Fort Myers, Florida was one of the first military establishments to be built inland, along the Caloosahatchee River, to escape the destruction of hurricanes sweeping in from the Gulf of Mexico. The city was named for Colonel Abraham C. Myers, who wed the daughter of Major General David E. Twiggs, then commanding Fort Brooke in Tampa. In the late 1800s, many of the buildings in Ft. Myers were dismantled and used as building materials. However, the arrival of settlers stopped that practice and the town was born. The first “boom” in Fort Myers occurred in 1885 when Thomas A. Edison built his home and lab on the riverbank, and much of the state’s citrus industry moved south due to a severe freeze.
The 20th Century arrived in Fort Myers along with the Coast Railroad. That led to the construction of Bradford Hotel on First Street. It still stands today. Many of the first housing developments built during this time reflect a Mediterranean Revival style of architecture. Following the depression, World War II brought renewed vigor to the Ft. Myers economy. The Coast Guard moved into the Ft. Myers Yacht Basin, a protected marina housing more than 245 boats, and military aviators took advantage of Florida’s fine flying weather.
Today, the Yacht Basin is still a favorite local attraction. New commercial buildings and shopping centers have sprung up. The downtown area and the city’s historic districts are bustling with businesses ranging from boutiques, restaurants, cafes, antique stores, jewelers, financial houses, apartments and professional offices to the elegant Harborside Convention Center. Centennial Park is also a beautiful place to gather for concerts and festivals. Other area attractions include Sanctuary Skate Parks USA, the Southwest Florida Museum of History, The Imaginarium Hands On Museum and Aquarium, and the Burroughs Home, a Georgian Revival Mansion built in 1901.
Cultural venues abound, such as the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall and the Florida Repertory Theatre. Sporting options are numerous. The Eastwood Golf Course, voted by Golf Digest as one of the top 50 municipal courses in the country, Boston Redsox and Minnesota Twins spring baseball and Florida Everblades hockey … to mention a few. From a sleepy river town to a military fortress to a thriving modern city awash in sunshine, Ft. Myers has it all.
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