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Punta Gorda, Florida

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Punta Gorda is a city in Charlotte County, Florida, United States. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 16,641. 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 is also in the Sarasota-Bradenton-Punta Gorda Combined Statistical Area.

Punta Gorda was the scene of massive destruction after 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. In the immediate years following the storm, buildings were restored or built to hurricane-resistant building codes. The new buildings, restorations, and amenities concurrently preserved the city’s past while showcasing newer facilities. During this time, Laishley Park Municipal Marina was built and the Harborwalk, Linear Park, and various trails were created throughout the city for bicycle and pedestrian traffic.

Before the arrival of European explorers and settlers, the region centered on present-day Punta Gorda was home to the Calusa people. The name Punta Gorda (“Fat Point”) has been on maps at least since 1851, referring to a point of land that juts into Charlotte Harbor, an estuary off the Gulf of Mexico. It was in the late 1800s that early white settlers began to arrive in what is the present-day Punta Gorda area.

Frederick and Jarvis Howard, Union Army veterans, homesteaded an area south of the Peace River near present-day Punta Gorda about a decade after the close of the Civil War. In 1876, James and Josephine Lockhart bought land and built a house on property which is now at the center of the city. Approximately two years later Lockhart sold his claim to James Madison Lanier, a hunter and trapper, who lived there two years.

In 1879, a charter for a railroad with termini at Charlotte Harbor and Lake City, Florida was established under the name Gainesville, Ocala, and Charlotte Harbor Railroad. It was taken over by the Florida Southern Railroad, which reaffirmed Charlotte Harbor as a terminus in its own charter. 30.8 acres (12.5 ha) Then in 1883, Lanier sold his land to Isaac Trabue, who purchased additional property along the harbor and directed the platting of a town (by Kelly B. Harvey) named “Trabue”. Harvey recorded the plat on February 24, 1885. At the time, Isaac was in Kentucky, and his cousin, John Trabue, was in charge of selling lots. To insure success of his development, Trabue convinced the Florida Southern Railway to bring their road to his town on the south side of Charlotte Harbor. Wikipedia

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