• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Dedication
 Title Page
 Copyright
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 Frontispiece
 The dreamer of Southern Florid...
 The concept of the perfect...
 Trail blazers on a new frontie...
 A new American skyline
 The rediscovery of Florida
 The greatest development drama...
 The master impulse behind Coral...
 A wide, green and gracious...














Title: The miracle of Coral Gables
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00053470/00001
 Material Information
Title: The miracle of Coral Gables
Physical Description: 62 p. : illus. ; 26 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Beach, Rex, 1877-1949
Wilson, Edward A., 1886-
Publisher: Printed by Currier & Harford Ltd.
Place of Publication: Coral Gables Fla
New York
Publication Date: c1926]
 Subjects
Subject: Coral Gables (Fla.)   ( lcsh )
Description and travel -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by Rex Beach; illustrated by Edward A. Wilson.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00053470
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 00652015
lccn - 28023039

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Dedication
        Page 3
    Title Page
        Page 4
    Copyright
        Page 5
    Table of Contents
        Page 6
        Page 7
    List of Illustrations
        Page 8
    Frontispiece
        Page 10
    The dreamer of Southern Florida
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
    The concept of the perfect city
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
    Trail blazers on a new frontier
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
    A new American skyline
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
    The rediscovery of Florida
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
    The greatest development drama in history
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
    The master impulse behind Coral Gables
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
    A wide, green and gracious city
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
Full Text
, S-


The vMiracle of
Coral Gables







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Few people know this country
better than Rex Beach. He is
a man of true discrimination
andtaste. The beauty of Coral
Gables won him immediately,
and his enthusiasm has led
him to write this book.















The JMiracle of

Coral Gables


Rex Beach


Illustrated by Edward A. Wilson


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CORAL GABLES
FLORIDA
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COPYRIGHT, 1926, BY GEORGE EDGAR MERRICK


DESIGNED AND PRINTED BY
CURRIER & HARFORD LTD. NEW YORK












CONTENTS


CHAPTER ONE TPage 11
The Dreamer of Southern Florida

CHAPTER TWO 19
The Concept of the Perfed City

CHAPTER THREE 25
Trail Blazers on a New Frontier

CHAPTER FOUR 33
v4 New American Skyline

CHAPTER FIVE 41
The Rediscovery of Florida

CHAPTER SIX 47
The Greatesf Development Drama in Hiftory

CHAPTER SEVEN 53
The Master Impulse Behind Coral Gables

CHAPTER EIGHT 59
cA Wide, Green and Gracious City





















ILLUSTRATIONS

1. The Dreamer Page 10

2. Fragrant Re~ing Places 18

3. Where Tropic Trade Winds Blow 24

4. Venice Comes to Coral Gables 34

5. 'once de Ceon's Wonderland 42

6. MViami's Mightiesf Unit 48

7. tRich and Full of Pleasantries" 54

8. Whispering Voices 60


g. -,
**iu.lC'^












































The Dreamer










A






CHAPTER ONE

The Dreamer of Southern Florida


plishment, about a man whose eyes made pic-
tures when they were shut; a man who beheld a
stately vision and caused it to become a reality.
At heart he was a writer, a poet, an artist, but fate with
curious perversity decreed that he should write in wood
and steel and stone and paint his pictures upon a canvas
of spacious fields, cool groves and smiling waterways.
His dream was to build a City Beautiful, without blot
or blemish, without ugliness or dirt; a city of majestic
size but of perfect harmony. A city planned with rever-
ence and with care and built after the old Grecian ideal
that nothing is so sacred as the beautiful: that was his
vision.
Itwas a"dream past the wir of man to say what dream
it was," and he must have dreamed it at the break of
day, when imaginings of that sort come true, for he
was not a rich man and he had little except faith and a
[II]










splendid energy to draw against; nevertheless, his plan
has taken shape, his city stands revealed. It is.
In telling of this achievement I shall have to speak
more often of the man himself than he would like, for
he is modest and too deeply absorbed in his work to
feel very much pride in anything except its success.
Florida, as you know, rests like a lance with its tip
outthrust some four hundred miles towards the Spanish
Main. Its head, like that of any lance, is tempered; it
has a cutting edge of coral rock laid down by myriads
of tiny living things that have been at work for ages.
Down near the lower end of the state lived this boy
who wanted to be a poet; he took his living from the
soil and as he worked he had his visions of great accom-
plishments. It was a fertile, well-watered soil and the
climate was truly tropical; even the pines were not the
sort that grow elsewhere in Florida, they were the
Caribbean variety. And Royal Palms grew wild. It was
a friendly land, with a promise richer than any other
which his fancy could picture, so naturally he longed
to tell about it. He heard the whisper of voices and he
tried to set them down.
Perhaps they were real voices, voices of those tiny
people who built Florida up out of the sea, or murmurs
from the coral caves. Why not ?
There are whispering voices in Florida. I have heard
them: so can you on any moonlit night when the wind
is at play among the palm leaves. It is a land of en-
chantment and things fanciful happen there.
[ 2.]










Anyhow, it pleases me to imagine that the voices of
those patient builders spoke to the boy and urged him
to build, to create. Also, that when he tried to create
in words, they said:
"No! Build something more solid; make your poems
live in stone. We have raised a land for you: upon the
walls of our houses rear houses for men. We wrought
in beauty, do you the same."
The boy listened and, as he grew older, his dream
took shape. He built his city.
George Edgar Merrick is the man; his city is set
among pines and palms and flaming poincianas and he
calls it Coral Gables. It is, indeed, a city of coral gables,
and of soft-tinted coral walls and splendid coral gate-
ways, too. Even the streets are of ground coral-not
the coral of which reefs and atolls are made, but a
porous lime formation which resembles it and goes by
that name. Upon the fields he used to till the stones
have blossomed; those ragged, stubborn rocks he used
to curse, he has caused to bloom into an eternal flower.
HE story of this man, who longed to create
fine poems and who created, instead, a lovely
city, is one of the most extraordinary tales
that I have ever listened to and as romantic as anything
which I, a writer of stories, have ever written. There
is a flavor of Arabian magic to it, for Aladdin, with the
aid of his lamp, could not have built more swiftly.
Miami, the Wonder City, had begun her amazing
growth. Among those who believed implicitly in her
[l31










greatness was, of course, George Merrick. He lived
only a few miles out and he had made a success of rais-
ing and shipping fruits and other produce, but in this
new project of city building he saw something much
more to his liking than agriculture. Instead of watch-
ing things grow, here was the opportunity to build
with his own hands, to raise something which would
not flower and fruit and then decay. Those voices were
becoming plainer and he could hear what they were
saying.
builder and developer he made a quick success-
everybody, these last few years, with courage
and faith in the future of Florida, succeeded.
Miami grew with the astonishing rapidity of some rank
tropical plant, and with it grew George Merrick's de-
termination to build something even fairer and more
satisfying, to erect a city of his own designing which
would reflect the highest ideals in beauty, in comfort,
and in convenience, and which would be more har-
monious in plan, more exquisite in detail than any
other city in the world.
He added to the land his father had owned until there
were some sixteen hundred acres and then he announced
Coral Gables. A good many people called him foolish;
it was hard enough, they declared, to sell lots without
prescribing what sort of houses the purchasers should
build upon them. Merrick insisted upon one certain
type of architecture throughout: what he called a modi-
fied' 'Mediterranean" style. It was neither pure Spanish
[14]











nor Italian, but a combination of what seemed best in
each, with an added touch of gaiety to suit the Florida
mood.
Florida has a mood, you know. She is young, she is
animated, she has sparkle and "go"; there is a certain
joyful abandon about her to which visitors owe
obeisance.
What was this that Merrick talked about? A City
Beautiful? America's Finest Suburb? A place where
Castles in Spain are made real? Good advertising, but
nobody took that stuff seriously; he'd better forget his
Utopian ideas, get his money out and let nature take
her course. Towns aren't made, they grow. Thus ran
local comment.
Now, the course that nature takes in the ordinary
suburban subdivision, as you must realize, is often a
very dreadful course and results in the most distressing
crimes against good taste. The unfettered American hu-
mor in home-building is likely to manifest itself in jig-
saw decorations or in rococo atrocities of the mid-
petroleum era; alongside a thatch-roofed English cot-
tage is apt to flower some Greek bus-boy's dream of
heaven, built of plaster-board. Our one distinctive con-
tribution to architecture seems to be the sky-scraper,
but as against that we are guilty of the California bun-
galow and it will take years to live that down.
No. People told Merrick that he couldn't put over a
proposition like his. Besides, Miami wasn't headed in
his direction; it was bound for the beach.
[Is5











He had a harder task, at first, to sell his idea than to
dispose of his plots, for it was too large to be readily
grasped. And his city was too big to be seen; there were
so many trees in the way! He met these initial difficul-
ties by taking his customers out in air-planes. Now,
anybody who is not too agitated to see at all can per-
haps see a good deal from an air-plane. I have my own
theory about how he induced purchasers to buy and
bankers to back him. I suspect he threatened to "loop"
them if they refused. But I may be wrong. His enthusi-
asm may have turned the trick. On the other hand, ex-
perience convinces me that of all ways to sell land the
air-plane method must be the easiest, for the first time
I went up I would have gladly bought any part of the
landscape beneath me, at any price, provided the pilot
had contracted to put me in immediate possession of
my purchase.
Anyhow, George Merrick began his city. The story
of how he managed to secure the millions of dollars
necessary to push it through; of how he carried his ob-
ligations alone and risked every cent he had made and
could borrow; of how he met and overcame the inevit-
able discouragements that follow all untried enter-
prises, and finally "sold" his idea to the public; all
this contains material for a good many stories but it
is no part of this one. It is my purpose to deal with the
accomplishment itself, and to show, if I can, that the
story of Coral Gables is more than the history of a
great land-selling enterprise, more, far more, than the
[16]










mere recital of a daring and successful real estate pro-
ject. To me, it is the most important, and in many ways
the most significant, experiment in intelligent city plan-
ning, city building and home development that has
beenattempted in our time; likewise, it is the most con-
vincing demonstration we have yet seen of the might
and the majesty of loveliness.




























-a


I --


Fragrant Reding Places

















CHAPTER TWO

The Concept of the Perfet City

T HROUGH it Mr. Merrick is planting in thou-
sands of people a new love of harmonious
homes and an appreciation of the advantages
and refinements of better living
Mind you, this doesn't mean that Coral Gables is
intended as a dwelling place for the well-to-do alone;
it is what the builder calls a "balanced city," planned
to provide for people of all classes and of every income,
and even the most modest houses areas carefullythought
out and as charmingly executed as the finest. These lat-
ter, by the way, are very fine indeed. With this concept
goes a comprehensive city design adhering to the basic
idea of harmony, convenience, beauty and utility.
When I first saw Coral Gables, I beheld little except
a few "different" houses, distinctive in style and at-
tractive in coloring, a country club and golf course, and
a great Venetian swimming pool hollowed out of the
country rock. At that time-it was only a short while
i91]











ago-I could learn nothing of the conception back of
it. Today it is a robust young city with more than two
thousand residences built and building, each apparently
more delightful than its neighbor, with a bustling busi-
ness center, with schools, seminaries, banks, hotels,
apartment and club houses. Houses, houses, going up
everywhere. Some magic touch has transformed the
very landscape; towering coconut and royal palms are
firmly rooted where yesterday there was nothing; rich
tropical foliage borders the sweeping drives; vines cling
to the walls; pergolas have grown into bowers. One
sees trees and plants and flowers the very names of
which are unfamiliar outside the tropics, for the plan
is to make Coral Gables a suburb as superior in the
beauty and the luxuriance of its flora as it is distinctive
in other respects. Miles upon miles of smooth, hard,
shady streets that open into spacious plazas with fra-
grant resting places and tinkling Spanish fountains;
canals that broaden into lakes and anchorages! It is a
place to make you pinch yourself and rub your eyes.
T has grown in size and in scope as miraculously as
it has grown in beauty; from sixteen hundred acres
it has spread out to ten thousand; along the shores
of Biscayne Bay Mr. Merrick has envisioned a water-
front development as impressive as any ever undertaken
and one which involves ten years of work and the
spending of a hundred million dollars.
Ten years of work for an army of men, the spending
of twenty times the purchase price of the entire state of
[ 2.0o]











Florida, the building of academies, a university, sani-
tariums, clubs, casinos,playgrounds and what not, be-
sides homes for a hundred thousand people! That is
what George Merrick sees ahead of him and that is
what the Coral Gables idea has grown to.
"When all that has been done," I inquired of him,
"what are you going to turn to?"
He answered me with a boyish smile, "Well, I've
never given up my desire to write."
Now a project of such magnitude as Coral Gables
cannot be described in a few words-I have as yet given
you only a broad survey of it; one of Mr. Merrick's air-
plane views-any more than it can be appreciated at a
glance; it is too staggering in size. But Florida has been
setting a new pace for the rest of America, these last
few years, and she has established a new speed record
in everything she has undertaken. Miami, for instance,
grew four hundred and forty per cent during the first
ten years of her expansion and other cities with a later
start are pedalling madly to overtake her in the race.
The desire to get somewhere quickly is reflected even in
Florida's speed laws which permit forty-five miles an
hour on her public roads. To be able to step on the gas
without the spine-twisting necessity of looking back-
ward is worth a lot to any motorist. It is worth a house
and lot. Florida isn't looking backward, these days:
her eyes are set straight ahead.
Enterprises too big to be readily comprehended are
apt to be considered unsound; it is the softwoods that
[Zi]











grow swiftly, whereas oaks are the product of ages.
This amazing growth of Florida towns and cities, this
astonishing increase in land values, swifter and more
feverish than anything this country has even seen,
prompts skeptical outsiders to ask if it is warranted
and to wonder if it is not merely part of a boom which
will collapse. If so, then of course Mr. Merrick's plan
for a completed suburb of a hundred thousand souls,
like Miami's expectation of a million residents, will
fail. Before going further, therefore, it will pay us to
stop and to inquire as to the prospects for a realization
of these ambitious undertakings.
In order to discover whether the Florida excitement
is justified or is merely a bubble which will burst, we
will have to widen our vision sufficiently to take in the
whole state and likewise examine into the causes of
this epoch-making trek to the tropics.
It so happens that I know the state reasonably well,
for when I was a small boy my parents took me by the
hand and snatched me thither to escape the snows of
Michigan and to disappoint the pneumonia and other
germs which lend such an exciting element of uncer-
tainty to a continued residence in any northern clime.
My father had grown sick of chilblains and was com-
pletely fed up on a climate consisting of three parts
winter and one part late-in-the-fall, so he went as far
south as the map permitted. I grew up in Florida, I ab-
sorbed an education from her schools, the most of
which I promptly forgot, and having returned fre-
[221










qucntly, I feel that I can talk with the authority of an
intimate acquaintance and the freedom of a friend.
Based not alone upon my own knowledge and obser-
vation, but also upon the opinions of others, I claim
that Florida has two assets, either of which is sufficient
to more than warrant the growth she is undergoing.
Her climate is one, her soil is the other. She was dis-
covered by the rich, for the profit of the poor and those
of moderate means. She began as a fad and has become
a winter-time necessity. She has an inexhaustible pay-
streak, not in her sand but in her sky: it is as wide as
her boundaries and so long as snow flies further north,
so long as the sun shines and the Gulf stream flows that
pay-streak will return steady dividends. So long as
flowers bloom, birds sing and children laugh; so long
as men revel in the beautiful and aspire to old age, so
long will Florida remain a playground and a sanctuary.
The gold in her flaming sunsets is real gold.
-,I-HERE is but one Florida and one California and
the American people are learning how to play.
It took several generations to learn that life is
not all work and that the grave is not its goal, but the
discovery leaked out and it is spreading like a rash.
If Florida's rocks were gold-bearing or if she sat with
her feet in a vast pool of petroleum like some of her sis-
ter states, the hardest-boiled skeptics would admit that
she was rich, but even so she would not be richer than
she is in the possession of her climate. Mines can be
worked out and oil wellsrundry: hersunwillnevercool.
[23 i


















Where Tropic Trade Winds Blow


iR"O


















CHAPTER THREE

Trail Blazers on a New Frontier


people, times when they move en masse. It
may be the urge of some restless tribal inher-
itance or merely an effort at readjustment to
geographical limitations; in any event, America has
had many such migrations, as, for instance, the rush of
Forty-nine, the several movements into the farming
regions of the middle and the northwest, the Klondike
stampede and the recent surge to Southern California.
These hegiras are due to the desire of men to improve
their living conditions and their eagerness to seek sur-
roundings of greater opportunity. Such a movement is
now going on towards Florida, but there is nothing
novel about it, nor is it anymore artificial or any harder
to understand than the rush which populated the West
and brought it under the plow.
The emigrants are not using covered wagons, to be
sure; they are going south in Pullmans and in Packards,
[2-51











in steel ships and in tin Lizzies, but so great is their
number that new highways are being laid, double
tracks are being put down and steamships are being
built and chartered to handle the traffic. It is merely
the pushing out of a pioneer people towards a new fron-
tier. We are a nation of trail blazers and we never come
home, except to visit.
The progress of this modem gas-wagon train is not
punctuated by the crack of bull whips, as in former
days, but by the sound of blowouts and punctures.
Nothing except the profanity is what it was.
The leisure class adopted Florida long since as a win-
ter playground, but people of moderate means are be-
ginning to realize that they can afford it. In many parts
of the North it is cheaper to go south for the winter
than to buy coal, and good roads make it unnecessary
to purchase a railroad ticket.
The golf bug and the influenza germ are selling Flor-
ida farms and town lots faster than the highest pressure
salesman; the purchase of property down there is not a
speculation in lands but an investment in health.
If Florida abandoned her citrus groves and her farms
to weeds, closed her mills and factories and loosed her
herds, she would, nevertheless, continue to fill up every
winter with visitors and she would still remain a great
and prosperous resort.
But in addition to this perennial horde of health and
pleasure-seekers there is another army on the march
and it is made up of small investors, of workers in search
[ 6 ]











of permanent homes and steady employment. They are
pouring into the state like water into a funnel and it is
they who will bring the greatest stability; it is they
to whom far-sighted Floridians look with particular
pride and satisfaction.
In March, 1925, there was held at West Palm Beach
a meeting of representative business men from all parts
of the state and they organized themselves into the
Florida Development Board. Florida had just ended her
richest tourist season, the men at that convention had
profited enormously therefrom, so they committed
themselves and the state to raise and spend for publicity
a million and a half dollars during the next five years.
But publicity for what? For the purpose of increasing
the already abundant yield of the tourist crop? No.
To further scientific research into the natural resources
of the state and to acquaint the people of America with
what Florida has to offer the permanent settler. They
knew that the rush of pleasure-seekers could not be
stemmed; what they discussed was farming, education,
freight rates, markets, industries and the like.
It is their belief, and it is mine, that Florida is richer
in undeveloped natural wealth than perhaps any state
in the Union, and that if tomorrow her winter visitors
should cease coming she would continue to forge
steadily ahead and to reap a greater profit from her soil
than from her climate.
This may be news to those who have looked upon
the state as a sand-lot with nothing for sale except sun-
[ 271











shine and a place incapable of raising anything except
hotel prices. If it is true, then Florida is indeed sitting
pretty. Let's see whether it is true or whether it is
merely the seductive song of the realtor.
We shall have to use some figures, the which I hate
as much as you do, but statistics can sometimes be made
interesting, as any father of a large and growing family
will testify.
ET us begin with Miami, and when we have done
with her let us take a hasty glance at the state
as a whole, for after all, the story of Coral
Gables, which I set out to tell, is the story of Miami,
and the story of Miami is the story of Florida.
Miamians declare that their city never has had a
"boom," that it is not having one now and that its
growth from a village of about one thousand inhabi-
tants to a city of one hundred and eleven thousand in
twenty-five years is largely the result of the permanent
productive resources at its door. Its further expansion
into a metropolis of a million people, they assure you,
will not greatly depend upon its tourists. It is almost
a waste of time, by the way, to set down Miami's
"present population"; it means so much rubbing out
and writing of new figures.
Dade County, in which Miami is situated, has a prac-
tical monopoly of the actual "American tropics" so-
called, at least an East Coast monopoly. Killing frosts
are unknown, its soil is rich and liberally watered,
which means that the fruits and vegetables native to
[ 28











tropical countries can be raised in commercial quan-
tities, plus also many of the crops that grow in cooler
climates. Something is fruiting on the farms every
month of the year.
Oranges and grapefruit, of course, do well in Dade
County; their quality is famous and they are usually
the first on the market, but the mango and the avocado
find here a location better adapted to their culture than
any other in the United States. They are magnificent
fruits, they command a ready market and their raising
is profitable. The mango is the most ancient of fruits
and in Dade County fancy varieties have been devel-
oped. The avocado-Floridians dislike the name "alli-
gator pear"-is the most nutritious and valuable food
fruit now under cultivation and it bears the year round.
Groves have shown a yield of $2,ooo per acre and near
Miami you can see one avocado tree which has pro-
duced an average of $2.00 a year for six years. The
county shipped 30,000 crates last year and many of the
groves are not yet in bearing.
South of Miami lies the Redlands section, an aston-
ishingly fertile truck-gardening region which is given
over largely to tomato raising. Sixteen thousand acres
of early tomatoes is a nice asset for any county. But
there seems to be no limit to what the soil and the
climate of Dade County can raise and, mind you, out of
nearly a million and a half acres, less than 60,000 are
in cultivation and these lie in a narrow strip along the
coast. Back of this are the Everglades, perhaps the
[29]











richest agricultural lands in the world, certainly the
most fertile area of its size in the country. Here, almost
untouched, is the fairest promise of Florida's dreams,
an enormous level bed of black humus under a sky like
the glass roof of a hot-house; here, once the land is
drained, can be grown enough vegetables to feed a
nation.
THE average person has a wholly wrong idea of
these 'Glades. Not much is generally known
about them-or is an Everglades an "it"! Lis-
ten, for example, to the Encyclopaedia Brittanica's defi-
nition: "An American lake, about 8,000 square miles,
in which are numerous half-submerged islands."
Oh, Mr. Brittan! You should be more careful what
you put in your books! You're as wrong as arson.
I had some such erroneous idea about the Everglades
when I was a schoolboy. I pictured them as an enor-
mous black-water swamp grown up to matted vegeta-
tion, infested with serpents, alligators and miasmas. I
had never seen a miasma, but I could guess what it
looked like. This swamp was a trackless wilderness
through the gloom of which slipped Seminole canoes
paddled by treacherous redskins. It was my ambition
to head a band of hardy adventurers of my own age and
exterminate the whole dastardly tribe-until I heard
an actual account of the first expedition to cross the
Everglades. The men in that party (it was in 1892) had
waded practically across the state from Fort Shackle-
ford to Miami, with packs on their backs. They had
[30]










subsisted for the last week on two tablespoonsful of
raw hominy per man and the only bloodshed had been
caused by mosquitoes. I knew my band of explorers
would never consent to eat raw hominy so I abandoned
the enterprise.
I crossed the Everglades recently in a limousine, at
forty miles an hour. Another dream punctured. If a man
can't believe his Encyclopaedia,what can he believe?
What I beheld was an almost limitless plain, as level
as a ballroom floor and practically devoid of trees, its
mellow soil laid over a foundation of porous lime rock.
Canals run through it and the rock taken out is utilized
for road-building: wherever the land is drained it will
raise crops to astonish the northern gardener.
This drainage problem is not so simple as it sounds,
for danger comes with its overdoing. Drop a cigarette
on a tract that is well dried out and the soil will burn.
Successful reclamation, therefore, involves scientific
water regulation as well as disposal. This the state of
Florida is working out in co-operation with the Fed-
eral government and once it is effected it will render
available an enormous acreage capable of supporting
a population denser than that of the Dutch lowlands.
Already millions of dollars have been invested in sugar
plantations and mills and a beginning has been made
to manufacture and make use of the many tropical fibre
plants and grasses which can be raised thereon. So, too,
with rubber which is indigenous to the country; with
cotton and tobacco, bananas, pineapples and Heaven
[311











knows what. A northern paper company is planting a
hundred thousand acres to peanuts just for the oil. The
oil is needed to use up the hydrogen gas which is a
by-product of their Maine pulp mills. The finished
product is a hard, white fat, a vegetable lard.


















~j .~.


















CHAPTER FOUR


A New American Skyline

HS muck land doesn't wait for the farmer, it
goes to work as soon as it is drained. There is
a common weed in Florida, known by the
amply descriptive name of "careless weed."
In the reclaimed Everglades it grows so big that a man
can climb it! Exaggeration, you say. But I saw a pho-
tograph of a man standing in the branches of one, and
his feet were shoulder high above the ground. Dirt
which will grow stuff like that will grow anything.
It can be shipped as fertilizer, and the 'Glades farmer is
faced with the necessity of "thinning" it out, reducing
its fertility, instead of enriching it.
As a beef-raising and dairy country nothing finer ever
laid out-of-doors. What 'with year-round natural forage
of luxuriant tropical grasses, cattle, I was solemnly as-
sured, grow so fat on this fodder that they run eleven
to the dozen. And hogs! Put a pine-woods razor-back
in the Everglades and in a weekhe'llhave a double chin.

[331















*,


Venice Comes to Coral Gables


GJ


Tt.










Barely the fringe of this area is being worked, as yet,
but in the vicinity of Miami the land is selling as high
as a thousand dollars an acre. And why not when it can
be made to yield that much in a year? I learned of a
man who last season took $900 worth of Irish potatoes
off of three-quarters of an acre and of another whose
crop of string beans from a single acre sold for $2,400.
When one stops to consider that in certain Asiatic
countries entire families support themselves upon the
yield from a fraction of an acre of land no richer than
this and that ownership of one whole acre means inde-
pendence, how can he visualize the potentialities of the
five million acres in the southern counties of Florida or
estimate the numbers of workers to whom it will some
day afford a livelihood?
Mid-western communities, where the farms yield
from $2o to $50 an acre, have built up and support large
cities; with a million and a half acres in Dade County
alone, besides millions of other acres nearby, much of
which will return a profit of from $ioo to $I,ooo a
year, is it unreasonable of Miamians to expect a city of
a million souls ? Not at all.
In any event, that is Miami's aim and she is putting
herself in order to accommodate that number of people.
Already her skyline begins to look like New York's
and the price of her downtown real estate is as high as
her skyline.
Last year she had no steamship lines from the north,
this year she has more than her docking space will ac-

[35]











commodate and new vessels are being added weekly.
She is a logical point of contact with Latin-American
countries and is making harbor improvements designed
to render her the principal Pan-American port of the
Atlantic. With the development of her back country
and with the new railroad accommodations which are
now being effected she expects to load most of the phos-
phate and much of the lumber of the state. It is not
without reason that she looks forward to more ship-
ping than New Orleans, Galveston or Savannah.
So much then for this immediate section, which by
no means has a corner on Florida's native wealth. The
coast counties to the north, all the way up to Jackson-
ville, are rich; each, it seems, has a soil and a climate
unique unto itself, each boasts a city which hopes to
rival the queen city to the south. Residents of one
locality in Florida will not attempt to deny or to be-
little the advantages of any other locality, such being
contrary to the general code of ethics; they will agree
that all Florida is fine. After this admission they will
then set out to show you that of all the desirable places
in the state for a man to live and die in, this one par-
ticular spot has it over the others like a tent.
From present indications the entire lower East Coast
will soon be a continuous chain of winter resorts, its
water front lined with splendid homes, its back coun-
try checkerboarded with fruit groves, dairies, vege-
table farms and truck gardens.
But the East Coast is only a part of Florida. Follow
[36]










me on a motor trip that I took recently and perhaps
it will open your eyes, as it did mine, to the vastness of
the state's possibilities and to the extent of this history-
making rush to our last frontier.
From Miami to Palm Beach, and further, one "de-
velopment" follows another, every town is growing,
the land is being cleared and built upon; teams, trac-
tors, dredges are at work. It is a scene of astonishing
activity.
The Connors Highway is a toll road from the Palm
Beach section to Lake Okeechobee: it is a shiny ribbon
of oiled rock laid down upon the crest of one of the
drainage canal banks and it opens up a tremendous
area of Everglades land resembling those tule lands of
California where the Japanese have made such a suc-
cess of wholesale gardening. Many canals are being
dug, other roads are building. As far as you can see one
acre looks as good as another.
Lake Okeechobee is a fresh water sea fed by rivers
and by enormous springs and I was surprised to learn
that it supports important commercial fisheries which
are yearly growing in value. It is a bait-casters' heaven,
by the way: big mouth bass weighing twenty pounds
have been taken on rod and reel.
West, beyond the horizon, lies the prosperous Moore
Haven district, famous for its productivity, and still on
beyond is Fort Myers, the Miami of the West Coast
tropics. North of the lake is Okeechobee City, a spick
and span town with the magnificent ambition of be-
[37]











coming the agricultural metropolis of the state. Every-
thing hereabouts is pretty raw as yet; hard-surfaced
roads are something novel and the railroad spikes
haven't had time to get rusty. Here, as in every other
town I visited, the chief concern of the residents is how
and where to house the home-seekers which this win-
ter will surely bring.
NORTH for seventy-five miles extends the Kis-
simmee valley, if a country almost too flat to
drain itself can be called a valley, and here, too,
lie thousands of acres of swamp lands for reclamation.
Perhaps you don't know that Florida is a "cow
country,'' but it is. The largest cattle ranch east of the
Mississippi lies on the Kissimmee River: 22o,ooo acres
under fence. Several years ago a group of northern
lumbermen undertook to buy a hundred thousand
acres of pine land in this section and made the owner
an offer of three dollars an acre. The price was satis-
factory but the deal fell through because the pur-
chasers wanted nothing but the timber and firmly
refused to be saddled with the land. Today, memory of
that transaction gives them an acute headache.
Extending north and south through the center of the
state, like a backbone, is the "ridge country," in some
respects the fairest section of all Florida. It is a range
of low hills made up of that sandy soil so favorable to
citrus growing, and nestling between the hills are
myriads of friendly blue lakes of clear, soft water.
Orange and grapefruit groves are everywhere, their un-
[381 '











dulating rows marching away to the horizon. From the
crest of every ridge other groves appear and other lakes
smile through the pines. They are young groves, most
of them, for this country, too, has just been discovered.
New homes, new business blocks, new hotels in every
town, and everywhere the same boast and the same
complaint: "This is the finest spot in all Florida."
"What are we going to do with this winter's visitors ?"
Chambers of Commerce are appealing for funds with
which to build temporary barracks to shelter the com-
ing hordes.
Central Florida is the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes,
and it has a shore line sufficient to afford water-front
homes for a million families. Sebring, Lakeland, Kis-
simmee, Orlando, Sanford, each is "the loveliest spot
in Florida."
Great blessings often come in the guise of calamities.
It took the scourge of the boll weevil to teach southern
cotton planters the value of diversified farming. Florida
used to depend almost entirely upon orange culture,
but thirty years ago a freeze wiped out most of the
groves in the central and northern parts of the state.
Things looked pretty blue for a while after that and
land could be bought for almost nothing. Then, in a
certain locality, somebody tried tomato raising and
was astonished to find that it paid better than citrus
growing. Soon that entire region was engaged in
gardening.
At Sanford, which the freeze had left flat on its back
[39]











and feebly kicking, another man experimented with
celery and others followed his example. They grew
rich, and today you don't have to be told that Sanford
is the celery center of the south, you can smell it before
you come in sight of the town. It shipped $4,000,000
worth last season.
So, too, at Hastings, where the Irish potato attains
its greatest size and ferocity. I am not much of an agri-
culturist but I am told that potato hunting has put
Hastings on Easy Street and that all a sportsman needs
to bag his limit is a rake.
Plant City, as a result of its misfortune, learned to
specialize in strawberries: io,ooo quarts have been
raised on a single acre and sold for forty-five cents a
quart.
Elsewhere it is the same story. Near Quincy, a great
poultry and dairy district, a tobacco-grower reported
last year a new profit of $z,ooo an acre from forty acres
of Sumatra wrappers and Sumatra wrappers are being
worn extensively this season. Land like that could
raise bell-bottom pants.


















CHAPTER FIVE

The Rediscovery of Florida


qualities of soil in the state, each suitable for
something and there are twenty million
acres, a large part of which can be made to
yield. Pineapples and pecans, citrus and celery, cattle
and cantaloupes, egg plants of the hen and the vege-
table variety-almost anything can be made to pay.
Why isn't more being raised, you inquire? Who has
kept Florida such a dark secret? Why is it that less
than one acre out of ten is broken? For one thing, the
state has just been discovered. Columbus found it but
the New York Four Hundred put it on the map; Palm
Beach and the one-piece bathingsuit ad vertised it more
than Ponce de Leon and the Overseas Railroad.
Blame it on climate, easy living, hook-worm or
\vhat you will, the Florida farmer of the old type ele-
vated shiftlessness to the dignity of a real accomplish-
ment, if not of an actual art.
[41]








































Ponce de .Ceon 's Wonderland











I remember one of the sort who complained that
his corn patch had played out until it would barely
yield ten bushels to the acre.
'Why don't you fertilize it ?" somebody inquired.
The fellow languidly shook his head and replied:
"Lord! If I manured that patch of mine, the weeds
would git so thick my woman couldn't see to hoe it."
This type of husbandman is rapidly going out of
style down there: the day of intelligent, energetic, in-
tensive culture is dawning.
In one place I was told of a man, well along in years,
who had been brought into the country on a stretcher
to die but who decided to play a trick on the doctors
and get well. The Florida climate puts elderly people
up to pranks of that sort. He had carried out his little
joke, and moreover he was getting rich on five acres of
hammock land.
"This year he raised six thousand dollars worth of
celery on one acre," said my informant.
"Impossible!" I declared. "I know this state back-
wards; cut off a couple of ciphers, or even one, and
we'll let the matter drop."
"Want to bet a hundred dollars I'm wrong?" the
man inquired. "If you do, I'll bet you another hundred
that you've made a bad bet."
Caution prompted me to evade a direct answer. Why
profit from a stranger's enthusiasm when money can be
so easily come by in Florida town lots, I asked myself?
I'm glad I didn't bet. In refusing that wager I con-
[43










sider that I made a ocean hundred dollars, for I saw the
farmer, went over his land and talked to him. He
raised $6,25o worth of celery from that acre in ques-
tion, besides which he harvested two other crops off
the same piece, one of mustard, I believe, and the other
of okra, and they yielded him about two thousand dol-
lars more. During the several years he has been work-
ing that land he has averaged, from a variety of crops,
more than four thousand dollars an acre. No wonder!
It is practically solid leaf mould into which he can
thrust a rake handle up to the head.
When I asked him why he didn't clear the rest of his
land and cultivate it, he said:
"It takes all my time and all the help I can get to
work these five acres. I'm doing well enough and if my
farm was any bigger it would get away from me. You
can't let this land lie idle or it will have to be cleared
all over again."
There are many acres of land like this in Florida and
little of it is being worked.
Funny things are happening in farm properties down
there, as well as in city real estate. A man got a price
on an orange grove; terms one-third down, the balance
on time. While the ink on the contract was drying, he
sold the green crop, as it hung on the trees, for enough
to cover the first payment. The fruit buyer took all
risks.
The boom was slow in reaching the West Coast and
that part of it from Tampa to Fort Myers is about
[44]











where the Miami section was five years ago, but every-
where the same story is being repeated. St. Petersburg
was one of the first to capitalize her sunshine, but in
the beginning she was known principally to people in
the middle west and her winter sports ran to roque,
checkers, and horseshoe hurling. Some painstaking
statistician, interested in vital facts, claimed figures to
show that the flowing beards in St. Petersburg, if laid
tip to chin, would reach farther than all the binder
twine in both Dakotas. The quoit-pitchers are still
there, roque and checkers remain popular forms of dis-
sipation, but the elderly mid-westerners are lost among
the busy throngs from every part of the union. St.
Petersburg is metropolitan, her country clubs are as
"smart," her hotels are as huge and as high-priced as
any in the state. I believe one of her newspapers still
adheres to its old practice of giving away its copies on
any day that the sun doesn't shine.
Clearwater, famous as the golfer's mecca, is a town
of about six thousand, but it has plotted its curves and
can prove toyou that it will be a city of a hundred thou-
sand within five years, at the present rate of growth.
It is without doubt, "the finest spot in Florida."
Tampa, "finer than any other place in the state,"
and second only to Jacksonville in size, is fairly burst-
ing her seams. She is growing like one of those careless
weeds I described and her shallow bay is being dredged
and filled with islands which will give her a Venetian
charm. Less than two years ago the first "under-seas"
[45]











lots, then populated principally by mullet and catfish,
were offered for sale. People stood in line forty hours to
buy, and the first man up, so the story goes, chained
himself to the door in order to be sure of maintaining
his place. Today people are living on those lots and
public buildings are going up around them.
Sarasota, Punta Gorda, Fort Myers, everywhere the
same history is being written; towns are building,lands
are doubling and trebling in value. Wherever roads are
laid down, purchasers come and homeseekers follow.
Brooksville, less than fifty miles north of Tampa,
until a year ago, lacked a hard-surfaced road and to go
there was an adventure. Now it is booming and points
with pride to the lumber and farming possibilities of
its great hard-wood hammocks, and its fertile hills.
Inside the town limits is a ten-acre tangerine grove
which paid a net profit of $i6,ooo last year.
"Why, stranger,"a local resident told me, "we can
ship this Hernando County soil in bags and get rich.
We've sure got the garden spot of this state."
Perhaps I have told you enough to prove my con-
tention that Florida could carry on, if she had to,
without the help of those who invest in health or come
for recreation.

















CHAPTER SIX

The Greatef Development Drama in HiSfory


phases in the development of this country;
such as the rush to the far north, the dig-
ging of the Panama Canal, the exploita-
tion of Alaskan wealth, the quest of oil in the south-
west, for in their meaning and their consequences I see
a wider drama than in the affairs of men. Such a drama
is unfolding in Florida but it is bigger, it is more ex-
citing and it is more significant than anymass move-
ment I have written about. It reminds me of a certain
motion picture, now showing, which depicts the heroic
struggle of a pri m i i ve Asiatic tribe to move its herds in
search of grass. Their journey leads through deserts,
across raging rivers, up and over a great, frowning
timberless mountain range capped with ice and snow.
Barefooted, ill-clad men, women and children push on
and upward, driving their hungry herds and carrying
their own sick and feeble, together with the young
[47]








































vMiami's Mightieft Unit










animals in their arms or on their backs. They leave
blood in their tracks.
This rush to the far southland is another quest for
"grass," with the hardships missing. But these people
will not return.
Much the same thing happened when Indian Terri-
tory was thrown open. The settlers settled; they made
Oklahoma. California was discovered and then redis-
covered; her lands will never again be cheap. Why
should the Florida "bubble" burst ?
California is a regal state but much of her land is
pure, inspiring scenery; only her plains and valleys are
tillable. She doubled her population twice in twenty
years. Florida has neither mountains nor deserts, she is
blessed with water from above and below and her cli-
mate is such that her crops are mainly high-priced spe-
cialties rather than staples; she is today where Cali-
fornia was twenty years ago. She is doing what Cali-
fornia and every other new state did, viz., bidding for
people to mint her riches into coin.
The real values of any state are its land values, based
upon yield: fixed population, in the last analysis,
springs from the soil. Florida has the land and the
plows are coming. She can easily ship half a billion
dollars of farm produce every season, aside from her
livestock, her fish, her phosphate rock, her lumber
and naval stores. She markets a billion feet of lumber
annually and out of her standing pines, in summer,
drips $5o,000 a day.
[49]










When all these products have been marketed, she
still has the proceeds from her tourist crop as "velvet."
Situated almost within commuting distance of three-
quarters of the population and seven-eighths of the
wealth of the United States that crop is bound to
increase.
It may strike you that I have strayed far from my
story of Coral Gables, but the digression was inten-
tional. No project so ambitious as that of Mr. Mer-
rick's, it seems to me, could well be carried out unless
it were based upon a foundation of solid growth, not
only for Miami but also for the entire state. Perhaps,
too, we shall have gained a better idea of the signifi-
cance of that undertaking for having seen what is
going on elsewhere down there; certainly it is interest-
ing to compare the results of the one-man idea in city
building with the results of the composite idea as re-
flected in the other Florida cities, old and new.
1AD I not been deeply impressed by that com-
parison I would not have undertaken this arti-
cle. Men of vision, of courage, and of abun-
dant energy have worked wonders in and around
Miami: more and greater wonders than elsewhere in
the state. The metamorphosis of a sandy key backed by
a mangrove swamp into a magnificent playground with
miles of boulevards, with hotels and mansions and polo
fields and golf courses is an example. The creation of
enchanted islands linked together by sweeping cause-
ways, like sparkling gems strung upon a silken thread,
[50]










is another. Wherever nature has given those Miami
builders something, anything, upon which to base a
majestic plan of betterment, there they have loosed
their millions and miracles have resulted. And yet they
have gone only so far. Out of the ooze, out of the very
waters, they have made land, but there they have
rested. Merrick had his land to begin with; his task
has been to develop, to co-ordinate and to beautify.
After a trip through Florida one comes back to Coral
Gables with the feeling that it is something altogether
different from anything else in the state, and that here
is an abstract idea made real and understandable.
Somebody asked Heine why men no longer build
such piles as the Cathedral of Amiens and he replied:
"In those days men had convictions, we modems
have opinions, and it requires something more than an
opinion to build a Gothic cathedral."
The rudest work that tells a story or records an am-
bition is better than the finest without meaning and it
required a very deep conviction to build Coral Gables.
The following words might very well have come from
George Merrick's lips:
"I would have, then, our ordinary dwelling houses
built -to last, and built to be lovely: as rich and full
of pleasantries as may be within and without. .
Therefore, when we build let us think that we build
forever, let it not be for present delight, nor for present
use alone, let it be such work as our descendants will
thank us for."


[5I]











Ruskin wrote those sentences, but they appear to
quite completely voice the feelings of the builder of
this modem Mediterranean city.
Mr. Merrick is making his houses "rich and full of
pleasantries," and they are being built not alone for
present delight. Nor are they flung down haphazard,
where colors may clash and one architecture may scream
at another.
We Americans are great organizers and great devel-
opers, but as city builders we do not rank far above
the Aztecs. We have two methods of laying out our
towns; the cowpath and the criss-cross. Observe Bos-
ton or downtown New York. Or Chicago, that apothe-
osis of geometrical regularity. These methods result in
ugly, swollen, inconvenient cities, economical in land
but wasteful of things more precious; money-making
cities of bitter men, faded women and feeble, gas-
bleached children.
Coral Gables was not worked out with a pencil and
ruler on any such careless principle; artists, city plan-
ners, landscape architects, construction and utility en-
gineers, each an authority in his own line, worked over
it and under their supervision it is going forward.
"We had more difficulty at first in selling the idea of
architectural harmony than in selling the land," Mr.
Merrick confessed. "People resented it as a sort of cen-
sorship of their good taste. But we have no difficulty
now. It is surprising how enthusiastically they took
hold once they fully understood and appreciated our
purpose. [5

















CHAPTER SEVEN


The MasTer Impulse Behind Coral Gables


it is so old that it is novel, that's all. Ever
since the days of the great builders of the
Renaissance architects have cherished the
dream of a city designed under one master impulse and
here is the first actual experiment on a large scale.
Washington has been "planned," to be sure, but only
along broad lines and not in detail.
The first real example of architectural unity which
we, in this country, had a chance to observe was the
Chicago World's Fair. From that gleaming city on the
Jackson Park lagoons Americans carried away a new
appreciation of structural beauty, and the expositions
that followed it fixed and heightened that apprecia-
tion. But all were dream cities and the first winter wind
blew them away like chaff.
IHere in Florida is growing a World's Fair city of
concrete, made to live in; a mirage turned to stone and
[53]












rU


F


"Rich and Full of Pleasantries"










framed in a setting of tropical loveliness made lovelier
by the cunning of skilled landscape engineers.
Never was a location more favored for building, for
most of the material lies underfoot. At first sight the
land looks sterile, for the rock crops out loosely and
the soil is so shallow that trees have to be planted with
dynamite. Holes have to be blasted. But the more one
sees of that rock, the greater blessing it becomes.
A foot or two under the surface it is soft and there-
fore cheap to dig; exposure hardens it. Crush it, size
it, add water and cement and you have concrete that
will defy the ravages of time. Run the mixture into
moulds and you have building blocks. If you prefer
rough field-stone walls, select the boulders which have
hardened in the air and lay them up in mortar, or if
your taste runs to square, quarried blocks skilled
artisans with hatchets will shape the soft rock and
time will turn it to flint. It will age into pink and mel-
low ivory. To build streets lay the stone soft, roll it
and oil it and the surface is like asphalt.
Things will grow in that coral rock. Shoot a hole in
one of those smooth roads, plant a tree in it, scratch
enough soil in to cover the roots and it will live. Live
and do well. Capillarity will draw moisture up to the
roots and they will reach down through the interstices.
Walls capable of such variety in treatment can be
made beautiful, but that which first strikes any eye are
roofs, and the roofs of Coral Gables are like fine old
oriental rugs. Most of them are of Spanish tile moulded
[55]











by hand over the naked thighs of workmen now long
dead. Cuban roofs, torn from crumbling convents and
ruined haciendas, their patterns blended, their colors
softened by tropic sun and weather, have been relaid
here and they are a delight to behold.
When a northern visitor, still itching from his winter
woolens, comes upon one of these charming Mediter-
ranean homes, half hidden and half revealed by vines
and fragrant flowering shrubbery, when he hears over-
head the whisper of restful voices among the palm
fronds and through the green of orange and mango
and lacy pine he glimpses other houses of tinted coral,
other roofs that glow like bits from the magic carpet
of Bagdad, he is very apt to decide that his wanderings
are over. Florida is likely to take on a new meaning to
him, right there and then, and likewise the problem of
living. If he has read John Boyle O'Reilly he may
quote this verse:
"I am weary of planning and toiling
In the crowded hives of men;
Heart weary of building and spoiling
And spoiling and building again;
And I long for the dear old river
Where I dreamed my youth away;
For a dreamer lives forever,
And a toiler dies in a day."
Or if he is not poetical and is perhaps a bit winded
from wrestling with his last income tax return, he may
[56]










recall the fact that Florida income and inheritance tax
provisions make it possible for a wealthy man to save
money by building a Florida home and that a man of
moderate means may, by taking up a residence there,
effect a sufficient saving to carry the cost of a house
and lot.
In any event it is no wonder that the sales in Coral
Gables run a million dollars a week and that there is
thirty million dollars of building under way at this
writing.
CORAL GABLES was begun as an inland city;
today it announces "forty miles of water
front" and the how of that is interesting. Not
only has it grown to take in Cocoplum Beach, on
Biscayne Bay immediately south of aristocratic Coco-
nut Grove, but also the sea is actually being brought
back into the heart of the pine woods. Dredges are
cutting canals both wide and deep from the bay, and
digging lakes and yacht basins which will be linked up
with the waters flowing out from the Everglades to
form a vast circulating system of waterways. It is an
enormous undertaking and one that looks fantastically
extravagant on its face. But it is not. Every yard of
rock dug by those dippers is worth two dollars for road
and house building. The enterprise will pay for itself.
Gondolas from old Venice have been ordered for this
new Venice; architects are draughting plans for "mod-
ified" Venetian houses, some as splendid as the palaces
of the Doges, to border these canals. Residents will be
[571










able to moor their yachts to their own doorsteps, or
alongside the clipped velvet fairways of their country
clubs. Gondolas, hydroplanes and sea sleds will take
them to places of amusement, for it is a gay city, this
Coral Gables, with every sort of entertainment pro-
vided for. Fancy moonlight on a Florida lagoon; palms
black against the sky; night fragrant with the salt
breath of the sea and your electric gondola out of
juice! You and your girl friend should worry.
Coral Gables is already a city of hotels; there are six,
aside from the imposing new Miami-Biltmore with its
Spanish tower leaping twenty-six stories into the sky.
Near the latter, and under the same management, is
the most magnificently planned and elaborately ap-
pointed country club structure that I have ever seen.
It has two eighteen-hole golf courses and between the
club and the hotel is a swimming pool built on the
scale which characterizes both. In connection with the
Miami-Biltmore there will be a Casino and amusement
center set upon an island in the bay and it is proposed
to make of this an American Monte Carlo, a rendezvous
for the fashionable who are in search of entertainment
of whatever sort. The fourth unit in this particular en-
terprise will be a yacht club and all told they will call
for an expenditure of some $25,ooo,ooo. Europe has
nothing to compare with this effort to answer the
question "Where shall we go and what shall we do?"


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CHAPTER EIGHT


A Wide, Green and Gracious City

WHAT about those people who cannot
affordor do notwish to play? Somebody
has quite aptly described this distinctive
suburb as "a wide, green and gracious
city, preserving the right relation between a man's
work and his welfare, his play and his environment."
It is served by the five most important highways of
South Florida and is being linked with downtown
Miami by a modern rapid transit system. It is zoned,
of course; one section is set aside for the building of
apartments, another for a crafts center-a Spanish vil-
lage with studios and workshops for making iron-
work, pottery, tiles, furniture and the like. Everywhere
there is light on four sides. Five sides, to be exact, for
gloomy, leaden skies are unknown. There is room and a
placefor everything in Coral Gables except sweat shops
and cramped living quarters.
Schools? Certainly. A seminary and a boys' military
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Whispering Voices










academy, besides common schools so constructed that
the children are practically out of doors. Yes, and a
million dollar high school, and what is planned to be
the finest university in the South. This latter will have
one hundred and sixty acres in its grounds, but will be
set in the heart of two thousand acres designed as one
of the most beautiful residential parks in the world.
Fifteen million dollars have been pledged as an endow-
ment for this university and dredges are digging a lake
upon which its campus will front.
A great sanitarium and hospital, directed by nation-
ally famous physicians and health experts is another
feature; so, too, is a million dollar Shrine Temple and
Sports Center.
Such undertakings as these, you will agree, afford a
significance, a dignity and a permanence to this amaz-
ing adventure into scientific city building quite above
and apart from any other of the sort. And it may in-
terest you to learn that the builder has expended more
in his development than he has taken out in sales.
As an example of the Coral Gables adherence to the
principle of harmony, take the Florida East Coast
Railroad right-of-way which bisects its broad acres.
Railroads are not things of beauty, except perhaps to
the high salaried executives thereof. For the rest of us
they just about ruin any scenery they run through.
But here it is proposed to effect a miracle of beauty by
building a three hundred foot concourse, a splendid
park lavishly planted with tropical verdure. It will
[61]










extend entirely across the city and, with a huge sta-
tion of pleasing lines and suitable architecture, will
constitute one of the impressive features of the place.
Instead of an eyesore this railroad right-of-way will be
a delight and an inspiration. Perhaps the only one of
its kind in America.
I hope I have painted some sort of picture of the new
Florida which has come into being so lately and that I
have made you acquainted in some sort with that poet
and his ambition to create a City Beautiful. More than
all, I hope I have conveyed to you the idea back of it.
Coral Gables is no longer an engaging prospect, a mi-
rage. It exists. And already it has had an effect greater
than its creator could have visualized. Elsewhere other
enterprises are being patterned after it. Coral Gables
architecture is being copied throughout the state;
there is a general expression of desire for not alone the
beautiful but the harmonious as well, and for a blend-
ing of beauty and service.
M. MERRICK and his talented associates
have done much; there is much more to be
done. That is the splendid, vital thing about
Coral Gables; there are so many wonders now in the
making and you know "dreams in their development
have breath, tears, and tortures and the touch of joy."
It is a fine thing to reclaim the wilderness and make
it bloom: to build schools and playgrounds, univer-
sities and churches: to put sunshine and air within the
reach of families born and reared in smoky tenement
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towns. A fine thing, indeed, to build houses "rich and
full of pleasantries" and to people them with men and
women eager to live brighter, healthier and more use-
ful lives. There is a savor of Omnipotence about it.
The men who are flinging their millions into Florida
real estate development are doing those very things.
Some of them, no doubt, are interested primarily in
profits but others there are to whom the work means
more and to whom the greatest satisfaction will come
from their knowledge that they have created some-
thing which will long outlive them.
Ten years of hard work, a hundred millions of hard
money is what George Merrick plans to spend before
he rests. Who can envisage what ten years will bring
to that wonderland of Ponce de Leon's ? Not you nor I.
Nor Mr. Merrick, with all his soaring vision.
One thing he has already done and it is the biggest
part of that accomplishment which I undertook to
write about; he has proven that the practical can be
romanticized and that "beauty draws more than oxen."
He has sowed in the hearts of his fellowmen a deeper
respect and a truer reverence for loveliness than they
ever had before.
If he should cease his building today, turn his City
Beautiful over to other hands and take up that writing
for which his fingers itch, he would still have a splen-
did thing to his account. One could look upon Coral
Gables and say with truth: 'Fore God, you have here
a goodly dwelling and a rich!'


FS




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