Grandview at Bay Beach

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The History of Fort Myers Beach

May 13 2024

Grandview at Bay Beach offers unparalleled views of the Gulf of Mexico and Estero Bay - sunrise-2.jpg

Fort Myers Beach, a jewel of Florida's coastline, has evolved from its rich tapestry of over 2,000 years, beginning with the Calusa Indians' early settlements. Fast forward to today, and this charming town, officially incorporated 29 years ago, continues to enchant residents and visitors alike with its blend of history, luxury, and pristine natural beauty. Let's delve into the history of this town.

Related Blog: What You Need to Know Before Moving to Fort Myers Beach, Florida

Lee County, encompassing Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Fort Myers Beach, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Cape Coral, Pine Island, Boca Grande, the Outer Islands, North Fort Myers, and Lehigh Acres, represents the epitome of luxury Florida real estate. This region is an ideal choice for those seeking warm weather, a serene and relaxing atmosphere, and pristine white sandy beaches - the top three reasons visitors flock to the area. Before transforming into a coveted vacation destination and a luxurious residence for both part-time and full-time dwellers, this area was historically the territory of the Calusa Indians, the dominant chiefdom in South Florida until the mid-17th century.

Fort Myers Beach - Early History

The Calusa Indians assembled in small villages throughout the area, constructing shell mounds along the bayside of Estero Island. These shell mounds were exactly what the name suggests, huge heaps of shells that the Calusa would use for tools, utensils, jewelry, ornaments, and spears. From 1513 to 1521, the Calusa Indians fought against Spanish colonization to retain their home and mortally wounded conquistador Ponce de Leon. About 150 years after their continued resistance toward Spanish colonization, the Calusa Indians lost their home. From the late-seventeenth century to the mid-nineteenth century, Estero Island changed hands from Spanish control and British control, but throughout that time, Cuban fishermen began establishing small seasonal fishing villages throughout Southwest Florida, including Estero Island. These fishing villages created trading opportunities between Cuba and the Creek Indians, who displaced the majority of the Calusa. Some families stayed behind and blended with the American culture once Florida became the 27th state in 1845. Estero Island in Fort Myers Beach still celebrates the Calusa Indians as the first inhabitants of our barrier islands and offers many opportunities for residents and guests to learn about their culture.

The Mound House is one establishment that provides a variety of programs for local residents, visitors, and school groups. This unique archaeological and historical site on Fort Myers Beach is Estero Island’s oldest standing structure and actually sits atop a 2,000-year-old Calusa Indian Shell Mound, the highest point on Fort Myers Beach.  

Fort Myers Beach - American Settlement

After the first American settlements in Fort Myers Beach in 1862, development began on our small island paradise. However, it wasn’t until the 1920’s when Florida gained popularity as a vacation spot, and in 1921, a toll bridge was constructed to create a passageway from the mainland to the island. After that, tourism began to grow with hotels, casinos, and other tourist accommodations and attractions contracted to attract visitors. From 1940 to 1950, the population of Fort Myers Beach grew by 50 percent with the discovery of “pink gold” in the waters, jumpstarting the shrimp industry and the mainland businesses that facilitated it.

By 1935, Fort Myers Beach residents were discussing the possibility of the island’s incorporation due to the high tourism rates and booming businesses. However, it wasn’t until 1995, when multiple high rises had been constructed throughout the shores, that Fort Myers Beach became its own incorporated small town. 

Fort Myers Beach - Present Day

Now, Fort Myers Beach enjoys part-time and full-time residents, as well as thousands of visitors every year, that revel in the town’s unique island culture. Residents and visitors alike can enjoy everything Fort Myers Beach has to offer, including casual and fine dining, shopping, beaches, and cultural attractions. The island town is also conveniently located between Sarasota and Naples, allowing residents and visitors to take a short drive in either direction to experience even more options in arts, culture, fine dining, and premium shopping.

Those high-rises that facilitated the incorporation of Fort Myers Beach are still there, as are new developments for prospective homeowners seeking the Florida lifestyle on our unique island.  Grandview at Bay Beach is the first condominium tower built in South Fort Myers Beach since 2008 and the final tower in the gated condominium community at Waterside. Named for the panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico and Estero Bay, this island-contemporary condominium offers luxury waterfront condos with resort-style amenities. 

To discover the luxury of island living and the unique charm of Fort Myers Beach, schedule an appointment or visit our Sales Center today. Whether you're drawn by its historical roots or the allure of contemporary island living, Fort Myers Beach promises a lifestyle unlike any other.

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