In the 2002 film, Sunshine State, writer and director John Sayles fictionalizes the recent history of Amelia Island, Florida. Sayles tells the tale of how unscrupulous developers attempted to acquire the most valuable beachfront properties from local African-American residents to build condominiums and golf courses, transforming Florida's weather and environment into a commodity to be sold to northern retirees and vacationers. Like the developers in Sunshine State, the Amelia Island Plantation sold dreams of "nature on a leash."1 Beginning in the early 1970s, the Amelia Island Plantation and its planners imposed a meticulously crafted, and prohibitively exclusive, version of living with Florida's nature. The following study suggests that the late twentieth-century development of Amelia Island was both unique and part of a broader history of tourism and development in Florida. More specifically, it argues that the efforts to build in accordance with principles of ecology, though inherently problematic and potentially as environmentally destructive as development elsewhere in the state, made Amelia Island a unique case study for thinking about the future of Florida's development.
Cosby, Patrick H.
"Nature on a Leash: Tourism, Development, and the Environment on Amelia Island, Florida,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 92:
4, Article 6.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol92/iss4/6