The History of Winter Park
Winter Park is a city of about 28,486 residents located just north of Orlando in Orange County, Florida. One of Florida’s finest cities, it is famous for its stately trees, abundant parks, brick-lined streets, spectacular homes, museums, vibrant lakes and fine shops along Park Avenue.
Chartered in 1887, the city was originally developed as a winter resort for wealthy Northerners seeking refuge from the harsh winters and a tranquil place to rest and relax. Fortunately, the city has maintained its natural beauty throughout the years.
The city was originally named Lakeview in 1858 and re-named Osceola in 1870. Eleven years later, the name Winter Park was chosen by its founders. Loring Chase and Oliver Chapman, who during an informal discussion, decided they wanted the name to be something about a park in winter – thus the name Winter Park.
Tourists came to the city originally to enjoy Winter Park’s beautiful lakes, warm temperatures and natural surroundings. Today they can enjoy these same amenities in addition to great restaurants, museums, entertainment, theater, outdoor activities, festivals and much more.
Rollins College, the oldest college in Florida and the nation’s premiere liberal arts college, was founded here in 1885 by New England Congregationalists who sought to bring their style of liberal arts education to Florida.
A college that has produced Rhodes, Fulbright, Goldwater and Truman Scholars, as well as a Nobel laureate, Rollins has been praised by Time Magazine. It is consistently listed by U.S. News & World Report as one of “America’s Best Colleges”.
The city’s most prominent features include its lakes, tree canopy, bricked streets, shopping district on Park Avenue. Rollins College and Central Park. Central Park is a large, open park featuring towering trees, friendly squirrels, and inviting park benches. The park was deeded to the city by one of its most influential early citizens – Charles Hosmer Morse. The city is also famous for the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival which draws over 250,000 visitors each year to Central Park to enjoy some of the best art and music in the United States.
The Winter Park sinkhole, located west of Denning Drive and north of Fairbanks Avenue, nearly swallowed an entire city block-including automobiles and a house in 1981. The city has since stabilized the shore of the sinkhole and has added landscaping so that the area resembles a small lake.
The City of Winter Park’s population is up from 22,339 in 1980, largely due to annexation. The City is nine square miles in area, and its average elevation is 100 feet.