Ruskin is an unincorporated census-designated place in Hillsborough County, Florida, United States. U.S. Route 41 currently runs through the center of the community. The town was founded August 7, 1908 on the shores of the Little Manatee River. It was developed by Dr. George McAnelly Miller, an attorney and professor at Ruskin College in Trenton, Missouri, and Mrs. Adaline D. Miller. It is named after the essayist and social critic John Ruskin (1819–1900). Miller established the short-lived Ruskin College. To gain a sense of the Zeitgeist of the founding philosophy, note that in the old Ruskin City area there is a Carlyle Blvd named for Thomas Carlyle and there once was a Morris Park named forWilliam Morris.
Ruskin remained largely agricultural, including large tomato crops, until recent decades when it expanded with suburban housing developments. The population was 17,208 at the 2010 census. The town is home to Cockroach Bay Aquatic
Location in Hillsborough County and the state of Florida
According to the United States Census Bureau, the community has a total area of 15.4 square miles (40 km2), of which, 14.2 square miles (37 km2) of it is land and 1.2 square miles (3.1 km2) of it (7.65%) is water.
Situated on the shores of the Little Manatee River, the town (founded on August 7, 1908) and college were named after the English writer and social reformist John Ruskin (1819–1900). Ruskin, a utopian, founded the guild of St George, a celebration of workmanship that underpinned the Arts and Crafts movement of William Morris. Ruskin was a passionate educator.
In 1907, Dr. George McAnelly Miller, a former Chicago prosecuting attorney and professor, and former president of Ruskin College in Trenton, Missouri, relocated his family to the area, and along with his brother-in-law Albert Peter Dickman’s family. They purchased land and started to set up homes, a saw mill, and a school. Mrs. Adaline D. Miller, (Dr. Miller's wife) founded a post office on August 7, 1908. This day is recognized as the official founding day of the town. The Ruskin Commongood Society platted Ruskin on February 19, 1910, and filed the plat on March 9, 1910, in the Hillsborough County Court House with lots for the college, the business district, two parks, and for the founding families, with only Whites allowed to own or lease land in the community. Albert Dickman’s house, finished in 1910, on the banks of the Little Manatee River, is one of the few structures left standing from the founding of Ruskin.
The Millers began Ruskin College in 1910 with Dr. Miller serving as president and Adeline Miller serving as Vice President. Continuing with the college’s former practices, students worked a portion of each day as part of their education and as a way to pay for tuition and board. It offered three years of preparatory classes, students could then attend the college, taking classes in art, drama, language, literature, music, shorthand, social sciences, and speech. In 1913 the school has 160 students.
By 1913, the community had a cooperative general store, a canning factory, a telephone system, an electric plant supplying electricity to both public and private buildings, a weekly paper, and regular boat freight and passenger service to Tampa.
In 1914 the Ruskin Colony Farms newspaper described the Ruskin Community ideals in an acrostic.
As of the census of 2010, there were 17,208 people residing in the community. The racial makeup of the community was 71.71%White, 9.12% Black or African American, 0.33% Native American, 1.33% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 15.28% from other races, and 2.17% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 42.87% of the population.
There were 2,963 households out of which 29.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.6% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.0% were non-families. 23.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.79 and the average family size was 3.28.
In the community the population was spread out with 26.5% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 to 24, 26.8% from 25 to 44, 21.1% from 45 to 64, and 16.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 104.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.9 males.
The median income for a household in the community was $28,228, and the median income for a family was $32,404. Males had a median income of $25,787 versus $20,817 for females. The per capita income for the community was $12,943. About 10.6% of families and 17.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.9% of those under age 18 and 11.7% of those age 65 or over.
Recognizing the needs of Latino families, especially migrant farm workers, the Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) has provided childcare and adult learning opportunities including Migrant Head Start.
As of March 2006, the area collectively known as Ruskin remains as a part of unincorporated Hillsborough County. A movement towards incorporation began in late 2004 and early 2005 as mounting opposition to the amount of new developments within the community. Many longtime residents feel that the County Board of Commissioners has ignored repeated requests to slow down the development until proper infrastructure was in place. The Ruskin Incorporation Committee was formed to perform a study on whether it was feasible for the community to become a city in which it found it was. On January 19, 2006, HB 759 was filed with the Florida House of Representatives with all county representatives fully supporting the measure. If passed the question will be place on the ballots of the voters within Ruskin and the city would be officially incorporated on April 1, 2007 as a sovereign government. The Bill was not approved and it prevented Ruskin from becoming the first new city within the county in over 80 years. Ruskin is the seat of the South Hillsborough County Government Center and the Hillsborough Community College Ruskin Campus.