Ranked: Lakeland’s 6 unofficial landmarks

We asked locals what iconic landmarks best represent and evoke the spirit of Lakeland and then ranked the top six.

The arches of the loggia stretch into a blue sky.

Learn the secrets of the loggia by taking a free lake tour. | Photo by @thelaltoday

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Lakeland has got some pretty picturesque spots, but when it comes to finding a landmark that best represents the Swan City – there are several that come to mind.

We all know the typical spots — Lake Mirror, our skyline of steeples, downtown tree arch — but what’s the one place that locals and out-of-towners alike look at and immediately think of Lakeland?

We asked locals on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram what iconic images evoke the spirit of Swan City, and then ranked the top six.

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The Tax Collector building in the LCRA’s Midtown district | Photo via @twothirdsrochambeau

6. Tax Collector for Polk County, 916 N Massachusetts Ave.

There’s something iconic about our city’s neon signsand yes, even our Tax Collector’s office gets it. This landmark not only lights up the city at night, but it also beautifies the street with its pastel green color during the day.

A vintage sign reading Southside: A backward poet writes inverse.

Southside Cleaners

Photo via @existentialismexist

5. Southside Cleaners, 901 Florida Avenue S.

No drive through Dixieland is complete without a glance at the Southside Cleaner’s quote of the day. The sea-foam green and sunny starburst sign has been around since 1962 and is curated with different phrases on the marquee throughout the week.

A neon star in blue, orange, and red glows over a parking lot.

“The Sputnik”

Photo via @paulhavranek

4. ‘Sputnik’ Roto-Sphere, 941 E. Main St.

This spinning neon demon (often dubbed as “Sputnik” because it looks like the satellites that were launched in the 1950s) was designed by Warren Milks between 1961-1970. The Roto-Sphere is so much of a Lakeland landmark, that it’s said that pilots use it as a reference point at night.

Lights surrounding Lake Mirror at night time in Lakeland, FL

Take a lakeside stroll under the lights of the Frances Langford Promenade.

Photo via @jbonilla72

3. The Frances Langford Promenade, Lake Mirror

Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the Frances Langford Promenade was completed in 1928 and later dedicated to Lakeland native Frances Langford.

LALtoday Polk Theatre

Polk Theatre in Lakeland

Photo via @mermaizingrealtor

2. The Polk Theatre, 121 Florida Avenue S.

The Polk Theatre may be one of the most famous landmarks in Lakeland. And it certainly ranks among the most photographed locales.

Southgate Shopping Center’s iconic arch

Southgate Shopping Center’s iconic arch | photo provided

1. Southgate Shopping Center, 2512 Florida Avenue S.

Built in 1957, the Southgate Shopping Center transformed the Polk County skyline – and now, you’d be hard-pressed to find an illustration of Lakeland that doesn’t include it. Not to mention, its universal claim to fame with an Edward Scissorhands cameo. With an overwhelming number of votes, the Southgate Shopping Center arch easily cinched the top spot on our list of Lakeland icons. But are you even really surprised by that?

Honorable Mentions

While we love the symbols that define quintessential Lakeland, it’d be wrong not to pay homage to some of our lesser talked about landmarks — those that give our city an extra dose of character. Here are a few of your more eccentric suggestions:

“The Publix cake water tower.” – @yesjustkate

“The swan statue that the sun shines behind is what I picture when I think of home.” – @thespringhouse

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