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Orlando History

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Florida History

  • 10,000 BC
    Nomadic tribes reach Florida. The ice age is ending. Florida is nearly twice its current size due to a lower sea level caused by much of the ocean's waters still frozen in polar ice caps.
  • 7500 - 3000 BC
    Temperature rises and climate changes until it reaches a state currently experienced in Florida today.
  • 5000 BC
    People begin settling along Florida's coasts and riverbanks.
  • 1000 BC
    Beginning of changes from hunter-gather groups to societies based on cultivation.
  • 1000 BC - 1500 AD
    Numerous Native American groups establish themselves and inhabit Florida. Among these include the Apalachee in the northern panhandle, the Timucuan in the central and northeast area, the Tocobaga on the west coast, and the Calusa in southern Florida. Over 100,000 Native Indians live in Florida by 1500.
  • 1513
    The Spanish conquistador Ponce de Leon set foot near what is now St. Augustine. He claims the territory for Spain which he names "La Florida".
  • 1513 - 1560
    Several Spanish explorations fail to yield expected gold and silver.
  • 1564
    French settlers build Fort Caroline near St. Johns River.
  • 1565
    Spain sends an armada to build a settlement called St. Augustine and drive out the French. This fort became the first permanent European settlement in the New World that still exists today.
  • 1565 - 1700
    The Spanish colonize much of Florida.
  • 1700s
    Creek Indians migrate from Georgia and Alabama to Florida where later they and all Florida Indians collectively become known as the Seminoles - the "Unconquered / Free People".
  • 1702
    The English colonists in the Carolina colonies become particularly hostile toward Spain. Led by Colonel James Moore, the Carolinians and their Creek Indian allies attack Spanish Florida and destroyed the town of St. Augustine
  • 1704
    Carolina English colonists destroy the Spanish missions between Tallahassee and St. Augustine, killing many native people and enslaving many others.
  • 1740
    Spain’s adversaries move even closer when Georgia, England's southernmost continental colony, attacks Florida, assaulting St. Augustine for almost a month
  • 1763
    Spain cedes Florida to England in exchange for Havana, Cuba as part of a bargain in the settlement of the Seven Years' War. The east and west territories of Florida become the 14th and 15th British colonies in the Americas.
  • 1776
    American Revolution.
  • 1784
    Spain regains control of Florida from England as part of a peace treaty that ended the American Revolution.
  • 1817-1818
    First Seminole War.
  • 1821
    The United States acquires Florida from Spain as part of a deal to cancel $5 million in debts owed by the Spanish. Florida becomes a territory of the United States.
  • 1824
    Newly founded town of Tallahassee is declared the capital of the Florida territory. Tallahassee was chosen because it was halfway between existing governmental centers of Pensacola and St. Augustine.
  • 1835-1842
    The second Seminole War is waged.
  • 1836
    First railroads begin to operate in Florida.
  • March 3, 1845
    Florida becomes the 27th state to join the United States of America.
  • 1855-1858
    The third Seminole War. Only a few hundred Seminoles survive by hiding in the Everglades.
  • 1861
    Florida secedes from the Union to join the Confederacy in the US Civil War.
  • 1865
    Civil War ends.
  • 1880
    Large scale commercial agriculture, cattle-raising and industries such as cigar manufacturing take root. Florida's population reaches an estimated 270,000.
  • 1880-1912
    Great railroad-building era. Transportation for goods and people including tourists improves.
  • 1920-1926
    Great land boom and rapid population expansion. Population reaches one million.
  • 1929
    The Great Depression begins
  • 1930s
    Florida becomes America's largest citrus producer.
  • 1945
    Two million people live in Florida. An estimated three million tourists visit Florida as large-scale tourism begins.
  • 1947
    President Truman opens Everglades National Park
  • July 20, 1969
    Spacecraft Apollo 11, launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, lands on the moon.
  • 1971
    Walt Disney World opens near Orlando to become Florida's first major theme park.
  • 1998
    Over 40 million tourists visit Florida each year - more than 2 1/2 times its resident population!

Florida Historical Society