Naples was founded during the late 1880s by former Confederate general and Kentucky U.S. Senator John Stuart Williams and his partner,
Louisville businessman Walter N. Haldeman, the publisher of the Louisville Courier-Journal. Throughout the 1870s and '80s, magazine and newspaper stories telling of the area's mild climate and abundant fish and game likened it to the sunny Italian peninsula.
The name Naples caught on when promoters described the bay as "surpassing the bay in Naples, Italy". Major development was anticipated after the railroad reached
Naples on January 7, 1927 and the Tamiami Trail linking Naples to Miami was completed in 1928; but did not begin until after the Great Depression and World War II. During the war the Army Air Force built a small air field and used it for training purposes; it is now the Naples Municipal Airport.