Fort Pierce is one of the oldest communities on Florida’s east coast and is one of the major cities of St Lucie County along with its southern bigger city counterpart, Port St Lucie. Currently, the waterfront city of Fort Pierce has a population of about 41,993 and is situated on the Indian River just north of West Palm Beach by 50 miles…read more
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Directly on the Treasure Coast, Fort Pierce is home to a charming, restored downtown district as well as numerous educational and research facilities, including Indian River State College and the Smithsonian Marine Station. This area is a fisherman’s paradise with its boating on the Fort Pierce Inlet being a major contributor to the area’s economy. Plus if you love grapefruits, this area is number one in the state’s production.
Fort Pierce gets its name from the Second Seminole War fort established on Jan. 2, 1838 and built by Lt. Colonel K. Benjamin Pierce, brother of President Franklin Pierce. When the city was incorporated in 1901, the residents chose the name Fort Pierce. The city became the headquarters for a number of fish processing houses, and was a collecting point for cattle drives. The city was forming and when Flagler located his rail maintenance yards because it was half way between St. Augustine and Key West, businesses and banks flocked in to take advantage of the permanent payrolls and Fort Pierce became the economic center of what is now the Treasure Coast.
During World War II, Fort Pierce was home to the U.S. Naval Amphibious Training Station where the famed Underwater Demolition Teams or “Frogmen” were trained. Today it is the site of the only National UDT/SEAL Museum, a federal facility which grew out of the work for the St Lucie Historical Society, St Lucie Historical Commission and the St Lucie County Commission.
For a while, the rapid growth of Port St Lucie to the south caused economic growth to slow, but today, the city is rebounding with a rehabilitated Sunrise Theater anchoring a collection of cultural facilities including the A.E. Backus Art Gallery, the restored P.P. Cobb building, a new marina, Historical Museum and a rapidly growing modern downtown.