Think Orlando, and the first thing that comes to mind is “amusement parks” or “family vacation.” While Orlando does rank as one of the top vacation destinations in the United States, there is so much more to it than that! After the thrill rides have been ridden and the tourist sights seen, Orlando is a wonderful, family-friendly place in which to reside. The Orange County Public School system offers top-rated, high-quality education. Neighborhoods are pleasant and picturesque, with small-town community attitudes. “Not only is Orlando a great place to visit, it's an even better place to live!”
The first-known occupants of the area that has come to be known as Orlando, Florida were Native Americans of the Creek and other tribes. Little by little, European settlers made their way into the territory. The Armed Occupation Act of 1842 spurred on development of the region. Through this Act, land grants of 160 acres in size were offered to those willing to settle on and cultivate the land. (It was suggested that settlers of the land should be armed in case of attack; hence the name.) The first-known settler to take advantage of this offer was Aaron Jernigan, a cattleman who acquired land along Lake Holden. Appropriately, the area was first called Jernigan.
Differing accounts exist as to why the name of the area was changed to Orlando. One account states that it was in honor of Orlando Reeves, a sentinel charged with guarding a camp of soldiers. It is said that Reeves was killed by Indians as he tried to warn his fellow soldiers of an oncoming attack, and that in his honor the name of the area was changed. A second theory spells out that the name “Orlando Acosta” was found carved into a tree in the area. It was commonly assumed that this was a grave marker, and it was called “Orlando Acosta’s grave”, in time being shortened to “Orlando”. One more popular argument is that an ox farmer named Orlando was passing through on his way to the Tampa area, fell ill, died, and was buried. It was often said, “There lies Orlando.” A fourth version states that one of the settlers of the area was a huge fan of William Shakespeare’s works, and the area was named for the hero in Shakespeare’s play, “As You Like It”. Another testament to this possibility is the naming of one of the major arteries of the town as “Rosalind”, the heroine in the popular Shakespeare piece.
Most pioneers did not make their way here until the 1850s, during which time cattle ranching was the prominent choice of trade. Orlando was made the county seat of Orange County in 1856. After the Civil War, reconstruction of the South brought on a large population explosion, leading to Orlando becoming a town in 1875 and finally a city in 1885. In the twenty-year period between 1875 and 1895, Orlando became the center of Florida’s citrus industry.
Orlando started to flourish as a well-known resort during the late 1800s and early 1920s. Development surged in the 1920s as warm, sunny Florida began to be widely publicized in the cold, Northern regions of the United States. In 1965, Walt Disney first decided to build Walt Disney World in Orlando, as it offered temperate climates with much less threat from hurricanes as other outlying areas of the state. The park opened in October of 1971, and the population and economy surged as never before.
There may be arguments concerning the naming of Orlando, but it cannot be disputed that Orlando has grown into a thriving, lively American city…one that could just be the perfect place for you to call home!
Activities and Attractions
Almost everyone is well aware of the major Orlando attractions of Walt Disney World, Sea World, and Universal Studios, but this great city offers much more in the way of stimulating activities. Cultural arts are alive and well, and interests of every variety can be pursued without your having to go far from home. We have listed a handful of attractions below. For much more comprehensive lists, visit http://www.orlandoinfo.com/itinerary/at-a-glance.cfm or http://www.cityoforlando.net/executive/nca/arts&culture/arts__culture_page.htm
Amway Center ~ Concerts, ice shows, sporting events, children’s events and more are all happening at the Amway Center, all year long.
Orange County Regional History Center ~ Take part in the great toy build-off; stand back, observe, and appreciate the art of the Highwaymen; let the kids have fun while learning at history camp; enjoy an elegant dinner with Artists and Authors. “Smart. Surprising. Fun.”
Orlando Repertory Theatre ~ A state-of-the-art facility that allows you to be fully immersed in the essence of live theater, from watching Broadway musicals to taking part in family acting classes. http://www.orlandorep.com/Index.aspx
Orlando Shakespeare Theater ~ In partnership with UCF, this establishment offers classic thought-provoking drama at its best. http://orlandoshakes.org/
Parks and Recreation
Average yearly temperatures in Orlando range between 50 and 92 degrees. The warm climate beckons you to step outside and enjoy all that Mother Nature has to offer, and there are literally several dozens of parks in which you can do just that. Many of these parks feature nature preserves on the banks of lakes, shaded by beautiful, towering old oak and pine trees. Spend the day with the family exploring new and adventuresome ways to stay healthy; go biking, hiking, walking, fishing, swimming, playing at the playground. Or simply sit back and relax while picnicking at your favorite spot. For a full list of local parks from A to Z, visit http://www.cityoforlando.net/fpr/Html/Parks/index.htm.
Look beyond the large attractions and it’s easy to find community-based events taking place all around you. From arts and crafts festivals to farmer’s markets to good ol’ chili cook-offs, there is always something fun to do in the Orlando community. Click here often to find upcoming events in and around your neighborhood: http://culturemob.com/orlando/events/community or http://gocitykids.parentsconnect.com/region/orlando-fl-usa