Friday, August 19, 2016

The American Riviera

In 1884 Henry M. Flagler, sometimes known as a captain of industry, came to St. Augustine, Florida. It was during that visit when he purchased some marsh land within the city gates of St. Augustine, filled it up and built Ponce de Leon Hotel. A couple years later he purchased a small stretch of track from Jacksonville to St. Augustine. This small track would eventually stretch all the way down to Key West.

Flagler purchased land to build his railroad but to also build hotels. "In fact, whenever a town was platted, arrangements were contemporaneously made to supply a church and a school--and he was not particular as to the denomination of the religion to be supplied." Flagler did not finish this work by the end of the 19th century but he wasn't too farway from it's completion. He reached Miami by the end of the century and completed on to Key West in 1912.

There is much to read about Flagler and the growth of Florida. Here's how Nevin O. Winter in his book "Florida" © 1918, began his chapter on the American Riviera.

"The east coast of Florida has already developed into one of the famous playgrounds of the world. Because of the influence of the Gulf Stream, it enjoys unusual natural advantages, and there is a splendid equability of temperature. There is a general absence of foggy and rainy days, a preponderance of sunshine, and an opportunity for sea bathing every day in the year without joining the " polar club." Although the summers are long, the extreme heat is less than would naturally be expected, and the nights are almost invariably pleasant."

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