TBT on how Lakeland got its name


Rome, Italy | Photo by Anastasia Zhenina

This is part of our #TBT (Throwback Thursday) series, where we revisit Lakeland’s history. Have questions about our city’s past or a story to share? Email hello@laltoday.com.

Today, we’re throwin’ it way back to 1885 to learn how Lakeland got its name.

You may already have an inkling on the name-front. I mean, it doesn’t take a genius to look around and realize what our main identifier is. (Lakes, in case you need a little help.)

But before the townsfolk of 1885 drew inspiration from the city’s 38 lakes, they kicked around a couple other suggestions.

What do Redbug, Munnville + Rome City have in common?

📇 How a city picks a name

Before we talk about the proposed names of LAL, here’s a little 411 on understanding the process behind how a city gets named. Places are usually divided into names of natural features or settlements. This includes using geography, history, common administerial activities + people groups. For example, some of the places in the US named after prominent individuals include Washington DC (George Washington), Cleveland (General Moses Cleveland), and Denver (James W Denver). Fun fact: Most places in England derived their names from rivers upon which they were built.

Now that we understand how a city gets its name. Here’s what was proposed:

🤷‍♂️ Munnville

Nearly named after one of the town’s founders himself, Abraham Munn was a land speculator from Louisville, Kentucky. In 1882, Munn purchased a “small” plot of 80 acres of land in Central Florida. (Which is now located at the heart of Lakeland.) Munn also organized the Lakeland Improvement Company, which helped divide land for sale.

To insure that his little, but thriving, community would succeed, he persuaded the South Florida Railroad to make Lakeland a stop on its line. Munn even used his own money to build a railroad offering several acres of land adjacent to the station for maintenance and repair facilities.


The City of Lakeland nearly got us all last year when they pulled the masterful April Fool’s Day prank of changing Lakeland’s name to Redbug. But what are red bugs? Most commonly known as chiggers, these Harvest mites are found throughout the world, although they tend to be more prevalent in hot and humid places -aka - Florida.

🏛️ Rome City

After much sleuthing, we couldn’t locate the exact reason why Lakeland was almost named Rome City. So we’re asking you for your help. Email us if you know the answer. (Or if you just want to give it your best guess.)

In the meantime, here’s a little treat. Do you know about Brew Hub’s Rome City IPA? This 2017 Gold-medal winning IPA is packed with the juicy hops and is a homage to their flagship brewery here in town. So, in their own words “Go have a beer to celebrate what almost was, for a reason no one knows.” Cheers!

If Lakeland wasn’t the city’s chosen moniker, which name would you have picked?

No matter what the name of our city is, I’m sure we can all agree on one thing: there’s no place like home. 👠

- Kaylee