Established in 1886, Fort Myers is the historical and governmental hub of Lee County, in the Southwest coast of Florida, with a population of 52,901 as of 2004. Fort Myers is the gateway to the Southwest Florida region, which is a major tourist destination in Florida, as well as being a popular place to live for retirees. Nestled along the scenic shoreline of the Caloosahatchee River, the city has become an interesting blend of young and old. Fort Myers has the youngest population in Lee County, with a median age of 32. The city of Fort Myers is home to the historic winter residences of Thomas Edison (Seminole Lodge) and Henry Ford (The Mangoes). Extensive renovation of the historic downtown waterfront is underway, with new restaurants, nightclubs, apartments, and artistic venues providing energy and growth. The city is also famous for its excellent schools, like Fort Myers High School, that was ranked as one of the best schools in the nation by Newsweek magazine.
During the last decades, the city has grown along with Lee County and the rest of Southwest Florida. Commercial and residential growth has pushed development in all directions to create Cape Coral, North Fort Myers and Lehigh, as well as adding to the coastal settlements of Fort Myers Beach, Pine Island, Sanibel and Captiva Islands, and Bonita Springs. Fortunately, the older downtown area and the Fort Myers historic districts have retained much of their charm, and proper preservation measures are in place to ensure that charm will be treasured for many generations to come. New developments in Fort Myers include luxury homes in country club communities, spacious apartments and modern lofts in the downtown area, riverfront penthouses and lavish condominiums.