Everglades City History

A 1920s boom town turned into a fishing community

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Everglades City, sometimes called just “Everglades,” sits on the edge of the Ten Thousand Islands section of ENP. It is a destination in itself with interesting architectural and natural photo subjects.

The current human population is just above 500, far from the city’s heyday when it expected to be a major financial center. The town really began in the early 1920s, when the Tamiami Trail was built across the Everglades from Miami to Naples. Land mogul Barron Collier turned the sleepy fishing village into a busy industrial town with a railroad, bank, telephone service, sawmills, churches, a school, and even a streetcar. But much of what Collier built is long gone.

After its glory days ended in the 1930s, Everglades City made commercial fishing as its base. Fishing still remains strong with Everglades City proudly calling itself the “Stone Crab Capital of the World.” A small fishing fleet and several good seafood restaurants line part of the Barron River.

Everglades City is a popular weekend destination for Florida anglers and guided fishing trips are offered here, along with several airboat tours.

Several historic buildings here are worth seeing. Still open for business is the the historic Everglades Rod & Gun Club dating back to 1864. Now open it anyone, it once was a private club attracting such guests as Presidents Truman, Eisenhower and Nixon, Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger and that most rugged of outdoorsmen, actor John Wayne.

The Museum of the Everglades first opened in  1927 as a commercial laundry for workers building the Tamiami Trail. Today, its exhibits detail 2,000 years of local history.

Another historic building, the Old City Hall, is located on Broadway on the Circle (a rare Florida roundabout). Old City Hall was built in the style of a Southern plantation great house with impressive white-columns. It was devastated by a hurricane in 1960 and recently brought back to it former state only in 2007.

For those touring the Everglades, this is the first place to have restaurants and motels after leaving Homestead. Anyone wanting to stay here should make reservations well in advance. In season, the motels sometimes fill up on weekends.

Everglades City also is home to the National Park’s Gulf Coast Visitor Center, the gateway to the mangrove maze of The Ten Thousand Islands and the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge.

At A Glance

Collier Avenue (State Road 29)
Everglades City 34139

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