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Fort Myers, FL

Fort Myers, Florida
City of Fort Myers

Skyline of Fort Myers
Nickname(s): "City of Palms"
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]

Country United States
State Florida
County Lee
Founded March 24, 1886
 • Type Council–manager
 • Mayor Randy Henderson, Jr.
 • Total 48.98 sq mi (126.9 km2)
 • Land 39.96 sq mi (103.5 km2)
 • Water 9.02 sq mi (23.4 km2)
Elevation[2] 10 ft (3 m)
Population (2011)[3]
 • Total 63,512
 • Density 1,559.1/sq mi (602.0/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code(s) 33900-33999
Area code(s) 239
FIPS code 12-24125[3]
GNIS feature ID 0282700[2]

Fort Myers (alternately "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.


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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, 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

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.[6][7] 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.[6] 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.,[6][7] 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.[8] 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.[9] 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.

Geography and climate

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,[10][11] or a tropical savanna climate (Köppen Aw).[12] 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.[13] 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.[14] 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.[13]

Climate data for Fort Myers, Florida (Page Field), 1981–2010 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
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) 5.5 5.2 6.2 4.2 6.8 16.0 17.6 17.9 15.4 6.8 4.4 4.5 110.5
Source: NOAA (extremes 1892–present)[13]


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Historical population
Census Pop.
Population 1890-2010.[15]
Fort Myers Demographics
2010 Census Fort Myers Lee County Florida
Total population 62,298 618,754 18,801,310
Population, percent change, 2000 to 2010 +29.2% +40.3% +17.6%
Population density 1,559.1/sq mi 788.7/sq mi 350.6/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-American 32.3% 8.3% 16.0%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 20.0% 18.3% 22.5%
Asian 1.6% 1.4% 2.4%
Native American or Native Alaskan 0.6% 0.4% 0.4%
Pacific Islander or Native Hawaiian 0.1% 0.1% 0.1%
Two or more races (Multiracial) 2.8% 2.1% 2.5%
Some Other Race 8.0% 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.[16]


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

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

Secondary schools in the city include:
  • Dunbar High School whose Science Olympiad teams won 15th place overall in the 2007 Florida State Science Olympiad, including a win in the remote sensing category.[17]
  • Fort Myers Senior High School, an International Baccalaureate school, is ranked as one of the best public schools in the nation by Newsweek magazine.[18]
  • Bishop Verot High School, a private, Roman Catholic high school in Ft. Myers, operated by the Diocese of Venice, Florida.
  • Canterbury School, was founded in Fort Myers, Florida in 1964 as a private coeducational college preparatory institution which presently offers PreK3 through high school personally tailored instruction. Faculty and Administration support over 600 students who are dedicated to academic excellence, building of character, leadership, and community service. ALL graduates are accepted to four-year colleges or universities. The campus rests on 32 acres with 75% of students active in sports. The school's colors are blue and white with the Cougar as their mascot - "Go Cougars!"

Higher education

for schools located outside of the city, see Lee County, Florida#Education

Institutions of higher learning in the city include:


City of Palms Classic

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

Points of interest


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

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.[24] This case has also been profiled on America's Most Wanted.[25]

Crime statistics

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

Crime Cape Coral-Fort Myers MSA crime rate[26] U.S. National Average[27]
Murder 7.6 5.4
Rape 26.0 29.3
Robbery 128.2 145.3
Assault 307.0 274.6
Burglary 1025.5 730.8
Theft 2236.6 2167.0
Motor Vehicle Theft 247.0 314.7

Notable people



Fort Myers in popular culture

  • The abandoned city scene from the 1985 movie Day of the Dead was filmed in downtown Fort Myers.[58][59]
  • Some courthouse and other "city" scenes in Just Cause were filmed in downtown Ft. Myers.[60]
  • The 1999 independent film Trans was filmed in Fort Myers, Florida.[61]
  • Fort Myers is part of the setting of Red Grass River, an award-winning novel by James Carlos Blake


External links

Florida portal
  • City of Fort Myers
  • Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau
  • Fort Myers Economy at a Glance, U.S. Department of Labor
  • Ft. Myers River District
  • Art Walk
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