Fifth Avenue served Naples’ original residents, the Calusa Indians, as a canal connecting the Naples Bay with the Gulf.
It wasn’t until the late 1800s that it actually became a road. In 1923, the Ed Frank Garage was the first commercial building on Fifth; and the first bank opened 26 years later.
From the 1950s to the 1970s, the six-block-long Avenue served as Naples’ main street with a grocery store, bank, hardware store, pharmacy, gas station and restaurants. By the late 1970s, however, the mall began to replace downtown as the place to shop, and downtown’s main street became deserted.
In 1996, Fifth Avenue South joined the Florida Main Street Program, and officials created a master plan with the help of Miami urban planner Andres Duany. Deteriorated one-story buildings were razed and replaced with two- and three-story buildings featuring a mix of historic and contemporary Mediterranean-style architecture.Today, the Avenue spans 12 blocks and 50 buildings and includes the Bayfront and Tin City shopping and dining complexes.
5th Avenue’s success has made it a role model for other downtown’s, the perfect combination of retail and cultural activities all in a charming gathering place.
There are several guided tours for groups in Olde Naples including a backstage look at the Sugden Theater, an art gallery talk with lunch at a café, an afternoon botanical tour of the Hotel Escalante, and shopping. A gift bag of goodies from our local upscale shops will leave you with memories of your day down on 5th Ave in Naples Florida.