Orlando is known world-wide for it’s amazingly fun attractions, but there is so much more to see and do in Orlando than just theme parks. Lake Eola Park, located in the heart of Downtown Orlando, is not only a beautiful park and tranquil spot in the midst of a bustling city, it has some interesting history too.
7 Facts You May Not Know About Lake Eola
The lake, and land surrounding it, was originally donated to the city by a wealthy local family. The deal was struck on the proviso that Orlando would continue to improve the land and keep it beautiful, or the family would take the land back! The City has, of course, kept it’s end of the bargain by not only keeping the park in good shape, but updating the amenities and beautifying it in the years since 1888 when it was first declared a public park.
Who Was Eola?
No one knows!
The story, that one of Jacob Summerlin’s sons had a fiancée named Eola, who died of typhoid two weeks before their wedding, is hotly contested. A later theory is that Eola was merely a girl that he and his brother knew. However, nothing has been verified entirely.
The Swans Have Their Own Medical Records
Each year the swans are checked to ensure they are healthy. All the swans are rounded up, examined by a vet and given a vaccination for Botulism. Every swan is microchipped which allows the City to keep track of them, in case of removal from the lake, plus the chip contains their medical details.
Watch Out! It’s A Sinkhole
In 1873, when Jacob Summerlin, a successful cattle baron, purchased the land on which Lake Eola Park now sits, he discovered a sinkhole on the edge of his property. This was caused by a natural aquifer which was hidden 200 feet underground. A combination of rainfall from above and the aquifer’s water filling from below caused the sinkhole to transform into a beautiful lake. It became a very popular spot for the local settlers to relax on during hot, summer days. It was originally called Sandy Beach and was renamed Lake Eola after it’s donation to the City.
The First Fountain Was Installed in 1912
The Centennial Fountain was a focal point for over fifty years before being struck by lightning in 2009. By this time it had become such a beloved feature and iconic Orlando landmark, that the City invested $2 million to repair and update the fountain. Now, it’s tumbling water, spraying jets and nightly LED light shows set to music, bring people from far and wide.
The Centerpiece of the Japanese Rock Garden Was Originally for Walt Disney World
In 1983, a large piece of black marble originating from the mountains of Hua-Lien, was sent to Orlando from Tainan, Taiwan as a token of friendship. Their request was that the rock be placed permanently “in your great Walt Disney World”. However, Disney is not in the city of Orlando, so officials at Disney respectfully declined. This left Orlando wondering what to do with the stone. It was dubbed as “the Mayor’s pet rock” whilst it waited in storage for a permanent home.
The Japanese Rock Garden was created in 1988 as part of the park’s renovation and the 10,000 year old rock finally found it’s permanent home.