Estero is a village in Lee County, Florida, United States. As of the 2010 census, the CDP (Census Designated Population) was 18,176. It is the home of Germain Arena, which hosts the home games for the Florida Everblades ECHL ice hockey team. Florida Gulf Coast University is also located just outside the Estero Planning District.
Estero is part of the Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Estero was established and incorporated by the followers of Cyrus Teed, who proposed a theory that we live on the inside of the Earth’s outer skin, and that celestial bodies are all contained inside the hollow Earth. This theory, which he called Koreshan Unity, drew followers to purchase and occupy a 320-acre (1.3 km2) tract in 1894. They were business-oriented and lived communally, prospering enough to found its own political party (“The Progressive Liberty Party”) and incorporate the town on September 1, 1904 as Estero.
The 1908 death of Dr. Teed (who claimed to be immortal) was a critical blow to the group’s faith, whose membership dwindled into the 1960s. The Foundation remains as “The College of Life Foundation,” which contributed (for example) at least $25,000 to the Gulf Shore Playhouse in or around 2007. The Koreshans’ original tract is now owned by Florida as the Koreshan State Historic Site. Estero is now an incorporated area of Lee County, as of December 2014, and is known as the Village of Estero.
Estero is located at 26°25′56″N 81°48′34″W (26.432237, -81.809447).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 20.0 square miles (52 km2), of which 20.0 square miles (52 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) (0.24%) is water.
Historically and culturally, the heart of Estero is the spring-fed Estero River, which flows to Estero Bay. Some of the earliest settlers of the area (notably the Alvarez, Fernandez, Johnson, and Soto families) were fishing families that lived on Mound Key, a mangrove-ringed island that dominates Estero Bay. During the early 20th century, these families moved upriver to the settlement which came to be known as Estero. Estero is also the location of a utopian community called the Koreshan Unity, which is now preserved as the Koreshan State Historic Site. Until the 1970s, most settlement and development in Estero was near the river.