Central Florida’s Past
Orlando became synonymous with orange juice in the late 1800’s. However, it wasn’t always smooth sailing.
The Days Of Citrus- 1875 to 1895
In these two decades, Orlando transformed into the hub of Florida’s citrus industry. However, the “Great Freeze” that transpired in 1894 to 1895 forced several of the smaller owners to give up on their groves. The owners of larger groves added these smaller groves to their holdings, where they became known as the “citrus barons.” Many of these landowners started to buy more land to support the expansion of their operations to the south of Orlando, which included the areas around Lake Wales.
Orlando, which was at the time the biggest inland city in Florida and soon became a thriving resort town from the years of the Spanish-American War up until World War I.
The Roaring Twenties
The Land Boom in Florida also had a great effect on Orlando during the 1920’s. The prices for land skyrocketed with a number of luxurious tourist facilities like the premier San Juan Hotel, were constructed in these heady years. It was at the same time that a number of neighborhoods were developed close to downtown Orlando. The variety of small bungalows that still stand today form a part of Orlando’s rich history as well as the key elements to the charm of this city.
Orlando Changes In World War II
There was significant military activity that occurred in Orlando, prior to, during as well as after World War II. For example, the municipal airport located to the north of Lake Underhill changed into the Orlando Army Air Base.
This was followed by the construction of a brand-new airport which was located south of Orlando with the focus on replacing their municipal airport. However, this airport was also converted into what was known as the Pinecastle Air Force Base, which later became known as the McCoy Air Force Base. Today this site is the home to the world-renowned Orlando International Airport. When the war came to an end, there were many service men and women that decided to stay in Orlando to settle down as well as raise families.
In the year 1956, Martin Marietta now known as Lockhead Martin, constructed an aerospace defense-plant located on Kirkman Road, south of Orlando. This company became one of the main employers for the Orlando area.
Over and above the influx of job opportunities at Martin Marietta, the facility was close enough to Kennedy Space Center, Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base for the residents to easily commute to their jobs from the eastern suburbs of Orlando. In addition, the Beachline Expressway allowed for easy-access to Port Canaveral.
However, the most significant thing that could ever happen for Orlando, occurred when Walt Disney made an announcement for their plans to build Walt Disney World close to Orlando in the year 1965.
Walt Disney World first opened in October of 1971. This brought about the changes that tourism opposed to agriculture and high-tech industry took over the main portion of Orlando’s economy.
Since then the population has skyrocketed and today there are way more tourism-industry jobs in comparison to the high-tech jobs available. In fact, Orlando Florida now hosts more entertainment attractions and theme parks than anywhere else across the globe.
What was once a small and quaint town-airport that was shared with the McCoy Air Force Base has now transformed into the gigantic Orlando International Airport. During the days of the construction of Walt Disney World, the tallest of the buildings was the Angebilt hotel which was a 10-story building. Today there are now building that reach up to 35-stories high in downtown Orlando.