History

Incorporated in 1886, Fort Myers is the center of a popular tourist area in Southwest Florida and the seat of Lee County. It is located about 120 miles (190 km) south of Tampa at the meeting point of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caloosahatchee River. Fort Myers was the frequent winter home of Thomas Edison and is the current home of the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins spring training camps.

Fort Myers, built in 1850 as a military fort to fend off Seminole Indians that were massacring the area's few settlers, was named after Col. Abraham C. Myers, who was stationed in Florida for seven years. In 1858, after years of elusive battle, Chief Billy Bowlegs and his warriors were persuaded to surrender and move west, and the fort was abandoned. Billy's Creek, which flows into the Caloosahatchee River, was named after a temporary camp where Billy Bowlegs and his men awaited ships to take them west.

The first settlers arrived in 1866, but it wasn't until 1882 when the city experienced a significant influx of settlers. By 1885, when Fort Myers was incorporated, it was the second largest city only to Tampa on Florida's west coast.

Fort Myers first became a nationally known winter resort with the building of The Royal Palm Hotel in 1898. But what really sparked the city's growth was the construction of the Tamiami Trail Bridge built across the Caloosahatchee River in 1924. After the bridge's construction, the city experienced its first real estate boom.

Fort Myers is the current spring home for the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins baseball clubs. The city holds the distinction of being the host of five different Major League Baseball franchises who've gone on to win the World Series following spring training in Fort Myers. The Philadelphia Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals compose the five along with the city's current two spring residents.

Schools

Lee County School District currently has:

  • 45 Elementary Schools K-5
  • 4 Elementary Schools K-8
  • 16 Middle Schools
  • 15 High Schools
  • 15 Special Centers & Vocational
  • 24 Charter Schools

Higher Learning

Institutions of higher learning in the area include:

  • Barry University
  • Florida SouthWestern State College
  • Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Hodges University
  • Keiser University
  • Nova Southeastern University
  • Rasmussen College
  • Southern Technical College

Points of interest

  • Edison and Ford Winter Estates
  • The Lee County Sports Complex in South Fort Myers, which includes Hammond Stadium, home of the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels baseball club of the Florida State League, and spring training locale for the Minnesota Twins. The Gulf Coast League Twins also play at the Lee County Sports Complex. 
  • The Boston Red Sox hold their spring training at JetBlue Park at Fenway South off Daniels Parkway and I-75 in south Ft. Myers.
  • Fort Myers hosts the Florida Everblades ECHL hockey team at Hertz Arena.
  • For the golfing enthusiast, the Fort Myers Area (Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Estero, Lehigh Acres and Sanibel Island) is home to over 50 of Southwest Florida's renowned 130 public and private golf courses. Florida's great weather combined with the scenic and challenging nature of these courses makes the area an excellent stop for the vacationing golfer.
  • The Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium is a private, not-for-profit, environmental education organization. Set on a 105-acre (0.42 km2) site, it has a museum, three nature trails, a planetarium, butterfly and bird aviaries, a gift shop and meeting and picnic areas.

Area

City/town: 40.4 sq mi (104.7 km2)
Land: 31.8 sq mi (82.4 km2)
Water: 8.6 sq mi (82.4 km2) 21.25%

Elevation

10 ft (3 m)

Population

2010 United States Census Bureau

City/town: 62,298
Metro: 618,754

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