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Fort Myrs: Living in one of America’s most historic cities

May 28, 2014
FL Guide

Fort Myers, nearly 50 square miles of land and water in a subtropical climate in the state's southwest region along the Gulf of Mexico, is one of the country's most beautiful and historic cities, graced with year-round sunshine, gentle breezes and annual temperatures averaging 75 degrees. The wide and navigable Caloosahatchee River in one direction leads from downtown Fort Myers into the Gulf's emerald waters, which points into the Caribbean Sea or eastward into the Atlantic Ocean. These are some of the things that draw visitors every year.

But, Fort Myers is also a city of great history it was the winter home of Thomas A. Edison and his friend Henry Ford and became a recognized winter resort in 1898 with the building of the Royal Palm Hotel. It is a city and a region of discovery, including fun and learning activities for children and families, an amazing place to explore, especially during the summer "off season."

Founded in 1886, Fort Myers was one of the first forts built along the Caloosahatchee River. When a hurricane destroyed nearby Fort Dulany in October 1841, the US military was forced to look for a site less exposed to storms from the Gulf of Mexico. As a result of the search, Ft. Harvie was built on what is now downtown Fort Myers.

The post was then renamed Ft. Myers in honor of Col. Abraham C. Myers, who was soon to wed the daughter of Major Gen. David E. Twiggs, then commanding Fort Brooke (Tampa). The expanded fort eventually became quite an impressive base. At its peak, it featured a 1,000 foot wharf, and more than 50 buildings constructed of hardy yellow pine. The cleared ground around the fort fell roughly within the area bounded by the present day Hough, Monroe and Second streets.

The 1920s brought what was called the "Boom Time" to all of Florida, and Fort Myers shared in the riches. But what really sparked the city's growth was the construction of the Tamiami Bridge across the Caloosahatchee River in 1924. After the bridge's construction, the city experienced its first real estate boom, and many subdivisions sprouted around the city. Most of the city's Mediterranean Revival buildings were built during this period. In fact, the Mediterranean Revival style, which combines several other architectural styles, typifies Florida during the 1920s. Excellent examples of Mediterranean Revival construction are to be found in commercial buildings in the downtown area, as well as in private homes in all parts of the city.

Growth radiating out in all directions from the old fort grounds was to be seen during the 1920s. It was also during this time that the Seaboard Railroad came to town offering competition to Henry Plant's older Coast Line. Today, three terminals from this period can still be seen in the city. The opening of Tamiami Trail, linking Fort Myers with Tampa and Miami, added even more growth during this time.



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