When you first come to Naples, the roads and streets can be a bit confusing. It may actually seem that no one competent, surely no traffic engineer, was ever consulted to build or help name any street in the whole of Collier County. You may be asking yourself why U.S. 41 changes to 9th Street when you turn a corner, was anyone in charge when someone named a road Rattlesnake Hammock Road or Barefoot Williams Road, why can you be driving on Gulf Shore Boulevard, turn a corner and you are now on Mooring Line Drive……what is all this about? Or, as you are driving north or south on any particular road, why do street names change from the name of a street on one side of the road, i.e. Neapolitan Way and on the other side of the road you see a sign for Granada Boulevard? Why do locals talk about Four Corners and 951……….you cannot find any reference to these places on a map.
So, let this act as a primer on the streets and avenues of Naples. For now, let’s leave Interstate-75 alone except to say that there are four exits in Naples…….travelling from the north they are Immokalee Road (which leads east to the town of Immokalee), Pine Ridge Road (which starts at the Gulf and leads east into Golden Gate, Golden Gate Boulevard (which goes west to 9th Street and the Coastland Mall or east into Golden Gate ), and Davis Boulevard exit which takes you to either Golden Gate, East Naples or Marco depending on your direction of travel. This exit at Davis Boulevard is Exit 100…………significant in that it is 100 miles from here east to Ft. Lauderdale……….the interstate here becomes a toll road with very few exits, gas or amenities. but you will be driving through the Everglades, a unique and spectacular habitat.
If you begin your mental journey in Tampa and do NOT use the interstate, you will be travelling on U.S. 41 aka the Tamiami Trail. This road was the original link from Tampa to Miami and is still referred to as The Trail, Tamiami Trail or 41 (in Naples proper, it is also 9th Street)…………locals call it the Trail or 41……..this is a critical piece of information as this road, even with its overload of traffic lights is the commercial link from the north from Ft. Myers, Bonita and north Naples to downtown Fifth Avenue, East Naples and east to the Everglades and Miami (also 100 miles away). The Trail (also U.S. 41 and 9th Street) runs basically north to south until you make the turn in downtown Naples at Four Corners and head east and south to East Naples.
The original part of Naples, also called Old Naples, is laid out on a grid with numbered Streets running north and south and numbered Avenues running west from the Gulf of Mexico to east. Central Avenue, home of the downtown library, is the beginning of the Avenues to the north and south. The first of the Streets running north and south along the Gulf is also called Gulf Shore Boulevard. Once you have mastered the downtown addresses, you will be able to impress your friends—maybe even a spouse—-with your incredible ability to locate all things Naples, or at least all things downtown Naples.
Let’s talk briefly about Four Corners………….it is that important intersection where Fifth Avenue, a major downtown destination for restaurants and shopping, and the Trail or U.S. 41—-or 9th Street—-meet. There is a traffic light here that is historically interesting because it was the first traffic light in Naples. If you lived here in the 1950’s or 1960’s, there was ONE traffic light in Naples and it was here at Four Corners! Try to imagine a town so sleepy that traffic did not yet need to be “managed.”
Get a map…..they are everywhere…….one good source is my office at Coldwell Banker, 550-Fifth Avenue South…..ask for me……that new knowledge of the downtown layout is already proving useful, right?? Then, start walking or driving…………turn off the GPS, have fun exploring OUR town!
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