Jesus Mendez


William Drysdale was a fixture in newspaper circles of New York City in the late nineteenth century, a reporter and writer whose powers of observation and social commentary made him equally at home covering famous legal battles of the time or describing his travels over many years in the United States, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe. Fortunately for Florida, some of Drysdale's best literary pages chronicled important decades for the young state that would eventually build its fortune and its future on tourism. For 24 years, he wrote, often under the thinly disguised pseudonym of "W.D.", more than 380 signed newspaper articles, contributed to weekly and monthly journals, and published 17 books-eight of them fiction. Of this sizable literary output, more than 50 articles or travel letters in the New York Times were devoted solely to Florida during the 1880s and 1890s. Drysdale's travel articles on Florida helped create a winter tourism bond between New York and the Sunshine State which has remained firmly in place for more than one hundred years. More important, Drysdale's letters cover a period when travel to Florida transitioned from a wilderness adventure jaunt in a barely settled frontier area into a pleasurable and comfortable upper and upper middle class journey to a fashionable winter resort destination. His travel letters are, arguably, not only the most important and complete first-hand account we have of the landscape, protagonists, and events at a pivotal juncture in the state's history, but they also reflect the changing views towards the region by both the author and his readers within the context of tourism in a broadly-defined geographic region.