Orlando is often associated with amusement parks, particularly Disney, Universal Studios and other affiliated vacation hot spots. Yet this city, in particular its downtown, offers much more to both residents and visitors.
The downtown area in Orlando is a cultural hub, full of art galleries, museums and performing art venues
The Uptown section of this neighborhood is often referred to as Antique District, because of the large amount of antique dealers located here. The Parramore section is home to the U.S. Courthouse of Mid-District Florida, as well as the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center. Most of the government offices are also located here, along with soul food restaurants and locally owned shops.
The neighborhood reflects the diversity of Florida itself, with a mix of Spanish and European heritage. Thus, the downtown area offers a variety of food options, including Cuban and other Central American cuisines.
Lake Eola Park is a festival hub, with a beautiful multi-colored fountain. The part also features the swan boat rentals and the Walt Disney Amphitheater. Every year, the park hosts a large fireworks display to celebrate the Fourth of July. It is also the area of the downtown with some of the most historical buildings, such as Howard Middle School, which was the original Orlando High School. Thornton Park is the section of downtown that includes historical homes and the oldest cemetery in the city, Greenwood Cemetery. Most of the city’s founders were buried in this particular cemetery.
Throughout the Great Depression, officials supported various public building projects, including parks, an airport and even a football stadium. By the end of World War II, the city itself was financially stable. Eventually, it became a military hub. The district included the development of the McCoy Air Force Base and the Orlando Naval Training Center. Overtime, the population of downtown began to move to the outlying suburbs, thus causing an overall decline. Local stores relocated out of the area or simply closed their doors.
Efforts to revitalize this district of Orlando began in the 1970s in response to the growth on the south side of the city due to the development of the original Disney amusement park. During the 1980s and 1990s, skyscrapers were built to accommodate business growth. A building boom occurred during the 1990s and into the early 21st century. Infill development has continued throughout the intervening years. However, Orlando’s downtown still remains relatively small in comparison to other cities within the United States.
The 1950s city hall was actually imploded to make way for newer developments. The implosion was used as part of the opening scenes of Lethal Weapon 3. CNL Financial Group has created a large footprint in the area, including building the CNL City Center Commons. This complex includes office towers that surround the current Orlando City Hall.
This city was originally built in an area inhabited by Native Americans and Spanish immigrants. During the 1920s, the town moved from being focused on cattle to agriculture, particularly the citrus industry. While the city is dominated by the tourist industry, although it continues to draw businesses to the area. Today’s residents can enjoy active social life, including entertainment, shopping and outdoor activities in this modern downtown.