|— Neighborhood of Orlando —|
|Nickname(s): Downtown, Central Business District|
|Settled||July 31st, 1875|
|Subdistricts of Downtown|
|• Total||43,400(Includes all Downtown neighborhoods)
|Time zone||EST (UTC-05)|
Downtown Orlando is the historic core and central business district of Orlando, Florida, United States. It is bordered by East Marks St in the north, Mills Ave in the east, Orange Blossom Trail (US Hwy 441) in the west, and Kaley Ave in the south. There are five enclaves in downtown; "Uptown" in the north around Lake Ivanhoe, "Lake Eola Heights" and "Thornton Park" in the east around Lake Eola, "Parramore" in the west, and the "Central Business District" (or the "Financial District") between Colonial Dr and Lake Lucerne in the center. In 2010, the estimated population of downtown is 44,300. The daytime population is estimated to be 65,000. The 5 mile radius population of downtown is 265,100.
Downtown Orlando is the largest of urban centers in Central Florida. It is home to residential and commercial towers, local and state government offices, sports facilities, performing arts theaters, art galleries, a movie theater, retail, nightclubs, and parks. Downtown is removed from the tourist areas located in the southern half of the city; but does draw a significant number of visitors seeking to experience the "Real Orlando". It is also the location of numerous festivals, parades, political demonstrations, and other high-profile events year-round.
Neighborhoods There are 18 neighborhoods in downtown Orlando located in five major enclaves:
- Lake Dot
- Lake Eola Heights
- South Eola
- Thornton Park
- Lake Cherokee
- Greenwood - The location of Greenwood Cemetery; Orlando's oldest cemetery containing graves of the city's founding fathers.
- Lake Davis
- Bel Air
- Delaney Park
- Wadeview Park
- Lake Weldona
- Lancaster Park
- College Park - A small section east of Orange Blossom Trail is located downtown.
Uptown, located north of Colonial Dr. along Ivanhoe Blvd., is an urban cluster around Lake Ivanhoe similar to the Central Business District; but with less density. The area is dotted with open spaces planned for the construction of new residential and office towers. Lake Ivanhoe has a large gay community along with retail and nightlife.
This area is locally called the Antique District due to the large number of antique shops along North Orange Avenue.
Established in the 1880s, Parramore is the historical hub of Orlando's African-American community. The area is located just west of the Central Business district along Division Ave and West Church Street. Once a thriving neighborhood, years of neglect, crime, and homelessness have resulted in economic blight. Today, city leaders, business owners, and local residents are working together to improve the area.
It is a residential area with a large number of high intensity entertainment and office institutions; such as the Amway Center, Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre, US Courthouse for the Mid-District of Florida, Florida A&M University School of Law, county & state buildings, and Orlando Police Department headquarters. Smaller businesses include grocery stores, barber shops, and soul food restaurants.
Central Business District 
The central business district acts as Orlando's Financial District and is the most recognized feature of downtown. The majority of Orlando's night clubs are also in this area. Located here are corporate offices, Orlando City Hall, foreign consulates, and upscale hotels. SunTrust Center and City Commons are two large office complexes within the CBD. Church Street Station is also located in this area.
Lake Eola Heights 
Lake Eola Heights is the location of Lake Eola Park east of the CBD. The park holds historical significance and is a frequent venue for local events and festivals. The park's most iconic landmark is the Lake Eola Fountain, permanently embedded to the bottom with concrete beams in the center of the lake. The fountain is illuminated nightly in various colors. Just recently, they have added two nightly water shows. In addition to the fountain, the park features swan boat rentals and the Walt Disney Amphitheater. Every Independence Day, the park is host to a large fireworks display which draws over 100,000 people to downtown. A 0.85-mile (1.37 km) recreational pathway circles the park and leads to a playground.
Residential and commercial development is usually regulated to towers no greater than 250 feet (76 m) tall. There are many historical "Florida style" bungalows and century-old oak lined brick streets. This area is unique in Orlando as it contains some of the oldest structures in the city and is Orlando's historic district. Howard Middle School, which was the original Orlando High School, is located here.
Thornton Park 
Thornton Park is located immediately east of Lake Eola Heights and is centered around Lake Lawsona along Thornton Ave. The area is similar to Lake Eola Heights, in that it contains historical homes and the streets are paved with brick. However, Thornton Park has a more "cosmopolitan" feel, as it is the location of exclusive restaurants, high-end fashion boutiques, and The Sanctuary, which has some of the most expensive condo units in Orlando. Other luxury condominium buildings in that area include The Waverly and 101 Eola. It has also become one of the most desirable and expensive places to live in downtown, attracting young professionals and urban dwellers. As a result, the area has become a lively 24/7 neighborhood, with a diverse mix of people.
Greenwood Cemetery, Orlando's oldest cemetery, is located just south of Thornton Park in the Lake Davis/Greenwood neighborhood. Designed and plotted in 1880, it is the final resting place for many of the city's founders.
Early years 
Prior to the arrival of European settlers in 1837, the Orlando area was occupied by the Native American Creek and Seminole tribes. In 1838, Fort Gatlin was built a few miles south of downtown Orlando on the shores of modern day Lake Gatlin; where ruins of the fort remain to this day. Settlers knew the area as "Jernigan" until 1875 when the "Town of Orlando" was incorporated and centered around today's Church Street. Orlando became a city in 1885 and downtown was the only population center for many years. Church Street was the commercial hub for the new Orlando where original pioneers, such as Joseph Bumby of England, settled in the town and built a hardware store known as "Bumby Hardware Store". The store remained an Orlando fixture until the 1960s, but the name "Bumby" is still famous in the city.
Downtown's heyday 
By the 1920s, Orlando had grown from a cattle town to a major citrus growing center. The city constructed the Orlando Public Library in 1923, the Orlando Municipal Auditorium (now Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre) in 1926, and several grand hotels; namely the Angebilt and San Juan Hotels. By this time, the city's population had grown to 20,000 people.
Great Depression to post-war years 
The federal government's Works Progress Administration programs during the Great Depression helped Orlando remain economically stable. New parks were developed, the Municipal Airport (now Orlando Executive Airport) was built, and the city also built a new football stadium at Tinker Field (now Florida Citrus Bowl). By 1944, enough jobs were created to increase the city's population to 45,000 people. Orlando became a major military center when World War II brought the development of McCoy Air Force Base and Pinecastle AFB, located southeast of downtown. This status strengthened with the 1968 opening of the Orlando Naval Training Center east of downtown.
Decline and redevelopment 
Walt Disney World's 1971 opening in southwest Orange County brought major development to Orlando, but not to downtown. During this time, development in downtown was mainly focused upon the construction of office towers, such as the Citrus Center and the original Sunbank building. However, downtown began to fall into a state of decline. The "Angebilt" and "San Juan Hotels" were abandoned and left to crumble. The San Juan was eventually demolished, but the "Angebilt Building" would years later be transformed into an office building with retail on the ground floor. Lake Eola Park became a haven for prostitutes and drug addicts. In addition, downtown department stores and family owned businesses closed or moved to the newly constructed Orlando Fashion Square east of downtown. As a result, the downtown population base moved out to the suburbs after the opening of Interstate 4.
Redevelopment in downtown Orlando began in the early 1970s and continued into the 1980s. Bob Snow opened Rosie O'Grady's in 1974 at Church Street Station, which quickly became a popular tourist attraction and local hot spot. Several skyscrapers were constructed, including SunTrust Center and Barnett Plaza (now Bank of America Center) in 1988. Lake Eola Park was redesigned and the Walt Disney Amphitheater opened in the park around the same time the annual "Orlando Shakespeare Festival" was established. On the other hand, downtown's population base still had yet to rebound to previous levels and major corporations were still opening locations outside of the city center.
The Orlando City Hall building, the city's third, opened in 1991 directly behind the previous City Hall. The old city hall was constructed in 1958 and was actually the second city hall for Orlando. To clear the area for future development, the Orlando City Council chose to implode the 1950s building. The event was met with much local fanfare and was filmed for use in the opening scenes of the 1992 film Lethal Weapon 3. The area cleared is now occupied by CNL City Center Commons.
Recent years 
Until the late 1990s, downtown was relatively small compared to other cities of Orlando's size. Starting in 1998, downtown was changed when a building boom began and continued through the 2000s decade. Commercial towers were built along Orange Avenue and residential towers were constructed around Lake Eola and along Magnolia Ave. CNL Financial Group established a major footprint in downtown with the construction of CNL City Center Commons, a complex of office towers surrounding Orlando City Hall. CNL continues to expand their presence downtown even today. The boom roughly doubled the size of downtown density and dramatically changed Orlando's skyline. In 2005, the term "Manhattanization" was locally applied to Orange Avenue when a large number of construction cranes loomed over downtown. As of 2009, skyscraper development slowed, but is being replaced by other development projects.
In 2011, construction began on the long awaited Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts across from City Hall along Orange Ave.
The tallest skyscrapers in Orlando are:
- Suntrust Center, 1988, 441 ft (134 m) is the tallest building in Central Florida.
- The Vue at Lake Eola, 2008, 426 ft (130 m).
- The Orange County Courthouse, 1997, 416 ft (127 m).
- The Bank of America Center, 1988, 409 ft (125 m)
- 55 West on the Esplanade, 2009, 377 ft (115 m)
- Solaire at the Plaza, 2006, 359 ft (109 m)
- One Eleven Building, 2009, 357 ft (109 m)
- Citrus Center, 1971, 258 ft (79 m)
- Premier Trade Plaza Orlando, 2006, 256 ft (78 m)
- CNL Center City Commons, 1999, 250 ft (76 m)
Towers built in downtown Orlando have not exceeded 441 ft (134 m) since the completion of the Suntrust Center in 1988. There has never been an "official" reason why; but local architects speculate it is because the Orlando Executive Airport is located just east of downtown. The airport's flight path is over downtown, thus the Federal Aviation Administration has imposed height restrictions.
Premier Property Group is the official sales team for The Vue, Solaire at the Plaza, and Sanctuary skyscrapers.
Downtown Orlando is served by three main arteries, two limited access highways and several secondaries as well as many byways.
- Orange Avenue (SR 527 - One Way SB)
- Rosalind Avenue (SR 527 - One Way NB)
- Colonial Drive (SR 50 - E/W)
- South Street (SR 15 - WB Along SR 408)
- Anderson Street (SR 15 - EB Along SR 408)
- Hughey Avenue (SB Along I-4)
- Garland Avenue (NB Along I-4)
- Robinson Avenue (E/W Along North Side of Lake Eola)
- Central Avenue (E/W) Along South Side of Lake Eola)
The Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (CFRTA), better known as Lynx, operates the regional bus service with its central station and offices located at 455 N Garland Avenue.
Lynx Operates a zero-fare bus route called Lymmo (Link 31) along a completely separate and dedicated right-of-way. Because this bus system runs on its own right-of-way and controls the traffic signaling, in most cases it is superior to automobile travel within the downtown area. In late 2010, a process began to expand Lymmo service along the Orange Avenue corridor, north to Florida Hospital and south to Michigan Avenue, as well as adding an east/west circulator from the Citrus Bowl to Thornton Park.
Plans have been approved and ground has been broken on the new SunRail, a North-South commuter rail that will run mostly along existing CSX/Amtrak rails and provide service between Deland and Poinciana. A large transfer station has already been constructed downtown and currently handles Lynx bus transfers.
The Orlando Executive Airport is located 4 miles (6.4 km) east of the CBD. While technically not in downtown proper, the airport serves the downtown district.
The US District Court Middle District of Florida's courthouse is located at 401 West Central Boulevard.
Education and Institutions 
Public and Private Schools 
- Lake Highland Preparatory School
- Howard Middle School
- Hillcrest Elementary School
- Trinity Lutheran School
- Fern Creek Elementary
- Jones High School
- William R. Boone High School
- The Christ School
- Valencia Community College - satellite campus
- University of Central Florida - Downtown Campus
- UCF - Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy
- Florida A&M University - School of Law
- Florida State University College of Medicine - Orlando Regional Campus
Places of worship 
- First Presbyterian Church of Orlando
- First United Methodist Church of Orlando
- St. James Cathedral in Orlando
- First United Methodist Church
- Masjid Al Haq Mosque
- Trinity Lutheran Church
- Downtown Baptist Church
- Park Lake Presbyterian Church
- Florida Hospital Orlando
- Orlando Regional Medical Center
- Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children
- Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies
- M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando
- ORMC - Lucerne Pavilion
Places of interest 
Loch Haven Park, north of downtown on Mills and Princeton Avenues, serves as the cultural center of Orlando and consists of the following:
- The Orlando Science Center
- The Orlando Shakespeare Theater
- The Orlando Museum of Art
- The Orlando Repertory Theatre
- The Mennello Museum of American Art
- Loch Haven Community Center
The "Cultural Park Master Plan" published in 2009, details plans to expand Loch Haven Park to former USDA property located adjacent the park, and calling for additional cultural institutions to be housed onsite.
Arts & Culture 
- Calle Orange, an annual heritage festival celebrating Puerto Rican culture.
- The Orange County Regional History Center - Located on Central Blvd. The building was once the Orange County Courthouse.
- Mad Cow Theatre produces a season of classical and contemporary plays and musicals in its intimate two-theatre complex.
- CityArts Factory - Located in the CBD. Features works by local artists and holds workshops.
- SAK Comedy Lab - A 200 seat professional improvisation comedy theater and school, with graduates including Wayne Brady, Jonathan Mangum, Karey Kirkpatrick.
- Plaza Cinema Cafe - The first movie theater in downtown in nearly half a century.
- The Daily City Mobile Art Show - An art gallery in the back of a moving truck which displays works by local artists in various locations around Central Florida.
- Public Art - Orange County Government has several public art installations around Downtown.
- The Orlando Cabaret Festival - an annual festival produced east spring by Mad Cow Theatre attracts local and international Cabaret artists for over 40 performances at the theatre. Features lunchtime and evening performances and special events.
- The Orlando Film Festival
- Orlando International Fringe Theater Festival
Major hotels in downtown Orlando include:
- Crowne Plaza Orlando Downtown Hotel
- Embassy Suites Orlando - Downtown
- Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando (Marriott)
- Sheraton Orlando Downtown Hotel
- DoubleTree by Hilton - Orlando Downtown
Downtown is home to the Amway Center which hosts the Orlando Magic NBA team, the Orlando Solar Bears East Coast Hockey League team, and the Orlando Predators Arena Football League team. The Florida Citrus Bowl hosts The Capital One Bowl in addition to other events year round. Tinker Field is a historic ballpark adjacent to the Citrus Bowl.
Diplomatic Missions 
- British Consulate Orlando
- Mexican Consulate Orlando
- Consulate of Haiti Orlando
- French Consulate Orlando
- Argentine Consulate Orlando
- Consulate of the Ivory Coast - Orlando
- Dutch Consulate in Orlando
- Austrian Consulate in Orlando
- Jamaican Consulate Orlando
Resulting from Orlando's reputation as a major international destination and many countries establishing embassies in the city, Orlando now has the second highest number of foreign consulates in Florida next to Miami.
Popular culture 
Downtown Orlando's skyline can be seen in the films Passenger 57, Ernest Saves Christmas, D.A.R.Y.L., Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Lethal Weapon 3 (doubled for Los Angeles), and Miami Connection (doubled for downtown Miami).
Downtown is the focus region for major development projects that have already been approved by the City of Orlando. Some of these projects are under construction, with completion nearing the end of 2010. The largest of these initiatives, The Triple Crown for Downtown, is already underway.
- Amway Center - The first initiative of the Triple Crown. Construction began in 2008 and was completed in October, 2010. It is the new home of the Orlando Magic, Orlando Solar Bears and the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League. In addition to other events, the venue will also bring major concerts back to Orlando.
- Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts - Located across from City Hall on Orange Ave, it will replace the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre and will be built in phases. Phase I, scheduled to begin in the fall of 2010, will include a 2,800 seat amplified hall and a 300 seat theater for smaller productions. Phase II, construction date unknown, will include a 1,700 seat acoustic hall for ballet, orchestra, and opera performances.
- Florida Citrus Bowl - Originally scheduled for a $75million renovation, decreases in tourist tax revenues have forced city leaders to re-evaluate their options for this facility. Plans now call for far less money to be spent on renovations and may now include a few cosmetic changes to the stadium.
A more ambitious project planned for downtown calls for completely transforming the Orlando Centroplex, the home of the current Amway Arena, into a "Creative Village". The project is to be privately funded and plans call for satellite schools for the University of Central Florida and the University of Florida, 1,000,000 square feet (93,000 m2) of office space, residential apartment buildings, and a large central park with sporting facilities and an amphitheater.
- "Post Office Location – Downtown Orlando." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on April 5, 2009.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Downtown Orlando|
- Downtown Development Board/Community Redevelopment Agency
- Orange County Regional History Center
- City of Orlando Parking Website
- Downtown Arts District