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Lee County, Florida

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Founded  May 13, 1887
Largest city  Cape Coral
Time zone  Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Area  3,139 km²
Unemployment rate  4.8% (Apr 2015)
Named for  Robert E. Lee
Congressional districts  17th, 19th
Website  www.lee-county.com
Population  661,115 (2013)
County seat  Fort Myers
Lee County, Florida images31fotkicomv1086photos449373290919rnp
Destinations  Fort Myers, Sanibel, Cape Coral, Fort Myers Beach
Colleges and Universities  Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida SouthWestern State Coll, Lee County High Tech Center C, Lee County High Tech Center N, Florida Academy
Points of interest  Edison and Ford Winter Estates, Captiva Island, Lakes Regional Park, Imaginarium Hands‑On Museum, Koreshan State Historic S

Lee County is a county in the State of Florida. As of the 2010 census, the population was 618,754. The county seat is Fort Myers, and the largest city is Cape Coral.


Map of Lee County, FL, USA

Lee County comprises the Cape Coral–Fort Myers, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Lee County was created in 1887 from Monroe County. It was named for Robert E. Lee, Confederate general in the American Civil War.

Incorporated in 1886, Fort Myers is the center of a popular tourist area in Southwest Florida and the seat of Lee County. It is about 120 miles (190 km) south of Tampa at the meeting point of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caloosahatchee River. Fort Myers was the frequent winter home of Thomas Edison, as well as Henry Ford. Lee County has been the host to several Major League Baseball teams for Spring Training, over the past several decades. Currently, it is the spring home of the Boston Red Sox, as well as the Minnesota Twins.

Fort Myers, built in 1850 as a military fort to fend off Seminole Indians, was named after Col. Abraham C. Myers, who was stationed in Florida for seven years and was the son-in-law of the fort’s establisher and commander. In 1858, after years of elusive battle, chief Billy Bowlegs and his warriors were persuaded to surrender and move west, and the fort was abandoned. Billy’s Creek, which flows into the Caloosahatchee River, was named after a temporary camp where Billy Bowlegs and his men awaited ships to take them west.

In 1863, the fort was reoccupied by Federal troops during the Civil War. In 1865 the fort was attacked unsuccessfully by a small group of Confederates. After the war, the fort was again deserted.

The first settlers arrived in 1866, but it was not until 1882 when the city experienced a significant influx of settlers. By 1885, when Fort Myers was incorporated, it was the second largest city only to Tampa on Florida’s west coast south of Cedar Key, even larger than Clearwater and Sarasota, also growing cities at the time.

Fort Myers first became a nationally known winter resort with the building of The Royal Palm Hotel in 1898. But what really sparked the city’s growth was the construction of the Tamiami Trail Bridge built across the Caloosahatchee River in 1924. After the bridge’s construction, the city experienced its first real estate boom and many subdivisions sprouted around the city.

In the 1870s, Tervio Padilla, a wealthy merchant from the Canary Islands, came by way of Key West to Cayo Costa and established trade with natives and “ranchos” that extended northward to Charlotte Harbor. His ships often made port at Cayo Costa at the entrance to the harbor. Enchanted by the tropical island, he eventually decided to settle there. Padilla prospered until the outbreak of the Spanish–American War when his fleet was burned and scuttled. He then turned to another means of livelihood – fishing. When the government claimed his land he was disinclined to set up another ranch so moved with his wife further down the island and as before, simply homesteaded . The Padilla family is one of the first pioneer families of Lee County and many still reside within the county mainly around the Pine Island area.

In 1923, Collier and Hendry Counties were created by splitting these areas from Lee County.

On August 13, 2004, the county was struck by Hurricane Charley, a Category 4 storm, particularly on the northwestern islands of Captiva, Gasparilla and North Captiva.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,212 square miles (3,140 km2), of which 785 square miles (2,030 km2) is land and 428 square miles (1,110 km2) (35.3%) is water. Rivers and streams include the Caloosahatchee River, the Imperial River, the Estero River, Hendry Creek, and Orange River.

Lee County is on the southwest coast of Florida. It is approximately 125 miles (201 km) south of Tampa and 115 miles (185 km) west of Fort Lauderdale via Interstate 75; and approximately 125 miles (201 km) west-northwest of Miami via U.S. Highway 41.

Adjacent counties

  • Charlotte County (north)
  • Glades County (northeast)
  • Collier County (southeast)
  • Hendry County (east)
  • National protected areas

  • Caloosahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
  • J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge
  • Matlacha Pass National Wildlife Refuge
  • Pine Island National Wildlife Refuge
  • Climate

    Lee County has a year-round warm, monsoon-influenced climate that is close to the boundary between tropical and subtropical climates (18 °C (64 °F) in the coldest month), and is thus either classified as a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), which is the classification used by NOAA, or a tropical savanna climate (Köppen Aw). Lee County has short, warm winters, and long, hot, humid summers, with most of the year's rainfall falling from June to September. The temperature rarely rises to 100 °F (38 °C) or lowers to the freezing mark. At 89, Lee County leads the nation in the number of days annually in which a thunderstorm is close enough for thunder to be heard. The monthly daily average temperature ranges from 64.2 °F (17.9 °C) in January to 83.4 °F (28.6 °C) in August, with the annual mean being 75.1 °F (23.9 °C). Records range from 24 °F (−4 °C) on December 29, 1894 up to 103 °F (39 °C) on June 16–17, 1981.

    2010 Census

    U.S. Census Bureau 2010 Ethnic/Race Demographics:

  • White (non-Hispanic) (83.0% when including White Hispanics): 71.0% (17.0% German, 13.0% Irish, 11.1% English, 8.2% Italian, 3.7% Polish, 3.3% French, 2.2% Scottish, 1.7% Scotch-Irish, 1.5% Dutch, 1.3% Swedish, 1.1% Norwegian, 0.8% French Canadian, 0.8% Welsh, 0.8% Russian, 0.7% Hungarian, 0.5% Greek, 0.5% Portuguese, 0.5% Czech)
  • Black (non-Hispanic) (8.3% when including Black Hispanics): 7.7% (2.5% West Indian/Afro-Caribbean American [1.5% Haitian, 0.8% Jamaican, 0.1% Trinidadian and Tobagonian])
  • Hispanic or Latino of any race: 18.3% (5.5% Mexican, 4.0% Puerto Rican, 3.3% Cuban, 1.0% Guatemalan, 0.8% Colombian, 0.6% Dominican)
  • Asian: 1.4% (0.3% Indian, 0.3% Filipino, 0.2% Chinese, 0.2% Other Asian, 0.2% Vietnamese, 0.1% Korean, 0.1% Japanese)
  • Two or more races: 2.1%
  • American Indian and Alaska Native: 0.4%
  • Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander: 0.1%
  • Other Races: 4.9%
  • In 2010, 11.1% of the population considered themselves to be of only "American" ancestry (regardless of race or ethnicity.)

    There were 259,818 households out of which 22.35% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.97% were married couples living together, 10.26% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.17% were non-families. 26.69% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.70% (4.15% male and 8.55% female) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.81.

    In the county, the population was spread out with 19.5% under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 22.0% from 25 to 44, 27.3% from 45 to 64, and 23.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45.6 years. For every 100 females there were 96.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.4 males.

    The median income for a household in the county was $50,014, and the median income for a family was $58,950. Males had a median income of $41,619 versus $33,054 for females. The per capita income for the county was $29,445. About 7.8% of families and 12.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.7% of those under age 18 and 6.9% of those aged 65 or over.

    In 2010, 15.3% of the county's population was foreign born, with 36.9% being naturalized American citizens. Of foreign-born residents, 70.6% were born in Latin America, 14.9% were born in Europe, 8.3% born in Asia, 5.4% in North America, 0.7% born in Africa, and 0.2% were born in Oceania.


    As of 2010, 78.99% of all residents spoke English as their first language, while 15.19% spoke Spanish, 1.28% French Creole (mostly Haitian Creole,) 0.88% German, 0.59% Portuguese, and 0.55% of the population spoke French as their mother language. In total, 21.01% of the population spoke languages other than English as their primary language.


    There are multiple colleges in Lee County. They include: Florida Gulf Coast University, Barry University, Nova Southeastern University, Florida SouthWestern State College, Cape Coral Technical College, Fort Myers Technical College Hodges University, ITT Technical Institute, Keiser University, Southern Technical College and Rasmussen College.

    Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) is a public university located just south of the Southwest Florida International Airport in South Fort Myers. The university belongs to the 12-campus State University System of Florida. FGCU competes in the Atlantic Sun Conference in NCAA Division I sports. FGCU is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate's, 51 different types of bachelor's, 29 different master's, and 6 types of doctoral degrees.


    The Lee County Library System has 13 branches. The town of Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island, though located in Lee County, maintain their own independent public library entities.

    The Lee County Library System was established September 23, 1964, though the first library located in the county was built in 1909 in Alva, Florida. The first library in Fort Myers' was founded thanks to the help of Olive Stout, who also helped run the Fort Myers News Press for 27 years. As of September 2014, the library system turned 50 years old.

    The Lakes Regional Branch was erected in 2005 and is currently one of the largest locations of any library in Fort Myers at 50,000 square feet. In December 13, 2013, the most current location of the Library System was built. Fort Myers Regional Library in Downtown was originally built June 18, 1979. The building was relocated in the same area and rebuilt.

    The Lee County Library System currently provides more than 294,000 Lee County residents with over 1.5 million items and materials available for use or patron circulation, as well as an online library materials catalog, free wi-fi, public computer access, scan and print capabilities, and many more patron amenities. All library locations and events are open to the public, but in order to qualify for full patron privileges one must live in Lee County for more than 6 months out of the year or own property, own a business, be employed, or be a student in Lee County. Individuals may also become a member of a Lee County Library through the reciprocal borrowing program, as long as they live in a participating county.

    The SWFLN (Southwest Florida Library Network) Reciprocal Borrowing Program allows residents of participating southwest Florida counties to register for a free library card and have access to LCLS materials, computers, and online library. The only amenities reciprocal borrowers do not have access to is interlibrary loan materials and remote ability for online resource databases.


    The area is represented in the United States House of Representatives by Francis Rooney, 19th district, and by Tom Rooney, 17th district.


  • Southwest Florida International Airport, in South Fort Myers, serves over 8.37 million passengers annually. Currently, the airport offers international non-stop flights to Cancun, Mexico; Düsseldorf, Germany; Nassau, Bahamas; and Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto in Canada. In addition, nine airlines operate flights to 29 domestic non-stop destinations. On September 9, 2005, the airport opened a new terminal.
  • Page Field, also in South Fort Myers, just south of the incorporated limits of the City of Fort Myers, is the county's general aviation airport. Prior to the opening of Southwest Florida Regional Airport in 1983 (now Southwest Florida International Airport), Page Field was the county's commercial airport.
  • Seaports and marine transport

    A small port operation continues in Boca Grande, being used as a way-point for oil distribution. However, Port Boca Grande has been in decline for many years as the shipping industry has moved north, especially to the Port of Tampa.

    In addition, a private enterprise operates a high-speed passenger-only ferry service between Fort Myers Beach From San Carlos Island and Key West. Another ferry service is offered from Fort Myers to Key West

    Major road bridges

  • Caloosahatchee Bridge (U.S. Highway 41): 4-travel-lane single-span bridge connects North Fort Myers with Fort Myers, over the Caloosahatchee River.
  • Cape Coral Bridge (College Parkway/Cape Coral Parkway): 4-travel-lane single-span bridge (two eastbound, two westbound) connect Cape Coral with South Fort Myers, over the Caloosahatchee River.
  • Edison Bridge (State Road 739): Two 3-travel-lane spans (one northbound, one southbound) connect North Fort Myers with Fort Myers, over the Caloosahatchee River.
  • Interstate 75: Two 4-travel-lane spans (one northbound, one southbound) between the State Road 78 ("Bayshore Road") and State Road 80 ("Palm Beach Boulevard") interchanges, over the Caloosahatchee River.
  • Matanzas Pass Bridge (State Road 865): 3-travel-lane single-span bridge crosses Hurricane Bay and Matanzas Pass within the incorporated limits of the Town of Fort Myers Beach, connecting the mainland to the barrier islands.
  • Matlacha Bridge (State Road 78): a small single-leaf drawbridge connecting Cape Coral to Matlacha and Pine Island
  • Midpoint Memorial Bridge (State Road 884): 4-lane single-span bridge that connects Cape Coral with Fort Myers, over the Caloosahatchee River.
  • Sanibel Causeway (State Road 867): series of three 2-travel-lane single-span bridges and two 3-travel-lane island causeways crossing the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River at the Gulf of Mexico. The causeway connects South Fort Myers with Sanibel.
  • Wilson Pigott Bridge (State Road 31): 2-travel-lane single-span drawbridge between State Road 78 ("Bayshore Road") and State Road 80, over the Caloosahatchee River.
  • Mass transportation

    Fixed-route bus service is provided by the Lee County Transit Department, operated as "LeeTran". Several routes extend outward from the Downtown Intermodal Transfer Center; in addition, suburb-to-suburb routes are operated, as well as park-and-ride service to and from both Fort Myers Beach and Southwest Florida International Airport.

    The Downtown Intermodal Transfer Center in Fort Myers also serves as an intermediate stop on Greyhound Lines bus service.


    Newspapers include The News-Press, Florida Weekly and Naples Daily News.


    Arbitron standard radio market: Ft Myers-Naples-Marco Island. With an Arbitron-assigned 783,100 listening area population, the metropolitan area ranks 62/299 for the fall of 2006. The metropolitan area is home to 32 radio stations.


    Nielsen Media Research designated market area: Ft. Myers-Naples.

    Number of TV homes: 479,130

    2006–2007 U.S. rank: 64/210

  • WBBH – NBC affiliate
  • WFTX – Fox affiliate
  • WGCU – PBS member station
  • WINK – CBS affiliate
  • WXCW – CW television network affiliate
  • WZVN – ABC affiliate
  • WNFM – MyNetworkTV
  • WTPH – Azteca America
  • WRXY - Christian Television Network affiliate
  • Sports

    Fort Myers is home to Florida Gulf Coast University. Its teams, the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, play in NCAA Division I in the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Eagles' men's basketball team had an average attendance of 2,291 in 2013.

    MLB spring training

    The Boston Red Sox hold their annual spring training at JetBlue Park in the Fort Myers area. A cross-town rivalry has developed with the Minnesota Twins, who conduct their spring training at Hammond Stadium in south Lee County, which has a capacity of 7,500 and opened in 1991.

    The Red Sox' lease with Fort Myers runs through 2019, but the Red Sox were considering exercising the early out in their contract that would have allowed them to leave following the 2009 spring season. On October 28, 2008, the Lee County commission voted 3–1 to approve an agreement with the Boston Red Sox to build a new spring-training facility for the team in south Lee County. The new stadium, named JetBlue Park at Fenway South, is located off Daniels Parkway near Southwest Florida International Airport. The stadium opened in time for the 2012 Spring training season.

    City of Palms Park had been built in 1992 for the Red Sox' spring training. Former Red Sox left fielder Mike Greenwell is from Fort Myers, and was instrumental in bringing his team to the city for spring training. The deal for JetBlue Park left City of Palms Park without a tenant. County officials have discussed the possibility of securing another team for City of Palms. Terry Park Ballfield (also known as the Park T. Pigott Memorial Stadium) in East Fort Myers is also not currently in use by a Major League Baseball team, though it is the former home of the Philadelphia Athletics, Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals.


  • Bonita Springs
  • Cape Coral
  • Fort Myers
  • Sanibel
  • Town

  • Fort Myers Beach
  • Village

  • Estero
  • Other unincorporated communities

  • Babcock Ranch
  • Boca Grande
  • References

    Lee County, Florida Wikipedia