A Brief History of Beautiful Naples, Florida

The history of Naples, particularly the modern one, started with the founding of Naples back in the latter part of the 1880s. It was founded by Walter N. Haldeman and General John Stuart.

Early Years

Williams was a former general in the confederate army and was known as John “Cerro Gordo” Williams due to his Mexican War exploits. He was also very distinguished during the Civil War. Following the Civil War, he became a Kentucky US Senator. Haldeman published the Louisville Courier-Journal.
The name of Naples came from early promoters who said that its bay’s beauty surpassed the bay of Naples, Italy.
In the latter part of the 19th century, newspaper and magazine stories throughout the country featured a lot of stories about the beautiful Naples, Florida. These stories told about the abundant hunting and fishing and balmy climate that Naples offered. People started hearing about this quaint little town and came to see what it had to offer. So started Naples’ tourist trade.

First Structures

The Naples Company was formed by Haldeman and Williams and the Naples Hotel and a pier was built on the gorgeous Gulf of Mexico. These were Naples’ first main structures in the town’s history.
Some buildings that were originally there still exist, which includes the pier, and Old Naples, which is a gorgeous historic neighborhood that tourists and residents alike love.
The Naples Company had financial problems and eventually went broke. But it continued modestly on under the management of Haldeman.
Several cottages were built by Haldeman and a lot of his early guests were his employees or friends.

The Start of Tourism

Years ago, Naples was remote, but its fantastic fishing and hunting eventually helped with putting it on the map.
Back then, Naples could only be accessed by boat, and it was a remote retreat during the winter for rich people from the north until 1927, when the train came to the town.

Barron Gift Collier

Barron Collier would help with financing and pushing through the final link of the famous Tamiami Trail, which connected Tampa and Miami. You can still see the dredge used to help build that trail at Collier-Seminole State Park, which lies 17 miles to the east of Naples, found on the trail.
For more than 100 years, the family has had a hand in shaping, quite literally, Southwest Florida. Under the leadership of Barron Gift Collier (the advertising magnate who counted everyone from J.P. Morgan to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as close personal friends), the family once owned more than one million acres of our region.


Following WWII, Naples started booming. This is when Aqualane Shores got dredged from the mangrove swamps to the south of downtown Naples and a lot of water front lots, that didn’t exist previously, were made available for building. This trailblazed the way for many other upscale and high quality residential developments such as The Moorings and Port Royal.

Hurricane Donna

In 1959, Collier County voters decided that their county seat should be moved to East Naples from Everglades City.
The next year, Hurricane Donna came with 150 mph winds. The hurricane’s eye went over Naples. There were no lives lost. However, there was a lot of massive destruction. Unfortunately, the Naples Pier was one of the casualties.
Due to the influx of money from insurance companies to policy holders, there was steady growth and continued construction. Since Hurricane Donna, Collier County been one of the United State’s fastest growing areas for a long time.

Facts about Naples

Naples and the surrounding county now have over 80 golf courses, and a lot of them are in beautiful gated history. They’ve also done an excellent job with honoring and preserving the history.
Oldest House in Naples
Close to the historic restored Naples Pier you’ll find Palm Cottage, which is the oldest house in Naples. It was built in 1895 and you can take a guided tour during the winter.
Historical Buildings
Some other historic Naples buildings the Naples Depot that has been renovated and dates 1927 and the historic Naples Commissary Building, found in Olde Naples, which dates back to 1903.
In the depot, railroad memorabilia such as a caboose are displayed, and this is also where a lot of the yearly automobile shows are.
If you are interested in more of Naples history, you can visit the famous Collier County Museum. Here you will find a collection of items from the Prehistoric times to today.

Present Day

Naples present day life’s focus are Naples two historical business districts – Third Street and Fifth Avenue South. You can find great shops and restaurants in both of these places. There’s something for everyone to enjoy in Naples, Florida.

Beaches and Parks

The beach on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico is more than 10 miles (16 km) long and is known for its cleanliness and pristine white sand. In 2005, Naples was voted the best beach in America by the Travel Channel.
Naples and Marco area beaches include:

  • Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park
  • Clam Pass Beach Park
  • Naples Municipal Beach & Fishing Pier (Naples Pier)
  • Vanderbilt Beach
  • North Gulfshore Boulevard Beach
  • Lowdermilk Beach Park
  • Tigertail Beach

Planning a trip to Naples?

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