Lake Eola Lake Eola

For many years Florida remained a wilderness, home to Native American tribes, a huge animal population and a wide range of stunning plant life. In 1838, during the Seminole Wars, the U.S. Army built Fort Gatlin just south of present day Orlando City to protect settlers from Seminole Indian attacks. By 1840 a small community known as Jernigan, had formed around the fort. They established a post office in May of 1850 and six years later changed the name to Orlando. The town's name is credited to Orlando Reeves, a U.S. soldier who was killed in 1835 by Indian arrows at what is now Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando. In 1857, Robert Ivey settled his cattle farm near Lake Eola. He was later joined by Jacob Summerlin, known as the "Cattle King of Florida." The Town of Orlando was incorporated in 1875 with 85 inhabitants.

As the population grew, a courthouse, banks and office buildings began to crop up in the downtown area. Many of these buildings have been preserved as the Downtown Historic District. While the earlier buildings were mostly wood frame, after a series of fires in the late 1800s, the city established new building regulations promoting the use of masonry construction. During the 1920s, Orlando was experiencing the Florida Land Boom, when many investors had dreams of making it big. But with the Depression, Orlando saw the collapse of the boom and through the 40s development slowed. The area retains several distinct communities in addition to the Downtown Business District.

The College Park neighborhood is just minutes away from downtown Orlando, yet is set apart by its picturesque winding residential streets and eclectic shops. Antique Row is a favorite for visitors and locals alike to hunt for that special treasure. The Winter Park neighborhood is the historic snow-bird destination, with its ritzy estates and chic boutiques, quaint restaurants and towering oak trees. This is also the site of the weekly farmers market, which people from all over the city travel to for fresh fruits, vegetables and the wares of local artisans.