With the dream of living on the Gulf of Mexico a powerful lure, its no wonder early settlers in Naples began developing the city from the coastline eastward. The area between the beach and the city’s first major roadway is where it all began. When Naples visionary forefather Barron G. Collier financed the Tamiami Trail, it was the only paved road connecting the state’s largest metropolitan areas at the time – Tampa and Miami.
Collier planned the road, also known as U.S. Highway 41, very close to the shoreline, and it subsequently became a perceived western border for what would be Naples’ earliest buildings and businesses.
Some people refer to this area from Fifth Avenue South to Pine Ridge Road as “the original Naples”, where men and women with passion and vision established their lives in small, quaint cottage homes. As Naples was first a wild mix of heavy foliage and wetlands, the early residents carved their homesteads on small plots of land, and allowed the native vegetation around them to flourish. The result, some of which can still be found today, was charming little homes surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty – a picture postcard of life in a sleepy Florida fishing village along the Gulf shore.
The entrepreneurial spirit was alive and well in the area, as well, as The Naples Hotel was built just 2 blocks east of the Naples Fishing Pier in the late 1880’s. In 1930, the city’s first 18-hole golf course was developed along scenic Gulf Shore Boulevard near Crayton Road, along with what is now a sprawling beachfront resort known as The Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club.
Plentiful waterway inlets and canals that afford easy Gulf access meant that people started building homes along the waterfront. The communities and neighborhoods that evolved have names like The Moorings, Park Shore and Coquina Sands. You’ll know you’re in a boater’s paradise when you travel down streets like Rudder Road, Tiller Terrace and Ketch Drive.
While there is a perfect mix of condominiums and single-family homes between U.S. 41 to the east and Gulf Shore Drive to the west, the actual beachfront land is home to some of the most impressive condominium communities in the country. In 1964, legendary real estate pioneer Raymond Lutgert amassed over 700 acres directly on the Gulf of Mexico and embarked on a grand plan to build one of the earliest master planned multi-unit developments in the entire state. The developer wisely shaped his land holdings to best take advantage of the stunning waterfront panoramas, and his condominium buildings were mixed with abundant community parks, green spaces and a beachside walking path. The area, known as Park Shore, is one of the most desirable residential settings in all of Florida.
Condominiums here range from a small unit in an older building up to 4,000+ square foot, high-rise palace in the sky. There are also many single-family homes throughout the Naples Beach area, most situated on sprawling, oversized home sites.
The idyllic setting here can seem so far from the amenities of in-town living, yet just minutes away is U.S. 41, Naples’ main north/south artery and home to businesses and professional services of every type.
Credit: Naples Daily News