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Orlando's history dates back to 1838 and the height of the Seminole Wars. The U.S. Army built Fort Gatlin south of the present day Orlando City limits.

By 1840, a small community had grown up around the Fort. It was known as Jernigan, named after the Jernigan family, who had established the first permanent settlement in the area. Jernigan had a post office, established May 30, 1850.

Six years later with the settlement expanding northward, the community officially changed its name to Orlando. In 1857, the U.S. Post Office adopted the name change. The Town of Orlando was incorporated in 1875 with 85 inhabitants.

History is not as clear on where the name Orlando originated. There are four stories that are told. One involves Judge James Speer, who worked hard in getting Orlando as the county seat, naming Orlando after a man who once worked for him. Another is that Speer named it after a character from Shakespeare's, "As You Like It".

A third version has Mr. Orlando on his way to Tampa with a caravan of ox. It is said that he got ill, died and was buried, and that folks would come by and say, "There lies Orlando".

Source: City of Orlando's website.

Fun Facts

Orlando is one of the most popular travel destinations in the United States. From science programs to music festivals and bowl games! Here are 10 Fun Facts About Orlando, Florida:
  • Orlando is home to more than 100 lakes. Lake Eola in downtown Orlando is actually a giant sinkhole and is 80 feet at its deepest point.
  • Orlando was once the main hub of Florida's citrus industry. A deep freeze in the late 1800s caused farms to move their citrus crops further south.
  • There is no official documentation on how Orlando received its name, although it is known that the city was originally named Jernigan, after the first permanent settler in the area. Some believe it was named "Orlando" for a character in Shakespeare's "As You Like It."
  • The Rogers Building and the 1890 Railroad Depot are the oldest remaining structures in downtown Orlando.
  • 66 million people visited Orlando in 2015, more than any other destination in the world. The number of visitors in Orlando each day is equivalent to the population of Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Gatorland, the first theme park in Orlando, opened in 1949. Its main attraction was a 15-foot gator which was said to be the biggest in the world.
  • Universal Studios opened in Orlando in 1990 with Nickelodeon, Back to the Future, E.T., Ghostbusters and The Bates Hotel attractions.
  • To fund the demolition of its old city hall, Orlando enlisted the help of Hollywood. Producer Joel Silver blew up the building for the opening scene of Lethal Weapon 3.
  • The official nickname of the city of Orlando is "The City Beautiful." It is also known as "O-Town."
  • The Orlando Magic NBA team was almost known as the Orlando Juice. A contest was held in 1987 to pick the name of the team. The finalists were the "Heat", the "Tropics," the "Juice," and the "Magic."
Source: WorldStrides® website.