History of Naples
Like many cities in southern Florida, Naples was first born on paper by far-sighted land speculators back in the 1880s. The area had been promoted by many magazines and newspapers praising the mild winter climate and excellent fishing. When investors described its beauty as “surpassing the bay in Naples, Italy”, the name stuck and Naples, Florida was put on the map.
In 1887, a group of developers including Walter N. Haldeman and his partner, Kentucky Senator John Stuart Williams bought up 8,700 acres of beachfront. They had plans drawn up for a town and sold off the land in lots priced at around $125 each. It proved to be a good investment as today most of these gentrified beachfront homes are priced in millions of dollars.
The downtown area of Old Naples is delightful to visit and stroll around. Buildings, many of which date back to the early 20th century, remain mercifully low-level and lush tropical vegetation makes it a very pleasant place to stroll. Sidewalks cafés and restaurants, art galleries, boutiques brimming with Caribbean cruise wear and upmarket gift shops line the main shopping street on Fifth Avenue. Slightly set back from the promenading shoppers is Blackburn Hall, home to the Naples Players who provide an entertaining program of music and drama throughout the year.
From the town center, avenues lined with knarled poinciana trees, banyans and king palms spread out, with pastel-colored mansions and plantation-style winter homes. The city reflects its cosmopolitan air with Irish pub, Italian pizzerias, Thai restaurants, a New England Seafood Chowder House and even the Jolly Cricket with its Brit-themed menu.
Follow Fifth Avenue South to the extreme end and you will arrive at one of the most idyllic beaches in Florida. The narrow strip of white powder-soft sand is lined with leaning palm trees. The glittering Gulf waters toss tiny shells ashore in the gentle white-foamed waves and you can understand why visitors vow that this is where they dream of retiring to. And many of them do.
Further south, at the terminus of 12th Ave, Naples pier protrudes into the blue waters and is a popular resting place for both anglers and pelicans. The original pier was built in 1887 and stretched for 600 feet. It was destroyed by Hurricane Donna in 1960, along with many of the original 19th century homes. Also on 12th Ave is Palm Cottage, the winter home of founder Walter Haldeman, built in 1895 and now a local museum.
Things to Do in Naples Florida
The combination of sunshine and retirees inevitably spells golf and it is said there are more golf holes per capita in Naples than anywhere else in Florida. Currently there are more than 80 championship golf courses providing pleasant green space within most of the outlying retirement communities. The population of Naples is over 21,000, with both the average age and median income being higher than most other Florida cities.
Along with nearby Marco Island and the Everglades National Park, Naples’ economy is largely based upon tourism. As well as its beautiful shell-strewn beaches, Naples has several other attractions including Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Big Cypress National Preserve and the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge making it a great place to visit for all ages.
This informative book offers details of 20 best beaches and coastal cities in Florida
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20 Best Florida Beaches and Coastal Cities