Brief History of Naples as a Destination
Naples has been a town known by many names. It was first known as Nundawao, a Native American settlement with over 100 individuals who cultivated the prosperous land. With European settlement in the late 1700s, the area soon became known as Watkinstown, and later Middletown, before the name of Naples eventually stuck.
The area’s idyllic landscape and growing wine industry drew day-trippers from nearby urban areas. As the automobile grew in population, the area of Naples became more accessible to visitors, and became a popular tourist destination.
The unique character of Naples with its breathtaking nature and quaint downtown village continues to make the area a top destination for locals and visitors alike.
Naples, and the Finger Lakes in general, are well-known for their many excellent vineyards. The earliest evidence of grape growing in the region dates back to 1829 in Hammondsport. Farmers in the area learned quickly that grapes grew well and plentiful in this region, and vineyards spread quickly, especially around Keuka and Canandaigua Lakes. The earliest vineyard in Naples was owned by E. A. McKay and was in operation as early as 1848. By the mid-20th Century, Naples had become so associated with grapes and wine that it began hosting the Naples Grape Festival in 1961. The event, which takes place in September, regularly draws tens of thousands of guests.
If you prefer beer, Naples and the area in general also have many excellent breweries. Although the modern craft-beer scene is a relatively recent trend, Ontario County has a long history of growing hops – an essential ingredient for brewing beer. Though the industry started modestly in the early 19th Century, by the mid-19th Century New York was the largest producer of hops in the nation. In 1879 New York produced over 21 million pounds of hops. Within the state, Ontario County was the 7th largest producer of hops. Nowadays, the area’s connection to the brewing industry has manifested in the many excellent craft breweries, such as Naples Brewing Company.
Naples of Yesteryear
Photos of Naples and the lake from years past.
1967 Naples Grape Festival Bike Race
We digitized a 16mm film of the 1967 Naples Grape Festival Bike Race. As you can see in the film, shared below, the race brought participants up from downtown Naples to Roseland Amusement Park in Canandaigua. Some famous landmarks of Naples and Canandaigua can be seen in this unearthed footage! Watch the video here!
Test Your Naples Knowledge