Planning the GREATER MIAMI — for the Tomorrows
By George E. Merrick
(Printed by Unanimous Resolution of the Miami Realty Board).
As given by Mr. Merrick before the MIAMI REALTY BOARD on Monday May 17, 1937, and at the Miami Bay Front Park Friday May 28, 1937
This material is in the public domain in the United States.
Fellow Realtors, first I want to throw off my shoulders this prophet’s cloak that Emerson Evans and Ted Reber have draped around me, they selected this title for my speech, you know. I am not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet* However, I have had two titles conferred on me, of which I am proud; one of which may justify me somewhat for talking to you tonight. One of these titles was conferred on me for my work in Coral Gables in manifesting Spanish architectural influence, by King Alphonso when he was king of Spain. I was made by him a Knight of the Order of Isabella (I have always admired old Isabella! You will recall she was the only one who believed in Columbus enough to lend him money!)
The other title was conferred on me by a real prophet of this country,—Doc Dammers. It was a title that in his wide national realty experience he bestowed sparingly. To him it meant much in the way of qualifications. He gave me his title—that of “Realestater.” This was before the days that “Realtor” was coined. I claim that title “Real-estater,” as well as the later “Realtor.’
Also for nearly forty years I have been a be-liver in Miami. We should define here what we mean when we say Miami. Miami cannot be bounded by its downtown area, even its city limits. I will attempt to bound the Miami that I mean in talking of it.
Now do not be afraid that I am going to do like the old fervid Fourth of July speech patriots, who used to bound America on the South hy the Southern Gross and on the North by the Aurora Borealis!—But certainly Miami does comprise its tributary area.
On the South is its 160 mile Riviera to Key West; surely, steadily to replace for, wealthy Americans the Spanish – Italian – French Riviera, which for obvious reasons most cannot continue to populate. I have just returned from a trip down that Riviera South of us, through which now is being built an eight million dollar highway. All along it now are springing up estates of that type of Americans. Even on the Island where the greatest Hurricane devastation occurred, is now being built a $200,000 estate enterprise by one of our great national concerns. This 160 mile Riviera —this is Miami!
East of us a magical archipelago, the Bahamas! Truly our eastern suburbs. Some of bur British neighbors may not wholly agree, but ask the thousands of sportsmen to whom Bimini, Berry Island, Andros Island and all the waters between are as familiar as Biscayne Bay. Ask Lou Wasey and his prominent guests at Cat Key,—they will tell you that the Bahamas are Miami’s trade area. Actually from Bimini to San Salvadore, Columbus’ landing place, and our own Elliott’s Key to Turk’s Island, the Bahamas fartherest outpost, that whole, great magical group, that is being built, in whole island, or in part island homes for wealthy, discriminating Americans, American industrial heads. (And all of whom consider Miami their tributary home, their actual winter home center!) All of this great rich romantic area to the East of us— is Miami!
To the West a growing prospering dairy and beef cattle area to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico! (Some say also to become an oil producing area!) Maybe.
But when I hear so many people, so many writers who think and speak and write, as did Garret in the Saturday Evening Post, who wrote of Miami as being on the edge of nothing and that all economical reason stops at Jacksonville, and who otherwise think and act as if Miami was on the edge of a void; I remember that we have in this country west and north of us, over forty prosperous dairies now, and I listen to Bright and others and know that the sixty or seventy mile area between us and the waters of the Gulf is to become, among many other wealth producing things, a great beef cattle area; then I realize how superficial indeed are those writers of articles and those who think of Miami in that way! So that great wealth potential area 70 miles west to the Gulf of Mexico,—this is Miami!
And to the North of us, the so-called ‘Gold Coast” to Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Boca Raton, the upspringing homes and enterprises of the Gene Tunney’s, the Colonel McCormicks, the Alfred Sloans, hundreds of other national achievers; and of Port Everglades and all that came from the conception of Joseph Young—that is Miami! And also to the North—to Lake Okeechobee, that vast wonderful area that our old friend Vance Helm delighted in comparing to the Valley of the Nile, (and which those who saw the thousands of acres of green carpet, prior to the last large water, realized that the comparison was indeed a fair simile) —that area through which Road No. 26 is being built and upon which its produce will be brought to our greater ports—this area is Miami!
And all that great Miami Beach is, all that came there from the first Conceptions of Collins and of Fisher, and all that Coral Gables and pioneer aristocratic Coconut Grove is,—all this is Miami! Truly, we have a great basis, a wide foundation laid for a big city!
Now there is little doubt that what we know as “smart money ” wise money, represented by such as the Du Ponts, the Dohertys, Walgreens, etc., are believing that Miami is to be a city of one million people within twenty years, there is little doubt but that the Utility Companies are now building with that belief, spending great sums on the basis of that belief. I think for the purpose of this talk, we can take for granted as a premise that we have sound reason for building and working for a city with a population of one million people within the next twenty years. Let us proceed on that premise.
But now we are not only visioning a big city, but a great city, one truly great! Such a city is balanced. Such a city is of proportion. Such balance, and such proportion as are so satisfying as one looks at some of these old ancient Colonial homes of New England, proper balance, proper proportion. And it is in such a truly great city, and only in such, that we may have individually and collectively a future of greatest satisfaction and of greatest prosperity. Therefore, our present planning must be directed towards such a true pattern; such a truly great city of balance and proportion. And the planning of which I speak tonight, has been thus thought, thus directed. The items I will mention are not to be considered as my own exclusive conception (few of them are), they are the composite conception of many.
In order to be brief tonight, I will not dwell on more than the ideas themselves. Much of this planning has been conceived in the two years hard work of the Planning Council, of which I have been, and am the Chairman. Our Dade County Planning Council is a part of the State and national planning structure initiated by President Roosevelt, and headed in Washington by his Uncle Franklin Delano. Thus from Washington into the smallest county, the national and state planning structure operates. Our own Planning Council was created by the last Legislature and we were appointed by the Governor, therefore, we are an official component part of this national planning structure, which means much to County, State and Nation, in its future operation. Now I shall group this planning into three phases:
First,—Planning for the funamental living of the million to be here in twenty years.
Second,—Planning for the types of population who are to do this living. Third,—Planning for the manner of living. And now because our tomorrows grow largely out of our yesterdays, and because with true insight we may trace the true pattern of our tomorrow from our yesterdays, I will endeavor to focus our thoughts on some of our yesterdays in tracing the pattern and in pointing up some of these ideas.
There was an ancient highway along the edge of Biscayne Bay at Coconut Grove that was called the Coconut Grove Trail. This existed when I came in 1898. It had been the Bay Edge Highway for Seminole on back to ancient Calusas. Running from the old Indian trading post at the mouth of the Miami River on back to the early Indian hunting grounds at Old Cutler. As the first estates were built in Coconut Grove, this ancient highway was preserved by estate owners, back country people, and all. The first real estate salesman used this Coconut Grove Trail as the best means of conveying to a stranger the meaning, the translation of the Biscayne Bay country. It was an accepted formula for the first real estate agents (and I see a former associate of one of those, here now —Mr. Fairfield, who used to be associated with that pioneer real estate man, Colonel Waddell) ; to take the prospective buyer of an estate or small grove tract down this trail. If he was young, we would take him a long way down, past Colonel Evans place, where is now Cocoplum Plaza. If old, not so far down, just past the Peacock Inn grounds to Munroe’s place. But each prospect got that Coconut Grove Trail treatment.
Increasing sales in the back country, back of the Bay-fronters estates, without exception were sold by reason of that Coconut Grove Trail.
Along about 1908 by concerted movement, the increasing Bayfront estate owners closed that trail to the public. A holler went up from the back country people and resentments established that still exist, lines were drawn between back country and Bay-fronters, that still continue, but the trail was closed. That was the beginning of the closing of almost all Biscayne Bay access to the people in the rear of the Bay-front estates.
Now when we have a million people in Miami, we must have water access for all. Access to Biscayne Bay, to the ocean, to the Gulf Stream for a million people! This, we believe is fundamental here. It is also fundamentally geared to the increasing trend of the times also; Remember, I am not depreciating the value to our country of great «states, I am not talking against wealthy residents. We want more and more of them. But our great city of balance and proportion must have water access for all our residents, whether Bay-fronters or ten miles back from the Bay.
Therefore, it is proposed to utilize our remaining water front availabilities as follows. It is planned that a water edge highway be built beginning at Matheson Park and continuing on down the Bay, (the widest most beautiful part of the Bay) fo Card Sound Bridge, twenty-five miles south where it would join the Over Seas highway. Just north of that point at Arsenicker Keys, a causeway is proposed to be built across the lower end of the Bay to Old Rhodes and Elliotts Key, then a highway on up along the edge of the Gulf Stream via Soldiers Key, Biscayne Key—to connect with the eighteen million dollar city plan of which Evans has been telling you, involved in this Pan American Fair Plan and the City Airport—Virginia Key-Causeway development project, and thus back into Miami. This would comprise a fifty mile water edge loop, such as no city in the United States, probably not in the world, has to offer. This would preserve water access for our twenty years hence million people. This must be done, bit by bit, within the next twenty years.
Along this fifty mile loop, many public beaches will be developed, (such as Tahiti Beach on the Bay side) and miles of tropical ocean, and Bay beaches on the other side, along Elliotts Key, etc. Thus water access, water use, will be preserved for the millions. Thus the Coconut Grove Trail of the yesterdays will be transformed into the fifty mile loop, that can similarly be used by all of us for selling, and for satisfying the million.
The waterways that now lead from Biscayne Bay back into the interior, it is proposed shall be treated as our greatest northern cities have developed their waterways. They provide the most ideal advantages for safe, beautiful, water-front living. Those who know what is happening now to the developing and huilding along the Coral Gables waterway, will remember also that I was laughed at for that plan. Its present and immediate future development is justifying me. I am sure I am going to have the “last laugh” in that instance. This, and a half dozen other present waterways, and others just as logical to be built at proper points leading in from the Bay, will in the next twenty years provide our most beautiful waterway arteries of residences and of tropical waterfront beauty. The locks that are later to be put in all the Everglades Canals, shall logically be located ten miles inland on each waterway, thus providing for this waterway residential beautification development.
To the north on the Bay, there are approximately twelve miles remaining where water-edge highways must be built, starting south of Arch Creek and running along the upper Bay and along Dumfoundling Bay to Hollywood.
Now the Bay itself is becoming one great cess pool! Miami’s present project, u great modern $5,000,000 sewerage disposal plant, it is imperative to be established soon in order to preserve the Bay for proper use for our present and coming population.
In ’99 I took loads of vegetables to the old P. & O. dock, which was then the only dock between Jacksonville and Key West. I loaded cabbage and potatoes into Flagler steamers going to Cuba and Nassau. Miami thus was even then in ’99 ait international port, before it had any water commerce whatever with our other States. Today, developing rapidly as an international port, as we know, Miami is still in much the same shape as regarding coastwise and State commerce. Our provisions are pitifully inadequate. Looking at the miles of commercial facilities at Jacksonville and along the St. Johns River; one must realize that proper facilities for the next twenty years would encumber, and take up our entire Bay on both sides, including islands proposed to be made and turn our whole upper Bay into one undesirable commercial mess. It is proposed as logical that a model Houston type industrial basin be created west of Miami, utilizing a deepened Miami River as the channel thereto. West of the city where—with a confluence of waterways and of present railroads accomodation, the bulk of our U. S. port commerce could be more efficiently handled. Our railroad facilities must be taken to the west in order to preserve the proper character of our City. ‘The traffic up and down the river can be handled at stated hours, just as in the Chicago waterway through the heart of that great city, crossed by numberless bridges carrying that city’s great traffic.
In the late 90’s there was one paved highway leading out and into Miami. The five mile white road between Coconut Grove and Miami, through Brickell Hammock. This for some years was our bottle-neck road, down which the Bay-fronters and the rapidly increasing hack country people had to come in and out of Miami. We did not get any relieving highways into the country back of the Bay until we elected Sam Belcher, County Commissioner. Then we got a road where is now the Tamiami Trail, out for six miles and we got our first north and south road—which is now Lejeune Road, connecting from it down into Coconut Grove. True, these first thoroughfares were only eight feet wide, but to us they were great highways. And they have become great highways.
Now today we have one great bottle-neck highway— Biscayne Boulevard. It is proposed there must be created at least four new Biscayne Boulevards, as north and south arterial highways. Preferably 12th Avenue, 27th Avenue and Red Road, and as the fourth, the great super-highway down along from Hollywood to Kendall, where is now the East Coast track (which would be routed westward under the industrial hasin plan). There would be at the County Entrance on North, a great diversion or routing park, whereby those arriving from the north would be diverted into the particular highway routing them to the part of the city of their desire (instead of as now having to come in on one bottle-neck road, beautiful as it is, and then have to take narrow, traffic-jammed roads westward to the part of the city desired.
Back in the late 90’s there was one park in Miami,—in the whole Miami area! The park that Flagler had built around the Royal Palm Hotel, but this our first park, was really a Royal Park, for it was designed and planned by men who knew, by artists, planners, plant authorities who visioned! It would be hard to say how great an influence that first park has had upon the moulding of Miami’s character—in determining the class of citizenry that has been brought here. It will be hard to say how much that park has had to do in the preventing of Miami from becoming another Kissimmee, Tampa or Jacksonville! Remember, those are alright cities—but they are not Miamis. The next great park that we got, was our magnificient Bayfront Park. If that old “Bankers Commission” had nothing else to its credit, our hats should go off to that Commission for that achievement, and most especially because they had the vision to secure Warren Manning to do it. Each one of you go through that Bayfront Park, as I do often, and look about you understanding^ and you will realize, as do I, how much that Park has meant and is meaning to our greatest future. You will realize as you see that Park designed masterfully by Warren Manning, that Park is thoroughly an International Park,—one that an understanding inhabitant of Vienna, Berlin or Paris, would take their hats off to; why it is that this Realty Board has done wisely in backing up our Planning Council’s demand that a City Planner like Warren Manning or John Nolen be employed by the Miami City Commission to direct its planning during its coming great years. Recently, various magazines have carried the stories of what John Nolen’s similar city planning for San Diego has meant in its manifestations. A great civic center, park planning, etc., these writers see in them many millions in value to San Diego. Let this Board right here. resolve to continue to pound and insist upon the employment of a John Nolen type of City Planner to be at the helm of all this vital work for Miami’s future.
We have other good parks it is true, Simpson Park, and many others, but go through them, and then go understanding^ through Warren Manning’s Bayfront Park, and you cannot help but see what I mean, and why we must stand firm for this City Planner demand.
Now a greater step forward in park planning and achievement is under way. I doubt if any of you are aware of the great meaning that Matheson Park has for our future,—(and here I want to say that it is chiefly Charles Crandon, who is its chief daddy, and who has always been the chief leader in the highway beautification around Miami, and who is deserving of our greatest appreciation and support). I suggest that all of you become conscious of the meaning of the advantages for our coming years in the great beginning at Matheson Park. It is the first achievement of bringing “water use” to the masses. I will not attempt to give more on this. Our greatest park of all and towards which Matheson Park is the logical step, I will discuss towards the end of my talk.
Now in the three years when I used to peddle vegetables in Miami—from 1898, I used to take my load around to the several hundred homes, whose men worked largely for Flagler, then to the P. & O. steamers, if they were in, or to the Royal Palm Hotel, if it was in season. If I had anything in the wagon left over, I would go over into negro town and get rid of it. Sadly, but truly, that is the picture of how We have always treated our negro population. If anything is left over, or anything we do not want, then the negroes get that. Today one third of our present population is negro. When we will have a million people, we will have at least a fourth of a million negroes. Today this third of our present citizenry are effectively denied water access and “water use.” Now collectively, as well as individually, we cannot receive fairness, unless we give fairness. It is proposed—for Miami at least, that this unfair condition be remedied. It is proposed to give fairness to this deserving one third of our citizenry. It is proposed that at a proper point on this proposed fifty mile water Loop, that a great Bay beach be established and forever preserved for negro use. And that similarly, on the ocean side of the Loop that similar advantages be established and preferably in one whole little island facing on the Gulf Stream, which could ideally.be made there for them an ocean and Gulf Stream park.
Next, it is visioned and proposed that during the next twenty years, a complete slum clearance be made, effectively removing every negro family from the present city limits. And it is proposed that this not be done in the “Marble City” or Liberty City manner ; (that project, good and laudable as it is, is not the proper solution of the local tropical negro housing problem.) The proper model for this Miami negro housing problem, is to be found in Nassau in their negro town—called Grants Town. Here, is a population of over 10,000 negroes housed under ideal tropical conditions. Each plot is a quarter of an acre to an acre. Each plot is covered like a thick jungle with a wide variety of tropical fruit trees producing one half of each family’s living. The houses are not expensive, but they are suitable, they are what these people themselves want and like. They are a mixture of African, English and Spanish. They are attractive, artistic, home-like, but above everything else, they are what these people want. This is a self-respecting community that has been crimeless for fifty years. This Grants Town is the model of which it is proposed three such towns be established—north, central and south in the Miami County area. It should be the goal that this plan be completely accomplished within twenty years. This is a most essential fundamental of our great balanced city of a million. With this must come a county-wide, county controlled transportation system. Whereby these negroes and other workers can be brought back and forth at a very cheap rate.
The identical plan is now in effect in Nassau, a thirty mile long island, whereby such workers are transported at extremely low rates. This can be done by a county controlled, county wide transportation system. Here let me say that our Planning Council has requested and insistently pushed for the present Legislature to give our County Commission certain powers enabling them to initiate and control some of the things that I am suggesting in this talk. So far we have not succeeded. This must succeed, as the County Commission must have these powers in order to establish and preserve from private domination, these I essential factors of our large city’s growth. The Zoning Act that is now being secured in Tallahassee, is only the primary step in the necessary powers that must be given to our County Commission.
And now the second phase of our planning for our truly great city. Planning for the types of population that are to comprise the million. In our Planning Council work we have called this “planned population appeal.”
I can see the little packing shed that my father built in ’98, on what is now the edge of Granada Golf Course, Coral Gables, on one afternoon in the winter of ’99. The pine corner post of that old packing house still stands partially imbedded in a wild rubber tree at the street corner of my former home on Greenway Drive, Coral Gables. (When the street was built I preserved this corner A post that the rubber tree had taken possession of). That afternoon, Henry M. Flagler was talking with my father, we were packing eggplant, peppers and beans. The gist of what he was saying to my father has always stuck with me. He said then, and on several other occasions when he stopped by to see my father, while Flagler was developing at Kendall, what came to be known as the Flagler Grove (and on other occasions after his interest grew in me, subsequent to my winning the Flagler Sweepstake prize for best vegetable exhibit, in 1900 at the Dade County Fair, which Flagler m fostered)—he said, “That the final civilization that would come to be in the Miami area, would be based upon successful exploitation of our unique tropical resources in growing and in manufacturing what was grown.” He said—“that our greatest prosperity must result from bringing the mass population into successful and happy work and develop, rather than be based exclusively on the moreartificial type of living manifested in the population filling his great hotel.” I came to know that Flagler meant this; that it was deep within him! As proved by his great efforts at showing the way towards the exploitation of these very tropical resources for the mass population.
As a piece of this same picture, I think too, of a little jelly factory operated in the late 90’s and early 1900’s by pioneer Captain Simmons, on what is now known as the “Kampong” estate of Dr. Fairchild. On the homestead that my father first bought, the original homesteader had left as his only achievement about a half acre of his guava trees. Our first Fall and Winter, these fruited heavily. We hardly knew what they were; but we had heard about this little jelly factory of Captain Simmons. I picked the ripe ones daily until the crop was through; and then we found that, from that half acre, around $200 had been secured in cash from the guavas that had been made up into jelly, to be sent by Captain Simmons to the north and to England. I remember so well my father saying that was good evidence of the true solution for establishing happy, prosperous settlers here; namely, growing stuff for processing, rather than for fresh shipment.
This is the bafeis of Henry Ford’s great idea for northern agriculture and rural population prosperity. It is the theme of his chemurgic councils held yearly in Dearborn and attended by the greatest scientists’ of our country, and who say his work is pointing the way for greatest mass prosperity. If such is true in the north, it is more than ever true in this tropical part of Florida, where every crop of the whole tropical belt of the world can be profitably, successfully grown for processing industrially into nationally used products.
Along this line, I think too of the yesterdays of Henry Perrine, who 100 years ago predicted to Congress that this Miami area could sustain a population as intensive as Java, based upon the uniting of tropical growing and of industry processing that grow into internationally used products. I think of the yesterdays of Broward, father of the Everglades development and whom I heard several times reiterate “that South Florida could profitably sustain a million people, based on the intelligent exploitation of our unique tropical growing and manufacturing resources.”
I think of the yesterdays of Dr. Fairchild, Popenoe, Dr. Gifford: missionaries of this same J theme—Tropical Tree gardens—uniting tropical growing and industry! I think of that yesterday when Joe Young told me “Merrick, we must find some way to bring them here, not only to “live and spend,” but to—“live and earn.” I want to say to our body of realtors that we must stand for the intelligent carrying into effect of this true pattern from our yesterdays, of these true visions of those wise prophets of our greatest future,— from Perrine on down to our own Dr. Fairchild and Dr. Gifford.
A civilization that is so much based upon gambling as ours in Miami today, cannot in the end be permanent or most satisfying, or most prosperous! For you know that everything based upon gambling can come to a sudden end, nation-wide revulsions against such have happened before in many countries! Have you thought what would happen here in Miami if all that is based on gambling was swept away? But we must-even if these elements must remain—in order to achieve our truly great city—of balance and of proportion, we must eventually work out the pattern of the Perrines.’
And in the working out of this pattern, will be found the full prosperity and population mak-ing solution of the trailer problem, the tourist camp problem, the transient, “hobo express’ problem!
And with this type of population appeal in volume effect, must come a county wide, county controlled water system—chiefly for irrigation purposes. In this we have our precedent in Los Angeles County. Down the Keys, close on the heels of the eight million dollar highway, they are pushing for a Keys long water system, not only for house use, but chiefly for irrigation. This, they will get—and remember it is Miami tributary area. (Elliott’s Key, one of the greatest Keys potentialities^ is entirely in Dade County). Putting abundance of water on these Keys will develop a tropical “Imperial Valley.” Every fruit and product of the tropics can then be grown there in lush abundance. The fountain head of this water supply for the Keys should be Dade County controlled. And this /ountam head—County controlled, should be the beginning of a County-wide water system. Especially because the area south of the Miami River (and much of that north of the River) is in almost the same degree as the Keys, potentially a great tropical “Imperial Valley ” requiring only the abundance of water—which it must have in abundance for this type of land use under the Perrine plan.
And now, finally, we come to the planning for the “manner of living”
Back in 1925 and 26, William Jennings Bryan was speaking daily at the Venetian Pool. One of the illustrations that he loved to use, was that of Florida being a great finger pointing to our true destiny. Nearly every one here remembers that figure of speech of his and the pictures of our future which he drew from it. Nearly all of you remember how he applied that to our great destiny in Southern Countries’ commerce, his vision, along that line is amply borne out by the yearly increasing air commerce, especially. Not so many remember, as do I, (and this part struck me the more deeply because it was the voicing of my own deeply felt, though unvoiced ideas)—namely, that, that great finger pointed us to our greatest destiny also in a “manner of living” In effect he pointed out the civilization south of us gave greater emphasis to the beauty, the joys of living. He emphasized that, that was the greatest basis of Miami’s peculiar lure and that we must cultivate it to a greater degree in our own Miami civilization. He said, “call it romance, lure, poetry, or youth,— that it was our very atmosphere here. That we must not let it diminish, but by properly applying its real worth as our greatest actual asset, to bring it ever into fuller manifestation here in Miami.” Bryan pointed out graphically that it was this element in our very air that impelled Flagler in his late seventies to undertake his greatest achievement and was also the dynamic stirring of Carl Fisher, who had come-here to retire, into the creation of Miami Beach. And he used to end—-that it was the very fountain of youth itself right here in Miami, and that irresistibly impelled young and old into new and greater achievement.” I believed what he said then; I believe it more than ever now! I emphasize this tonight, because we are in great danger in Miami now, through lack of proper appreciation of all this, our greatest asset,—of letting it die out.
What do you suppose it was that transformed the thousands of acres of rock and pine, such as many of you knew Coral Gables originally to be, into that which Coral Gables is today? It was not alone the spending of millions of dollars. No, it was the understanding application of romance, of our indigenous romance! It was the intelligent exploitation of that native romance, and manifested in architecture setting, artistry, and especially in tropical planting,—(for Coral Gables is the greatest ensemble of tropical planting in the Miami area).
Here, I must recall that lately it has been impressed upon me how so many of our people feel that this native element—romance, is a thing only for women. Recently, Dr. Fairchild in a speech before a great body of prominent citizens, said “what we need is romance, even more romance here.” What he meant was a greater understanding and manifestation of that which is our very life here. Recently, a lawyer who . has been here twenty years, hearing me talk about the frang-ipanni, asked what is the frangipanni? I have no doubt that many of you here do not know what this is, even though you may have been here for years. I use the frangipanni as a type only, of the wealth of romance in our tropical plantings, from every part of the tropical globe. It is one of our most exotic flowers. Just now Key West is lovely with it. One kind is native to the Bahamas, east of us. The most beautiful colored varieties come from the South Seas. It thrives here. Many of the finest specimens are to be seen in negro town. It is an adventure in romance to còme upon these exotic flowerings as typical of our unique romance element in our very backyards. Recently, another substantial citizen, who is in this room, after hearing me talk about tropical plants and what they meant in the way of actual financial assets to every one of us here, (I say this not critically, but entirely friendly)—that all such was good for the garden clubs! I say to you, that all this is not just for garden clubs, for women. It is a mans business! This proper understanding and appreciation underlies our greatest values and prosperity. Take away from Miami all that this means, let all this die out among us from lack of proper appreciation and use—and Miami must inevitably become another McKees Port, Pa. (and those of you, who like myself, have gone through McKees Port, Pa., know just what I mean ! )
And now at this point, I speak of our greatest park, that is on the way,—and that within twenty years, will come into great actuality. The proposed Fairchild Tropical Gardens at Chapman Field. Under the guidance and with the financial help of a group of wealthy citizens, we will have there a tropical arboretum modeled after the Kew Gardens, London; the British Gardens in Georgetown, Barbados; and the great Royal Dutch Tropical Arboretum in Java. This great Tropical Arboretum Park will be the climax of our park system, that started back in the little Royal Palm gardens, started around the Royal Palm hotel in 1896. This great Arboretum Park, in which abundantly will be displayed under natural growth conditions, the palms, vines, flowerings of all the tropics;—here will be for home people, for our entire million-to-be, our greatest guide, teacher, way shower into greater horticultural and industrial prosperity ; and for tourists the greatest drawing appeal that can conceivably be put here. It will he a perpetual “World’s Fair99 of the tropical plant world,! If you don’t believe it will draw population, go to the great Arnolds Arboretum of northern plants outside of Boston. See how for months in the year, it draws from the entire nation. This great Tropical Arboretum will be the only one in main-land America. Supplementing Everglades National Park, this will prove a goal for millions of Americans and from many foreign countries also.
Allied with this great Fairchild Arboretum, will be a great Park of Color. Propably separated, and put upon cheaper land farther south, (because it will take hundreds of acres for this kind of park.) Here will be created a true International Park of Color. Here in many acre mass, will be displayed in full flower at their respective seasons, the most spectacular colors of Brazil, Madagascar, Tahiti and scores of other tropical countries—displayed in twenty-—fifty acre, even 100 acre masses of brilliant ponciana, jacaranda, golden cassia, frangipanni, hibiscus, and the scores of other brilliant colored flowerings of these countries. This kind of an international park will be absolutely unique. Just as tourists are invited to Hawaii for th poinciana flowering period, in this—our international Park of Color, there will be here a different monthly reason for’similar pilgrimages throughout the entire year, for discriminating peoples of the nation and foreign countries. I ask you to imagine a greater translator to the mass of living and moneymaking possibilities for our Miami country than these two great parks-to-be Fairchild Arboretum and the International Park of Color?
Still emphasizing in this final, and it is final, passage—Bryan’s “manner of living,” I now recall another yesterday. Two weeks after the ’26 hurricane, a group of Miami citizens sat in an unroofed building and decided upon the opening of the University of Miami. Everything literally was down around their knees. Everything pointed to the financial wisdom of waiting at least a year before opening the university; The judgment of the bankers, the cold-headed business heads of the community counseled for waiting—doing it later, when, and if, the area could get on its feet again, and when such superfluities of living as a University could then be more sensibly thought out. But that little group of citizens decided to open the university, and it was opened! They decided that it was essential because they thought the area right then needed inspiration! The history of the University of Miami since that day to this having passed through such vicissitudes as no other University in the nation has passed through, and still has come to great stature in community, state and nation, and with a present enrollment of over 1,200 serving thirty odd states and a number of foreign countries; and vitally having served, and serving, our community all these years with that same necessary, vital inspirational ask you tonight, was not that little group of citizens back in that hurricane yesterday right, absolutely right?
So I say to you if ever inspiration was needed in Miami in that yesterday-period, that it is much I more needed today with the present over-emphasis upon gambling and everything that it means—with the attendant tendency downwards in all ways that this over-emphasizing of gambling has meant and is meaning to Miami. Truly, every one of us here tonight must stand and work for the University of Miami, as our greatest city building tool towards the truly great city that we are visioning! And it is now planned by means of a present Bill in the Legislature, sponsored by our Planning Council, that a small county-wide millage be used for support of the University from now on, thus making it an actual county-wide tool.
Truly, not alone is the University our greatest “paver-of-the-way” for our commercial prosperity by way of Pan America; truly, not only is it our greatest tool for tropical research, discovering new products, new processing, new ways of attracting prosperous population,— truly, not only is it our greatest single tool for creating the right kind of population, as has happened in Southern California from its great University (and our University must become in twenty years one of 25,000 enrollment, which will bring in with such, at~least 100,000 permanent citizens). But above all, we need the University of Miami, with all it means in science, theatre, art, institute of literature, symphony orchestra, adult education, forums; we need it, I say, most as a great leavening of the material lump that Miami is so greatly in danger of becoming. We need it more and more as a great leavener, as our highest Miami inspiration!
And now, at the end, I want to remind you that everything nowadays has its theme song! When you go to the movies or you listen to the radio, sooner or later, crooner or Supreme Court Justice must go into his song and dance. I now go into mine. My theme song appropos of all this that I have been trying to say, is sung by thousands of our most understanding pioneers; pioneers that greet you as you come from the north at Stuart on the lower ridge, and at Ft. Myers;—-for truly where the Coconut begins, there Miami begins! This theme song of our truly great city is sung by the coconuts. Consider for a moment the coconut. It is the most utilitarian of trees. It. is the only tree that when fully matured bears fruit every day in the year. Also, it yields for man’s utility, food, clothing, housing, materials for many more of his needs. It is, as I say, the most utilitarian of trees. But it is also the happiest of trees. Look at it daytimes, alive in the trade-winds, or with the moonlight, night times, streaming down its fronds. It lives with beauty. It knows music, poetry, art. It actually lives the graces and the joys of living.
May we not think that every one of these understanding pioneers of our Miami country,— whether in backyard or on ocean beach,—may we not believe, that each one of these point to a future, a possible, a truly great city, in which, in human condition, similarly, utility and beauty,— full, abundant living—may thus be equally balanced?
EDITORS AND LAST UPDATE
John William Bailly 29 March 2022