Punta Gorda, Florida
|Punta Gorda, Florida|
Punta Gorda City Hall
Location in Charlotte County and the state of Florida
|• Mayor||Rachel Keesling|
|• City Manager||Howard Kunik|
|• Total||18.48 sq mi (47.9 km2)|
|• Land||14.16 sq mi (36.7 km2)|
|• Water||4.31 sq mi (11.2 km2) 23.32%|
|Elevation||61 ft (18.59 m)|
|Census Bureau estimate|
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||0289380|
Punta Gorda (/ /; from Spanish, Fat Point) is a city in Charlotte County, Florida, United States. According to the U.S. Census Bureau estimates of 2007, the city had a population of 16,762. It is the county seat of Charlotte County and the only incorporated municipality in the county. Punta Gorda is the principal city of the Punta Gorda, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area and of Sarasota-Bradenton-Punta Gorda Combined Statistical Area, which was first defined by OMB bulletin 07-01, released in December 2006.
Punta Gorda was the scene of massive destruction after Hurricane Charley, a Category 4 hurricane, came through the city on August 13, 2004. Charley was the strongest tropical system to hit Florida since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and the first hurricane since Hurricane Donna in 1960 to make a direct hit on Florida's southwest coast.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (January 2007)|
The first settlers, the Howard brothers, came to Charlotte Harbor in the late 19th century, about a decade after the close of the American Civil War. The rate of growth in the area has not changed much since then. Less than ten years after the first settlements in the area, railroads rolled into the town of Trabue in June 1886, and with them came the first land developers and Southwest Florida’s first batch of tourists. The town was renamed Punta Gorda (Spanish for "Fat Point") in 1887.
Punta Gorda became the southernmost stop on the Florida Southern Railroad, until an extension was built to Fort Myers in 1904, attracting the industries that propelled its initial growth. One man drawn to the area was George Brown, an African-American shipbuilder and landowner, who became one of Punta Gorda’s founding fathers.
In 1887, 12 years after the first settlers trekked to Charlotte Harbor, 34 men, four of whom were African-American, met at Hector’s Billiard Parlor and Drugstore to discuss incorporation.
Once Punta Gorda was officially incorporated, mayoral elections took place and a council was formed. Four of the five council members elected were not American citizens, and the remaining councilman was a native of Florida, Albert Gilchrist.
In 1890, the first postmaster of Punta Gorda was appointed. Robert Meacham, an African American, was appointed by jilted lawyer Isaac Trabue as a deliberate affront to the Southern mentalities of the original community. Trabue had come to Punta Gorda to create his own town, named after himself. When the founders incorporated Punta Gorda without Trabue, he vowed revenge. Trabue eventually left the area and returned to his home in Kentucky.
In 1885, phosphate rock was discovered on the banks of the Peace River just above Punta Gorda. Phosphate was a valuable mineral for fertilizers and many other products, and was in great demand worldwide. At first the phosphate was barged down the Peace River to Port Boca Grande, where it was loaded onto schooners for worldwide shipment. But by 1905 it was felt that building a railroad to Port Boca Grande and carrying the phosphate to it by rail should improve the method of shipment.
Early Punta Gorda greatly resembled the modern social climate of various classes living together and working together. While the regal Punta Gorda Hotel, at one point partly owned by Cornelius Vanderbilt, reflected the upper class, Punta Gorda was a pretty rough town, as most frontier towns were. In the early days, Punta Gorda’s location at the end of the railway line made it a popular destination for some pretty shady characters, resulting in around 40 murders between 1890 and 1904.
In 1925, a bungalow was built by Joseph Blanchard, an African-American sea captain and fisherman. The Blanchard House still stands as a museum, representing middle-class African-American life in the area. Exhibits cover political, civic and religious life; founding families; education; and the Civil Rights Movement through vintage photos, newspaper clippings and family heirlooms.
The Blanchard House and Museum of African American History and Culture of Charlotte County highlight the community that thrived from the town's founding until integration led residents to move away and businesses to close. In addition to exhibits, the museum serves as a community center with a library of books by black writers, a book club, seminars on African-American history and culture, and leadership classes.
Punta Gorda in the 20th century still maintained steady growth. Charlotte County was formed in 1921 after DeSoto County was split. Also in 1921, the first bridge was constructed connecting Punta Gorda and Charlotte Harbor along the brand-new Tamiami Trail. This small bridge was replaced by the original Barron Collier Bridge in 1931, and then by the current Barron Collier Bridge and Gilchrist Bridge crossing the Peace River.
There are many historic places in Punta Gorda, including ten places on the National Register of Historic Places:
- A. C. Freeman House
- Charlotte High School
- Clarence L. Babcock House
- H.W. Smith Building
- Old First National Bank of Punta Gorda (also known as Old Merchants Bank of Punta Gorda)
- Punta Gorda Atlantic Coast Line Depot
- Punta Gorda Ice Plant
- Punta Gorda Residential District
- Punta Gorda Woman's Club
- Villa Bianca
Punta Gorda is located at . According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.48 square miles (48 km2). 14.16 square miles (37 km2) of it is land and 4.31 square miles (11 km2) of it (23.32%) is water.(26.915907, -82.047820)
Punta Gorda is composed of the area south of Charlotte Harbor though some areas north of the harbor, including Deep Creek and Harbour Heights, are generally considered suburbs of Punta Gorda and have Punta Gorda addresses.
Punta Gorda is home to five public schools operated by Charlotte County Public Schools: Charlotte High School, Punta Gorda Middle School, Sallie Jones Elementary School, East Elementary School and the Baker Pre-K Center.
As of the census of 2000, there were 14,344 people, 7,165 households, and 5,187 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,012.8 per square mile (391.1/km²). There were 8,907 housing units at an average density of 628.9 per square mile (242.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.60% White, 3.17% African American, 0.17% Native American, 0.78% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.59% from other races, and 0.68% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.99% of the population.
There were 7,165 households out of which 8.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 66.8% were married couples living together, 4.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.6% were non-families. 24.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.97 and the average family size was 2.27.
In the city the population was spread out with 8.2% under the age of 18, 2.1% from 18 to 24, 9.9% from 25 to 44, 33.4% from 45 to 64, and 46.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 64 years. For every 100 females there were 89.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $48,916, and the median income for a family was $54,879. Males had a median income of $34,054 versus $26,125 for females. The per capita income for the city was $32,460. About 4.7% of families and 6.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.9% of those under age 18 and 3.0% of those age 65 or over.
- Jeff Corsaletti – professional baseball player who currently plays for the Portland Sea Dogs, the Double-A minor league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.
- Matthew LaPorta – major league first baseman for the Cleveland Indians.
- Burton Lawless – former football guard who played for the Dallas Cowboys in the National Football League from 1975 through 1979. Listed as one of the "100 Greatest Players of the First 100 Years" for Florida High School Football.
- Tommy Murphy – an outfielder for the Kansas City Royals.
- "Florida by Place. Population, Housing, Area, and Density: 2000". US Census Bureau. Retrieved 2007-10-13.
- "Punta Gorda, FL Profile". IDcide. Retrieved 2008-10-15.
- "Annual Estimates of the population for the Incorporated Places of Florida" (XLS). US Census Bureau. Retrieved 2007-10-13.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- "Update of Statistical Area Definitions and Guidance on Their Uses" (PDF). Office of Management and Budget. Archived from the original on 2007-09-25. Retrieved 2007-10-13.
- Richard J. Pasch; Daniel P. Brown, Eric S. Blake (2004-10-18). "Tropical Cyclone Report". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-10-15.
- Turner, Gregg M., "A Journey Into Florida Railroad History", University Press of Florida, Library of Congress card number 2007050375, ISBN 978-0-8130-3233-7, pages 123–124.
- Turner, Gregg M., A Journey Into Florida Railroad History, University Press of Florida, Library of Congress card number 2007050375, ISBN 978-0-8130-3233-7, page 156.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "Charlotte Campus". edison.edu.
- Maffezzoli, Dennis (2007-05-25). "Corsaletti gets taste of majors with Rocket". Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2007-12-30.
- Maffezzoli, Dennis (2007-06-08). [Fred Ferris - Colorful Local Editor and publisher of the Charlotte county Sun Coast Times 1960's - http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20070608/SPORTS/706080324 "Milwaukee Brewers selects LaPorta"]. News-Press. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
- Scott, Anna (2006-01-10). "James Lawless, former schools superintendent, dies at 86". Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2007-12-07.
- "5 SFWL players named to State All-Time Prep Football Top 100". MSNBC. Archived from the original on 2007-12-06. Retrieved 2007-12-07.
- Fineran, John. "Baseball's return tops 2006 stories". Sun-Herald. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-05-25.
- David Lee McMullen, Strike! The Radical Insurrections of Ellen Dawson. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2010; pg. 182
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