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Count the signs of liberty

They say you can't put a price on liberty, but can you quantify it?

In an effort to establish just how independence-minded we are as a state, the Floridian staff conducted a survey of Florida databases to count all the names that really let freedom ring.

We divided the total number of "Liberty Points" by the state's population, 15,982,378 (U.S. Census), and came up with a number we call "Florida's Liberty Quotient."

Impressive-sounding, isn't it? Of course, this number means absolutely nothing until it is compared with the Liberty Quotients of other states, but don't ask us what those figures are. We simply don't have the free time to do the calculations.

Here are the raw numbers for Florida:

First we looked at street names with a patriotic flair: Independence, Independent, Liberty, Freedom or Free.

In Hillsborough we found Freedom Court, Independence Parkway, Liberty Avenue, Liberty Place.

Pinellas thumped its cross-bay rival in this department. In Clearwater alone we found Freedom Court, Liberty Drive, Liberty Way, Independence Avenue and Independence Drive. Seminole has a Freedom trifecta of Freedom Court, Freedom Boulevard and Freedom Way, which are connected. Rounding out the county's total is Liberty Street in Pinellas Park.

Around the state, there is just more than one street named Liberty (68) for every county, which is double the number of Freedom (31) and Independence (37) byways. Independent (three) is almost nonexistent. And "Free"-ways? Just three.

Hillsborough County boasts the uniquely named 4th of July Cafe, a sturdy granite block structure at the corner of Howard Avenue and Main Street that features exceptional Cuban sandwiches, cafe con leche and not much else. Statewide the number of businesses with similarly independence-minded names breaks down like this:

Freedom: 431

Independent or Independence: 835

Liberty or Liberties: 664

Remember World B. Free, the professional basketball player? Doesn't matter; he doesn't live in Florida anyway. But Nel, Nettie and Ray Free, listed in the St. Petersburg phone book, are three of the 668 Floridians with the same stirring last name. There are a whopping 11,632 Freemans and 96 people with the last name Liberti.

There are some miscellaneous place names worth mentioning. Liberty County in the Panhandle was passed around among various adjacent counties until it got its independence, so to speak, in 1855. It has one of the smallest populations in the state, but we awarded it 7,067 Liberty Points, one for each of its residents.

In the state there are two towns _ crossroads, really _ with the name Liberty. One is in Walton County, and the other is in Liberty County. Miami has Liberty City, and a neighborhood on the shore of Lake Okeechobee is called Liberty Point. Independent is a neighborhood on the east side of Lake Wales. No one has decided to call their town Freedom, though a Freemont and a Freeport exist.

The total number of Liberty Points: 21,543.

We divided that by the state's population and then multiplied it by 1,000 just because. (Sound of abacus beads slapping.) Which yields a Florida Liberty Quotient of . . . . . . 1.3479.


Let's see Pennsylvania beat that.

Times researchers Caryn Baird, Barbara Oliver and John Martin contributed to this story.