Kissimmee (with the accent on the second syllable) is a city in Osceola County, Florida, United States. As of 2006, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau is 60,894. It is the county seat of Osceola County. Kissimmee is a Principal City of the Orlando-Kissimmee, Florida, Metropolitan Statistical Area, which the census bureau estimated had a 2007 population of 2,032,496.
Founded in the mid-19th century as Allendale, it was renamed Kissimmee when incorporated as a city in 1883. Its growth can be credited to Hamilton Disston of Philadelphia, who based his two-million acre (8,000 km²) drainage operation out of the small town. Disston had contracted with the financially wobbly state of Florida to drain its southern lands, for which he would own half of all he successfully drained. This deal made Disston the largest single landowner in the United States.
Disston's dredging and land speculation required a small steamboat industry to transport people and goods along the new waterway. The Kissimmee shipyard was responsible for building most of these steamships, which were just one jump ahead of civilization -- with Kissimmee as the jumping off point. Concurrently, the South Florida Railroad was growing and extended the end of its line from Sanford down to Kissimmee, making the town on Lake Tohopekaliga a transportation hub for Central Florida. On February 12, 1885, the Florida Legislature incorporated the Kissimmee City Street Railway.
But the heyday of Kissimmee was short lived. Expanding railroads began to challenge the steamships for carrying freight and passengers. By 1885, the South Florida Railroad had extended its tracks again to Tampa. The Panic of 1893 was the worst depression the U.S. had experienced, crushing land speculation and unsound debt. Hamilton Disston closed his Kissimmee land operation. Back to back freezes in 1894 and 1895 wiped out the citrus industry. The freezes, combined with South Florida's growth and the relocation of steamship operations to Lake Okeechobee, left Kissimmee dependent on cattle raising.
Ranching remained an important part of the local economy until the opening of nearby Walt Disney World in 1971. After that, tourism and development supplanted cattle ranching to a large measure; however, cattle ranches still operate nearby, particularly in the southern part of Osceola County.
On August 13, 2004, Hurricane Charley passed through Kissimmee with winds in excess of 100 miles per hour, damaging homes and buildings, toppling trees and cutting electrical power to the entire city. Kissimmee Utility Authority restored power to 54 percent of the residents in the first 72 hours; 85 percent were restored within one week. Service was restored to all customers on August 28. Three weeks after Hurricane Charley, the area was struck by Hurricane Frances, followed by Hurricane Jeanne three weeks after Frances.
There were 17,121 households out of which 37.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.2% were married couples living together, 15.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.0% were non-families. 20.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.77 and the average family size was 3.21.
In the city the population was spread out with 27.0% under the age of 18, 12.0% from 18 to 24, 34.9% from 25 to 44, 18.5% from 45 to 64, and 7.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 98.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $33,949, and the median income for a family was $36,361. Males had a median income of $25,851 versus $21,025 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,071. About 12.3% of families and 15.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.0% of those under age 18 and 10.2% of those age 65 or over.
The Houston Astros conduct spring training in Kissimmee, at Osceola County Stadium. The stadium also hosts numerous amateur baseball events throughout the remainder of the year in conjunction with; USSSA, Triple Crown Sports, World Baseball Federation and Promotion Sports. The Jim Evan's Academy of Professional Umpiring has also called Osceola County Stadium home since 1994.
The Osceola County Softball Complex is a facility of five (5) softball fields which are host to a variety of amateur sports events. It is the home of the USSSA 2005 Complex of the Year Award, the Rebel Spring Games, and numerous other fast-pitch softball, slow-pitch softball, and youth baseball events.
Austin-Tindall Regional Park is another athletic facility in the area that is host to a variety of annual events.
Osceola Heritage Park is an event facility featuring a concert arena (Silver Spurs Arena) and professional sports stadium (Osceola County Stadium). The Silver Spurs Arena has been host to many acts, ranging from Hillary Duff and Bob Dylan to an annual rodeo event. Jehovah's Witnesses also use The Silver Spurs Arena for their annual District Conventions. In 2008, a number of English and Spanish conventions will be held by the Witnesses, bringing thousands of delegates to the Kissimmee area for the three-day events.
Kissimmee is home to a 650-person capacity outdoor water park, in addition to multiple golf courses.
Kissimmee is also home to the Loop, a large outdoor shopping mall at John Young and Osceola Parkways on the Orange/Osceola County line. It features stores such as American Eagle, Kohls, and Best Buy. There is also a multi-plex theater.