Old World and New World Florida

Being a bit of a history buff, I miss being in one of the thirteen original colonies. Our fair city of Orlando in Central Florida is not like the ones you see up north, along the Atlantic seaboard or on the coast. Our history beyond the orange groves, old ranches and fruit, flower, and vegetable farms is practically non-existent. There are only a handful of old buildings near the railroad tracks, Church Street Station. Old World Florida is not far away.

001Florida really didn’t get very well settled until the advent of “refrigerated air” in the fifties. Air-conditioning brought hoards down and there was a boom in resorts being established. It became a vacation spot. The beaches have always been a draw, but the interior took even longer to develop.


The cool crystal clear springs, like Silver Springs where the movie and Tarzan series was filmed, all had resort communities established around them. Glass bottom boats were the rage.

The resorts spread from the panhandle to the Keys. Miami exploded into haven for the rich and famous. People from all over the country flocked to Florida and many retired here to avoid the cold winters. Snowbirds continue to winter over here, but millions have made Florida their permanent home.

The Orlando area was backwoods swamp country, cattle range and orange grove before Disney came to town. Much of the area was drained to make way for new development. An agricultural hub, many immigrants settled here after years of nomadic fruit and vegetable picking. The community is vastly culturally diverse.

Mansions sit next door to shacks all over the community.

As Orlando grew, with dozens of theme parks, the metropolitan area covered three counties. Everything is new. All the tall buildings, the condos, banks, towering office complexes, expressways and several hospitals were constructed in the past forty years. New World Florida found a foothold.


We have traffic issues that resulted from the population explosion and local government’s inability to keep up. But it is still a very pretty town. There are little parks and lakes galore. Florida is like a sponge with ponds and lakes on every corner. The terrain is flat and the only winding you see is when a road meanders around a lake. There are numerous enclaves of diverse populations  with colorful open air markets, festivals and al fresco dining on artsy sidewalks that line the cobblestoned streets.


This next image is heading south on Orange Avenue directly through the center of downtown.


Here are a few photos of my favorite park on Lake Eola. It’s located in the center of town where you can dine overlooking the New World Florida cityscape. Yet, it maintains a tropical feel and enough cypress and palms to recall Old World Florida.

What is the history of your community?

79 thoughts on “Old World and New World Florida

    1. Art Linkletter refused to go into business with him and there was a huge joke about buying swamp land in Florida in the sixties. Disney laughed all the way to the bank. But there is also, Sea World, Citywalk Universal, Islands of Adventure I could go on and on.

  1. What great photos! When I was 7 we traveled to Florida in February. It seemed so exotic to me. The fort made of shells, the museum with the calf with two heads, the stories of Ponce de Leon. I wanted to stay in St. Augustine. There was no “Orlando” on our radar in those days.

    1. Thanks Luanne! My confession: Only about half of these pics are mine. Some I swiped off the internet. I would credit people if there was a way, but it takes hours to track them down, so I take my chances.

      I love the history behind St, Augustine and it it such a gorgeous place.

        1. I ripped that one off. It is such a common sight down here. It’s hard to see the way wordpress cropped the edge, but that shack is so typical of the ones found leaning beside the huge mansions. Just makeshift hobbit holes for homeless stuck between grand palaces.

  2. Nice tour. I have always liked Orlando even before Disney. Our town? Mostly left alone until the Spanish came and left their horses and pox. Next came the hard scrabble farmers and fishermen. (Had a few pirates as well) Overrun by Yankees in the Civil war and finally settled into a quiet fishing life. (shrimp, crabs and all manner of gamefish). Four thousand persons now here.

  3. You make an excellent tour guide, SK! Such a lovely tour of a great city. I’ve travelled to Orlando and many other cities in Florida. I actually lived in Jupiter for six month before settling in Charlotte, NC. Where is your cabin located?

    1. It is just outside of Waynesville near Canton, not that far from Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We get up there about twice a year if we’re lucky, but my husband’s friend stays there off and on throughout the year. We thought we would retire there. But the older we get the less tolerant we are of the cold…and work. 😀

    1. The Seminole Tribe of Florida is a Federally Recognized Indian Tribe, the only tribe in America who never signed a peace treaty. They were still fighting for territorial rights into the twentieth century.
      Cowboys and farmers competed with the Indians for turf.

      I saw a documentary not long ago about the Algonquins and Mohicans along the Hudson River. Western Europeans like to claim to have “discovered” America. Sometimes I think that’s funny, and sometimes I think it’s rather sad. but where would I be if they had not?

        1. All of it everywhere, unfortunately. That’s progress.

          I like the laissez-faire attitude down here. You can go in the fine dining establishments dressed in khaki shorts and a tank top and nobody really cares. We look like tourists everywhere we go. We’re always asked where we are from and we make a game out of lying about it. Pull some chains. Greg likes to joke that he’s from London because he can do a British accent so well having lived in England a while, I tell folk I’m from Louisiana or Tennessee and go all deep south on them.

          1. People tended to pick out that I was from up north even though only a few figured out it was New York. I think the oddest thing for me in Florida was that I lived in an area with very few Jews. For some reason, people were curious about me or attempted to ‘save my soul’. Christmas time was a test of patience for me.

            1. Funny, seems we barely have Christmas. There’s lots of private Jewish schools. My granddaughter was going to go to Torah Academy until she found this Methodist school near our home.

                1. I think there must have been palm trees around where Jesus was born. I’m not a Christian, so The Jesus debate is a mute point with me. Still, I think it’s odd how western civilization has attached snow and fir trees to a holiday about a man’s birth in the middle of the desert. Just sayin.

                    1. There is an old legend that Martin Luther…the father of the protestant church, chopped down a fir tree and put tiny candles all over it in the town square to celebrate the birth of Christ. Many years of intensive Luther scholarship has turned up nothing to support it. There is scholarly consensus, however, that the Christmas tree originated in Germany. Indeed, the earliest record of an evergreen tree being used and decorated (but without lights) for Christmas is 1521 in the German region of Alsace. Evergreen, however, has been a pagan symbol of everlasting life for eons before Luther lived.

                      I used to be Lutheran before I converted back to my agnostic pagan roots. I enjoyed arguing with my former German Lutheran mother-in-law about it.

                    2. And dreidels. I was always jealous of my friends who had dreidels. Am I spelling that right? I thought they were cool, but I didn’t know what to do with it.

                    3. That’s right. The fun of gambling on a holiday. Each side means something for the game. Though the truth is that Chanukah is a minor holiday and only seems big because it’s near Christmas.

                    4. I’m hoping in my next life I’ll not have such a ravishing appetite for meat. I’d like to be a vegetarian. It appalls me that I eat things that had a mother or have a face…and enjoy it. I would like to be Buddhist, but I could never, in this life, stick to the rules. I’d also like to be able to grow or at least afford healthy fruits and vegetables.

                    5. We don’t have clue what we’re going to do when the RS retires. We won’t be able to afford this house or a a lawn guy and neither one of us is able or willing to do the work. Probably move to the Cove where we don’t have to pay for clothes and the maintenance crews manage everything.

                    6. We don’t really know what’s going to happen. We’re still awaiting for property to sell down south. I’d kinda like to just refinance this place with good chunk down and stay here. I’ve gotten used to the convenience and two of the kids and the grandkids are here. Greg wants to be closer to the Gulf. Who knows???

                    7. There was a slight surge and during that flickering moment of hopefulness we sold a property at a $200,000 loss. Yes that’s right, five zeros. We have another set at the same asking price that has not gotten much more than a casual inquiry and it’s in a nice community on the Peace River with a deep canal and a seawall.

                    8. There’s no house on it, but the lot is just a couple of minutes from I-75 and sits just at the end of the deep canal and around the bend is deep water Charlotte Harbor. I don’t understand why zero interest.

    1. We”re you on your way to a cruise? We are sort of not on the way to any place else. The truckers hate to have to drop down here unless they are sure to secure a high dollar haul out.

        1. When I was a child that’s how we knew we were close to the beach. We would travel down from the mountains in GA and as soon as we saw that first palm tree we knew we were almost there!

  4. Thanks for the tour, Susan! In the 24 years I’ve lived in Florida, the only time I went to Orlando was for business and then I usually was stuck on International Drive. One time though, a number of years ago, my husband and I did manage to go to Lake Eola and walk around. Looks like it’s still very pretty.

    The less said about Tallahassee, the better 😉 My understanding is that the neighborhood I used to live in was pasture. Some of my (much older) neighbors still remember grazing cows being around. I guess it is a nice community, especially for raising kids, but since we don’t have kids …. We have old plantations in driving distance and areas where wealthy northerners would hunt … most of those areas have been turned into parks.

    1. I like the panhandle. People down here call it lower Alabama. It reminds me of home. The people are mostly friendly and I don’t feel so much like a stranger in the Redneck Riviera. Tallahassee is a beautiful capital city that hasn’t lost it’s southern charm. I’ve met people here who viciously claim Jacksonville is the capital. That’s absurd.

      1. The Panhandle is definitely more Southern than South Florida and it still retains a wild naturalness in its landscape (although Tallahassee is doing its best to get rid of its trees). I just wish I could enjoy the outdoors more, but the biting bugs have worn me down. Either temps have to be low enough to keep the bugs at bay or I admire the flora and fauna from the other side of a window or screen. It’s a shame because there is much beauty here. As far as Tallahassee being the capital, rumors float every year that the capitol should/might be moved to Orlando. It would make logistical sense since it’s in the middle of the state. Working with state-wide projects, I know places like the Orlando area were preferred for meetings because it was more likely people from South Florida could attend. However, the Panhandle people will have none of that and I don’t blame them. Still, I’d love for us to be free of the legislators and lobbyists just for one year 😉

        1. I could see Orlando as a political hub except for the tourist element. Despite all the party atmosphere, it’s got a conservative side. Our exotic dancers still have to wear pasties…lol!

    1. Not part of the UK. The fact that it is not attached is a real drag. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just take a ride over the border?

      Nevada has legalized prostitution. Geez…if I had grown up there my life might have turned out so…differently 😉

  5. Well, I’ve only lived here for about 20 years but I can see so much change in the Fort Walton Beach/Destin area since then. H moved here when he was 10 and he can remember when it was “just a shell road’! I hear that so much! LOL! Wish But really, I wish I had known it then.

    1. Ft Walton and Destin have the most beautiful beaches in the whole wide world!!! Awesome white sugary sand. I can recall as a child, before all the condos and commercialism, there were acres between the road and the water. As a teen, we rode in dune buggies over that sand. Now they would throw you in jail if you tried that.

  6. Thank you for the tour and history lesson. 🙂 Have you ever seen the Marx brothers movie “The Cocoanuts?” It was made in 1929, and it’s set in Florida during the 1920s land boom.
    I live in a tiny “town.” There’s nothing much here–no real town center–but there is a great park where a Revolutionary War battle was fought. The annual reenactment takes place every October. They finally have a professional historian in charge of the old house (belonged to a Quaker family who were there through the battle) and site, and in the past year of so, the site has really been improved. We’re also only about 20 minutes away from Philadelphia.

    1. I haven’t seen the movie The Coconuts. And I’ve never seen a Revolutionary War reenactment, but I’ve participated in a Civil War reenactments. We had the pretty hoop dresses and all. My cousins are really into those in GA. Being 20 minutes from Philly is too cool. That’s the history we don’t have down here that I truly miss.

  7. New Hampshire is rich with history. Though, I’d probably need an entire post to recite it. I haven’t been to Florida since 1976. Everything was decorated for the bicentennial, and I hate to admit this, but I have pictures of my brother and I in bell bottoms and visors striped with red, white and blue. The pictures are hysterical. NOT for public use. 🙂 This was a very interesting post, Susan. Thank you for sharing your history. I really enjoyed it.

    1. New Hampshire even has the colonial history. We only have that around St Augustine. Bell bottom jeans…I had those, too. Ha! Make great throwback Thursday pics on Facebook. 😉

  8. Gosh, it really seems like a million different places! I’ve been to Orlando for a few days but never made it out to the beaches. And never saw an alligator, dangit. Most of my experience of the place is limited to what I’ve seen on Dexter 😉

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