The region was originally inhabited by the Tocobagan Indians. Colonists began to settle in the area in the 1830s. Dr. Odet Philippe, a French Count and once a French surgeon in Napoleon’s navy, was one of the first European’s to settle here. His plantation was built on the area that is now known as Philippe Park.
Fort Harrison was built in 1841 to support soldiers during the Seminole war. Shortly after the end of the war, the government encouraged occupation of the region through homesteading. Clear Water Harbor, as it was known during this time, was an agricultural and fishing community. The next decades saw slow growth.
In 1891, the place was incorporated as a town. Soon it became known as a tourist and resort area in the late 1800s, particularly after Henry B. Plant built the first passenger railroad line into the town in 1888 and the Belleview Biltmore resort in 1897.
It was reincorporated as a city in 1915. Clearwater Island, now Clearwater Beach, was only accessible by boat. A wooden bridge was built in 1916 that connected the mainland to its barrier island.
Development continued and tourism increased, and today they have a community of over 100,000 people.