The last 170 years have been a time of phenomenal change for what was once
referred to as "The Phenomenal City."
Prior to the arrival of the first European
settlers in 1837, the area that is now Orlando was occupied by the Seminole
tribe of Native Americans.
Historians believe that the Seminoles, whose named is
said to mean "wild and separate," inhabited the Central Florida region for 6,000
to 12,000 years.
The Second Seminole War, which spanned the period from 1835 to
1842, began when disagreements arose between the natives and the American
settlers on such issues as land, cattle, and slaves.
In the years following the
war the natives moved away, leaving the pioneers who built their town around The Fort Gatlin.
Until 1845 Orange County, of which the city of Orlando is the
county seat, was known as Mosquito County.
Tradition holds that Orlando was
named after Orlando Reeves, a soldier on sentinel duty for a scouting
While Reeves' companion slept, a native approached disguised as a rolling
Reeves, seeing what was occurring, fired his gun, woke the other soldiers,
and saved them from peril.
However, Reeves himself succumbed to an arrow shot by
Prior to receiving the name Orlando in 1857, the town was known as "Aaron Jernigan's Town", after Aaron Jernigan, a settler from Georgia.
The first post office
was established in 1850.
Prior to the 1880s,
the two biggest industries in central Florida were cattle breeding and cotton
During the 1880s some of the pioneers started growing citrus trees.
growth of Orlando in size and prosperity was associated with the need for better
transportation to citrus markets on the part of citrus growers.
Orlando had its
first rail lines by 1881, and during the 1880s and 1890s there was an influx of
new fruit growers.
In 1885 Rollins was founded in Winter Park.
the Orlando's streets were lined with office buildings, churches, hotels, and
schools, and tourists from the north began to spend winters and summers in the
Disaster struck in 1894 when a three-day freeze destroyed nearly all
the citrus trees in Orange County.
The freeze had a devastating effect on the
community, which suffered losses of an estimated $100 million.
closed, banks closed, people lost their jobs, and it was 15 years before Orlando
Between 1910 and 1920 the
population of Orlando doubled, and the city was transformed from a rural citrus
growing area to a major city.
During the 1920s a great building boom aided in
Orlando's continuing prosperity, evidenced by the opening of the Orlando Library in 1923 and the Bob Carr Auditorium in 1926.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the federal government's Works
Progress Administration programs aided in the upgrading of the Municipal
Airport, the building of a new football stadium at Tinker Field, and park
development, and by 1944 many new jobs had been created.
boom followed World War II, and new suburbs, new roadways, and new shopping
centers were built.
In 1956 the forerunner of the Lockheed Marietta company
began operations, becoming the largest employer in Central Florida. Gradually
many more companies and workers followed.
In 1968 the University of Central Florida opened its doors.
same year marked the beginning of the Orlando Naval Training Center.
The development of Walt Disney World in 1971 spurred
a construction boom that included apartment buildings, hotels and motels, banks,
commercial shopping areas, and tourist-related businesses.
The city's Municipal
Justice Building was erected in 1972 and Sea World of Florida followed in 1973.
Tourism increased, thanks to tourist sites such as Epcot Center built in 1982,
and the Disney-MGM Studios theme park, which opened in 1989.
To the dismay of
many local people, what had once been a sleepy backwater town was rapidly
becoming a world class tourist mecca.
The town of Orlando was recognized as one
of the world's most popular vacation sites.
The economic climate during the
1990s and 2000s was marked by diversification.
The tools and technologies that
were once geared toward military services were applied to the business sector,
and the region developed into a high technology corridor.
software, simulation, digital media, and biotechnology began to boom, fueling
further growth and development.
Tourism is still the city's primary industry.
But Orlando has also developed a reputation for high tech businesses and
industries both related and unrelated to the entertainment industry.