History in Orlando

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There are many stories about the naming of Orlando. In the most popular version Orlando received its name from a fallen solider of the Second Seminole War. In 1837 a tree with the name Orlando Reeves craved into it was found by settlers. They referred to this site as "Orlando's Grave" which eventually became known as Orlando. Another tale states that it was named after a character in Shakespeare's, “As You Like It”. Others say that a man named Mr. Orlando died while travleing. He was buried along the way and others would pass by and say, “There lies Orlando.”

Pioneers slowly began to settle in this Central Florida area over the following fifty years. It was after the Civil War in 1885 that Orlando became an official city. The next decade was known as Orlando's Golden Era. During this time the city grew into a citrus mecca for the agricultural industry. The time was short-lived with the Great Freeze in 1895 which forced many farmers to move south because their citrus crops were ruined. After this Orlando seemed to be very quiet until the years between the Spanish American War and WWI. Perhaps the future was being told, because Orlando turned into a resort destination.

Housing boomed in the 1920s with people being drawn to the warm climate and land prices. The 1950s brought along more residents, but this time the pull was from Orlando's close proximity to army bases and the space center along Florida's east coast. Orlando became the place where servicemen stayed to raise their families. Although, these times brought a reasonable population to Orlando, it wasn't until 1971 that the largest inland city in Florida received an economic downpour. This was the year that Disney World opened and Orlando would never be the same again.

Disney World took Orlando tourism to a whole different level. It grew into something much more than a place to see alligators and palm trees. Orlando was now a family destination. Two years after the opening of Disney World, SeaWorld planted its roots in Orlando's soil. It was another two decades until Universal Studios opened and added to the economic success of theme parks in Orlando. They have spawned downtown districts, water parks, and thousands of employment opportunities. Family attractions such as these now account for the majority of Orlando's economy.

Orlando has come a long way since Orlando Reeves' name was supposedly craved into that tree.  With countless museums, tourist attractions, corporate buildings, and downtown hot spots Orlando has become more than a city. It's now a metropolitan area, home, and vacation destination for thousands.  


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