of Orange County, Orlando covers an area of
approximately 101 square miles and has a
population of about 213,230; the
Orlando-Kissimmee Metropolitan Area has a
population of over 1.8 million, making it
Florida's third-largest metropolitan area, behind
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm
Beach and Tampa-St.
The first white settlers
arrived in the Orlando area in 1837, when the
U.S. Army established an outpost at Fort Gatlin,
a few miles south of the present-day downtown.
The post was abandoned almost immediately after
the Second Seminole War came to an end.
The first permanent settler was
cattleman Aaron Jernigan, who acquired land along
Lake Holden by the terms of the Armed Occupation
Act of 1842. More settlers began arriving after
the Third Seminole War in the 1850's. These
settlers named the community Orlando in honor of
Orlando Reeves, a soldier who was killed during
the Second Seminole War.
Orlando was still a rural
backwater town during the Civil War, but
the Reconstruction Era brought a major influx of
new settlers. The City of Orlando was
incorporated in 1875. The railroad reached
Orlando in 1881, bringing even more settlers to
Orlando was the hub of
Florida's citrus industry until the Great Freeze
of 1894-1895 forced many grove owners to move
their operations further south.
As Florida's largest inland
city, Orlando became a popular resort during the
years between the Spanish-American War and World War I.
During World War II,
Orlando was home to the Pine Castle Army Air
Force Base, and many of the servicemen stationed
there remained after the war. Martin Marietta
(now Lockheed Martin) arrived in 1956, and Pine
Castle was renamed McCoy Air Force Base in 1958;
the base closed in 1974, but Lockheed Martin
remains a major employer for the region.
In 1965, Walt Disney announced plans to
build his planned Walt Disney World complex in
the Orlando area. Although he had also considered
the cities of Miami and Tampa for his park, he
chose Orlando because it was relatively safe from
hurricanes. The famous resort opened in October
With the Disney World Resort
complex, Sea World and Universal Orlando all
located in the area, Orlando sees an estimated 52
million tourists a year and is the second-largest
city in the country for number of hotel rooms.
Major Orlando manufactures
include electronic and aerospace equipment,
computer software, and defense equipment.
Orlando also serves as the home
of many persons who commute to Patrick Air Force
Base, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Kennedy
Space Center, and Port Canaveral, all of which
lie "just down the highway" from
Orlando and its suburbs.
Orlando is served by Orlando
International Airport, one of the most heavily
traveled airports in the world.
Public education is managed by
Orange County Public Schools.
Institutions of higher learning
in Orlando are: the University of Central
Florida, the second-largest university in the
state; Asbury Theological Seminary; the Law
School of Barry University; DeVry University; a
campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University;
the Law School of Florida A&M University; a
campus of the Florida Institute of Technology;
the Florida Hospital College of Health Sciences;
Hindu University of America; the International
Academy of Design and Technology; a campus of
Nova Southeastern University; a campus of Keiser
College; a campus of Polytechnic University; a
campus of the Reformed Theological Seminary;
Rollins College, in Winter Park; Stetson
University, in Deland; Troy University, in Winter
Park; a campus of the University of Phoenix; and
Valencia Community College.
The Orlando area is world
famous for being the home of the Disney
World/Epcot Center complex, Universal Studios
themepark, Sea World, and other "amusement
parks," but it has much more to offer.
Blue Spring State Park is the
winter home of large numbers of Florida manatees.
Central Florida Zoological Park, located in
nearby Sanford, is home to a butterfly garden,
herpetarium, and numerous tropical animals.
Gatorland houses thousands of alligators and
crocodiles, some of which have appeared in
movies, television shows and commercial spots.
Flower lovers can enjoy the
Arboretum of the University of Southern Florida
and/or the Harry P. Leu Gardens. World of Orchids
is a working greenhouse that ships orchids and
other tropical plants nationwide. Visitors can
see thousands of blooms in an enclosed tropical
rainforest complete with streams, waterfalls and
Jack Kerouac lived in Orlando
from July 1957 to the spring of 1958, during
which time he wrote The Beat Generation,
Orlando Blues, and The Dharma Bums. The house he shared with his mother
during that period is now a haven for aspiring
writers who can live in the house as they create
their own work. The Morse Museum of American Art,
located on the campus of Rollins College, houses
the world's most comprehensive collection of
works by Louis Comfort Tiffany.
The International Trolley and
Train Museum features more than a dozen model
railroad trains with sound and lighting traveling
through an indoor garden, as well as toy trains
from the 1920's to the present.
The Orlando Science Center has
hundreds of interactive exhibits for visitors of
all ages, as well as the largest refracting
telescope in Florida.
The Ripley's Believe It or Not!
Orlando Odditorium is located in a building
constructed to appear as if it were collapsing on
one side. Bizarre artifacts, strange collections,
weird art/hobbies and interactive exhibits are on
display in sixteen galleries.
Other major attractions
include: the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, the Orange
County Regional History Center, and the Orlando
Museum of Art.
The Orlando Film Festival is
one of the largest in the country.
The Orlando Magic, an NBA
franchise, plays at the TD Waterhouse Centre in
downtown Orlando. The Centre is also home to the
Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League.
The Citrus Bowl is the home field for the
University of Central Florida, as well as the
home of the Capital One Bowl (formerly the
Florida Citrus Bowl) and the Champs Sports Bowl
(formerly the Tangerine Bowl).
Comedian Wayne Brady and actor
Wesley Snipes are both from Orlando.
City of Orlando www.cityoforlando.net
Orlando Travel and Visitors Bureau
World War I
World War II
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