Monday, March 5, 2012

Lake Eola

Lake Eola

March 2, 2012. Lake Eola.

For those who live in Orlando, there is probably no more iconic spot than the fountain in Lake Eola.

At Lake Eola, you'll see farmers' markets, Shakespearean theatre, weddings, funerals, joggers, dogs, lawyers, bicyclists, the homeless and the downtrodden, and a large population of city supported black and white swans that will be the subject of my next three posts. Lake Eola is our Central Park; our English Gardens; our Borghese Gardens; our National Mall; our wide open space where the city comes together in all its disjointed pieces.

According to local legend, it is also the place where Orlando got its name.

Originally, Orlando was known as Jernigan after a prominent cattle family in the area. It became Orlando in 1857. There are two versions to the story. I'll relate the official version endorsed by the city first, followed by what I consider the more likely story.

According to the city, Orlando got its name from a soldier named Orlando Reeves in the Seminole War who was killed on the banks of what is now Lake Eola in 1835. The problem is that there are absolutely no records that a soldier named Orlando Reeves ever existed. Some have tried to explain around this fact by pointing out that it may have been a landowner in the area called Orlando Rees, an associate of John James Audubon, but the dates of death are all wrong to fit with the legend.

Another version of the story is that the name was chosen by Judge T. G. Speer, who arranged for Orlando to become the county seat through some creative vote manipulation. Judge Speer was a huge Shakespeare fan and named the city after his favorite character in "As You Like It." This version is very well documented by his descendants, and it also helps explain the naming of Rosalind Avenue.

In either case, the remnants of both legends live side by side in Lake Eola Park. The road in the background of this shot is Rosalind. The teal Walt Disney Amphitheater to the left in the picture is the original home of the Orlando Shakespeare Festival, overlooking a bird sanctuary lake that would have made Audubon and his friend Orlando Rees proud.

Leica X1. 24.0 mm. 1/250. f/8.0. ISO 100. LR 2.

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