is the county seat of Columbia County, Florida, in the United States. In 2006, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the city's population at 11,953. In addition, it is the Principal City of the Lake City Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is composed of Columbia County, and had an estimated 2006 population of 67,007. The city's Sesquicentennial will occur in 2009, and a celebration is planned.
The site of Lake City was a Seminole village named Alpata Telophka, meaning "Alligator Town". By 1830, a white American town called Alligator was established, adjacent to the Seminole town. The city was incorporated and changed to its current name in 1859. The name was changed because the mayor's wife, who had recently moved to the town, refused to hang her lace curtains in a town named Alligator.
The American Civil War Battle of Olustee took place near Lake City in February 1864. It was the only major battle in Florida during the war. Union casualties were 1,861 men killed, wounded or missing; Confererate losses were 946 killed, wounded or missing.
In 1880, Lake City Chief of Police, Gottschalk “Gus” Potsdamer had a heated dispute with Columbia County Sheriff, John C. Henry. The conflict escalated into a fistfight and Henry was fatally wounded by Potsdamer, who was tried for murder, convicted and sentenced to life in prison at the state prison near Live Oak. Potsdamer's conviction was controversial, with some reports stating that Sheriff Henry started the trouble and was beating Potsdamer over the head with a pistol when Potsdamer got loose and killed him. Potsdamer was very popular and had a reputation as a City Marshall who always enforced the law fairly. Potsdamer's friends appealed the conviction through the legal system, won, and Potsdamer was released after two months of incarceration. He eventually moved to Live Oak, became a respected businessman, and was elected Suwannee County Sheriff in 1889.
By the early 20th century, Lake City had become an important railroad junction, served by the Seaboard Air Line, Atlantic Coast Line, Georgia Southern, and the Florida Railroad.
The population in 1950 was 7,467 people and forestry (turpentine, lumber, pulpwood) had become important to the local economy.
Lake City's Centennial was celebrated in 1959 with parades, fireworks and a 58-page book documenting one hundred years of progress, “A Century in the Sun”. The citizens of the town dressed in period attire, complete with whiskers. A good-natured clash arose between the men with additional facial hair and the women who did not like it.
In 1958, the Columbia Amateur Radio Society was formed. This was a group of amateur radio operators that enjoyed the ability to communicate all over the world. This radio club still exists today.