Industrial Revolution: Florida Related History Railroad

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Industrial Revolution: Florida Related History


Henry B. Plant: was involved with many transportation projects, mostly railroads, in theU.S. state of Florida. Eventually he owned the Plant System of railroads which became part of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. Plant City, located near Tampa, was named after him.

William Chipley: was an American railroad tycoon and statesman. He created two railroads in the Florida Panhandle and served one term as mayor of Pensacola, Florida and in the Florida State Senate.

Henry Flagler: was an American industrialist and a founder of Standard Oil. He was also a key figure in the development of the Atlantic coast of Florida and founder of what became the Florida East Coast Railway. He is known as the father of Miami, Florida, and founded the city of Palm Beach.

Bridge to the Florida Keys: The Keys were long accessible only by water. This changed with the completion of Henry Flagler's Overseas Railway in the early 1910s. Flagler, a major developer of Florida's Atlantic coast, extended his Railway down to Key West with an ambitious series of over-sea railroad trestles. Three hurricanes disrupted the project in1906, 1909, and 1910.

The cattle industry:

In the years of the Civil War Florida became a large cattle state after Texas was cut off from the Confederacy. When the fall of the South seemed imminent the state would sell much of its cattle to Cuba. The level of cattle would remain low after this until after the 1920s as there was a tick problem in Florida. In the 1930s there would be improved pasture, breeding programs, and nutritional research which would return the industry to Florida.

The cigar industry/The influence of Cuban

Ybor City's top factories made high-quality, hand-rolled cigars, each crafted by a skilled artisan using "Clear Havana" tobacco from the Vuelta Abajo region of Cuba. The skilled cigarmakers, mostly Spanish, were well paid, based upon their skills and speed. They often were in charge of the all-important apprenticeship system training new artisans. Cigarmakers were paid $28.00 per 1,000 for the top perfecto brand cigars while the inexpensive cherutos cigars often commanded a price of just $8.00 per thousand in 1910. Custom jobs were only done by top artisans since the reputation of the brand was impacted by these famous customers. The skilled cigarmakers had a great deal of economic and social power until the 1930's, for they could always be recruited by other firms. They selected their own hours and often left the factories to dine on Seventh Avenue or visit a club.

Greek and Italian immigrant:

Tarpon Springs The first Greek immigrants arrived in this city during the 1880s, when they were hired to work as divers in the growing sponge harvesting industry.

Ybor City: It was founded in the 1880s by cigar manufacturers and was populated by thousands of immigrants, mainly from Spain, Cuba, and Italy. For the next 50 years, workers in Ybor City's cigar factories would roll millions of cigars annually. Italians entered the cigar making industry at the lowest ladder, often working in small factories. Salaries in such jobs were insufficient for most and they found jobs in retail commerce.

George Proctor: A small number of African people gained their freedom before the Civil War. Among the free black population in Florida was the prosperous Tallahassee builder George Proctor. Proctor built several homes in Tallahassee that still stand today. Proctor was an exception; free blacks made up only a small percentage of the African-American population in Florida before the Civil War.

Thomas DeSaille Tucker: was an African-born lawyer, educator, and missionary. He was the first president of the State Normal College for Colored Students, which eventually became Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. (FAMU was a Morrill Land Grant College)

Hamilton Disston: was an industrialist and real-estate developer who purchased four million acres (16,000 km²) of Florida land in 1881, an area larger than the state of Connecticut, and reportedly the most land ever purchased by a single person in world history. Hamilton Disston's investment in the infrastructure of Florida spurred growth throughout the state. His related efforts to drain the Everglades triggered the state's first land boom with numerous towns and cities established through the area. Disston's land purchase and investments were directly responsible for creating or fostering the towns of Kissimmee, St. Cloud, Gulfport, Tarpon Springs, and indirectly aided the rapid growth of St. Petersburg, Florida. He furthermore oversaw the successful cultivation of rice and sugarcane near the Kissimmee area. he was ultimately unsuccessful in draining the Kissimmee River floodplain or lowering the surface water around Lake Okeechobee and in the Everglades. He was forced to sell much of his investments at a fraction of their original costs. However, his land purchase primed Florida's economy and allowed railroad magnates Henry Flagler and Henry Plant to build rail lines down the east coast of Florida, and another joining the west coast, which directly led to the domination of the tourist and citrus industries in Florida.

Florida Development

During the final quarter of the nineteenth century, large-scale commercial agriculture in Florida, especially cattle-raising, grew in importance. Industries such as cigar manufacturing took root in the immigrant communities of the state.

Potential investors became interested in enterprises that extracted resources from the water and land. These extractive operations were as widely diverse as sponge harvesting in Tarpon Springs and phosphate mining in the southwestern part of the state. The Florida citrus industry grew rapidly, despite occasional freezes and economic setbacks. The development of industries throughout the state prompted the construction of roads and railroads on a large scale.

Beginning in the 1870s, residents from northern states visited Florida as tourists to enjoy the state's natural beauty and mild climate. Steamboat tours on Florida's winding rivers were a popular attraction for these visitors.

The growth of Florida's transportation industry had its origins in 1855, when the state legislature passed the Internal Improvement Act. Like legislation passed by several other states and the federal government, Florida's act offered cheap or free public land to investors, particularly those interested in transportation. The act, and other legislation like it, had its greatest effect in the years between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of World War I. During this period, many railroads were constructed throughout the state by companies owned by Henry Flagler and Henry B. Plant, who also built lavish hotels near their railroad lines. The Internal Improvement Act stimulated the initial efforts to drain the southern portion of the state in order to convert it to farmland.

These development projects had far-reaching effects on the agricultural, manufacturing, and extractive industries of late-nineteenth-century Florida. The citrus industry especially benefitted, since it was now possible to pick oranges in south Florida; put them on a train heading north; and eat them in Baltimore, Philadelphia, or New York in less than a week.

In 1898 national attention focused on Florida, as the Spanish-American War began. The port city of Tampa served as the primary staging area for U.S. troops bound for the war in Cuba. Many Floridians supported the Cuban peoples' desire to be free of Spanish colonial rule.

By the turn of the century, Florida's population and per capita wealth were increasing rapidly; the potential of the "Sunshine State" appeared endless. By the end of World War I, land developers had descended on this virtual gold mine. With more Americans owning automobiles, it became commonplace to vacation in Florida. Many visitors stayed on, and exotic projects sprang up in southern Florida. Some people moved onto land made from drained swamps. Others bought canal-crossed tracts through what had been dry land. The real estate developments quickly attracted buyers, and land in Florida was sold and resold. Profits and prices for many developers reached inflated levels.

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