Fort Myers, Florida

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Fort Myers, Florida
City of Fort Myers
Skyline of Fort Myers
Nickname(s): "City of Palms"
Location in Lee County, Florida
U.S. Census Bureau map showing city limits
Coordinates: 26°37′N 81°50′W / 26.617°N 81.833°W / 26.617; -81.833Coordinates: 26°37′N 81°50′W / 26.617°N 81.833°W / 26.617; -81.833[1]
CountryUnited States
FoundedMarch 24, 1886
 • TypeCouncil–manager
 • MayorRandy Henderson, Jr.
 • Total48.98 sq mi (126.9 km2)
 • Land39.96 sq mi (103.5 km2)
 • Water9.02 sq mi (23.4 km2)
Elevation[2]10 ft (3 m)
Population (2011)[3]
 • Total63,512
 • Density1,559.1/sq mi (602.0/km2)
Time zoneEastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST)EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code(s)33900-33999
Area code(s)239
FIPS code12-24125[3]
GNIS feature ID0282700[2]
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Fort Myers, Florida
City of Fort Myers
Skyline of Fort Myers
Nickname(s): "City of Palms"
Location in Lee County, Florida
U.S. Census Bureau map showing city limits
Coordinates: 26°37′N 81°50′W / 26.617°N 81.833°W / 26.617; -81.833Coordinates: 26°37′N 81°50′W / 26.617°N 81.833°W / 26.617; -81.833[1]
CountryUnited States
FoundedMarch 24, 1886
 • TypeCouncil–manager
 • MayorRandy Henderson, Jr.
 • Total48.98 sq mi (126.9 km2)
 • Land39.96 sq mi (103.5 km2)
 • Water9.02 sq mi (23.4 km2)
Elevation[2]10 ft (3 m)
Population (2011)[3]
 • Total63,512
 • Density1,559.1/sq mi (602.0/km2)
Time zoneEastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST)EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code(s)33900-33999
Area code(s)239
FIPS code12-24125[3]
GNIS feature ID0282700[2]

Fort Myers (alternatively "Ft. Myers") is the county seat[4] and commercial center of Lee County, Florida, United States. Its population was 62,298 in the 2010 census,[5] a 29.23 percent increase over the 2000 figure.

The city is one of two major cities that make up the Cape Coral-Fort Myers Metropolitan Statistical Area, the other being Cape Coral. The 2010 population for the metropolitan area was 618,754.[5]

Established in 1886, Fort Myers is the historical and governmental hub of Lee County. It is the gateway to the Southwest Florida region, which is a major tourist destination in Florida. The winter homes of Thomas Edison (Seminole Lodge) and Henry Ford (The Mangoes), which are both primary tourist attractions in the region, are located on McGregor Boulevard in Fort Myers.

On August 13, 2004, Fort Myers was struck by Hurricane Charley, a Category 4 hurricane that made landfall north of the area. In 2005, Hurricane Wilma struck south of Naples, but caused extensive damage in Fort Myers and its southern suburbs.

Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) is located southeast of the city in South Fort Myers, near Gateway and Lehigh Acres.


Typical architecture in historic downtown Fort Myers. Many streets are brick paved as well.

Fort Myers was one of the first forts built along the Caloosahatchee River as a base of operations against the Seminole Indians. Fort Denaud, Fort Thompson, and Fort Dulany (Punta Rassa) all pre-date Fort Myers. When a hurricane destroyed Fort Dulany in October 1841, the military was forced to look for a site less exposed to storms from the Gulf of Mexico. As a result of the search, Fort Harvie was built on the grounds that now comprise downtown Fort Myers. Renewed war against the Seminoles in 1850 caused a re-occupation and extensive reconstruction of Fort Harvie.

Fort Harvie began in 1850 as a military fort in response to Seminole Indians who were in conflict with the area's settlers. It was renamed in 1850 for Col. Abraham C. Myers,[6] who was stationed in Florida for seven years and was the son-in-law of the fort's founder and commander. In 1858, after years of elusive battle, Chief Billy Bowlegs and his warriors were persuaded to surrender and move west, and the fort was abandoned. Billy Creek, which flows into the Caloosahatchee River and runs between Dean Park and Fort Myers Broadcasting, was named after a temporary camp where Billy Bowlegs and his men awaited ships to take them west.

The fort was abandoned and stood empty until December 1863, when Union Army troops re-occupied it during the Civil War. On February 20, 1865, the fort was attacked by three companies of Florida militia, determined to end the Union cattle raids against local ranches. The Confederate state troops demanded the fort surrender, but the Union commander refused, and sporadic firing continued through most of the day. The Confederates retreated after dark. One Union soldier was killed and three wounded in the Battle of Fort Myers. One Florida militiaman had been wounded. Even though the attack had been driven off, the Union troops abandoned Fort Myers the following month.

The Settlement and Founding of The City of Fort Myers[edit]

On February 21, 1866, Manuel A. Gonzalez and his 5 year old son Manuel S. Gonzalez became one of the first permanent settlers after arriving from Key West, Florida at the remains of the abandoned Federal Fort.[7][8] Manuel and his son made repairs on what would become the Gonzalez family home located at what is now the corner of First and Jackson streets.[7] Three weeks later, Joseph Vivas and his wife Christianna Stirrup Vivas arrived at the Fort with Manuel A. Gonzalez's wife, Evalina Weatherford Gonzalez and daughter Mary Gonzalez.,[7][8] Three years later, however, when Fort Myers was incorporated, it was the second largest city after Tampa on Florida's west coast south of Cedar Key, larger than Clearwater and Sarasota, also growing cities at the time.

Fort Myers first became a nationally known winter resort with the building of the Royal Palm Hotel in 1898.[9] Access was greatly improved with the opening of a 28-mile (45 km) extension of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad from Punta Gorda to Fort Myers on May 10, 1904, giving Lee County both passenger and freight service.[10] But what really sparked the city's growth was the construction of the Tamiami Trail Bridge across the Caloosahatchee River in 1924. After the bridge's construction, the city experienced its first real estate boom, and many subdivisions sprouted around the city.[citation needed]

Geography and climate[edit]

Fort Myers and Cape Coral from space, July 1997.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 40.4 square miles (105 km2). 31.8 square miles (82 km2) of it is land, and 8.6 square miles (22 km2) of it (21.25%) is water.

Fort Myers has a year-round warm, monsoon-influenced climate that is close to the boundary between tropical and subtropical climates (18 °C (64 °F) in the coldest month), and is thus either classified as a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), which is the classification used by NOAA,[11][12] or a tropical savanna climate (Köppen Aw).[13] Notwithstanding the classification, the area has short, warm winters, and long, hot, humid summers, with most of the year's rainfall falling from June to September. The temperature rarely rises to 100 °F (38 °C) or lowers to the freezing mark.[14] At 89, Fort Myers leads the nation in the number of days annually in which a thunderstorm is close enough for thunder to be heard.[15] The monthly daily average temperature ranges from 64.2 °F (17.9 °C) in January to 83.4 °F (28.6 °C) in August, with the annual mean being 75.1 °F (23.9 °C). Records range from 24 °F (−4 °C) on December 29, 1894 up to 103 °F (39 °C) on June 16–17, 1981.[14]

Climate data for Fort Myers, Florida (Page Field), 1981–2010 normals
Record high °F (°C)90
Average high °F (°C)74.7
Average low °F (°C)53.7
Record low °F (°C)27
Rainfall inches (mm)1.89
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.01 in)
Source: NOAA (extremes 1892–present)[14]


Historical population
Fort Myers Demographics
2010 CensusFort MyersLee CountyFlorida
Total population62,298618,75418,801,310
Population, percent change, 2000 to 2010+29.2%+40.3%+17.6%
Population density1,559.1/sq mi788.7/sq mi350.6/sq mi
White or Caucasian (including White Hispanic)54.6%83.0%75.0%
(Non-Hispanic White or Caucasian)44.6%71.0%57.9%
Black or African-American32.3%8.3%16.0%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race)20.0%18.3%22.5%
Native American or Native Alaskan0.6%0.4%0.4%
Pacific Islander or Native Hawaiian0.1%0.1%0.1%
Two or more races (Multiracial)2.8%2.1%2.5%
Some Other Race8.0%4.7%3.6%

As of 2010, there were 35,138 households out of which 28.9% were vacant. In 2000, 28.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.3% were married couples living together, 18.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.8% were non-families. 33.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 3.10.

In 2000, the city the population was spread out with 26.3% under the age of 18, 11.4% from 18 to 24, 30.4% from 25 to 44, 17.6% from 45 to 64, and 14.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 97.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.3 males.


As of 2000, English spoken as a first language accounted for 79.79% of all residents, while 20.20% spoke other languages as their mother tongue. The most significant were Spanish speakers who made up 12.99% of the population, while French Creole came up as the third most spoken language, which made up 3.46%, French was at fourth, with 1.68%, and also German at 0.55% of the population.[17]


Fort Myers is governed by a six member city council. Each member is elected from a single member ward. The mayor is elected in a citywide vote. Policing of the city is by the Fort Myers Police Department.


Secondary schools[edit]

Old Paul Lawrence Dunbar School

See: Lee County School District for other public schools in the area.

Secondary schools in the city include:

Higher education[edit]

Institutions of higher learning in the city include:


City of Palms Classic[edit]

The City of Palms Classic is an annual high school basketball tournament held in Fort Myers, Florida.

Points of interest[edit]

The Edison Theatre, in the downtown historic district
Murphy-Burroughs House


The metro area has TV broadcasting stations that serve the Fort Myers-Naples Designated Market Area (DMA) as defined by Nielsen Media Research.

The News-Press, a daily newspaper owned by Gannett, has served the area since 1884.


Unmarked graves[edit]

In March 2007, the remains of eight people were found in a wooded area in Fort Myers, leading to an ongoing investigation for a possible serial killer. So far three of the victims have been identified (using DNA) as Erik Kohler, John James Tihay, and John Blevins. Derek C. Gair was briefly considered a suspect in early 2008.[25] America's Most Wanted profiled this case in a 2010 episode ("Unknown Fort Myers Eight Killer").[26]

Crime statistics[edit]

The crime rates per 100,000 people for the Ft. Myers/Cape Coral MSA were :

CrimeCape Coral-Fort Myers MSA crime rate[27]U.S. National Average[28]
Motor Vehicle Theft247.0314.7

Notable people[edit]

Fort Myers has experienced steady population growth.



The Mangoes: Henry Ford's Winter home

Public Transportation[edit]

Buses run by LeeTran provide local service in Fort Myers. [59]

Fort Myers in popular culture[edit]

In film[edit]

In print[edit]


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  2. ^ a b "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
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  12. ^ It should be noted the NOAA document used classifies locations as warm as Newport News, Virginia as "continental", but areas with drastically more extreme climates, such as Wichita, Kansas as "sub-tropical".
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  35. ^ Peek into inner circle shows Noel Devine's no deviant, August 28, 2006
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External links[edit]