Fort Myers History

Fort Myers History

 

Fort Myers is located on land that was once the home of Calusa, and then Seminole Indians. The town sits on the south bank of the Caloosahatchee River, and has been home over the years to soldiers, ranchers, cowboys, snowbirds and inventors. Named after Col. Abraham Myers, Fort Myers was founded in 1850 as a military outpost during the Seminole Wars. Later, Fort Myers served as a Union outpost during the Civil War. The Fort was officially retired from military service in 1865. Almost immediately, Fort Myers became home to settler families, land speculators and Florida Crackers (our cowboys and cowgirls).

The Town of Fort Myers was incorporated on August 12th, 1885 with just 349 residents. By then, the town had a local newspaper, The Fort Myers Press, and it boasted of its most famous citizen, the world famous inventor Thomas Alva Edison, who called Fort Myers his winter home. Not long after that, fellow inventor, and head of the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford purchased land and built an estate next door to his good friend Edison. During this period Fort Myers became the county seat of the newly formed Lee County and tourism boomed as offshore tarpon fishing enticed sport fishermen and adventurers from around the world.

Fort Myers saw amazing growth through the 1920s until the combination of a failing real estate market and crashing stock market sent Fort Myers into depression. During this time Fort Myers was aided through federal works projects that changed the face of downtown. The new Federal Post Office building, the Edison Bridge and the Yacht Basin all made significant improvements to the struggling downtown.

It was a return to Fort Myers' military heritage that would bring all of Southwest Florida out of depression and into prosperity. The establishment of Buckingham Field and Page Field during World War II brought thousands of service men and women to Lee County and gave local business a much need boost with government contracts and services for the two bases.

Since the 1950's Southwest Florida and Fort Myers have seen amazing growth and prosperity and have become premiere destinations for sun-seekers, investors and retirees. Fort Myers is currently the center of commerce, government and entertainment for the ever-growing Southwest Florida community.

 





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