Paul S. George


When Henry M. Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) steamed into Miami in April 1896, Florida was already on its way to becoming a tourist haven. With its salubrious climate and primeval setting, the state was, for many visitors a veritable paradise, an accessible Eden. This image was timeless. William Bartram, in his eighteenth-century account of a visit to Florida, described the area as “A blessed unviolated spot of earth . . . [a] blissful garden.” 1 Florida remained remote to most northerners until the middle of the nineteenth century, when a small stream of visitors began arriving, many of whom were invalids lured by stories of the curative powers of the Sunshine State, as well as sportsmen attracted by Florida’s bountiful supply of game and fish.