“Near legendary figures of Florida’s development included John Collins, who created Miami Beach from mangrove swamps and salt marshes in the 1920s. His efforts were furthered by Carl G. Fisher, an Indiana native. Nearby to the south, George E. Merrick promoted Coral Gables, a planned community featuring Mediterranean architecture and distinguished by an artful blending of exotic landscaping and canals. Northward lay Hollywood, another designed community founded in 1921 by Joseph W. Young and his California associates. Even farther north, Addison Mizner, an extraordinary promoter architect, designed homes for the wealthy at Palm Beach. His Mediterranean style was enhanced by the use of pastel colors – utilitarian in combating the sun’s rays and aesthetic in their soft-hued variety. Backed by eastern millionaires, Mizner’s most ambitious project was Boca Raton. Unfortunately, he feel victim to the collapse of the land boom, and his corporation failed in 1926.
Elsewhere, other projects transformed the state. the distance between Tampa and St. Petersburg was more than halved by George S. Gandy’s toll bridge, erected with financial assistance from St. Petersburg promoter Eugene M. Elliott. In Tampa, D.P. “Doc” Davis converted three land spits into the lucrative Davis Islands network, but another Davis effort failed at St. Augustine with the end of the land boom. Orlando’s growth resulted from the early work of H. Carl Dann.”
John S. Collins, a Quaker from New Jersey, founded Miami Beach in 1915. His efforts were furthered by Carl G. Fisher, a Yankee from Indiana, who PBS labeled “Mr. Miami Beach.” Henry Flagler, a railroad baron from New York, founded Palm Beach in 1909. Julia Tuttle, a Yankee from Ohio, founded Miami in 1896.
George E. Merrick of Pennsylvania was the promoter and founder of Coral Gables in 1925. Addison Mizner of California founded Boca Raton in 1926 and was the developer of much of Florida’s “Gold Coast.” Joseph Young of California founded Hollywood during the Florida Land Boom in 1921. John A. Williams, a Yankee from Michigan, founded St. Petersburg in 1888. “General” Henry Sanford, a Yankee from Connecticut, founded Sanford in 1877. Hamilton Disston, a Yankee from Pennsylvania, drained the swampland and was the founder of Kissimmee in 1883.
Tampa and Orlando were sleepy villages during the antebellum era. Their commercial development was also driven by Yankees and foreigners – in Tampa, the Cuban cigar manufacturer Vicente Ybor and the Yankee railroad baron Henry Bradley Plant; in Orlando, no one had a greater impact on the area than Walt Disney of California whose brother opened Walt Disney World in 1971.
In 1960, Florida was 82 percent White, but this figure masks the phenomenon we are calling “Southern Demographic Displacement,” which was well underway by the 1870s and 1880s. In particular, the real estate industry, the tourism industry, and the citrus and winter vegetable industries – key drivers of changing demographics – were well established in Florida long before the Immigration Act of 1965.
In Florida, the “New South” philosophy of promoting economic growth at all costs – a regional worldview which was hardly unique to Florida, and which is more associated with Atlanta’s promoter Henry W. Grady – collided with a unique of set of circumstances which set Florida on the course it has traveled down to the present day.
After the War Between the States, Florida’s peninsula was still a sparsely populated frontier zone. It was developed by Northern capitalists in pretty much the same way that the American West was opened to settlement by the railroads. The State of Florida fostered this intense development by Northern capitalists too by making sure that Florida didn’t have an inheritance tax or an income tax.
Unlike other Southern states, Florida has 1,350 miles of coastline. It has a semi-tropical climate that is nearly frost free in much of the state. Starting in the 1870s and 1880s, Florida’s boosters went out of their way to promote their state’s sunshine and balmy climate to winter-weary Northerners in the hope of exploiting tourism dollars as just another “crop.” The Dixie Highway was built in between 1915 and 1927 to connect Florida with Chicago and the Midwest.
“Southern Demographic Displacement” in Florida owes more to this sort of Chamberpot-of-Commerceism run amok than almost anything … almost anything else, with the notable exception of US immigration and refugee policies.