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Looking Back: Southwest Florida from the air

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See larger Not many communities can say they look much the same now as they did in 1969. But environmentally conscious Sanibel can say that, and mean it. That is the Ding Darling Wildlife Preserve and Tarpon Bay at right. Captiva is off the top right of the photo.

Photo courtesy Art Ullmann of Naples

Not many communities can say they look much the same now as they did in 1969. But environmentally conscious Sanibel can say that, and mean it. That is the Ding Darling Wildlife Preserve and Tarpon Bay at right. Captiva is off the top right of the photo.

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  • Not many communities can say they look much the same now as they did in 1969. But environmentally conscious Sanibel can say that, and mean it. That is the Ding Darling Wildlife Preserve and Tarpon Bay at right. Captiva is off the top right of the photo.
  • In 1963, Pine Ridge Road crept eastward (center) then turned into a dirt amid farmland at then-Airport Road. The airport itself at top left is the other key landmark in this remarkable photo.
  • By the early 1960s, the Collier County Government Center anchored the corner of U.S. 41 East and Airport Road (now Airport-Pulling Road). Naples Municipal Airport is at top left, and row crops flourished in the urban area. Today the government center is undergoing an expansion as striking as the arrival of the county seat from Everglades City must have been in the pictured era.
  • What started on Marco Island in the early 1960s ground to a halt 20 years later when the U.S. Supreme Court barred the dredging-and-filling that made Marco what it is today. This was the scene in 1964 at the main gateway on and off the island with the canals at Marco Island Yacht Club. That would be Bald Eagle Drive at right and San Marco Road visible from left to right, above.
  • Clouds provide an artistic array of shadows in this westward view of East Naples and Naples from east of then-Airport Road and Naples Municipal Airport in 1965. Photo owner and archivist Art Ullmann of Naples observes the Brookside development had taken shape at the west end of Estey Avenue near center, to the south of the airport.
  • Can you guess where? Think not Naples. Think north. Think toward Bonita Springs. Think looking south. This is the view in early 1969 looking from above Bonita Shores and south to Wiggins Pass — pre-high rises. Now do you 'see' it?
  • This is one of the most fascinating old photos we have published over the past several years. Though it shows what is a hub of growth these days, it is seldom seen in aerials that have reached the Daily News. This is Pine Ridge Road in the late 1960s looking west, going past Goodlette-Frank Road and U.S. 41 toward the beach where Waterside Shops and The Registry Resort sit today. Note the light-colored, horizontal images at the northwest corner of Goodlette and Pine Ridge. Those are coops from the old egg farm.
  • Where in the world? This is North Naples looking southwest in 1962. That is Pine Ridge Road running diagonally from left to right. Points of interest include Naples Airport, top left, and the farmland that prospered in what is the urban area today. The sites for Park Shore and Pelican Bay, upper right, remain untouched.
  • The aerial looking north at Lovers Key shows what is today known as Dog Beach — one of the few public beaches in Lee and Collier counties where accompanied canines can legally enjoy the sand and surf. That is at New Pass. South of New Pass is Big Hickory Island. Eagled-eyed locals can spot the old entrance to Carl E. Johnson County Park, left of the Bonita Causeway, that has been abandoned in favor of a larger entrance to a combined state Lovers Key/Johnson park today. That is Fort Myers Beach across Big Carlos Pass — with no high-rises to be found at today's Lovers Key Resort site — to the north.
  • The Dunes villas/condo project consumes the forested land at left in the Vanderbilt Beach photo, which looks south through Vanderbilt Lagoon. The bare area at right is today's Baker Carroll Point, home to still more condos. The entrance to Delnor Wiggins Pass State Recreation Area is at middle right. The bare area on the left horizon is today's Pelican Bay. Look hard and you can see the east-west bridge under construction on Bluebill Avenue. That's Gulfshore Drive that heads north and south up and down the beach that looks very different today.
  • This is the heart of Naples as seen looking north exactly 40 years ago — in August 1965, five years after Hurricane Donna. Key landmarks are Eighth Street, running diagonally from top to bottom. Fifth Avenue South is hard to see, running left (west) to right just above center. Check Cambier Park and its Community Center; both look a lot different today. The water tower came down in 1977 to make way for today's City Hall.
  • The Iona-McGregor part of Fort Myers was a center for gladiolus farming when this photo, looking southwest, was taken in 1969. That's McGregor Boulevard from top to bottom at left, leading to Punta Rassa, which is at the foot of the Sanibel Causeway that continues on to Sanibel Island. That is Shell Point Boulevard veering right to the beginnings of the Shell Point Village retirement center.
  • The lake at left is at — you'll never believe this — Naples' Lowdermilk Park in the early 1960s. Key roads are Gulf Shore Boulevard, top to bottom; and Banyan Boulevard, foreground. The photo itself tells the rest of the story.
  • This is how Gulfshore Square, across from Naples' Lowdermilk Park, looked soon after completion in 1970. The office-retail complex now is expanding, and the parts seen here (looking east) are nearly demolished. The new residential/commercial product will be called Charleston Square.
  • Here is a truly vintage shot of central Naples, looking southeast, featuring Naples Community Hospital. U.S. 41 is one block above or to the east of NCH, starting at Fourth Avenue North at left and running to Central Avenue at the right edge of the photo. The Gordon River is barely visible in white in the upper left corner. The undated photo — made by the Thomas McGrath studio and found in the Daily News files — appears to be circa 1960.
  • This was The Moorings neighborhood in 1968, well under way as Park Shore was getting started to the north (right). The curved road is Wedge Drive. U.S. 41 is at the extreme lower right tip of photo. Black object in middle foreground is part of the photographer's plane.
  • The year: 1970. The place: Naples High School (center) and vicinity. The football field remains in the same place but the rest of the campus now is reconfigured. A golf driving range is at left (now Gateway Shopping Center). Today's Coastland Center mall site is center, foreground. U.S. 41 is at left; Goodlette-Frank Road at right. Note the curved road and golf course at upper left.
  • 	In 1968 this is how a Collier landmark looked east of Naples. It's today's Port of the Islands resort, then known as Remuda Ranch. This view looks south toward the section which today features a vibrant neighborhood of condos and houses. Though not seen, U.S. 41 would run left to right — east to west — in this photo. The old inn area today is attempting yet another renaissance as condos and a convention center.
  • This is a fascinating photo for several reasons. One is the circa 1970 image of the Wiggins Pass Marina, which will become condominiums and a private yacht club north of Naples and south of Bonita Springs. That is Vanderbilt Drive from left to right. The road leading from U.S. 41 near the top of the photo directly to the old marina is Wiggins Pass Road. All of the people who now live and work in the area on either side of Wiggins Pass Road will want this photo as a souvenir.
  • This shows another waterfront vista from about 1961 — the Brookside neighborhood in East Naples. North Road and Naples Municipal Airport is at upper left. U.S. 41 runs from left to right below, with Davis Boulevard heading east off the right side of the photo. That’s a tiny real estate office amid a cleared lot on the north side of the intersection, where there are hotels and restaurants now. The rest of the Davis Triangle is starting to take shape. The Royal Harbor area would be of the bottom of the photo, to the south.
  • Ho, ho, ho. This was the view from Santa’s sleigh in 1957 as Seagate on the northern edge of the city of Naples was taking shape. The highlights of this vantage point today would be the former Registry Resort (now Naples Grande) and Pelican Bay; both would be to the left. The beach and Gulf are in foreground.
  • This 1953-54 photo is unusual. It shows Port Royal in its earliest years, looking north from Gordon Pass. Vast mansions rise from these rough-cut streets and cleared lots today. Readers can clearly see that most of Port Royal remained to be carved, dredged and filled — to the condition it is in today.
  • The year: 1971. The view: southeast from the site of the Regency Towers condominium in Naples north of Doctors Pass (see jetty at top right). The price of a condo back then: $83,000. This is the back of a sales brochure, with the site shown in a white rectangle above the company logo. The tree-lined Verdado Way beach access/parking lot is easily seen at center.

Enjoy these aerial views of Southwest Florida of yesteryear.

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