Every great city is home to a great park. For the City of Orlando, that great space is known as Lake Eola Park. Today, Modern Cities takes a virtual walk through one of Central Florida's most vibrant urban public spaces.
Dating back to the late 19th century, Lake Eola Park is one of the oldest public spaces in Central Florida. The park’s origins date back to 1883 when Jacob Summerlin, also known as the King of the Crackers and King of the Cracker Cow Hunters, offered the city of Orlando land around the lake for a park with reverter clauses that his heirs could reclaim the property should it be used for anything else. At the time, Orlando was a 3-year-old city with a population of fewer than 3,000 residents.
Named after a woman his sons knew and officially dedicated as a park in 1892, the space has served as a home to a horse racing track, zoo, tennis courts and local radio station over its 136-year history. Of interesting note, swans have called the park home since 1922 when a resident raising swans on a nearby lake needed to separate his breeds of swans after a battle over territory.
However, the centerpiece of the sinkhole lake and park is the Linton E. Allen Memorial Fountain. Installed in 1957 as a replacement for a fountain erected in 1912, the fountain has become the official symbol for the city.
In recent decades, downtown Orlando and the neighborhoods surrounding the park have increased in density and vitality, making the park a central popular destination for area residents. Today, it is a place where one can always find something to do and people to meet.