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Tavares (/tvriz/, tuh-VAIR-ees) is a city in the central portion of the U.S. state of Florida. It is the county seat of Lake County. The population at the 2010 census was 13,951, and in 2019 the population was estimated to be 17,749. It is part of the OrlandoKissimmeeSanford Metropolitan Statistical Area. The name is a popular Portuguese surname and toponym.
Tavares was founded in 1880 by Alexander St. Clair-Abrams, a newspaper and railroad man from a Creole family in New Orleans. He gave it the surname of a Portuguese ancestor. In 1883 a post office was established; by the next year, a hotel, three stores, a sawmill, and eight cottages were built. St. Clair-Abrams's dream of Tavares as the state capital was not realized, but in 1887 it was designated the county seat of Lake County. St. Clair-Abrams later chartered a railroad from Tavares to Orlando. In 1919, Tavares incorporated as a town.
Tavares is at 28486N 81441W / 28.80167N 81.73361W / 28.80167; -81.73361 (28.801670, -81.733548). It sits on an isthmus between Lake Eustis to the north and Lake Dora to the south. The city of Eustis borders Tavares to the northeast, and Lake Harris is to the west.
U.S. Route 441 passes through the north side of Tavares, leading east 6 miles (10km) to Mount Dora and west 10 miles (16km) to Leesburg. Florida State Road 19 joins US 441 through part of Tavares, but leads northeast 5 miles (8km) to Eustis and southwest 14 miles (23km) to Florida's Turnpike in the outskirts of Groveland. Tavares is 32 miles (51km) northwest of Orlando and 43 miles (69km) southeast of Ocala.
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