Differently from Margherita which arose on a site that had already been inhabited, San Ferdinando is a true founded city. The project was very much wanted and was carried out in 1848 by Ferdinando II, King of Naples, grandson of Ferdinando IV who, in 1770, founded the royal colonies of Orta, Ordona, Stornara, Stornarella and Carapelle on lands belonging to the royal Court. The foundation project concludes, in a certain sense, that process typical of the Enlightenment based on agrarian and social reform and on important land reclamation projects.
San Ferdinando was founded to render productive, with specialised crops, large portions of land bound by the exploitation of transhumant stock-raising, and, at the same time, to host part of the saltworkers who lived in the city close to the salt-works. It was the King himself, in person, who underwrote the project and lay the first stone of this city with its rigorously geometric layout. Naturally, the productive character of San Ferdinando is still strong today: its agricultural production is highly specialised (it is famous for peaches and, above all, artichokes and holds an important, national-level artichoke fair), while the city's layout has allowed for a regular and airy evolution of the residential area, as well as the creation of an industrial area devoted, prevalently, to the transformation of foodstuffs.