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line initiated the first scheduled commercial airline service in the world, from St. Petersburg to Tampa.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,266 square miles (3,280 km2), of which 1,020 square miles (2,600 km2) are land and 246 square miles (640 km2) (19.4%) are covered by water. About 158.27 miles (254.71 km) of shoreline are on Tampa Bay.
The county's unincorporated area is around 888 square miles (2,300 km2), more than 84% of the total land area. Municipalities account for 163 square miles (420 km2). The modern boundaries of the county place it midway along the west coast of Florida.
A narrow portion of Hillsborough County to the south, consisting almost exclusively of water, extends west to the Gulf of Mexico roughly along the Tampa Port Shipping Channel. This has the effect of keeping Hillsborough County from being technically landlocked. The central portion of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge is in Hillsborough County. So is Egmont Key, at the entrance to Tampa Bay; this narrow strip of land separates Pinellas County from Manatee County. The northernmost tip of a spoil island just west of Port Manatee also lies in Hillsborough County.
Hillsborough is home to Alafia River State Park and Hillsborough River state parks, and to the C. W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir and Lithia Springs, one of the largest natural springs in Florida.
On the Alafia River near Lithia Springs Park
An alligator in the Alafia River State Park
Hurrah Lake on the Alafia River
Sandhill crane at Hillsborough River State Park
On the Hillsborough River near Lettuce Lake Park
Census Pop. %±
1840 452 —
1850 2,377 425.9%
1860 2,981 25.4%
1870 3,216 7.9%
1880 5,814 80.8%
1890 14,941 157.0%
1900 36,013 141.0%
1910 78,374 117.6%
1920 88,257 12.6%
1930 153,519 73.9%
1940 180,148 17.3%
1950 249,894 38.7%
1960 397,788 59.2%
1970 490,265 23.2%
1980 646,960 32.0%
1990 834,054 28.9%
2000 998,948 19.8%
2010 1,229,226 23.1%
Est. 2019 1,471,968 19.7%
U.S. Decennial Census
U.S. Census Bureau 2010 Ethnic/Race Demographics:
White (non-Hispanic) (71.3% when including White Hispanics): 53.7% (12.1% German, 11.0% Irish, 8.9% English, 6.7% Italian, 2.6% French, 2.4% Polish, 1.9% Scottish, 1.6% Scotch-Irish, 1.3% Dutch, 0.8% Russian, 0.8% Swedish, 0.7% Welsh, 0.6% French Canadian, 0.6% Norwegian, 0.5% Hungarian, 0.5% Greek)
Black (non-Hispanic) (16.7% when including Black Hispanics): 15.6% (2.4% West Indian/Afro-Caribbean American [0.7% Jamaican, 0.6% Haitian, 0.5% Other or Unspecified West Indian, 0.1% Trinidadian and Tobagonian, 0.1% British West Indian, 0.1% U.S. Virgin Islander] 0.9% Subsaharan African)
Hispanic or Latino of any race: 24.9% (7.4% Puerto Rican, 5.3% Cuban, 5.3% Mexican, 1.2% Colombian, 1.1% Dominican, 0.7% Spaniard, 0.5% Honduran)
Asian: 3.4% (1.2% Indian, 0.5% Vietnamese, 0.5% Filipino, 0.4% Chinese, 0.4% Other Asian, 0.3% Korean, 0.1% Japanese)
Two or more races: 3.1%
American Indian and Alaska Native: 0.4%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander: 0.1%
Other Races: 5.0% (0.6% Arab)
In 2010, 6.0% of the Hillsborough's population considered themselves to be of only "American" ancestry (regardless of race or ethnicity.)
Of the 536,092 households, 29.74% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.25% were married couples living together, 14.76% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.69% were not families. About 27.12% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.96% (2.35% male and 5.61% female) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 3.11.
The age distribution was 23.9% under the age of 18, 10.5% from 18 to 24, 28.3% from 25 to 44, 25.4% from 45 to 64, and 11.8% were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36.1 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.1 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $49,536, and for a family was $59,886. Males had a median income of $43,125 versus $35,184 for females. The per capita income for the county was $27,062. About 10.7% of families and 14.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.9% of those under age 18 and 9.6% of those aged 65 or over.
In 2010, 15.1% of the county's population was foreign born, with 44.5% being naturalized American citizens. Of foreign-born residents, 67.5% were born in Latin America, 16.7% born in Asia, 9.2% were born in Europe, 3.2% born in Africa, 3.1% in North America, and 0.3% were born in Oceania.
As of the census of 2000, 998,948 people, 391,357 households, and 255,164 families resided in the county. The population density was 951 people per square mile (367/km?). The 425,962 housing units averaged 405 per square mile (156/km?). The racial makeup of the county was 75.17% White (63.3% Non-Hispanic White), 14.96% Black or African American, 0.39% Native American, 2.20% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 4.66% from other races, and a 2.56% from two or more races. 17.99% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. The county was the thirty-second most populous county in the nation.
Of the 391,357 households, 31.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.70% were married couples living together, 13.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.80% were not families. Roughly 26.90% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 3.07.
The age distribution was: 25.30% under the age of 18, 9.30% from 18 to 24, 31.70% from 25 to 44, 21.70% from 45 to 64, and 12.00% were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 95.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.70 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $40,663, and for a family was $48,223. Males had a median income of $34,111 versus $26,962 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,812. About 9.10% of families and 12.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.20% of those under age 18 and 10.00% of those age 65 or over.
Level of Education
Level Hillsborough Co. Florida U.S.
College/Associate Degree 29.0% 28.8% 27.4%
Bachelor's Degree 16.7% 14.3% 15.5%
Master's or PhD 8.4% 8.1% 8.9%
Total 54.1% 51.2% 51.8%
Source: U.S. Census
As of 2010, 74.59% of the population spoke only English at home, 19.52% spoke Spanish, 0.56% French Creole (mainly Haitian Creole), and 0.51% spoke Vietnamese as their mother language. In total, 25.41% of the population spoke a language other than English as their primary language.
Politics and government
Hillsborough County tends to lean Democratic, having not been won by a Republican presidential candidate since the 2004 election. For the last quarter-century, it has been a powerful swing county in one of the nation's most important swing states. It is part of the politically important I-4 Corridor between Tampa Bay and Orlando, an area that historically decides most elections in Florida. Hillsborough was considered a bellwether county, voting for the statewide winner in every presidential election from 1964-2012. It has also voted for the winner of the presidency in every election since 1928 except twice, voting for the loser only in 1992 and 2016. The southern portion of the county, around Tampa, is heavily Democratic, while the northern and eastern portions are powerfully Republican.
On the statewide level, The county also tends to lean Democratic with Democrats Bill Nelson for senator and Andrew Gillum for governor both winning the county in the 2018 elections. Republican senator Marco Rubio did win the county in his 2010 and 2016 runs for senate however.
In 2008, Barack Obama won the county by seven points, the first Democrat to capture the county since Bill Clinton's re-election victory in 1996. Obama won Hillsborough again in 2012 over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney by roughly the same margin.
In 2016, Donald Trump became the first Republican since Calvin Coolidge in 1924 to win the election without carrying the county.
Presidential elections results
A home rule charter for Hillsborough County was approved by voters in a county-wide referendum held in September 1983, and the first county commissioners elected under this new charter took office on May 28, 1985.
The charter divides the power of county government between legislative and executive branches. The Board of County Commissioners, which composes the legislative branch, sets overall policy by means of ordinances, resolutions, and motions.
The executive powers of county government are vested in the county administrator, appointed by county commissioners and charged by the charter to faithfully implement the powers of the board. The charter provides for a county attorney, to be hired by the county administrator with the advice and consent of the county commissioners. The charter contains a provision for a charter review board appointed by County Commissioners every five years to conduct a study of county government and propose amendments to the charter. These amendments must be presented to voters for approval. One amendment was approved in November 2002, adding the position of County Internal Performance Auditor to the government structure. This position reports directly to the County Commission.
Of the seven members of the Board of County Commissioners for Hillsborough County, four are elected from single-member districts, and three are elected county-wide. The board approves the county's operating and capital budgets and the county's capital-improvement program. It may take action on any programs for the improvement of the county and the welfare of its residents.
These five countywide elected positions have specific responsibilities under the county charter:
Clerk of the Circuit Court: Pat Frank (D)
Sheriff: Chad Chronister (R)
Property Appraiser: Bob Henriquez (D)
Tax Collector: Doug Belden (R)
Supervisor of Elections: Craig Latimer (D)
Under a charter ordinance that went into effect May 1985, county commissioners are directed to perform legislative functions of government by developing policy for the management of Hillsborough County. The county administrator, a professional appointed by the board, and the administrative staff are responsible for the implementation of these policies.
The board also serves as the Environmental Protection Commission. Individual board members serve on various other boards, authorities, and commissions such as the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, Tampa Bay Water, Aviation Authority, Expressway Authority, Sports Authority, Port Authority, Arts Council of Hillsborough County, Children's Board, Metropolitan Planning Organization, and Council of Governments.
Hillsborough County's discretionary sales tax rate increased from 1% to 2.5% in January 2019. When combined with the state of Florida's 6%, the rate is 8.5%, the highest in Florida. The rate includes two surcharges approved by voter referendum in November 2018, 1% for transportation and 1/2% for schools. It is only collected on the first $5000 of any large purchase.
Registration as of 7-11-2018.
Voter Registration and Party membership
Political party Number of registered voters Percentage
Democratic 322,472 38.78%
Republican 263,033 31.64%
Others 245,931 29.58%
Total 831,436 100%
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (May 2012)
In the early 20th century, Hillsborough's economy was predominantly based on cigar-making and agriculture. In 2012, Hillsborough had the second-largest agricultural output among Florida's counties. As of 2010, the average annual employment in Hillsborough County was 563,292. The percentages of total employment by industry were:
Natural resources and mining 2.0%
Trade, transportation, and utilities 19.5%
Financial activities 9.2%
Professional and business services 18.1%
Education and health services 14.6%
Leisure and hospitality 10.3%
Other services 2.7%
Public administration 4.7%
In 2011, sales of all agricultural commodities produced in Hillsborough County were over $832,410,300. The largest crop by value was strawberries at over $388 million. Values of various crops included:
Hillsborough County Agricultural Production 2011
Crop Sales in dollars Acreage
Strawberries $388,125,702 11,625
Vegetables $150,000,000 13,092
Ornamental plants $139,232,407 3,977
Aquaculture $23,546,112 876
Beef cattle/pasture $18,934,207 91,904
Citrus $18,893,572 10,750
Poultry $18,701,100 22
Sod $7,438,855 2,286
Dairy $6,433,206 1,500
Blueberries $5,500,000 591
Hay $2,374,195 635
Forestry $1,000,000 108,634
Bees/honey $598,767 45
Goats $154,177 518
Miscellaneous $51,478,000 3677
Total $832,410,300 255,532
List of companies with headquarters in Hillsborough County
This is a dynamic list and may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness. You can help by expanding it with reliably sourced entries.
Beef O'Brady's Restaurants
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
Bloomin' Brands Restaurants, including Outback Steakhouse, Carrabbas, and others.
Checkers and Rally's Restaurants
Front Burner Brands Restaurants, including The Melting Pot, Burger 21, and Grillsmith.
International Softball Federation
Mosaic's Phosphate Division
Odyssey Marine Exploration
Rooms To Go Furniture
Sweetbay Supermarkets (since absorbed by BI-LO's Winn-Dixie chain) had its headquarters in an unincorporated area in the county, near Tampa.
Hillsborough County Public Schools operate the public schools in the county. Hillsborough County has the eighth-largest school district in the United States consisting of 206 schools (133 elementary schools, 42 middle schools, two K-8 schools, 27 traditional high schools, and four career centers, with 73 additional schools including charter, ESE, etc.). In 2013, 12 of Hillsborough County's 27 public high schools were ranked in Newsweek's list of America's Best High Schools. In 2012 and 2013, all 27 public high schools were included on the Washington Post's list of the 2000 most challenging schools in America.
1997–1998 149,658 3,151 increase
1998–1999 152,809 3,437 increase
1999–2000 156,246 4,500 increase
2000–2001 160,746 5,315 increase
2001–2002 166,061 5,261 increase
2002–2003 171,322 6,235 increase
2003–2004 177,557 7,113 increase
2004–2005 184,670 7,113 increase
2005–2006 190,835 6,165 increase
2006–2007 191,151 316 increase
2007–2008 191,219 68 increase (projected)
Source: Tampa Tribune
Museums and libraries
Tampa Museum of Art in Tampa
Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in Tampa
Glazer Children’s Museum in Tampa
Museum of Science & Industry (Tampa)
Henry B. Plant Museum in Tampa
Tampa Bay History Center in Tampa
These libraries are part of the Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative:
Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System
Bruton Memorial Library, located in Plant City and built in 1960. It is a part of the county cooperative but is under the jurisdiction of the City of Plant City.
Temple Terrace Public Library
Tampa Bay Library Consortium
See also: Federal law enforcement in the United States
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)
US Marshall's Service
US Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
Department of Defense
US Department of the Army
US Department of the Air Force
US Department of the Navy
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Military Police (on military bases or stations) (MP)
Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP)
Veterans Administration Police (VAPD)
Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)
Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE)
State Fire Marshall's Office
Department of Corrections (COR)
Florida Highway Patrol (FHP)
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)
Several agencies provide law enforcement to the residents of Hillsborough County. They are all accredited and fully certified law enforcement agencies by the FDLE.
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
Plant City Police Department
Seminole Police Department
Tampa Airport Police Department
Tampa Police Department
Temple Terrace Police Department
University of South Florida Police Department
County jails and courthouse security
Auxiliary and reserve officers
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue serves the unincorporated areas of Hillsborough County. Fire service began in the 1950s as an all-volunteer force consisting of about a dozen loosely associated community-based organizations. The first full-time career firefighters were hired in 1973. The department now has 1,019 career uniformed and support personnel who continue to set the pace in fire and emergency medical response, making it the fourth-largest department in the state. Since the 1997 consolidation of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue and Emergency Medical Services (EMS), the department has placed paramedics on each career, front-line apparatus. The department operates 32 ALS transport ambulances, 43 Engine Companies, 4 Truck Companies, 2 Heavy Rescue's, 1 Hazardous Incident Unit, 1 Fire Boat and 1 Rescue Boat. These units operate out of 44 Fire Rescue stations located strategically throughout Hillsborough County. As nearly 85% of the department's more than 104,000 emergency responses require some level of medical care, having paramedics assigned to each unit assures that the citizens of Hillsborough County are receiving rapid advanced life-support care.
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue and the Board of County Commissioners have implemented a plan to continue placing new fire rescue stations in areas where growth is occurring or gaps in coverage may exist. Fire Chief Dennis Jones leads a senior staff of two deputy chiefs (operations and administrative branches), the fire marshal, and the emergency manager. All fiscal functions, facilities maintenance and supply, apparatus/equipment procurement, emergency dispatch manager, personnel chief, and training chief are under the direction of the deputy chief of administration. The three Shift Commanders, as well as the Rescue Chief and the Special Operations Chief, report directly to the Deputy Chief of Operations. The Operations Chief is responsible for the overall response readiness of all front line personnel. The Emergency Manager oversees all Office of Emergency Management (OEM) planning and operations of the EOC.
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Office of Emergency Management
The Office of Emergency Management is a division of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue that is directly responsible for planning and coordinating the evacuation and sheltering of all county residents in the event of a natural or manmade disaster. This agency is also responsible for planning, orchestrating and coordinating response actions and continuity of government in the aftermath of a major disaster. Preston Cook has been the Emergency Manager since 2011.
The Hurricane Evacuation Assessment Tool has been created to assist residents of Hillsborough County by providing evacuation and sheltering information in the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster. This interactive program was designed to assist the public in easily determining if they are in one of the five evacuation zones. It also provides information on shelters, hospitals, fire stations, and sandbag locations.
The Office of Emergency Management also provides information to the public on: Hurricane information, procedures for hazardous-materials spills, and flooding, tornado, wildfire, and terrorism preparedness.
The Sunshine Skyway (I-275) connects Pinellas to Manatee Counties. The middle span is in Hillsborough County.
The county's primary commercial aviation airport is Tampa International Airport in Tampa. Other important airports include the Tampa Executive Airport near Brandon, Peter O. Knight Airport near downtown Tampa, and the Plant City Airport near Plant City.
I-4.svg Interstate 4
I-75.svg Interstate 75
I-275.svg Interstate 275
US 41.svg U.S. Route 41
US 92.svg U.S. Route 92
US 301.svg U.S. Route 301
Toll Florida 618.svg State Route 618
Florida 60.svg State Road 60
Toll Florida 589.svg State Road 589
Florida 580.svg State Road 580
Public surface transportation
Hillsborough County is served by Hillsborough Area Regional Transit buses.
Nationally protected areas
Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge
Alafia River Corridor Preserve
Alderman's Ford Regional Park
Balm-Boyette Scrub Nature Preserve
Bell Creek Nature Preserve
Blackwater Creek Preserve
Brandon Park & Recreation Center
Brooker Creek Headwaters Nature Preserve
Calusa Trace Park
Carolyn Meeker Dog Park
Carrollwood Meadows Park
Chito Branch Reserve
Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve
Covington Oak Park
Cross Creek Park
Cypress Creek Nature Preserve
Dead River Conservation Park
Diamondback Nature Preserve
E.G. Simmons Conservation Park
E.L. Bing Park
Earl Simmons/Turkey Creek Park & Recreation Center
Edward Medard Park and Reservoir
Egypt Lake Recreation Center
Ekker Nature Preserve
Fish Hawk Creek Preserve
Gardenville Park & Recreation Center
Golden Aster Scrub Nature Preserve
Hillsborough River State Park
Lake Rogers Park
Lettuce Lake Park
Lithia Springs Regional Park
Little Manatee River State Park
Lower Green Swamp Preserve
McKay Bay Nature Park
Skyway Fishing Pier State Park
Upper Tampa Bay Park
Upper Tampa Bay Trail
Wolf Branch Nature Preserve
County subdivisions in Hillsborough County. Incorporated cities in bold; unincorporated CDPs in small font.
Only three cities are incorporated in Hillsborough County:
Despite its large population, most of the area of the county is unincorporated and falls under the jurisdiction of the Hillsborough County board of commissioners.
Boyette (former, now part of Riverview CDP)
East Lake-Orient Park
Palm River-Clair Mel
Sun City Center
Town 'n' Country
Bay Crest Park
Cork (now Dover, not to be confused with two other places named Cork)
Cork (now Plant City)
Drew Park, absorbed by Tampa
Ichipucksassa, aka Ichepucksassa, Hitchipucksassa (now Plant City)
Manhattan (absorbed by Tampa)
Trapnell (absorbed by Plant City)
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