The town was originally named Disston City in 1884 when Hamilton Disston purchased land here. The United States Postal Service would not recognize the name as it conflicted with a town in Hillsborough County. Instead, it was named Bonifacio. In 1890, the town name was changed to Veteran City. Finally, in 1910, the name officially changed to Gulfport.
Gulfport is distinguished by its high concentration of artisans inspired by the intense light and tropical scenery, enhanced by the swaying palms. A celebration the first Friday and third Saturday of each month called "Art Walk" attracts locals and tourists. Many street performers, artists and craftspeople show up to create a relaxed cultured atmosphere in the warm balmy evening breezes coming off the beach at the end of the street. A free trolley runs all around Gulfport to stop at restaurants, clubs and points of interest.
Gulfport Casino on the beach is a venue for live theatrical performances, dance and many other activities. Teams assemble nearby for beach volleyball, while others enjoy picnics with tots on park swings.
Stetson University Law School, founded in 1900, is located in Gulfport (having moved there in 1954 from its original location in DeLand).
There were 6,246 households out of which 16.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.3% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 49.5% were non-families. 39.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.98 and the average family size was 2.63.
In the city the population was spread out with 15.8% under the age of 18, 5.5% from 18 to 24, 24.9% from 25 to 44, 25.7% from 45 to 64, and 28.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 47 years. For every 100 females there were 88.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $28,809, and the median income for a family was $37,016. Males had a median income of $25,756 versus $23,347 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,801. About 9.5% of families and 13.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.2% of those under age 18 and 8.2% of those age 65 or over.