Greater Orlando.....a history.

Florida Guide > Florida History

During the time of the Seminole Wars, the United States Army built Fort Gatlin on what would eventually become Orlando.

This was in 1838 and its position was somewhat south of Orlando City.

A family called Jernigan moved into the area around the fort and they named the area Jernigan after themselves. It is on record that there was a post office here as early as 1850.

It was not until 1856 that the rapidly expanding population renamed Jernigan as Orlando (it is not on record what the Jernigan family thought of that)

So why Orlando, you ask? Well, there are several versions of the truth and the most likely (and my preferred version goes as thus)

During that skirmish with the Native American there was a man called Orlando Reeves who was on guard duty. He spotted an Indian disguised as a log (! ) floating down the river. He took aim and was rewarded by being killed by a bow and arrow attack. He is buried at Lake Eola on its south side so probably will be remembered forever.

Orlandos economy was based on cattle after the Seminole War and after that a giant cotton field was formed.

Then the ubiquitous orange groves started to be grown and who has not heard of The Florida Orange.

The first baby steps into tourism came with the creation of Cypress Gardens in 1936 (are you surprised that it was 75 years ago? I certainly was) Many of us have watched its slow death over the last decade but by the end of 2011 a Legoland will have risen phoenix like from its remains.

The next big step was the advent of Disney in 1971 which was swiftly followed by Seaworld (1973) and Universal in 1990. Now there are around 100 attractions in this area.

So Orlando is now a mecca for holiday makers and thrill seekers and its future is now assured and rooted in tourism.

Orlando City is whre it all began and today is an ultra modern sparkling city to be proud of. They have not forgotten the early days and have spent millions of dollars in re generating the historic areas.

Here are some facts and figures

Every year around 50 million visitors visit the area.

Tourism in Orlando is worth a staggering twenty nine and a half billion dollars.

There are some 5. 300 restaurants to feed the hungry hordes and 112000 hotel rooms (also thousands of wonderful vacation villas that are the best choice you can make for accomodation)

I hope you have enjoyed this brief trip through Orlandos past and look a little closer when you visit.

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