Clearwater History

The history of Clearwater is not unlike the histories of many Florida cities. Native Americans first called present-day Clearwater home, and they ruled the land even during Spain's occupation. It wasn't until the 1830s that settlers began arriving in the Clearwater area, and Philippe Park honors one of the first Europeans to establish residence. Dr. Odet Philippe, who was a French Count, built a plantation that once stood on the site of the park that bears his name. In and around 1835, construction began on Fort Harrison in Clearwater, which served the needs of soldiers during the Seminole War. It wasn't long after the war ended that the U.S. government passed the Federal Armed Occupation Act of 1842. This act promised Clearwater area land to any man over the age of eighteen who was willing to try to cultivate it. Bearing arms was essentially a requirement when moving in, as the area was still relatively lawless.

Once a number of settlers moved into the Clearwater area in the mid 1800s, the city really started to take shape. Helping the city to grow was the establishment of a road connecting it to nearby Tampa. Many of the settlers in Clearwater had established small farms and grew cotton and vegetables. The bounty that the area waters turned up was as much a blessing in the early days as it is today, and you can bet that seafood figures on the menu of many Clearwater restaurants. In its infancy, Clearwater was known as Clear Water Harbor, which is believed to have been a reflection of the fresh water springs that can be found in the region. Coincidentally, you can still find fresh water springs in the area, and many make for excellent diving sites when you're not exploring the underwater realms of the Gulf of Mexico.

One of the more interesting facts about Clearwater Florida is that it was named Clear Water Harbor until 1906. You might impress locals with that fact on your Clearwater vacation. Nine years prior to the city's name change, the famous railroad magnate, Henry Plant, built a large resort just south of Clearwater, which helped to put the area on the map. The Belleview Biltmore still stands to this day, and it is one attraction that you won't want to miss if you're interested in Clearwater history. You can even book a stay there if you please, which will really help you get in touch with the history of Clearwater. 

While Clearwater was already well on the way to establishing itself in the early 1900s, there weren't necessarily a lot of people here. In fact, the city still only boasted around 400 residents, which is one of the more interesting facts about Clearwater Florida. In the winter, however, the population would grow, as northerners began arriving to seek temporary refuge from the cold. In 1915, the city was reincorporated, and a bridge was built to connect it to the barrier island that is home to Clearwater Beach. The original bridge, which is now just a footnote in Clearwater history, helped to establish Clearwater Beach as the renowned vacation destination that it is today. More than 100,000 people call Clearwater home today, and you can bet that the population numbers still increase come wintertime.

If you want to learn more about the history of Clearwater on your vacation, you can always visit some of the area museums. The North Pinellas Historical Museum, which is housed in a historic house that dates back to 1915, is a great place to visit if you want to get some facts about Clearwater Florida. Another good place to get a handle on Clearwater history is the Gulf Shores Historical Museum, which can be found in St Pete Beach. This museum offers a look at coastal history in Pinellas County and is well worth a stop in the itinerary. Those who are interested in learning more about the history of Clearwater and the surrounding area might also drop by the Heritage Village in nearby Largo. This excellent museum traces the history of Pinellas County, and it is home to some historical structures that date back to the nineteenth century.     

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