Orlando City Guide


Orlando Architecture & Landmarks


If you look at a photograph of Orlando's skyline five years ago and compare it with today, you wouldn't recognize it. So much construction is taking place that downtown Orlando has been fully transformed -- and for the better.

With more high-rise condominiums being built, more people have moved back into the city, and that has encouraged more businesses, restaurants, shops, and theaters to cater to them. Many fine old buildings have been protected and restored. Greater Orlando, however, is really a city of separate communities, and many of these have buildings that are architectural gems.

College Park has changed little over the last decades, and its historic homes nestle among towering oaks. The nearby city of Winter Park boasts many Spanish-style buildings in and around the campus of Rollins College, which was founded in 1885 and is the oldest recognized college in Florida.

New residential developments, such as Baldwin Park and Thornton Park in Orlando, are models of how contemporary architecture and nature can blend.

Orlando's skyline has changed dramatically in recent years.
©2006 Orlando CVB
With many condos and other
buildings being built downtown,
Orlando's skyline has changed
dramatically in recent years.

Eatonville, north of Orlando, is one of the oldest all-Black towns to be formed after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and was the first to be incorporated. The town features the Zora Neale Hurston Monument (200 block of East Kennedy Blvd), a marker honoring the hometown woman who was an anthropologist, folklorist, and distinguished writer during the Harlem Renaissance. Every winter the town stages the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts in memory of the writer who was born there.

Insider's Guide:
The Best of Architecture & Landmarks in
Orlando

The best view of Greater Orlando is seen from the top of SeaWorld Orlando's Sky Tower (7007 SeaWorld Drive). The passenger capsule takes six minutes to climb to the top of the 400-foot landmark. As it ascends, the capsule also rotates slowly to show its passengers a complete bird's eye view.

Numerous interesting buildings can be seen at ground level in downtown Orlando if you go on a scheduled or self-guided tour.

Visit the Well's Built Museum of African American History formerly called the Wells Built Hotel (511 W South St at Division St, 407-245-7535). Dr. William Wells, Orlando's first African-American physician, built the hotel in 1926 to provide lodging to African Americans during segregation, and famous former guests include Duke Ellington and Ray Charles.

Stop by the Old Orlando Railroad Depot (100-102 W Church St), a 21/2-story bricking building made for 19th-century railroad and hotel magnate Henry B. Plant during large-scale development in the area. The building is unique with its three-story corner tower and three-story open porch. The railroad reached Orlando in 1880, and the South Florida Railroad built this depot in 1889.

The Old Orange County Courthouse (65 E Central Blvd) was completed in 1927 at a cost of $1 million. It's the finest example of Beaux Arts architecture in the city. Rumor states that the building is home for two ghosts -- an 8-year-old girl who died close by and a prisoner who killed himself while being held in a jail cell awaiting his criminal sentence. The building also is home to the Orange County Regional History Center.

The City of Celebration (on Interstate 4 south of the Walt Disney World Resort) is a fast-growing Disney development that set out to capture the best of the old in a new town. Homes have front porches where neighbors sit out and wave to each other. You can walk to the shops, restaurants, parks and town center. Visit Market Street, which is the heart of the new "old" city.

The Historic Waterhouse Residence and Carpentry Shop and Museum (820 Lake Lily Drive, Maitland) features a fully-restored 1884 Victorian home. Its educational programs and period-correct buildings are designed to teach visitors about the Victorian period in America.

Need a break from the landmarks and architecture of Orlando? Check out the next page for suggestions on where to shop in Orlando.

With more high-rise condominiums being built, more people have moved back into the city, and that has encouraged more businesses, restaurants, shops, and theaters to cater to them. Many fine old buildings have been protected and restored. Greater Orlando, however, is really a city of separate communities, and many of these have buildings that are architectural gems.

College Park has changed little over the last decades, and its historic homes nestle among towering oaks. The nearby city of Winter Park boasts many Spanish-style buildings in and around the campus of Rollins College, which was founded in 1885 and is the oldest recognized college in Florida.

New residential developments, such as Baldwin Park and Thornton Park in Orlando, are models of how contemporary architecture and nature can blend.

Orlando's skyline has changed dramatically in recent years.
©2006 Orlando CVB
With many condos and other
buildings being built downtown,
Orlando's skyline has changed
dramatically in recent years.

Eatonville, north of Orlando, is one of the oldest all-Black towns to be formed after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and was the first to be incorporated. The town features the Zora Neale Hurston Monument (200 block of East Kennedy Blvd), a marker honoring the hometown woman who was an anthropologist, folklorist, and distinguished writer during the Harlem Renaissance. Every winter the town stages the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts in memory of the writer who was born there.

Insider's Guide:
The Best of Architecture & Landmarks in
Orlando

The best view of Greater Orlando is seen from the top of SeaWorld Orlando's Sky Tower (7007 SeaWorld Drive). The passenger capsule takes six minutes to climb to the top of the 400-foot landmark. As it ascends, the capsule also rotates slowly to show its passengers a complete bird's eye view.

Numerous interesting buildings can be seen at ground level in downtown Orlando if you go on a scheduled or self-guided tour.

Visit the Well's Built Museum of African American History formerly called the Wells Built Hotel (511 W South St at Division St, 407-245-7535). Dr. William Wells, Orlando's first African-American physician, built the hotel in 1926 to provide lodging to African Americans during segregation, and famous former guests include Duke Ellington and Ray Charles.

Stop by the Old Orlando Railroad Depot (100-102 W Church St), a 21/2-story bricking building made for 19th-century railroad and hotel magnate Henry B. Plant during large-scale development in the area. The building is unique with its three-story corner tower and three-story open porch. The railroad reached Orlando in 1880, and the South Florida Railroad built this depot in 1889.

The Old Orange County Courthouse (65 E Central Blvd) was completed in 1927 at a cost of $1 million. It's the finest example of Beaux Arts architecture in the city. Rumor states that the building is home for two ghosts -- an 8-year-old girl who died close by and a prisoner who killed himself while being held in a jail cell awaiting his criminal sentence. The building also is home to the Orange County Regional History Center.

The City of Celebration (on Interstate 4 south of the Walt Disney World Resort) is a fast-growing Disney development that set out to capture the best of the old in a new town. Homes have front porches where neighbors sit out and wave to each other. You can walk to the shops, restaurants, parks and town center. Visit Market Street, which is the heart of the new "old" city.

The Historic Waterhouse Residence and Carpentry Shop and Museum (820 Lake Lily Drive, Maitland) features a fully-restored 1884 Victorian home. Its educational programs and period-correct buildings are designed to teach visitors about the Victorian period in America.

Need a break from the landmarks and architecture of Orlando? Check out the next page for suggestions on where to shop in Orlando.