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Why did beachcombing in what is now the Miami coastline prove rewarding in the 1800s?


For ships in the days of sail, the Gulf Stream, which flows past the Florida east coast, offered the advantage of speeding one's passage. Dangers attended that route, however, for occupying the coastal shelf from Palm Beach County southward to Key West and the Tortugas are a series of coral reefs with which wooden ships could and often did collide and founder. It was from the potential bounty of such maritime misfortunes that wrecking arose as an important industry along the southeastern Florida coast. Those, so professionally inclined, would sail out to a wreck and salvage as much of the cargo and, indeed, of the ship itself, as was possible, realizing a percentage of the value thereof, as their reward. But many items from such distressed ships simply washed up on shore, providing pioneer beachcombers, isolated at the end of a long peninsula from the outside world, with a wide variety of useful items. Certainly, there are many instances of timbers from wrecked ships or from their cargos finding their way into local construction projects.

Answer: Valuable cargo could be found.

Posted at 06:00 AM on December 30, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

For what purpose was the structure overlooking Biscayne Bay, known as Fort Brickell, established?


Known variously as "that unnecessary war" or "that splendid little war,” hostilities between the United States and Spain erupted between April and August of 1898. Many eastern seaboard cities feared they would soon be subjected to bombardment by a Spanish fleet. Miami was no exception. Actually, the last thing the decidedly weak Spanish fleet would want was to find itself in the harbor of a major American city, not that Miami, as yet, qualified as such[o1] . Nevertheless, there was much apprehension and, to allay these concerns, "Fort Brickell,” a small, two gun fortification, was constructed, overlooking Biscayne Bay, to defend the community. It never saw action. 

Answer: To forestall a Spanish attack during the Spanish-American War

 [o1]The Miamians in their panic also forgot that Biscayne Bay was too shallow for any war ship to enter. Government Cut and a deep water channel were still six years into the future.


Just another side comment that requires no text changes.

Posted at 06:00 AM on December 23, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Who first brought electricity to Miami?


Electrical generation in the United States grew exponentially during the 1880s and 1890s. For purposes of illumination and supplying motive power, it was clearly the wave of the future. Not long after the arrival of Henry Flagler's first train to Miami in 1896, that community was officially incorporated as a "city.” But, of course, in actual size it was hardly what we would call a village. It had no electrical service. So, when Flagler opened his large grand hotel, the "Royal Palm,” in 1897, nothing would do but the local introduction of generators which would produce electricity for his 400 room hotel and, incidentally, for the growing town around it. Some years later, Carl Fisher extended electric service from Miami to Miami Beach, where it would help "illuminate" the aggressive development there undertaken by Collins and Fisher. A corporate name familiar to all South Floridians, Florida Power and Light, was born with the merger of Flagler and Fisher's two original companies on December 28th, 1925.

Answer: Henry Flagler


Posted at 06:00 AM on December 16, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Who was a landowner on Miami Beach in the 1880s and what did he do there?


In the early 1880s, what we know as Miami Beach was simply a barrier island, featuring swarms of mosquitoes, acres of sand spurs and a shore dominated by thick mangrove growth.  Although the island had once hosted an Indian presence, it has been abandoned well before Henry Lum sailed up to Biscayne Bay from Key West during the winter of 1881-1882. Hailing from New Jersey, Lum bought a tract just north of Norris Cut and started raising coconuts. The enterprise caught the eye of his acquaintance Ezra Osborn, also of New Jersey, a well-known engineer of the time. Forming a company for the purpose of raising coconuts, the men proceeded to secure all the vacant beach lands from Cape Florida to Jupiter. Coconuts were imported from various Caribbean locales and gangs of men used to working on such coastal projects were brought in from New Jersey. The expenditure for this sizable operation was over $100,000.  But the project ultimately failed due to poor soil quality, occasional frosts, and the destruction of young plants by rats and rabbits. 

Answer: Henry Lum, who attempted to raise coconuts.

Posted at 06:00 AM on December 9, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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