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Brief Naples, Florida History

Naples, Florida

In the late 1880s, a former Confederate general, and United States senator from Kentucky, John Stuart Williams, and the publisher of the Louisville Courier-Journal, Walter N. Haldeman found Naples. Named Naples, because early promoters described the bay as "surpassing the bay in Naples, Italy." Word spead quickly about the balmy climate and abundant fishing and hunting, as the tourist trade began to develop. The two founders formed The Naples Company, and built a pier in the Gulf of Mexico and the Naples Hotel. Available only by boat at that time, Naples remained a remote winter retreat for rich northerners until the train arrived in 1927. After World War II, Naples began to boom. Aqualane Shores was dredged out of the mangrove swamps just south of downtown, and led the way for other upscale residential developments, including Port Royal. Today, Naples is one of the most attractive and popular destinations for tourists, retirees, and families in the U.S.



The development of Golden Gate Estates, Naples' premier acreage community, began with the Gulf American Land Corp. founded by Jack and Leonard Rosen. In the late 1950s they bought 175 square miles of swamp land, paying approximately $100 per acre. It was platted into 1.25 acre sites in 1960. During the next seven years they would sell lots for $30 down and $30 a month at 6.5% interest which netted the Rosen brothers about $900 per acre. They built 800 miles of road and dug 180 miles of canals. The roads were built of a limestone-based rock surface. By 1967, 18,000 lots had been sold, mostly sight unseen by their buyers. In the 1970s the county changed their minds and ruled that 2.5 acres would be the minimum required lot size. This since has changed, and today Golden Gate Estates is thriving and is highly regarded as a community where residents enjoy peace and quiet, living on 1.14 - to over 5 acres, with no association fees.

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