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History of Clearwater, FL

Clearwater is a small city located on the waterfront end of Pinellas County. Sandwiched between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, it is the smallest of the three coastal cities that constitute the Tampa Bay Area with the other two being St. Petersburg and Tampa.

History has it that the area that is currently occupied by Clearwater city was originally the ancestral land of the Tocobaga groups of Native Americans. With the arrival of European explorers and settlers in the region towards the beginning of the 18th century, these groups of native inhabitants were exposed to “new diseases” which nearly wiped them out of existence. The survivors were driven away by repeated incursions from other stronger and more aggressive groups of indigenous people. For this reason, the areas that were formerly inhabited by the Tocobaga remained unsettled for the large part of the century.

Efforts by the government to establish growth and development in this part of the Floridian coast during the 19th century were however met with aggression by the Seminoles who had now gained a strong footing in the area. This led to the construction of an Army outpost, Fort Harrison, near modern-day Clearwater Harbor in an attempt by the U.S. Army to take control over the land and establish new non-native settlements. Despite being outnumbered, the Seminoles outmaneuvered the U.S. Army and kept frustrating them using their dirty fighting tricks. This led to the development and enactment of a federal act in 1842 which offered free land to any person willing to settle in the area and fight off Seminole incursions. It is at this point that the population of Clear Water Harbor (Today’s Clearwater) started to grow. The name of the city is said to have been coined in reference to the many freshwater springs which existed in the area at the time.

When the railway arrived in the late 1880s, the area started to grow into a town and was officially incorporated as such in 1891. The construction of Belleview Biltmore made Clearwater a designated holiday town and its reputation and population shot up. The town was elevated to a city in 1914 and designated as the new administrative center for Pinellas County which had been formed two years earlier.

Although the Second World War briefly turned Clearwater into an army base, its growth never wavered. Today, the city is one of the most sought after residential communities on the East Coast. It is also a top vacation destination for people from all over the world.

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