Punta Gorda City Hall
Punta Gorda City Hall

Punta Gorda was founded at the point where the Peace River meets Charlotte Harbor in 1875. Not much happened for the ten years, then the South Florida Railroad was extended to the site in 1886 to service local phosphate mining operations. That also brought land developers and tourists. Originally known as "Trabue," the settlement was renamed Punta Gorda with the filing of incorporation documents in 1887.

In those early days, Punta Gorda was at the end of the railroad line, and that location had a tendency to attract unsavory characters: between 1890 and 1904 there were 40 murders in town. Then in 1904, the railroad was extended to Fort Myers... In 1921, the first highway bridge connecting Punta Gorda and Charlotte Harbor was built as part of the creation of the Tamiami Trail.