A Little History Of Naples, Florida

Naples was founded during the late 1880s by former Confederate general and Kentucky U.S. Senator John Stuart Williams and his partner, Louisvillebusinessman Walter N. Haldeman, the publisher of the Louisville Courier-Journal. Throughout the 1870s and ’80s, magazine and newspaper stories telling of the area’s mild climate and abundant fish and game likened it to the sunny Italian peninsula. The name Naples caught on when promoters described the bay as “surpassing the bay in Naples, Italy“. Major development was anticipated after the railroad reached Naples on January 7, 1927 and the Tamiami Trail linking Naples to Miami was completed in 1928; but did not begin until after the Great Depression and World War II. During the war the Army Air Force built a small air field and used it for training purposes; it is now the Naples Municipal Airport.

Fill was required to repair damage from a 1945 hurricane. A local dredging company, Forrest Walker & Sons, created a lake north of 16th Ave S, between Gordon Drive and Gulf Shore Blvd. In 1949 Forrest Walker asked Mr. Rust to sell him the 296 acres from Jamaica Channel to today’s 14th Ave. S. The Jamaica Channel was widened, one canal was dredged, and 14th Ave S was created by March 1950 and a new subdivision was named “Aqualane Shores” at the opening party that same year. Additional channels were eventually added to the south of 14th Ave S and are named alphabetically for local water birds. The first channel south of 14th Ave S is Anhinga Channel, then Bittern Channel is south of 15th Ave S, Crane Channel is south of 16th Ave S, Duck Channel is south of 17th Ave S, and Egret Channel is north of 21st Ave S. From the channels there are Coves named: Flamingo, Gull, Heron, Ibis, as well as the original Aqua Cove. These Initial channels, canals, and coves were dredged and bulldozed from the mangrove swamps. Where shallow rock precluded digging, land was filled to create lots with navigable water.

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