"Orlando" redirects here. For other uses, see Orlando (disambiguation).
|City of Orlando|
|Nickname(s): "The City Beautiful," "O-Town," "Theme Park Capital of the World"|
Location in Orange County and the state of Florida
|Coordinates: Coordinates: |
|Country||United States of America|
|Settled||July 31, 1875|
|• Mayor||Buddy Dyer (D)|
|• Total||110.7 sq mi (287 km2)|
|• Land||102.4 sq mi (265 km2)|
|• Water||8.3 sq mi (21 km2)|
|• Urban||652.64 sq mi (1,690.3 km2)|
|Elevation||82 ft (25 m)|
|• Estimate (2013)||255,483|
|• Rank||77th, U.S.|
|• Density||2,327.3/sq mi (898.6/km2)|
|• Urban||1,510,516 (32nd, U.S.)|
|• Metro||2,267,846 (26th, U.S.)|
|• CSA||2,975,658 (17th, U.S.)|
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|Area code(s)||321, 407|
|GNIS feature ID||0288240|
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 2014 its tourist attractions and events drew more than 62 million visitors. The Orlando International Airport (MCO) is the thirteenth busiest airport in the United States and the 29th busiest in the world. Buddy Dyer is Orlando's mayor.
As the most visited American city in 2009, Orlando's famous attractions form the backbone of its tourism industry: Walt Disney World Resort, located approximately 21 miles (34 km) southwest of Downtown Orlando in Lake Buena Vista, opened by the Walt Disney Company in 1971; the Universal Orlando Resort, opened in 1999 as a major expansion of Universal Studios Florida; SeaWorld; Gatorland; and Wet 'n Wild. With the exception of Walt Disney World, most major attractions are located along International Drive. The city is also one of the busiest American cities for conferences and conventions.
Like other major cities in the Sun Belt, Orlando grew rapidly during the 1980s and into the first decade of the 21st century. Orlando is home to the University of Central Florida, which is the second-largest university campus in the United States in terms of enrollment as of 2012. In 2010, Orlando was listed as a "Gamma−" level of world-city in the World Cities Study Group’s inventory. Orlando ranks as the fourth most popular American city based on where people want to live according to a 2009 Pew Research Center study.
See also: Timeline of Orlando, Florida
Pre-European historyBefore European settlers arrived in 1536, Orlando was sparsely populated by the Creek and other Native American tribes. There are very few archaeological sites in the area today, except for the ruins of Fort Gatlin along the shores of modern-day Lake Gatlin south of downtown Orlando.
NamePrior to being known by its current name, Orlando was known as Jernigan. This originates from the first permanent settler, Aaron Jernigan, a cattleman who acquired land along Lake Holden by the terms of the Armed Occupation Act of 1842.
City officials and local legend say the name Orlando originated from a soldier named Orlando Reeves who died in 1835 during a supposed attack by Native Americans in the area during the Second Seminole War. 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 (now Lake Eola). There are conflicting legends, however, as an in-depth review of military records in the 1970s and 1980s turned up no record of Orlando Reeves ever existing. The legend grew throughout the early 1900s, particularly with local historian Kena Fries' retelling in various writings and on local radio station WDBO in 1929. A memorial beside Lake Eola – originally placed by students of Orlando's Cherokee Junior School in 1939 – designates the spot where the city's supposed namesake fell.
Local historians have come up with a more credible version of the "Reeves" story. During the Second Seminole War, the U.S. Army established an outpost at Fort Gatlin, a few miles south of the modern downtown, in 1838, but it was quickly abandoned when the war came to an end. Most pioneers did not arrive until after the Third Seminole War in the 1850s. Many early residents made their living by cattle ranching. One such resident was a South Carolinian Orlando Savage Rees. Rees owned several large estates in Florida and Mississippi. 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. Rees most certainly did exist and was in Florida during that time period: in 1832 John James Audubon met with Rees in his large estate at Spring Garden, about 45 minutes away from Orlando. In 1837, Rees also attempted to stop a peace Treaty with the Indians because it did not reimburse him for the loss of slaves and crops. The story goes Rees' sugar farms in the area were burned out in the Seminole attacks in 1835 (the year Orlando Reeves supposedly died). Subsequently, he led an expedition to recover stolen slaves and cattle. It is believed he could have left a pine-bough marker with his name next to the trail, and later residents misread the sign as "Reeves" and thought it was his grave. In the years since the telling of this story, it has merged with the Orlando Reeves story. Some variants attempt to account for Reeves having no military records by using the name of another 'Orlando' that exists in some written records – Orlando Acosta. Not much is known about Acosta and if he even existed.
In 1975, local historian, and then chairman of the county historical commission, Judge Donald A. Cheney put forth a new version of the story in an Orlando Sentinel article. Cheney is the son of Judge John Moses Cheney, a major figure in Orlando's history who arrived in Orlando in 1885. John Cheney knew James Speer – another major figure who proposed the name of Orlando. Cheney's retelling relates how Speer proposed the name Orlando after one of the main characters in the Shakespeare play As You Like It. Speer, "was a gentleman of culture and an admirer of William Shakespeare...According to him, [Orlando] was a veritable Forest of Arden, the locale of As You Like It." One of the main streets in downtown Orlando is named Rosalind Avenue, after Rosalind, the heroine of the play. Speer's descendants have also confirmed this version of the naming and the legend has continued to grow.
What is known for certain is Jernigan became Orlando in 1857. The move is believed to be sparked, in part, by Aaron Jernigan's fall from grace after he was relieved of his military 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." At a meeting in 1857, debate had grown concerning the name of the town. Pioneer William B. Hull recalled how Speer 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." Through this retelling of history, it is believed that a marker of some sort was indeed found by Jernigan (or one of the other original pioneers); but, others claim Speer simply used the folk legend to help push for the Shakespearian name.
IncorporationAfter Mosquito County was divided in 1845, Orlando became the county seat of the new Orange County in 1856. It remained a rural backwater during the Civil War, and suffered greatly during the Union blockade. The Reconstruction Era brought on a population explosion, which led to Orlando's incorporation as a town on July 31, 1875, and as a city in 1885.
The period from 1875 to 1895 is remembered as Orlando's Golden Era, when it became the hub of Florida's citrus industry. But the Great Freeze of 1894–95 forced many owners to give up their independent groves, thus consolidating holdings in the hands of a few "citrus barons" who shifted operations south, primarily around Lake Wales in Polk County.
After Industrial Revolution
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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, 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 1975, 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 1996, and became 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 1993 by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, and converted into the Baldwin Park neighborhood. The Air Warfare Center had moved to Central Florida Regional Park near UCF in 1988.
Tourism in historyPerhaps 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.
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).
Geography and cityscape
unincorporated communities. Orlando's city limits resemble a checkerboard, with pockets of unincorporated Orange County surrounded by city limits. Such an arrangement can be cumbersome as some areas are 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 currently working together in an effort to "round-out" the city limits with Orlando annexing portions of land already bordering the current city limits.[not in citation given]
SkyscrapersMetro 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. Skyscrapers built in downtown Orlando have not exceeded 441 ft (134 m) since 1988 when SunTrust Center was completed. There has never been an official reason why, but local architects speculate restrictions imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration, as the Orlando Executive Airport is located four miles (6 km) east of downtown Orlando.
Main article: List of tallest buildings in Orlando
- The SunTrust Center, 1988, 441 ft (134 m), is the tallest skyscraper in Central Florida.
- The Vue at Lake Eola, 2008, 426 ft (130 m) tall, but with 35 stories it has more stories than the SunTrust Center.
- The Orange County Courthouse, 1997, 416 ft (127 m).
- The Bank of America Center (formerly Barnett Plaza), 1988, 409 ft (125 m)
- 55 West on the Esplanade, 2009, 377 ft (115 m)
- Solaire at the Plaza, 2006, 359 ft (109 m)
- Dynetech Center, 2009, 357 ft (109 m)
- Citrus Center, 1971, 281 ft (86 m)
- Premier Trade Plaza Orlando, 2006, 256 ft (78 m)
- CNL Center City Commons, 1999, 250 ft (76 m)
- Downtown Orlando Information Center, 2008
Outside Downtown Orlando
- Orlando International Airport ATC Tower, 2002, 346 ft (105 m)
- The SeaWorld SkyTower, 400 ft (122 m), was the tallest tower in Orange County outside Orlando's city limits until surpassed by the Peabody.
- The Hyatt Regency Orlando Expansion Tower, Winter 2010, 428 ft (130 m), is the tallest tower in Orange County outside Orlando's city limits.
- The Orlando Eye, 400 ft (122 m), was opened in 2015.