Short History of Cape Coral Florida
In the beginning, the area where Cape Coral now lies was known by loggers, homesteaders, cattlemen, and fishermen simply as “the other side of the river”. The change came when Gulf American Corporation was formed by two brothers, Jack and Leonard Rosen, to develop a “Waterfront Wonderland” on the 103 square mile tract of land they purchased for $678,000 known as Redfish Point. Ground was officially broken on November 4th, 1957 and Cape Coral was born. Early the following year a stretch of land called “Miracle Mile” ran for one mile from Coronado east to Harney Point Road which is now Del Prado Boulevard. Later Miracle Mile was renamed Cape Coral Parkway and at that time only one building existed in Cape Coral, a four-plex that housed the land sales office. The brochures promised a quarter-acre slice of paradise in the ‘land of tomorrow’ for $20 down and $20 a month which turned Cape Coral into the fastest growing city in the United States. The development was promoted by GAC like no other in the Florida area and grew at a remarkable rate with the first residents arriving in June of 1958. In 1964 the Cape Coral Bridge was opened which made the area much more accessible to potential buyers.
In 1960 when the Raso family moved to Cape Coral from Pittsburgh, lured by the advertisements of a sunny, affordable piece of utopia, there were just a few dozen homes along a mosquito-infested dirt road with fewer than 200 residents. The vision of the City-in-the-Making was all there was as most of the area was still uninhabitable swampland. At the exact same time they arrived, Hurricane Donna arrived with winds of 120 mph and their first night in paradise was spent without a roof. An eternal optimist, Raso became one of Gulf American’s top salesman selling thousands of swampy lots over the decades to dream seekers and Cape Coral’s population exploded to almost 180,000 today.
An astonishing four hundred miles of canals were dug to drain the low-lying swamps that not only served as the stormwater management system for the city but became its defining real estate amenity, offering waterfront properties for fishing and boating. Initially Cape Coral was a planning disaster designed without sewer pipes or water, offices or shops, and nothing but pre-platted residential lots, but people still flocked there anyway. In 1959 property sales reached $9 million after the first year with homes selling for $990, waterfront properties for $1,900, and riverfront properties for $3,390.
How the History of Cape Coral Florida was Made
Planeloads of curious real estate seekers from the north were flown to Cape Coral landing on a remote airstrip, now 47th Terrace, for a quick look around and a heavy sales pitch. In 1970 the city was incorporated with a population of 11,470, which made it the 3rd largest in a land mass in the Florida area.
Cape Coral really captures the essence of Florida as a precarious development engineered out of nothing more than a watery wilderness which became a bewildering dreamscape, forged by absurdly grandiose visions, flimflam, and greed, to somehow become a heavily populated reality. As so aptly put by one of the Gulf American spokespersons, it was “a lie that became reality”, shaping the history of Cape Coral Florida.
Warnings abound that the Florida Dream is in mortal danger and during the real estate meltdown of 2008 it was dubbed the “Sunset State”. But even while Cape Coral was still considered the foreclosure capital of the world, Gloria Raso Tate Launched her new “Catch the Vision” real estate marketing campaign to resuscitate the area’s reputation. And it must have worked as the city topped the Forbes list soon after. And she is not worried at all that Hurricane Irma can even dent the Florida Dream as more and more people still believe that “It’s fun to live in a high-growth area” as promised by the old Gulf American brochures. click here to learn more about Cape Coral, Florida.