The crown jewel of Southwest Florida attracted interest during the Florida land boom of the late 1880s. By 1887, Civil War General and U.S. Senator, John S. Williams, along with Walter N. Haldeman, Publisher of the Louisville Courier, formed the Naples Company, with an ambitious vision based on development at $10 per lot, tourism and future rail and sea commerce.
By the summer of 1888 with a seasonal population of 80 people in the town, Naples began to promote its 600-foot pier, a general store, post office and hotel. The Town of Naples remained a private winter retreat for well-to-do Kentucky and Ohio families due to sagging land sales for the next several decades.
By 1915, with access only via the Pier, a small road from Naples to Ft. Myers made Naples more accessible. By 1928, the Tamiami Trail and The Seaboard Air Line Railway, with its arrival of the inaugural Orange Blossom Special, brought new visitors to this “little bend in the road” nestled between Miami and Tampa. Yet development was hampered with the onset WWI and the Depression.
It wasn’t until after WWII, when hundreds of servicemen had their first glimpse of this west coast paradise, that Naples blossomed.
On May 8, 1923, the Florida State Legislature partitioned Lee County to create Collier County placing the towns of Immokalee, Marco, Everglades City and Naples, which began their development in the 1880s, under a new county government. Twenty-six years later, the Florida State Legislature approved a new charter for Naples, changing it from a town to a city on May 25, 1949.
CITY FEST IN MAY
Fast-forward to May 2010, the Downtown Old Naples Business Districts collaborated with the City of Naples to create special “off shoulder season” events in the months of May and October to showcase the authentic areas of the Town of Naples called, City Fest. With the assistance of the Convention Visitors Bureau, activities in each of these five districts: Third Street S., Crayton Cove, Old Naples Waterfront (north and south of the Gordon River Bridge), 10th Street S. and Fifth Avenue S., showcased this authentic area of the “Town of Naples,” that started the magic in this place we call home. Look for upcoming events.
If you are looking for things to do on your summer vacation, why not book a “Staycation Adventure” available right in your own your own back yard and explore Naples Heritage Trail, which tells the history of Naples. Your QR Code Reader will show you the 20 city, state and national markers sites. You can also visit the City of Naples GIS Map website to find the Bronze Marker Map or use the map listed herein.
Yes, ‘there’s no place like home’ and there’s no time like the present to learn Naples history – especially in the merry, merry month of May – Naples History Month.