Henry Flagler: The Ohioan Who Built Florida

Listen HERE to Ep. 9 “Ohio v. Sunshine State”

Alex travels to the Sunshine State to discover the story of Henry Flagler, the Cleveland native, known as “the Father of Modern Florida.” We analyze Flagler’s career at Standard Oil and his close relationship with John D. Rockefeller during their years building the oil giant in Cleveland, Ohio. We follow Flagler’s second act as a railroad tycoon and developer in cities like St. Augustine, Palm Beach and Miami. The Florida that Flagler builds during the 1920s grows exponentially. But the economic boom goes bust and perhaps even sparks the Great Depression.

Kevin Callahan, trustee from the Western Reserve Historical Society, rejoins the show to share Henry Flagler’s rise from failed businessman to one of the co-founder’s of Standard Oil. The oil company, which started in Cleveland, with Rockefeller and Flagler becomes one of the most successful and despised companies in American history.

We follow Flagler’s journey south to Florida in the 1880s, Leslee Keys from Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida shares the history of the Ancient City and Flagler’s landmark resort the Hotel Ponce de Leon. Professor Keys discusses the new empire that Henry Flagler begins to behind along Florida’s Atlantic Coast. Check out Leslee’s book, Hotel Ponce de Leon: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Flagler’s Gilded Age Palace. https://upf.com/book.asp?id=9780813061498

Finally, we sit down with Dr. Paul George from the History Miami Museum and discuss the Roaring Twenties in Florida. Dr. George outlinesHenry Flagler’s final achievement, the Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railroad, completed in 1912. We discuss the historic Florida real estate boom of the 1920s that transforms the state to the hot new destination for America’s fortune seekers. We meet the incomparable developer of Miami Beach, Carl Fisher as his rise and fall mirror that of the entire state in the 1920s. Lastly, we ponder the role of the Sunshine State in two of America’s most infamous financial crises, the Great Depression and the Great Recession of 2008. Visit the History Miami Museum next you’re in South Beach. https://www.historymiami.org

Don’t forget to go and read our book recommendation from this episode Christopher Knowlton’s most excellent 2019 book Bubble in the Sun. Buy it here…https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Bubble-in-the-Sun/Christopher-Knowlton/9781982128388

Don’t forget to visit Ohio v. the World at evergreenpodcasts.com. For all of our past episodes and other great history podcasts from our friends at the Evergreen Podcast Network. Please rate/review the show and you can reach out to us at ohiovtheworld@gmail.com.

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