Naples – Florida’s City By the Bay
Located on the Gulf Coast of Southwest Florida, Naples is one of the Sunshine State’s premier vacation and relocation destinations. Part of the legendary Paradise Coast, the city is home to some of the state’s most impressive natural and man-made wonders. Miles of white sand beaches, endless days of sunny weather, and vibrant commercial centers and art communities cast their spells on visitors and newly arrived residents every year. With all that Naples has to offer it’s easy to see why it has become one of the most popular, and prosperous, cities in Southwest Florida.
Like many cities on the Gulf Coast of Florida, Naples has the reputation as a vacation hot spot. That reputation is certainly well earned, but Naples is so much more. It’s a wonderful place to live year-round. In fact, Naples has one of the highest quality-of-life ratings for any city in the state. It’s one of the many reasons Naples has become one of the premier destinations for retirees and families looking to make the move to the Sunshine State. Click to continue reading…
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In the Beginning
Of course, Naples hasn’t always been the star of the Paradise Coast. At one time it was merely a coastal backwater, long abandoned by the Calusa and Yamasee tribes following the disastrous Spanish and Indian wars. But after the close of the American Civil War, expansion into South Florida would begin in earnest, and the area we now know as Naples was ripe for development.
In the late 1880s former Confederate General and U.S. Senator John Stuart Williams, along with his business partner Walter Haldeman, came to the Gulf Coast of Florida with a plan. They had been lured to the area by newspaper accounts of the coast’s mild weather, abundant hunting and fishing, and its raw natural beauty.
People in the know were enthusiastically comparing the area with Italy’s Amalfi coast, and likened the bay to the famous bay of Napoli. The comparisons were more than apt, and Williams and Haldeman had found a name for their new community. They would call their fledgling city – Naples.
Naples’ Early Development
Haldeman and Williams began to aggressively promote their new community, marketing Naples as an up-and-coming vacation destination. In the late 1920s, the completion of the Tamiami Trail (linking Naples with Miami) and the arrival of the railroad helped to open the area to further development. Unfortunately, the Great Depression would derail that development for several years.
In the early 1940s, the US Army Air Force built an airfield and training camp at the Northern edge of the city. Over time, that airfield would become the Naples Municipal Airport. In 1945 a ‘back-door’ hurricane made landfall in Western Collier County, with Naples suffering the brunt of the damage. A local dredging company was brought to aid in repairs and to create the man-made lake that still rests between Gordon Drive and Gulf Shore Boulevard.
That same dredging company, Forest Walker & Sons, would ultimately purchase 296 acres of land from Jamaica Channel to what is now 14th Avenue South. Walker & Sons widened the channel, dredged a canal, and in 1950 opened a new subdivision they named ‘Aqualane Shores’.
Aqualane Shores would continue to grow over the next few decades. New channels, canals and coves would be dredged from the local mangrove swamps, and the area would slowly be transformed into one of the most visited and beloved parts of the city. In 1996 the area was formally renamed the Aqualane Shores Neighborhood, and its boundaries were expanded West to the Gulf of Mexico and East to the Bay of Naples. Today, the canals, channels and waterfront homes of Aqualane Shores have become a distinctive feature of Naples’ Southern coastline.
Naples’ Natural Beauty and Modern Amenities are Hard to Beat
Today, Naples is one of the wealthiest and most welcoming cities on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Tourists flock to the city every year to bask in the endless sunshine, take in the natural beauty, and to enjoy the boating and golfing that comes with vacationing in one of the gems of the Paradise Coast.
Of course, Naples is much more than just a well-traveled tourist stop on Florida’s West Coast. It is also one of the most desirable relocation destinations in the state. Currently home to a population of just over 21,000, the city has as much to offer its permanent residents as it does its seasonal visitors.
White sand beaches are always at the ready for lazy afternoons, and local residents can often be found escaping to Vanderbilt Beach, Seagate Beach or Lowdermilk Beach Park for a break from the work week. Easy access to the Gulf of Mexico provides ample opportunities for weekend boating and fishing excursions. And local attractions like the Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park give locals and tourists alike a chance to get up close and personal with some of Southern Florida’s legendary natural beauty.
Living and Working in Naples, Florida
Naples is one of the Gulf Coast’s most culturally rich and diverse cities. Annual art fests draw guests from around the world, while the local shopping districts have few rivals in the state. And when it is time to unwind after an afternoon basking in the Florida sunshine, you can relax in one of the city’s Michelin-starred restaurants.
Naples’ strong job market and hearty economy continues to attract new residents and new businesses to the area. The city can also boast of having one of the best education systems in the state, routinely earning medals for excellence. All these points combine to make Naples an attractive relocation destination for young professionals, growing families and freshly minted retirees.
But let us take a moment to look at some of the more important statistics:
- Naples permanent population currently stands at 21,812 permanent residents.
- The median household income is $77,645.
- The average home value is $254,167.
- The median age of Naples’ residents is 66 years.
- Naples’ unemployment rate is 4.0% (below both state and national averages).
- Naples residents have no state income tax liabilities.
Getting to Know the Neighborhoods
Naples’ diverse population is clearly reflected in its many distinctive neighborhoods. From exclusive gated communities to suburban family developments, you will find plenty of options from which to choose. So let’s take a quick look at some of Naples’ better known neighborhoods.
- River Park – River Park is one of the livelier areas of the city. It offers a healthy mix of single-family homes and apartments, as well as easy access to churches, schools and local businesses. It is also home to the annual City of Naples Cultural Heritage Celebration.
- Eagle Oak Ridge – This area is close to Naples High School and offers a mix of housing options including single family homes, apartments and condominiums.
- Cutlass Cove Beach – This area dates back to the 1950s and is one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Naples. Private access and beachfront property make Cutlass Cove one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city.
- Bear’s Paw – Like Cutlass Cove, Bear’s Paw is a highly exclusive neighborhood. Located off Golden Gate Parkway it consists of 15 single family homes, condos and villas. With its own golf course, Bear’s Paw is country club living at its finest.
- Aqaulane Shores – The Aqualane Shores Neighborhood is one of the oldest and most desirable communities in the city. Boasting deep canals and waterfront views it represents some of the best that Naples has to offer.
- Coquina Sands – Located near Naples’ largest business district, Coquina Sands is a nature lovers dream come true. Built with an eye toward respecting Southwest Florida’s natural heritage, the neighborhood offers plenty of tree-lined streets and lush green parks.
- The Moorings – The Moorings is one of Naples better known communities. Situated along Route 41, and consisting largely of condominiums, it offers waterfront living at affordable prices.
- Park Shore – One of Naples’ more exclusive luxury communities, the Park Shore neighborhood stretches along the Gulf of Mexico. Residents enjoy waterfront views, fabulous sunsets and easy access to the Gulf via man-made inlets.
- Port Royal – Privacy and exclusivity is Port Royal’s calling card. The area offers beachfront living at its finest, far removed from the crowds.
Naples Awaits its Newest Residents
Southwest Florida has no shortage of beautiful cities, each offering its own unique version of Gulf Coast living. Few, however, can truly match Naples for sophisticated charm, natural beauty, and an outright abundance of leisure and business opportunities. If your passion is sports, there’s year-round tennis, golf pickleball, and, of course, swamp buggy races. If your tastes are more refined there are the annual Marco Island and Naples Shakespeare Festivals. Foodies will be spoiled for choice with Naples’ Winter Wine Festival and Stone Crab Festival.
If you have been dreaming of relocating to the sunny shores of Southwest Florida, Naples should be near the top of your list of potential destinations. Whether you are looking for a second home to escape to in the winter months, or to find a friendly and vibrant community in which to raise your family, Naples is one of the unquestioned jewels of Florida’s Gulf Coast.