The many responses to Freedom magazine (published by the Church of Scientology) from local Clearwater residents show that our readers are interested in Clearwater and want to know more about it. Many residents expressed an interest in the colorful history of our city. Thus, Freedom magazine printed a multi-part series on the history of Clearwater, covering the discovery of what became known as Clear Water Harbor by early settlers through World War II. Because of the overwhelmingly popularity of that series, we are reprinting it in full on this web site.
As Clearwater moved into the 1890s, it took on more features of an organized town. In 1891, it was incorporated as a municipality, and schoolteacher James E. Crane became the first mayor. Also taking office was Thomas J. Sheridan, Clearwater’s first city clerk.
By 1895, Clearwater boasted two paved thoroughfares—Cleveland Street from the harbor to the small Orange Belt Railroad station, and Fort Harrison Avenue from Cleveland to a point south of Clearwater’s first Methodist church. The streets were paved with ground shells removed from an old Indian mound near the harbor. Cleveland street was widened from 40 feet to 80 feet in 1896, and a clay road was extended to the entrance of the Belleview Biltmore Hotel grounds at Belleair.
Originally known as Clearwater Island, what is today known as Clearwater Beach was accessible only by boat at the that time. The first homesteads there dated from 1883.