Orlando, Florida
City
City of Orlando
Top row: Downtown Orlando; 2nd row: Orange County Courthouse, Universal Studios Florida, Walt Disney World; 3rd row: Gatorland, SeaWorld Orlando, Amway Center; 4th row: Lake Eola fountain, Camping World Stadium, Church Street Station
Flag of Orlando, Florida
Flag
Official seal of Orlando, Florida
Seal
Nickname(s): The City Beautiful
Location in Orange County and the state of Florida.
Location in Orange County and the state of Florida.
Orlando is located in Florida
Orlando
Orlando
Location in Florida and the United States
Orlando is located in the US
Orlando
Orlando
Orlando (the US)
Coordinates: 28°32′24″N 81°22′48″W / 28.54000°N 81.38000°W / 28.54000; -81.38000Coordinates: 28°32′24″N 81°22′48″W / 28.54000°N 81.38000°W / 28.54000; -81.38000[1]
Country United States
State Florida
County Orange
Incorporated (town)July 31, 1875
UnincorporatedJuly 1879
Re-IncorporatedOctober 1879
Incorporated (city)1885
Government
 • TypeMayor–Commission
 • MayorBuddy Dyer (D)
Area[2]
 • Total3,000.4499 square kilometre km2 (113.75 sq mi)
 • Land272.51 km2 (105.22 sq mi)
 • Water22.10 km2 (8.53 sq mi)
 • Urban1,690.3 km2 (652.64 sq mi)
Elevation[3]25 m (82 ft)
Population (2010)[1][4][5]
 • Total238,300
 • Estimate (2017)[6]280,257
 • Rank73rd, U.S.
 • Density1,017.10/km2 (2,634.27/sq mi)
 • Urban1,510,516 (32nd, U.S.)
 • Metro2,387,138 (24th, U.S.)
 • CSA3,129,308 (17th, U.S.)
Demonym(s)Orlandoan
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP code(s)32801–32899
Area codes321, 407
FIPS code12-53000
GNIS feature ID0288240[3]
InterstatesI-4.svg
U.S. RoutesUS 17.svg US 92.svg US 441.svg
Major State RoutesToll Florida 408.svg Toll Florida 414.svg Toll Florida 417.svg Toll Florida 429.svg Toll Florida 528.svg Florida's Turnpike shield.svg
Websitehttp://www.cityoforlando.net

Orlando (/ɔːrˈlænd/) is a city in the U.S. state of Florida and the county seat of Orange County. Located in Central Florida, it is the center of the Orlando metropolitan area, which had a population of 2,802,570, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures released in July 2017. These figures make it the 24th-largest metropolitan area[7] in the United States, the sixth-largest metropolitan area in the Southern United States, and the third-largest metropolitan area in Florida. As of 2015, Orlando had an estimated city-proper population of 277,173, making it the 73rd-largest city in the United States, the fourth-largest city in Florida, and the state's largest inland city.

The City of Orlando is nicknamed "The City Beautiful," and its symbol is the fountain at Lake Eola. Orlando is also known as "The Theme Park Capital of the World" and in 2016 its tourist attractions and events drew more than 72 million visitors.[8] The Orlando International Airport (MCO or OIA) is the thirteenth-busiest airport in the United States and the 29th-busiest in the world.[9]

As one of the world's most visited tourist destinations, Orlando's famous attractions form the backbone of its tourism industry. The two most significant of these attractions are Walt Disney World, opened by the Walt Disney Company in 1971, and located approximately 21 miles (34 km) southwest of Downtown Orlando in Bay Lake; and the Universal Orlando Resort, opened in 1990 as a major expansion of Universal Studios Hollywood. With the exception of Walt Disney World, most major attractions are located along International Drive with one of these attractions being the famous Orlando Eye. The city is also one of the busiest American cities for conferences and conventions; the Orange County Convention Center is the second-largest convention facility in the United States.

Like other major cities in the Sun Belt, Orlando grew rapidly from the 1980s up into the first decade of the 21st century. Orlando is home to the University of Central Florida, which is the largest university campus in the United States in terms of enrollment as of 2015. In 2010, Orlando was listed as a "Gamma−" level global city in the World Cities Study Group's inventory.[10] Orlando ranks as the fourth-most popular American city based on where people want to live according to a 2009 Pew Research Center study.[11]

Etymology

Fort Gatlin, as the Orlando area was once known, was established at what is now just south of the city limits by the 4th U.S. Artillery under the command of Ltc. Alexander C. W. Fanning on November 9, 1838, during the construction of a series of fortified encampments across Florida during the Second Seminole War.[12] The fort and surrounding area were named for Dr. John S. Gatlin, an Army physician who was killed in Dade's Massacre on December 28, 1835. The site of construction for Fort Gatlin, a defensible position with fresh water between three small lakes, was likely chosen because the location was on a main trail and is less than 250 yards from a nearby Council Oak tree where Native Americans had traditionally met. King Phillip and Coacoochee frequented this area and the tree was alleged to be the place where the previous 1835 ambush that had killed over 100 soldiers had been planned.[13] When the U.S. military abandoned the fort in 1839, the surrounding community was built up by settlers.[12]

Prior to being known by its current name, Orlando was once known as Jernigan. This name originates from the first permanent settlers, Issac and Aaron Jernigan, cattlemen who acquired land two miles northwest of Fort Gatlin along the west end of Lake Holden in July 1843 by the terms of the Armed Occupation Act.[14][15][15] Aaron Jernigan became Orange County's first State Representative in 1845 but his pleas for additional military protection went unanswered.

Fort Gatlin was briefly reoccupied by the military for a few weeks during October and November 1849 and subsequently a volunteer militia was left to defend the settlement.[15] A historical marker indicates that by 1850 the Jernigan homestead (or Fort Gatlin in some sources)[16] served as the nucleus of a village named Jernigan.[17] According to an account written years later by his daughter, at that time, about 80 settlers were forced to shelter for about a year in "a stockade that Aaron Jernigan built on the north side of Lake Conway". One of the county's first records, a grand jury's report, mentions a stockade where it states homesteaders were ``driven from their homes and forced to huddle together in hasty defences [sic]." Aaron Jernigan led a local volunteer militia during 1852.[15]

A Post Office opened at Jernigan in 1850. Jernigan appears on an 1855 map of Florida and by 1856 the area had become the county seat of Orange County.[18][12] In 1857, the Post Office was removed from Jernigan, and opened under the name of Orlando at a new location in present-day downtown Orlando.[15] During the American Civil War, the Post Office closed, but reopened in 1866. The move is believed to be sparked, in part, by Aaron Jernigan's fall from grace after he was relieved of his militia command by military officials in 1856. His behavior was so notorious that Secretary of War Jefferson Davis wrote, "It is said they [Jernigan's militia] are more dreadful than the Indians."[19] In 1859, Jernigan and his sons were accused of committing a murder at the town's post office. They were then transported to Ocala, but escaped.[17]

There are at least five stories as to how Orlando got its name. The most common stories are that the name Orlando originated from the tale of a man who died in 1835 during a attack by Native Americans in the area during the Second Seminole War. Several of the stories relay an oral history of the marker for a person named Orlando, and the double entendre, "Here lies Orlando." One variant includes a man named Orlando who was passing by on his way to Tampa with a herd of ox, died, and was buried in a marked grave.[20]

At a meeting in 1857, debate had grown concerning the name of the town. Pioneer William B. Hull recalled how James Speer (a local resident, and prominent figure in the stories behind the naming of Orlando) rose in the heat of the argument and said, "This place is often spoken of as 'Orlando's Grave.' Let's drop the word 'grave' and let the county seat be Orlando."[16][19]

Through a retelling of history, it is believed that a marker of some sort was indeed found by one of the original pioneers. However, others claim Speer simply used the Orlando Reeves legend to help push his plan for naming the settlement after the Shakespearean character.[16]

Orlando Reeves

Historians agree that there was likely not a soldier named Orlando Reeves.[21] Folklore is that Reeves was acting as a sentinel for a company of soldiers that had set up camp for the night on the banks of Sandy Beach Lake.[22] Several different lakes are mentioned in the various versions, as no soldiers were in what is now downtown during 1835.[23]

The legend grew throughout the early 1900s, particularly with local historian Olive Brumbaugh (or Kena Fries[22][verification needed]) retelling in various writings and on local radio station WDBO in 1929.[16] Another historian, Eldon H. Gore, promoted the Reeves legend in History of Orlando published in 1949.[16] A memorial beside Lake Eola – originally placed by students of Orlando's Cherokee Junior School in 1939 and updated in 1990 – designates the spot where the city's supposed namesake fell.[21][22]

There are conflicting legends. One legend has Reeves killed during an extended battle with the Seminoles after being field promoted after his platoon commander fell.[16] However, an in-depth review of military records in the 1970s and 1980s turned up no record of Orlando Reeves ever existing.[16][21][22] Some versions attempt to account for Reeves having no military records by using the name of other people named 'Orlando' that exist in some written records – Orlando Acosta; however, not much is known about Acosta or whether he even existed. Another version of the story has Orlando Reed, supposedly an Englishman and mail carrier between Fort Gatlin and Fort Mellon, allegedly killed while camping with his friends near Fort Gatlin.[16]

A second variation also places the story in 1835 during the Second Seminole War. This name is taken from a South Carolinian cattle rancher named Orlando Savage Rees. Rees owned a Volusia County sugar mill and plantation as well as several large estates in Florida and Mississippi.[16] Rees' sugar farms in the area were burned out in the Seminole attacks of 1835 (the year Orlando Reeves supposedly died). Subsequently, Rees led an expedition to recover stolen slaves and cattle. In 1837, Rees also attempted to stop a peace treaty with the Seminoles because it did not reimburse him for the loss of slaves and crops.[19]

It is believed Rees could have left a pine-bough marker with his name next to the trail; later residents misread "Rees" as "Reeves" and also mistook it as a grave maker.[19] In subsequent years, this story has merged with the Orlando Reeves story (which may have originally incorporated part of Dr. Gatlin's story).[16]

On two separate occasions, relatives of Rees claimed their ancestor was the namesake of the city. F.K. Bull of South Carolina (Rees' great-grandson) told an Orlando reporter of a story in 1955; years later, Charles M. Bull Jr. of Orlando (Rees' great-great-grandson) offered local historians similar information.[19] Unlike Orlando Reeves who cannot be traced to any historical record, there is considerable record that Orlando Rees did exist and was in Florida during that time period. For example, in 1832 John James Audubon met with Rees in his large estate at Spring Garden, about 45 minutes away from Orlando.[19]

Orlando (As You Like It)

The final variation has the city named after the protagonist in the Shakespeare play As You Like It.[16]

In 1975, Judge Donald A. Cheney put forth a new version of the story in an Orlando Sentinel article.[19] Cheney (a local historian and then chairman of the county historical commission) recounted a story told to him by his father, Judge John Moses Cheney (a major figure in Orlando's history who arrived in Orlando in 1885).

The elder Cheney recounted that another gentleman at that time, James Speer, proposed the name Orlando after the character in As You Like It.[16] According to Cheney, Speer, "was a gentleman of culture and an admirer of William Shakespeare...[19] Quoting a letter that Speer wrote, "Orlando was a veritable Forest of Arden, the locale of As You Like It."[24] Speer's descendants have also confirmed this version of the naming and the legend has continued to grow.[19]

This account also has some validity in that, as mentioned above, Speer was instrumental in changing the name of the settlement from Jernigan to Orlando, though he may have used the Orlando Reeves legend in lieu of his true intent to use the Shakespearean character. According to yet another version of the story Orlando may have been the name of one of his employees.[16][20] It should also be noted that one of downtown Orlando's major streets is named Rosalind Avenue; Rosalind is the heroine of As You Like It, but this could also be a simple coincidence.

Lake Lucerne, c. 1905

History

Pre-European history

No archaeological evidence exists of Pre-Columbian settlement in the area.[25][26]

In 1823, the Treaty of Moultrie Creek created a Seminole reservation encompassing much of central Florida, including the area which would become Orlando. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 authorized relocation of the Seminole from Florida to Oklahoma, leading to the Second Seminole War. In 1842 white settlement in the area was encouraged by the Armed Occupation Act.

Incorporation

After Mosquito County was divided in 1845, Fort Gatlin became the county seat of the newly created Orange County in 1856.[12] It remained a rural backwater during the Civil War and suffered greatly during the Union blockade. The Reconstruction Era brought on a population explosion, resulting in the incorporation of the Town of Orlando on July 31, 1875 with 85 residents (22 voters). For a short time in 1879 the town revoked its charter, and was subsequently re-incorporated.[27] Orlando was established as a city in 1885.[28]

The period from 1875 to 1895 is remembered as Orlando's Golden Era, when it became the hub of Florida's citrus industry. The period ended with the Great Freeze of 1894–95, which forced many owners to give up their independent citrus groves, thus consolidating holdings in the hands of a few "citrus barons" who shifted operations south, primarily around Lake Wales in Polk County.[20] The freeze caused many in Florida, including many Orlandoans, to move elsewhere, mostly to the North, California, or the Caribbean.

The Wyoming Hotel, c. 1905

Notable homesteaders in the area included the Curry family. Through their property in east Orlando flowed the Econlockhatchee River, which travelers crossed by fording. This would be commemorated by the street's name, Curry Ford Road. Also, just south of the Orlando International Airport in the Boggy Creek area is 150 acres (0.61 km2) of property homesteaded in the late 19th century by the Ward family. This property is still owned by the Ward family, and can be seen from southbound flights out of Orlando International Airport immediately on the south side of SR 417.

Post-Industrial Revolution

Orlando became a popular resort during the years between the Spanish–American War and World War I. In the 1920s, Orlando experienced extensive housing development during the Florida Land Boom, causing land prices to soar. During this period, several neighborhoods in downtown were constructed, endowing it with many bungalows. The boom ended when several hurricanes hit Florida in the late 1920s, along with The Great Depression.

During World War II, a number of Army personnel were stationed at the Orlando Army Air Base and nearby Pinecastle Army Air Field. Some of these servicemen stayed in Orlando to settle and raise families. In 1956 the aerospace and defense company Martin Marietta (now Lockheed Martin) established a plant in the city. Orlando AAB and Pinecastle AAF were transferred to the United States Air Force in 1947 when it became a separate service and were re-designated as air force bases (AFB). In 1958, Pinecastle AFB was renamed McCoy Air Force Base after Colonel Michael N. W. McCoy, a former commander of the 320th Bombardment Wing at the installation, killed in the crash of a B-47 Stratojet bomber north of Orlando. In the 1960s, the base subsequently became home to the 306th Bombardment Wing of the Strategic Air Command (SAC), operating B-52 Stratofortress and KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft, in addition to detachment operations by EC-121 and U-2 aircraft.

In 1968, Orlando AFB was transferred to the United States Navy and became Naval Training Center Orlando. In addition to boot camp facilities, the NTC Orlando was home of one of two Navy Nuclear Power Schools, and home of the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division. When McCoy AFB closed in 1976, its runways and territory to its south and east were imparted to the city to become Orlando International Airport, while a small portion to the northwest was transferred to the Navy as McCoy NTC Annex. That closed in 1995, and became a housing, though the former McCoy AFB still hosts a Navy Exchange, as well as National Guard and Reserve units for several branches of service. NTC Orlando was closed in 1989 by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, and converted into the Baldwin Park neighborhood. The Naval Air Warfare Center had moved to Central Florida Research Park near UCF in 1989.

Lucerne Circle c. 1905

Tourism in history

Perhaps the most critical event for Orlando's economy occurred in 1965 when Walt Disney announced plans to build Walt Disney World. Although Disney had considered the regions of Miami and Tampa for his park, one of the major reasons behind his decision not to locate there was due to hurricanes – Orlando's inland location, although not free from hurricane damage, exposed it to less threat than coastal regions. The vacation resort opened in October 1971, ushering in an explosive population and economic growth for the Orlando metropolitan area, which now encompasses Orange, Seminole, Osceola, and Lake counties. As a result, tourism became the centerpiece of the area's economy. Orlando now has more theme parks and entertainment attractions than anywhere else in the world.[29]

Another major factor in Orlando's growth occurred in 1962, when the new Orlando Jetport, the precursor of the present day Orlando International Airport, was built from a portion of the McCoy Air Force Base. By 1970, four major airlines (Delta Air Lines, National Airlines, Eastern Airlines and Southern Airways) were providing scheduled flights. McCoy Air Force Base officially closed in 1975, and most of it is now part of the airport. The airport still retains the former Air Force Base airport code (MCO).

21st century

View of Downtown Orlando (center) and periphery to Lake Apopka (upper-right); January 2011

Today, the historic core of "Old Orlando" resides in Downtown Orlando along Church Street, between Orange Avenue and Garland Avenue. The Urban development and the Central Business District of downtown have rapidly shaped the downtown skyline during recent history. The present-day historic district is primarily associated with the neighborhoods around Lake Eola where century-old oaks line brick streets. These neighborhoods, known as "Lake Eola Heights" and "Thornton Park", contain some of the oldest homes in Orlando.

2016 mass shooting

On June 12, 2016, more than 100 people were shot at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. Fifty (including the gunman) were killed and 60 were wounded. The gunman, whom the police SWAT team shot to death, was identified as 29-year-old Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, an American security guard of Afghan descent. The act of terrorism was both the deadliest mass shooting in modern United States history at the time and one of the deadliest mass shootings perpetrated by a single person in recorded world history. Mateen pledged allegiance to the Islamic State during his unsuccessful negotiations with police.[30] After the shooting, the city held numerous vigils. In November 2016, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer announced the city's intention to acquire the Pulse Nightclub in order to build a permanent memorial for the 49 victims of the shooting. The city offered to buy it for $2.25 million, but the club's owner declined to sell.[31]

Geography and cityscape

Lake Eola in 1911

The geography of Orlando is mostly wetlands, consisting of many lakes and swamps. The terrain is generally flat, making the land fairly low and wet.[citation needed] The area is dotted with hundreds of lakes, the largest of which is Lake Apopka. Central Florida's bedrock is mostly limestone and very porous; the Orlando area is susceptible to sinkholes. Probably the most famous incident involving a sinkhole happened in 1981 in Winter Park, a city immediately north of downtown Orlando, dubbed "The Winter Park Sinkhole".

There are 115 neighborhoods within the city limits and many unincorporated communities. Orlando's city limits resemble a checkerboard, with pockets of unincorporated Orange County surrounded by city limits. Such an arrangement results in some areas being served by both Orange County and the City of Orlando. This also explains Orlando's relatively low city population when compared to its metropolitan population. The city and county are working together in an effort to "round-out" the city limits with Orlando annexing portions of land already bordering the city limits.[32][not in citation given]

Skyscrapers

Night view of the Orlando skyline in 2010.

Metro Orlando has a total of 19 completed skyscrapers. The majority are located in Downtown Orlando and the rest are located in the tourist district southwest of downtown.[33] Skyscrapers built in downtown Orlando have not exceeded 441 ft (134 m), since 1988, when the SunTrust Center was completed.[citation needed] The main reason for this is the Orlando Executive Airport, just under 2 miles from the city center, which does not allow buildings to exceed a certain height.

Downtown Orlando