Naples was founded during the late 1880s by former Confederate general and Kentucky US Senator John Stuart Williams and his partner, Louisville businessman Walter N. Haldeman, the publisher of the Louisville-Courier Journal. Throughout the 1870s and ’80’s, magazine and newspaper stories telling of the area’s mild climate and abundant fish and game likened it to the sunny Italian peninsula. The name Naples caught on when promoters described the bay as “surpassing the bay in Naples, Italy.”
Fifth Avenue South has the distinction of being Naples’ main street. A name and function it has held proudly since the first mercantile building was constructed on Fifth Avenue in 1927—Ed Frank’s Garage. Over the year’s Fifth Avenue South has experienced a number of changes, most notably, in the early 1990s when New Urbanist Andres Duany, helped re-invent the Avenue with a Mediterranean focus that encouraged outdoor dining, abundant retail, shaded gathering spots, and multistory Italianate styled buildings with residential living.
Several area resources are available for researching Naples history and global topics: The Collier County Museum, Naples Backyard History, Museum of Military Memorabilia, the Holocaust Museum, and the Naples Historical Society are excellent resources.
Performing Arts and Culture
Naples has a rich and varied arts community that is home to The Naples Players, Opera Naples, the Naples Jazz Orchestra, The Gulf Shore Playhouse, Naples Concert Band, Naples Youth Jazz Orchestra, and The von Liebig Art Center. The Naples Players, The Gulf Shore Playhouse and The von Liebig Center are all located within the Fifth Avenue South District. Greater Naples and Collier County are home to the Philharmonic Center for the Arts, Philharmonic Orchestra and Theatre Zone Equity Theatre Company. Author John Villani named Naples the # 1 Small Arts Town in America is his book, The 100 Best Art Towns in America.
Beaches, Parks and Recreation
Naples best known natural asset is the 10 mile stretch of pristine white sand beaches along the Gulf Coast. In 2005, Naples was voted the America’s Best All-Around Beach by the Travel Channel and in 2006, Conde Nast Magazine named Naples on its Top 20 list of Best Beaches in America. 44 public access points exist for public enjoyment of the Beach. 22 include showers and benches. Fifth Avenue South and the Naples Fishing Pier at 12th Street are two of the downtown area’s better-known beach access points.
For more than 100 years, Naples and the surrounding county have been recognized as an angler’s paradise with 37 miles of barrier island coastline extending from Naples south to Marco Island and then into the mangrove forests of the Ten Thousand Islands and the Everglades.
And, with more than 80 championship golf courses in the Naples area, Naples is also a magnet for golfers.
The economy of Naples is based largely on tourism and was historically based on real estate development and agriculture. Along with Marco Island and the Everglades, the city is branded as the popular vacation area known as the Paradise Coast. Due to its proximity to the Everglades and Ten Thousand Islands, Naples is also popular among eco-tourists.
Major Naples private employers include several publicly traded companies including Beasley Broadcast Group and ASG in addition to numerous small businesses. Due to the wealth present in Collier County, Naples is also home to many small nonprofit and philanthropic organizations.
The Naples metro area is also home to major private employers. Fortune 1000 company Health Management Associates, technology company Ingage Networks, and medical equipment manufacturer Arthrex are located just north of the city in North Naples.
Naples is served by the District School Board of Collier County and various private institutions including several elementary schools, middle schools and one high school.
While no colleges or universities are based in the City of Naples, Florida Gulf Coast University in nearby Fort Myers operates continuing education classes from their Naples Center campus. Additionally, Southwest Florida is home to several other institutions including:
- Ave Maria University (35 miles northeast of Naples)
- Edison State College (7 miles east of Naples and across Southwest Florida)
- Hodges University (10 miles northeast of Naples and in Fort Myers)
- Barry University (Fort Myers)
- Rasmussen College (Fort Myers)
The City is served by the Naples Municipal Airport. Yellow Air Taxi also provides service to Key West, Florida. Southwest Florida International Airport, in Fort Myers, handles the vast majority of commercial air traffic in and out of the region, with over 8 million passengers in 2007. The City and County are also served by public bus transit—Collier Area Transit (CAT).
Naples is served by two major health systems—Naples Community Hospital and Physicians Regional Medical Center.
Naples enjoys a tropical climate with an average annual high of 84 degrees and an average annual low of 64 degrees. Average high temperature in January is 75 degrees.
Naples’ Quick Stats
(per 2010 Census unless otherwise noted)
- Government: Council- Manager form of government
- Area: City is 14.4 square miles (12.03 square miles are land; 2.38 square miles are water)
- Population: 19,537 (County Population: 321,580)
- Median Household Income: $71,322 (County: $53,934 (2009 dollars))
- Median Age: 61 (2009 data) (County: 41 (2009 data))
- High School Graduate: 95.5%
- Bachelors Degree or Higher: 48.6%
Information compiled by Fifth Avenue South BID courtesy of City of Naples, Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce and US Census Bureau. 1/2012