Year of Publication

1989

Season of Publication

Spring

Paper Type

Master's Thesis

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in History (MA)

Department

History

First Advisor

James B. Crooks

Second Advisor

David R. Colburn

Third Advisor

Jane E. Decker

Abstract

The Florida land boom was an orgy of real estate speculation and development that swept the state during the period 1924 through 1926. The few books and articles that deal with that event rarely mention Jacksonville, although it was Florida's largest city and its chief commercial and transportation center. This could lead one to the conclusion that the North Florida city did not become caught up in the boom. Yet scattered throughout the Jacksonville area are the remains of a number of real estate projects that date from that period.

Therefore, this thesis examines the effects of the boom on greater Jacksonville during the 1920s. During the years immediately following World War I, Jacksonville's leaders concentrated on expansion of industry and commerce to promote their city's growth, rather than building tourism. Jacksonville had not been a major winter resort since the building of railroads southward in the late 1800s, and this made the North Florida city different than its downstate rivals. The increasing prosperity of the 1920s brought growing numbers of tourists, new residents, and land speculators to resort centers in South and Central Florida, but few to Jacksonville.

As interest in Florida grew, the expanding numbers of land buyers created a frenzy of real estate sales and development downstate. The most immediate effect of the boom for Jacksonville was tremendous expansion of the city's industries, as they provisioned the state. However, many local residents became interested in syphoning off some of the tourists and land buyers for their own community. This resulted in civic promotion of Jacksonville as a resort, and the construction of a number of new real estate projects primarily for winter residents, including San Jose, Venetia, Florida Beach, and San Marco. Local expansion of business and real estate also resulted in the construction of several major buildings in downtown Jacksonville.

Early in 1926, real estate prices broke downstate and many of the speculators and other newcomers went home. This created a statewide economic decline during the late 1920s that resulted in the failure of many real estate developments throughout Florida, including some in greater Jacksonville. With its extensive commercial and transportation complex, however, the North Florida city fared better than its tourist-dependent rivals downstate. Throughout the late 1920s, percentages of economic decline for Jacksonville were much smaller than in cities such as Miami and St. Petersburg.

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