Downtown Orlando History & Culture
Orlando was an agricultural town (oranges, pineapples, and celery, mostly), with some light industrial made possible by the railroad. That all changed, of course, when Walt Disney discovered a swamp he could turn into a global empire. With Disney World (and a million other amusements, some even older) came tourists, and the economy has been booming almost ever since. Perhaps because of the theme parks, Orlando has attracted and retained a very creative energy, so arts of all varieties — high- and lowbrow, serious and surreal — are the lifeblood of the community. Buildings are decorated with murals, and playhouses, live music clubs, and art galleries are filled nightly. The downtown doesn’t empty out early like other cities’ “financial districts,” staying alive with its bars and nightclubs until the wee hours.