The Truth is: Wonderful Naples On-The-Gulf

Lois Bolin Old Naples Historian

Confucius said that If names are not correct, language will not be in accordance with the truth of things.

Dating experts say that good screen names signifies the truth of a person and as such attracts accordingly. There was talk a few years back about changing the name of the city of Naples to “Naples-on-the-Gulf”?

Could this help protect its identity and be in accordance with “the truth of things?”

The truth is, Naples was founded in 1886 and named so because the area reminded its founders of a bay in Italy. On May 8, 1923, the new Collier County was formed (from a section of Lee County), and by December 1, 1923, it was officially incorporated as a township. However, it wasn’t until April 1925 that the Naples Town Council was formed so that the town could function as a municipal corporation under Florida law.

The truth is, Naples was the town’s birth name. Its identity was connected to an entrepreneurial venture to bring a discerning resort development to Florida’s final frontier.

The truth is, the Fort Myers News Press (March 30, 1925) spoke of “Naples-on-the-Gulf” (so as not to confuse it with any other Naples) as “more than a beauty spot — it was a city.”

Advertisements in the paper claimed, “Everybody should pay a visit to Naples to enjoy fishing from Naples pier, the Naples Hotel and the comforts provided by a lighting plant, laundry, new wells, a golf course and new tennis courts. “Happy 70th Birthday!

The truth is, on May 28, 1949, 70 years ago, the town of Naples became the City of Naples launching the surge into where Naples is today. Naples-on-the-Gulf was first used in promotional campaigns in the early 1900’s and is emblazoned on the official city seal; but in 1954, Bill Ryan, the first owner and manager of WNOG radio station, brought this promotional tagline to life.

‘Wonderful-Naples-on-the-Gulf’ was infused with the sights, sounds and feelings of the love we have for this place we call home. (BTW: Guess where the first station was located? Radio Road!)

The truth is, our city is loaded with interesting history so I’ll just ‘wing’ a few: 1941 (June 25) Naples Airfield is placed on the defense improvement list and soon the U. S. Army Airfield began to train pilots for combat; 1951 (July 18) there was a $8000 budget for ‘War on Mosquitos’; 1953 (July 4) Naples Airport was dedicated as Naples American Airport, which coincided with Collier County’s 30th Anniversary and 50 years of powered flight.

Flights from War to Swamp Angels Naples is wrapped in its own kind of beauty. From the Gulf, to the Everglades, to farm lands and even to our early Florida gift shops and upscale chic boutiques. This unique diversity has a distinct commonality wrapped around flight.

Before the development of our WWII airfields, flights to Naples were common for people like Charles Lindbergh, who landed on the fairway of the golf course at 3rd Street S. and 5th Avenue S. to pickup supplies. Others landed on the beach, where a casual stroller would often add leg power to help the plane when the wheels were stuck in the sand.

After Pearl Harbor, our boys who were preparing for war began flying all across Florida. They vowed to come back to this little paradise after the war and in doing so launched a tourism and housing boom in Southwest Florida.

Many of those veterans and their families still use Naples private airport and many of those families’ memorabilia is located at The Naples Museum of Military History, located inside the terminal of the Municipal Airport terminal at 500 Terminal Dr. You can visit Monday-Friday 10 am –5 pm and Sunday Noon – 5 pm.

Located within the Airport complex is Collier ‘Swamp Angel’ Control, aka Collier Mosquito Control, who in their early 1950’s used trucks and WWII DC-3s to address those not so angelic, ‘swamp angels’. My first morning in Naples, I leapt from my bed to look out the window at what was to surely be a plane crash.

Luckily, they now use Sorts Sky vans turbo props, which are infinitely quieter.

The truth is, I’ll never know how our pioneering families endured the heat, humidity and mosquitoes so thick that you could catch a bottle full of skeeters with one swipe.

I am so grateful they did because in doing so they laid the foundation for our Wonderful-Naples-on-the Gulf.

1 reply
  1. L Hayes
    L Hayes says:

    And another fun fact, the Naples airport goes by the call letters APF! This stands for Alternate Page Field so when planes couldn’t get in to Fort Myers they could land in Naples!


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