A Look Back at Early Fort Myers

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downtown fort myers

downtown fort myers

Now a thriving and vibrant city known for its spectacular scenery and admirable real estate, the history of Fort Myers actually dates back several decades, traced to the exploration of Ponce de Leon in the 1500s and an actual fort in the 1800s. It is from here that Fort Myers gets its name, one of the very first forts to be constructed along the Caloosahatchee River.

Later abandoned, troops again took possession of the fort during the Civil War, with a battle reenacted each year in modern history to mark the location. After being disassembled eventually for good, crews used some of the fort’s original building materials to construct buildings in what’s now known as Downtown Fort Myers.

By the late 1800s the town was platted with just a handful of families in existence, growing to include several hundred people and becoming one of the region’s largest towns a mere ten years later. Soon, the town attracted inventor Thomas Edison to the area, as he bought up several acres along the river to construct a winter retreat and laboratory. It wasn’t long before Edison’s friend, Henry Ford, opened the first Ford dealership in Fort Myers, and he eventually end up purchasing the home next door. Around the same time the area was also gaining national attention as a winter resort destination with the addition of the Royal Palm Hotel.

A building boom ushered in the early 1900s, as more investors flocked to the region, while US 41 was constructed, linking up Fort Myers with Miami and Tampa. Slowed down by the Great Depression and a couple of devastating hurricanes, the city continued to grow again after World War II, expanding in every direction.

Now filled with modern attractions and conveniences, some areas of Fort Myers still successfully retain their historic roots, with preservation of older homes and buildings, along with the charm that grew Fort Myers from a small beginning into the city of today.

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