Orlando, Florida is locate in Central Florida. It is the county seat for Orange County. Located in the middle of the Orlando metropolitan area, it is home to 2,387,138 residents. It ranks the 73rd largest city in the United States and the fourth largest in the state of Florida. It is the largest inland city in the state.
Tourists and residents like find the meaning of the city’s name very fitting. “The City Beautiful” is the translation of “Orlando”. It is notorious for being the “Theme Park Capital of the World” with tourist attraction and other entertainment events bringing in over 68 million visitors in one single year.
A leader in the tourism industry, Orlando is the fortunate city Walt Disney World is in. It is 21 miles southwest of downtown. The grand opening took place in 1971 and the major expansion of Universal Orlando Resort debuted in 1999.
There are a number of other tourist attractions in the city too. Most can be found along International Drive. Myriads of conferences and conventions are held in the area. The Orange County Convention Center is the next to the largest convention center facility in the entire United States.
Orlando holds the record for the largest university campus too. The University of Central Florida has the most enrollments of all U.S. campuses. Orlando is hailed as a “Gamma” due to the World Cities Study Group.
The city was once called “Fort Gatlin” during the Second Seminole War. The 4th U.S. Artillery was set up there during that time. The area was a prime one for a strategic location due to its access to lakes and other features.
Orlando once went by the name “Jernigan” too. It was called that in honor of one of the first permanent settler brothers, Aaron and Issac Jernigan. They were cattlemen in trade. Between the two, they made heroic strides that eventually led to the incorporation and made into a city in 1895. It was given the name “Orlando” from the Shakespeare play, “As You Like It”.
Downtown Orlando along Church Street is coined “Old Orlando”. The area was rapidly going downhill until an urban development plan got underway. The Central Business District for the downtown area has helped by leaps and bounds, making it a desirable, historical place to live and visit.
In 2016, a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in the town yielded fifty dead. The event shook up the nation and gave Orlando unwelcomed publicity. The city held multiple vigils and did all they could do to properly honor the dead and take a stand against such violent acts.
There have been other times the city has had to preserve too. During the years between 1875 and 1895, they experienced something known as “Orlando’s Golden Era”. They were the hub of the state’s citrus industry at this point. But the Great Freeze of 1894 put an end to the glory days.
As early as the 1920’s, Orlando was a popular resort spot for the rich and famous as well as those who were just lucky enough to travel there. In World War ll may servicemen were stationed there who later decided to make it home. The Florida Land Boom gave way to many new residents as well. The jetport in the city (now Orlando International Airport) and the building of Walt Disney World were other events that sparked growth in Orlando.
The economy of the city is great. Unemployment is at a low 3.8. A major part of the reason for this is because of the many tourist attractions that provide jobs for those who live in the area. Over a dozen theme parks are located in Orlando. Disney World, the Magic Kingdom, Epcot Wizarding World of Harry Potter and numerous water parks are on the list.
Lakes and swamps are plentiful in Orlando. The general terrain is very flat so it sits low and gets wet often. It has limestone and bedrock surfaces for the most part so sinkholes are not unusual. The city has made the best they could of it though. “The Winter Park Sinkhole” is yet another attraction for tourists.
Orlando’s weather is very pleasurable. It is deemed a humid subtropical climate. High temperatures average the mid 90’s and lows lean to the mid 70’s. The summers are humid but the winters are mild. The area is hailed for its plant hardiness.
The cityscape boasts many skyscrapers, 19 in total. With the airport within two miles, those built afte 1988 do not exceed 441 feet, however. The Sun Trust Center, The Vue at Lake Eola, the Orange County Courthouse and Bank of America Center are among the buildings that stretch into the sky.
Hurricanes are always a concern in the town. It was hit by three hurricanes in one season in 2004. Hurricane Charley was the strongest of the three and the one that caused the most destruction. Although tornadoes are not usually a risk, an outbreak of them in 1998 wreaked holy terror on the town, killing 42 people. Another in 2007 took 21 lives.
To many, Orlando is a city where dreams are made possible. The home of Walt Disney World and all the beloved characters that live there and a mecca for great weather, it is no wonder so many find it the perfect place to hang their mouse-eared hats.