Cape Coral is a city located in Lee County, Florida, United States, on the Gulf of Mexico. Founded in 1957 and developed as a master-planned, pre-planned community, the city grew to a population of 154,305 by the year 2010. The city’s population estimate was 165,831 for 2013 and 179,804 for 2016. With an area of 120 square miles (310 km2), Cape Coral is the largest city between Tampa and Miami. It is a principal city in the Cape Coral – Fort Myers, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population estimate for the statistical area was 679,513 for 2014. The city is known as a “Waterfront Wonderland”, with over 400 mi (640 km) of navigable waterways, Cape Coral has more miles of canals than any other city in the world.
Cape Coral history began in 1957 when two brothers from Baltimore, Maryland, Leonard and Jack Rosen, flew over the peninsula known as Redfish point, across the Caloosahatchee River near present-day Fort Myers. Cape Coral was founded as Redfish point. Leonard and Jack Rosen, who were Real-Estate developers, purchased a 103-square-mile (270 km2) tract known as Redfish Point for $678,000 in that year and, in 1958, began development of the city as a master-planned, pre-planned community.
The Gulf American Land Corporation (GALC), was formed to develop the area. Canals were dug, streets paved, houses and businesses built. Cape Coral was promoted like no other Florida development. Celebrities were brought in to tout the benefits of “the Cape”, as it is known locally. The first building was the Rosens’ company headquarters, at the corner of Coronado and Cape Coral Parkway. Cape Coral’s first permanent resident was Kenny Schwartz, the Rosens’ general manager. Cape Coral’s first four homes were completed in May 1958, on Riverside and Flamingo Drives.
Development continued through the early 1960s, mostly on Redfish Point, south of Cape Coral Parkway. By 1963, the population was 2,850; 1,300 buildings had been finished or were under construction; 80 mi (130 km) of road had been built, and 160 mi (260 km) of canals had been dug. The public yacht club, a golf course, medical clinic and shopping center were up and running. A major addition for Cape Coral was the construction of the 3,400 feet (1,000 m) long Cape Coral Bridge across the Caloosahatchee River, which opened in early 1964. Before the bridge, a trip to Fort Myers was more than 20 mi (32 km) via Del Prado Boulevard and over the Edison Bridge to cross the river.
The first building in Cape Coral, even before any houses were constructed, was the Rosen’s sales office. It was built right on the spot where George’s Auto now stands, at Cape Coral and Coronado Pkwys.
The city incorporated in August 1970, and its population continued to grow rapidly until the real estate slowdown that gripped the region beginning in 2008.
In 2016 Forbes Magazine named the City of Cape Coral as # 9 of the “Top 25 Cities To Retire in the United States”
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 120 square miles (310.8 km2), of which 110.09 square miles (285.1 km2) is land and 9.91 square miles (25.7 km2) (9%) is water. Cape Coral is a large peninsula and is bordered in the south and east by the Caloosahatchee River and in the west by Matlacha Pass. The city of Fort Myers lies across the Caloosahatchee River to the east, and Matlacha and Pine Island lie across Matlacha Pass to the west. Matlacha Pass is home to Matlacha Pass National Wildlife Refuge and the state’s Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve.
The city has over 400 miles (640 km) of canals, more than any other city in the world. Most of the canals are navigable and some have access to the Gulf of Mexico. Cape Coral’s canal system is so extensive that local ecology and tides have been affected.
Cape Coral features a tropical monsoon climate (Am) under the Köppen climate classification system. The area averages 355 days of sunshine each year, but experiences precipitation on 145 days per year. While the summers are very warm, humid and rainy, the winters in Cape Coral are dry with moderate temperatures. Cape Coral receives about 54 inches of rain each year, the majority of which falls from June to September. During the summer months, afternoon rains are heavy yet brief. The city is affected by the annual hurricane season, which begins officially on June 1 and continues through November.