Cape Coral History
The founders of Cape Coral were brothers Leonard and Jack Rosen from Baltimore, Maryland. They started their careers as street vendors. Later, they marketed their hair care product Charles Antell Formula#9 with the help of modern marketing methods.
The Rosen brothers were the first to discover television for the distribution of their hair care products. It was the start of the TV-Infomercials. This experience in modern product sales was ultimately the basis for their later success as a real estate developer.
With their income from the sidewalk sale, the sale of their hair care products and the sale of furniture and electrical appliances from Rosen Home Equipment Company, they received a high-yield loan from the Chicago financier Jay Pritzker to found a real estate development company (Sandy Investment Company Inc.).
The real estate company, later known as the Gulf American Land Corporation, bought a swamp area of nearly 1,724 acres opposite Fort Myers in the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River - at Redfish Point - in 1957 for $678,000. The News-Press reported in 1957: Frank Miles (an heir of Miles Laboratories) has sold almost 5 miles of Riverfront Land on the North and West Bank of the Caloosahatchee River to Leonhard and Jack Rosen from Baltimore, owner of Charles Antell Hair Products.
First, Leonard and Jack Rosen set up a sales office on the corner of Cape Coral Pkwy and Coronado Pkwy. Today, George's Complete Auto Repair is located there. Subsequently, heavy equipment was used to build the first canals with access to the Caloosahatchee River. In 1958 the first 8 single family homes were built in the southeast of Cape Coral on Riverside Drive and Flamingo Drive (Yacht Club Area).
As the area at Redfish Point could hardly be driven over with vehicles at the end of the 1950s, pilots with single-engine Cessna 172 were hired to support the real estate sales teams. As the runway, the southern part of the Cape Coral Parkway was cut off and the drivers had to keep an eye on the airplanes. The potential buyers of land marked the piece of land of their choice by dropping a small flour bag. As there were hardly any points of orientation in the area, it was not easy for the pilots to mark the corresponding property on the development plans. Every day up to 500 customers were flown over Cape Coral with the small aircraft - a logistical masterpiece of the Rosen super salesmen.
The Yacht & Racquet Club opened in 1962 to attract even more land and house buyers. The Rosen brothers also flew in celebrities like Duke Ellington, Bob Hope, Red Skelton or Harry James to promote the development. One of the biggest attractions were the "Cape Coral Gardens", better known as the "Rose Gardens" with its water games (waltzing waters), the dolphin and water ski shows, a zoo, and a sculpture garden of famous American persons. This Mini-Disneyland opened its doors in 1964 and was very popular. When the development company of the Rosen brothers, Gulf American, was finally sold, Cape Coral Gardens was shut down in 1970. Today the Tarpon Point Marina is located on this site.
A tremendous problem was the traffic connection from Cape Coral to Fort Myers. People had to drive 20 miles through North Fort Myers until the Cape Coral Bridge was finally opened on March 14, 1964. In 1970 Cape Coral received the status of a city and grew very fast. In 1997 a second bridge (Midpoint Bridge) was built for $174 million and created a direct connection to the Interstate 75. 180,000 inhabitants live in Cape Coral today. A rapid growth story, considering that two years after the beginning of the development activities of the Gulf American Land Corporation of the Rosen brothers, the population was 280.
The Cape Coral Historical Society has been instrumental in reconstructing part of Cape Coral's history. Visit the Cape Coral Historical Museum on 544 Cultural Park Boulevard or visit it online. Our special thanks also go to Pat Molter Emerson, author of "From Pioneers to Paradise".
Cape Coral - today
Today, Cape Coral is the second largest city in Florida with an area of 115 sq mi and with about 180,000 inhabitants, the largest city in Lee County. Cape Coral is located directly opposite Fort Myers on the Caloosahatchee River and is divided into four square urban areas: Northwest (N.W.), Northeast (N.E.), Southwest (S.W.) and Southeast (S.E.). Santa Barbara Boulevard divides the city into East and West, Pine Island Road divides the city between North and South.
Cape Coral's street system is well structured. All Avenues, Boulevards, Courts & Places run from North to South, Lanes, Parkways, Streets and Terraces from East to West. Most streets above the Cape Coral Parkway are simply numbered, the streets in the Yacht Club/City Beach area have special street names. Cape Coral is one of the fastest growing cities in the USA. Cape Coral is a typical residential city and the preferred destination for vacationers from all over the world. The preferred residential areas of Cape Coral are the Yacht Club Area in the southeast (50s, early 60s, oldest core area south of Cape Coral Parkways), Gold Coast (east of Del Prado Boulevard, 60s and 70s) and the southwest (Southwest) between Pelican Boulevard and Chiquita Boulevard and south of El Dorado Parkway with more modern buildings from the 90s.
The southwest around the marinas Cape Harbour and Tarpon Point (Rosegarden Area) is one of the most exclusive residential areas.
In addition to the southwest of Cape Coral, the Yacht Club area in the southeast is becoming increasingly important, because of its proximity to the future downtown area of Cape Coral. The supply of building sites in this location is very low. In the future, the southeast will experience another significant boost as soon as downtown Cape Coral becomes a reality.
A popular meeting place is the restaurant "Boat House" at the old marina with the neighboring City Beach.
Away from the few busy main streets, Cape Coral offers a relaxed life, free from the stress of everyday life. Nevertheless, the shopping centers, shopping malls, supermarkets and restaurants can be reached easily and quickly by car.
A variety of sports facilities in Cape Coral and the surrounding area provide a comprehensive daily program: swimming, cycling, golf, inline skating, horseback riding, sailing, surfing, diving, tennis, water skiing, kayaking, fishing etc.
Adventurous people can book airboat tours in the Everglades and enjoy the wildlife in this unique nature reserve.
Several 18-hole golf courses in Cape Coral and others in the surrounding area are available. 40 parks, such as Rotary Park and Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve, and nearby lakes invite you to relax and unwind.
With over 370 miles of waterways, Cape Coral is the boater's dream. From Cape Coral you can cruise to the offshore islands of Sanibel, Captiva and Pine Island. Romantic bays and hidden waterfront restaurants are waiting for you.
The dream beaches of Fort Myers Beach and Lovers Key are only a stone's throw away. In the high season, Fort Myers Beach is a bustling beach life.
Those who like it quieter head for the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva Island. They line up like a string of pearls on the southern and western sides of the islands. The most famous are Lighthouse Beach, Bowman's Beach, Tarpon Beach and Gulf City Park Beach.