Punta Gorda is a charming and historic waterfront town which traces its roots to a landing at Live Oak Point on the Peace River by Hernando DeSoto in 1539. The name itself means “Broad Point” in the language of the Conquistadors, and a colorful festival each year celebrates Ponce de Leon’s Landing (1513) on Pine Island in Charlotte Harbor. Now more than 100 years old, Punta Gorda remains Charlotte County’s only incorporated city.
Early Spanish attempts to colonize the outer islands were stopped by Calusa Indian tribes, and the area was slowly settled as the English migrated by Charlotte Harbor on to the banks of the Peace River. In 1885, Col. Isaac Trabue from Kentucky bought the land from British investors and founded the town of Trabue. The name was never well accepted, however, and reverted back to the Spanish version in 1887 upon incorporation.
This town of 20,000 is in the midst of major community revitalization and beautification efforts. Wish historic preservation as a priority, Punta Gorda has secured State Historic District status. The city Streetscape program is restoring an old Florida atmosphere to central district streets by adding brick lanes, street lamps, benches, brick planters, flowers and shade trees. The residential areas feature many brick streets lines with huge old royal palms and many old Florida-ear tin-roofed homes with wide verandas.
Punta Gorda is one of five locations to hold the Redfish National Cup held each year by ESPN2. This year’s tournament will be aired on national television August 28, 2004. The world’s largest tarpon fish tournament is also held here and at Boca Grande Pass in May and June of each year.
With an every increasing population, unique shops and restaurants are being added throughout town, expanding the fine reputation of Punta Gorda Charm.