As a major city within Florida, Orlando has a population of more than two million people. The fifth largest in the state of Florida, it is one of the most important within the ‘Sunshine State’ but where did Orlando come from?
Prior to settlers arriving from Europe in 1836, the city which is now known as Orlando was populated by the Creek and Seminole tribes. Unfortunately for those visiting today, very little archeological evidence still exists although it is possible to see a small amount at the city’s historical museums.
Prior to being named Orlando, the area was known as Jernigan. The original city name takes its origin from its first permanent settler, a cattleman known as Aaron Jernigan who managed to acquire land under the Armed Occupation Act of 1842.
Although it’s uncertain as to where exactly the name Orlando came from, local legend suggests it came from a soldier named Orlando Reeves who fought and died in the area when the Second Seminole War took place.
Another story suggests a gentleman by the name of Orlando Acosta lived about 30 miles north in Volusia County in an area known as Spring Garden. Orlando is believed to have run a plantation and a sugar mill there. Upon arriving in the area settlers found a tree with the name Orlando Acosta carved into the trunk. It wasn’t long before the area became known as Orlando Acosta’s Grave and then, later on, ‘Orlando’.
Regardless of how it got its name, Orlando quickly grew into a thriving and populous area, thanks in part to its citrus industry. This was particularly the case during the years between 1875 and 1895, a time now remembered as Orlando’s Golden era.
Aside from oranges, most of Orlando’s successes have come from tourism during the 20th century. This was started in 1965 after Walt Disney announced plans to build Walt Disney World, a theme park which is still today one of the most popular in the world.
Walt Disney had originally planned to build the theme park in either Miami or Tampa, however in the end Orlando seemed to be the most suitable option as the others were often frequented with hurricanes.
The resort finally opened in 1971, bringing with it a rush of tourism facilities in the form of other theme parks, Orlando hotels and resorts. Today, the city of Orlando boasts more theme parks and entertainment attractions than any other city in the world, making it a popular destination for tourists.