The population was 15,340 at the 2000 census.
Residents of the city are known as Bartowans. While Bartow itself is not a very large city - the Polk County cities of Lakeland and Winter Haven have larger populations - Bartow does have the distinction of being the second largest in geographical area . The city has been called The City of Oaks, The City of Oaks and Azaleas and The Capitol of Imperial Polk County.
The schools in Bartow are part of the Polk County School District.
Government and politics
The city commission consists of five commissioners, each serving a three-year term. The commissioners elect the mayor each year, rotating the position among the commissioners. The city executive powers rest with the city manager, as contracted by the city commission.
The city maintains its own police, fire, and utilities services.
The Bartow Public Library is located at 2150 S. Broadway Avenue. The library first opened for public use May 19,1897, making it the first public library in Central Florida. The City of Bartow built its first library building using a Carnegie grant of $8,000, opening on February 8, 1915.