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Is Florida about to sell itself in a way it's never sold itself before?


Florida DOT




That's saying a lot. Florida is tourism. Well, real estate, too. "I'm just sellin' orange juice," former Gov. Claude Kirk once said. Now current Gov. Rick Scott, who likes a round number, wants to lure 100 million tourists with 100 million bucks. Last year's Visit Florida budget: $63.5 million. The year before that: $54 million. Before that: $34.9 million. Before that: $31.9 million. Before that: $28.5 million. All this doesn't include the fancy, $2.8-million, South Carolina-like welcome signs that are coming to a few key state-border mile-markers. The Sunshine State is the Sell-Me State.

I've been doing some reading about the '20s of late.

Here's something I underlined in Frederick Lewis Allen's Only Yesterday:

Throughout Florida resounded the slogans and hyperboles of boundless confidence. The advertising columns shrieked with them, those swollen advertising columns which enabled the Miami Daily News, one day in the summer of 1925, to print an issue of 504 pages, the largest in newspaper history, and enabled the Miami Herald to carry a larger volume of advertising in 1925 than any paper anywhere had ever before carried in a year. Miami was not only "The Wonder City," it was also "The Fair White Goddess of Cities," "The World's Playground," and "The City Invincible." Fort Lauderdale became "The Tropical Wonderland," Orlando "The City Beautiful," and Sanford "The City Substantial."

Daily the turgid stream of rhetoric poured forth to the glory of Florida. It reached its climax, perhaps, in the joint Proclamation issued by the mayors of Miami, Miami Beach, Hialeah, and Coral Gables (who modestly referred to their county as "the most Richly Blessed Community of the most Bountifully Endowed State of the most Highly Enterprising People of the Universe"), setting forth the last day of 1925 and the first two days of 1926 as "The Fiesta of the American Tropics" -- "our Season of Fiesta when Love, Good Fellowship, Merrymaking, and Wholesome Sport shall prevail throught Our Domains."

Here's something I underlined in Nathan Miller's New World Coming:

Americans were enticed to Florida by massive advertising campaigns in newspapers, magazines, and on the radio. ... Observers explained the Florida phenomenon in a variety of ways. Exclusive resorts for the wealthy and socially elect such as Palm Beach and St. Augustine had already put the state in the public eye. Florida was relatively accessible by automobile and by train, and the winter climate was perfect for easy living. With the economy booming, middle-class Americans had, for the first time, money for winter vacations and second homes. Florida was attractive because Prohibition was hardly enforced there, and state income and inheritance taxes were unknown. Greed was also a factor, and the principle of the greater fool prevailed. Florida fever created, said John Kenneth Galbraith, "a world inhabited not by people who needed to be persuaded to believe but by people who wanted an excuse to believe."

"The more you put yourself in front of people, talk about our beaches, our weather, our attractions, our parks -- so we just market ourselves more," Scott explained earlier this month.

"We're on pace for a third consecutive record year of tourism," Visit Florida boss Will Seccombe added.

Better be.

[Last modified: Thursday, January 30, 2014 10:43am]


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