Visit Everglades City and the Ten Thousand Islands of Southwest Florida, the Everglades

Our Town…100 Years Ago

Everglades City

by Lila Zuck

The Town of Everglades was incorporated and designated as the county seat on May 8, 1923, upon the creation of Collier County.  It was the engine which drove road building in the new county and construction of the Tamiami Trail to the Dade County line.

The Everglades town site was originally a mangrove swamp prone to severe flooding at high tide.  The land was dredged and filled with 2,000,000 cubic yards of fill drawn from the bay and river to create dry land.  The task took five years, from 1924-1929, resulting in a blank canvas upon which a lovely town blossomed.

Landscaping was meticulously planned, following advice from renowned botanist Dr. Henry Nehrling.  Only the appropriate native and tropical trees which would thrive were selected for planting.

Novelist Sinclair Lewis visited Everglades, writing on January 17, 1924, in the American Eagle “A Main Street was not built, but had been designated by virtue of its natural location.

“It was not an ordinary Main Street.  It was rather, a meandering thoroughfare, the passage along which was governed by the daily tides.  Everglades’ Main Street was the Barron River.

“Homes were constructed along both banks of the river, which was also lined with orange blossoming Royal Poinciana, varieties of palm trees and flowering plants and sub-tropical plants.  Green lawns surround the homes.  The deeply green carpet of grass spread over each lawn that leads to the river-street is of an unusually rich, vivid hue.

“The front doors of the homes, painted cream with green or baked red roofs and varied in architectural style, faced the river.  Boats delivered groceries and children after school.

Our Town 100 Years Ago by Lila Zuck Home Sites along the Barron River, ca. 1923
Home Sites along the Barron River, ca. 1923

“There were no automobiles yet in Everglades, no horse and buggy, for the streets were just being laid.  The Tamiami Trail was not built yet and Main Street had been established by nature.

“Avocado trees over 50 feet tall, vegetable and cane fields, and a river well-stocked with fish provided a sound economic base, soon to be enhanced by construction work on the Tamiami Trail.

“And now comes forth one Barron Collier in his pioneer development work, bringing civilization to a rich uninhabited wilderness and incidentally creating the most unique Main Street in all America-bar none.”

That was our town 100 years ago.  This year we celebrate its birth and honor Barron G. Collier.

2023-12-09T05:51:49-05:00March 18, 2023|History|

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