History of Orlando, Florida

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History of Orlando

There are many reasons to visit sunny Florida. Beautiful cities with even more beautiful beaches, interesting theme parks, modern architectural buildings are just a small part of what Florida has to offer. Orlando is one of the cities in Florida that will surely leave a strong impression on anyone who visits. It is a magical place, not just for its Disney Kingdom, but has many interesting attractions and fun places for people of all ages. In Orlando, it is never boring, and in order to find out how the city came to what it is today, it is first necessary to return to the past and its history; because history helps to understand the true essence of a city.

In the territory of today’s Orlando until nearly 200 years ago, the Indian tribe, Seminole inhabited the area. Seminoles were a strong and aggressive tribe that occupied much of the territory of today’s Florida. They survived in that territory until the beginning of the 16th century when Florida became a Spanish colony. In the 18th century, it was briefly under the control of the United Kingdom, after which it was again returned to Spain under whose ownership it remained until 1819. However, Seminoles did not easily want to give up their territory, so they fought three times against the United States. At the time of the Seminole Wars, the US Army, southern of the borders of today’s Orlando, made Fort Gatlin to defend the community from the Indians. This community soon grew and first got its name Jernigan. Jernigan changed its name to Orlando in 1856, and 1875 officially founded Town of Orlando, which at that time counted 85 inhabitants. Although today is a well-known city in Florida and in the United States, what remains unclear is how Orlando got its name. There are several theories about this. According to one, the city was named after Orlando Reeves, an American soldier who saved his comrades from a potential attack by the Indians. According to another theory, Orlando was named after a man who used to work for Judge James Speer. However, this small dilemma makes this city and its history even more interesting.

Orlando, or Jernigan, was initially very underdeveloped. There were no roads, and most of the territory made lakes in the forests. Once a citizen could walk around the whole city by foot, but could not see anyone else but a forest. From the perspective of today’s Orlando, you probably would not have imagined that you can walk all day around the city and meet no one. You would definitely think that you are alone in the world and that something is wrong. However, Orlando, with only 85 inhabitants, it was not anything weird. Although the residents did something to meet more people and to start the city. 

Prior to becoming Orlando, Jernigan first opened a post in 1850. That was one of the great reasons which forced the inhabitants from elsewhere to come here. People’s circulation increased and raising livestock was no longer the only thing that the inhabitants were dealing with. The period was also marked by the expansion of cotton in Florida. Jernigan was very good soil for cotton growing and was on the step of becoming a real cotton kingdom. However, there was a problem of slaves who were supposed to only be able to resolve the war. The war really happened in 1861, the cotton industry extinguished, and the modest progress of Orlando was halted. The community returned to cattle breeding but turned into general anarchy. Murders, shootings, and fights were almost constant until the end of the 1860s when the community was touching the bottom. The big cattle from the city’s vast areas decided to bring order to Orlando, so they moved there and organized the industry. It did not solve all the problems, even if they were all rich. 

Another reason that led to the prosperity of Orlando (even briefly) is citrus. These small acid stalks sweetened the Orlando industry during the 1880s. Namely, Orlando was well-connected with districts produced by cysts (such as the Orange County) so it was an important place for transporting fruit. The first railroads were made at the beginning of the 1880s and since then everything started to move at a high speed: the streets were strewn with buildings, schools, churches, hotels. All this was followed by tourists who slowly began to come from different sides, probably from curiosity and desire to see this new, developed city. However, luck was short-lived, and it left Orlando in 1894 when a major accident happened: a three-day freeze destroyed all citrus trees in surrounding districts, people lost their jobs and it took about 15 years for Orlando to restart.

Orlando stepped bravely into the 20th century and with a great will to advance. The lost glory and prosperity began slowly to “thaw” and by 1910 the city numbered about 4000 inhabitants. The WWI brought further development of the industry and the real estate market, and the period between the Great Depression and the WWII further intensified the industry and accelerated the development so that Orlando in 1944 could already boast of even two airports, among other things. Since 1950 nothing has been able to stop the development of Orlando. It then counted almost 52,000 inhabitants, boasts a developed economy that could no longer “freeze”, and there are also many tourists who contribute more to the flowering of Orlando. 

The future of this city was already bright here. But how much more can it light up? Orlando residents were growing since 1971 when they saw the Magic Kingdom. After a while, the Universal Orlando was opened, followed by a number of theme parks, hotels, restaurants, resorts that turned Orlando into a truly unique tourist city. Everything else is history.