All You Need To Know About The History Of Fort Myers Florida

Fort Meyers is located in the county of Lee in Florida. In recent years the size of the city has grown dramatically with, according to the 2016 population census, indicating that it had increased by over 10,000 in a single decade. The city is located in Southwest Florida and is one of the major tourist attractions being the home of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. This article, however, will examine the history of Fort Myers Florida and how it became the powerful region it is today.

1. The Settlement And Founding Era

Despite Spain having an original colonial effect in the Florida region, the history of Fort Myers Florida has its roots in the British and United American influences of the early 19th century. The city was initially built alongside the Caloosahatchee River and utilized as a strategic base of operations during the Indian Removal and Seminole War period. Its access to the Atlantic Ocean made it ideal for interaction as a port, as well as being able to settle Confederate soldiers offering water and food.

According to history books, the Fort Myers community was officially founded after the US Civil War in 1866 by Captain Gonzalez. Gonzalez was knowledgeable of the area because of his years as a service member within the region. He had sailed from Key West in Florida to the Fort Myers port and founded the community with his family.

The method whereby this happened was that Fort Meyers Florida was, at that point, abandoned after the war had ended. Settling his family near the area, Gonzalez began trading in gunpowder, tobacco, and beads to the neighboring Indian tribes; thereby resulting in the development of a small Florida-based community. During the late 19th century, people from the north of the USA started to travel to Fort Myers during winter months and took up development opportunities. One of the wealthier industrialists included Hamilton Disston who connected the Caloosahatchee River with Lake Okeechobee.

At this time, the famous inventor Thomas Edison visited Fort Myers Florida and purchased thirteen acres in the area. On this plot, he built a winter home known as the ‘Seminole Lodge’ which included a laboratory for this work. The structure was completed in 1886 and Edison spent much time in Fort Myers promoting its reputation during that time and in the 20th century.

2. Development In The 20th Century

Fort Myers was gaining a good reputation, and during the first decade of the 20th century, the Arcade Theater was constructed drawing a high-ranking clientele. In fact, Thomas Edison was one of the earliest patrons to this theater bringing with his friends Harvey Firestone and Henry Ford. The Arcade Theater in Fort Myers played a large role in the development of the film industry in the USA, and now it hosts live performances as the Florida Repertory Theater.

During the First World War, Edison became concerned regarding the USA’s reliance on foreign supplies of rubber; therefore, he began a partnership with tire producer, Harvey Firestone, and automobile producer, Henry Ford, to find local rubber options. In 1928, The Edison Botanic Research Corporation was built in Fort Myers to assist with this research and Edison’s planting of exotic rubber trees. While the work was sent throughout the US, the research remained in Fort Myers Florida, and the rubber palms now line McGregor Boulevard – the inspiration for Ft Myers’ nickname ‘the City of Palms’.

During the 1920s, Thomas Edison assisted with the construction of a bridge to help with public transportation in the History of Fort Myers Florida. The bridge was completed a decade later and is known as the Edison Bridge. It not only assisted with the transportation issues in the city but also contributed to a real estate boom in the city with several residential areas being developed. Nowadays, the Edison Bridge is one of the most popular sites in Fort Myers.  Click here to learn more about Fort Myers Florida.