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9 things I underlined in the piece set for Perspective in Sunday's Times about always growing Florida by the always interesting Gary Mormino



Read it yet? Here.

1. For centuries, Florida was too remote, hot, wet, sparsely populated and poor to be taken seriously. Florida performed the role of a colonial economy, shipping winter vegetables and citrus to imperial New York, while purchasing cast-iron stoves and GE refrigerators made in Buffalo and Schenectady. In 1900, New York, the nation's largest state, boasted 7.3 million residents. Florida, meanwhile, accounted for barely a half-million inhabitants. On the eve of Pearl Harbor, New York's mastery of finance, industry and shipping buoyed the Empire State's population to 13.5 million residents. Florida, the smallest state in the South, had not yet topped the 2 million plateau.

2. Pearl Harbor changed everything.

3. Before tourists became residents, a revolution in expectations had to occur. New York's Ellis Island was a birthplace of the American dream. Miami Beach and St. Petersburg, Sun City and the Villages, were birthplaces of the Florida dream.

4. In modern Florida, Isaiah's prophecies came true: hot was made cold, wet became dry, and crooked rivers bent straight.

5. Imagine a soothsayer in 1940 prophesizing that sleepy Brevard County (population 16,142) would become the rocket capital of the world.

6. A bellwether state, today's Florida grapples with the complexities of multiculturalism, immigration, aging and development — salient issues facing all Americans. But has Florida earned the respect, the gravitas expected of a megastate? In 2008, Time magazine's Michael Grunwald asked, "Is Florida the Sunset State?" noting the state's myriad problems. "The question is whether it will grow up."

7. The question is not new. In 1943, the Miami writer and critic Philip Wylie pondered the future. "We haven't asked people to live here," he wrote. "We've asked them to visit."

8. Will America's soon-to-be third largest state become a model showing the nation how to manage growth, restore ecosystems and balance generations of diverse citizens into a common cause? Will the challenge of global warming simply overwhelm a state with a thousand miles of coastline, or will the crisis serve as a rallying cry?

9. What does Florida do? Florida grows.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The first book I read after taking a job at the Times eight and a half years back was Mormino's Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams: A Social History of Modern Florida. It was, and remains, very much worth the read if you live in this state and care at all about your place in space and time.

[Last modified: Friday, January 3, 2014 3:36pm]


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