History of Orlando, FL

Are you ready to discover the history of Orlando and learn how it came to be one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations? Continue reading below to find out more about the city’s rich and exciting past!

The Beginnings of Orlando FL

In 1837, the first European settlers arrived in the area that is now Orlando, Florida. At the time, the location was already occupied by Native Americans from the Seminole tribe, so disagreements about land and food arose between the natives and the settlers. This sparked a war that caused the natives to move away, and it was then that the pioneers built a town around Fort Gatlin, known today as Orlando.

It was only in 1857 that the city got its current name. It is presumed Orlando was named after Orlando Reeves, an American soldier on duty for a scouting party. When Reeves’s comrades were attacked by a native disguised as a rolling log, he managed to save them but got shot by an arrow and passed away.

The Citrus City

Between 1875 and 1895, Orlando was the center of Florida’s citrus industry. The two largest industries before that period were cattle breeding and cotton growing. 

Due to the growing need for better transportation to citrus markets, Orlando had its first rail lines implemented by 1881. Unfortunately, extremely low temperatures that lasted for three days in 1894 destroyed nearly all citrus trees in Orange County. The losses were counted in dozens of millions of dollars, and it took around 15 years for the city to recover.

Construction Boom in Orlando FL

Once the city had recovered, the land prices skyrocketed during the Florida Land Boom in the 1920s. Many neighborhoods, institutions, museums, and tourist facilities were developed in Orlando during that time, and the population of the city doubled. For example, the Orlando Public Library opened in 1923 and offered its readers easier access to knowledge.

Orlando was affected by the Great Depression in the 1930s but managed to survive and create new jobs by World War II, which again slowed down the city’s growth. After WWII, a new construction boom led to the opening of the Lockheed Marietta company that soon became the largest employer in Central Florida.

Modern Days of Orlando FL

The history of Orlando, Florida cannot be considered complete without mentioning its most famous resident, Walt Disney, the man who created the Walt Disney Channel and brought the Walt Disney World to life. Due to the influence of Walt Disney and his Disney Park, Orlando has become the city with the most theme parks and entertainment attractions in the world.

The development of Disney Park stimulated another growth in construction which consequently increased the city’s tourism. So what was once a backwater town is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

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5025 S Orange Ave Suite 201
Orlando, FL 32809