A BRIEF NAPLES HISTORY

Naples Florida is very near Marco Island (or vice versa depending on your point of view), the home of perhaps the first inhabitants of North America as we know it today – the Calusa Indians (1). Naples is on the western-most edge of the Everglades and Big Cypress Swamps – The Everglades is of course a National Park and Big Cypress a National Monument.

The climate of Naples is sub-tropical; that means we have real coconut palms and other varieties of foliage found in the islands of the Caribbean and South Pacific. The state flower is the Plumeria, a native of Hawaii. We share other similarities with the fiftieth state one of which is temperature. Our rainy season is reversed however coming in the summer months and in the afternoons rather than in winter and in the mornings. If you watch the daily temperatures you will see a definite similarity to Honolulu.

Until 1950 Naples was a sleepy fishing village – the very well kept secret of many wealthy Northerners who wintered here. But, as fate would have it – and it usually does – someone found out: a restrained growth began and continued until the seventies when the first enclosed mall was built. Since that time the city has been growing with increasing vigor reaching a present population of just under 21,000 year ’round – 33,000 plus during the winter season. The greater Naples area, however, which includes North Naples, East Naples, and South Naples are estimated to be domicile to at least another 76,000. You may note there is no mention here of West Naples. Too wet there. That’s the Gulf of Mexico and we don’t count fish since they don’t pay taxes. Speaking of that, if the alligators in the ‘Burbs payed taxes the population might number well over 100,000.

Naples is the county seat of Collier County, Florida, the second largest in land area in the state of Florida and the third largest east of the Mississippi. We could, perhaps, argue that it is the largest in Florida since the largest, Palm Beach County, is, to a great extent, covered by the waters of Lake Okeechobee(2). Anyhow, for comparison, Collier County is approximately the size of the state of Delaware.

Naples has a Council-Manager form of government with an elected mayor and 6 council members. The City of Naples is an information provider to/for the Naples Free-Net. If you wish more specific information about Naples it is available there.

(1) The Marco Cat, a 2,000 year old woodcarving by these first inhabitants, will be on display at the Collier County Historical Museum for the next few months as part of the bicentennial celebration of the State of Florida. It was returned recently, on loan from the Smithsonian.

(2) Lake Okeechobee is the second largest freshwater lake in the U.S. How many know the name of the largest? Those submitting correct answers will win a free ten minute tour of the Naples Virtual Mall and a ride on an alligator… providing they can catch one. Alligator that is.

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