George Merrick, Son of the South Wind: Visionary Creator of Coral Gables
The story of developers selling off the Sunshine State is as old as the first railroad tracks laid across the peninsula. But seldom do we hear about the men who actually built a better Florida. In George Merrick, Son of the South Wind, South Florida historian Arva Moore Parks recounts George Merrick's quest to distinguish himself from the legions of developers who sought only profit.
Helping to create the land boom of the 1920s, Merrick transformed his family's citrus grove just outside of Miami into one of the finest planned communities: the "master suburb" of Coral Gables. With a team of architects and city planners, he built homes for the growing middle class in the Mediterranean Style using local stone, while investing in public infrastructure by designing and building parks and pools, trolley lines and waterways. He pledged land for a library and the university that would become the University of Miami. Hailed in national publications as a visionary, Merrick was green before green, a New Urbanist before the movement even had a name.
As Coral Gables and Merrick prospered, he reinvested in education, affordable housing, and other progressive causes. But the Great Depression ravaged Miami, and Merrick's idealism cost him his fortune. He died with an estate worth less than $400.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose essays and poems inspired Merrick, wrote, "An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man," and Merrick's legacy is imbued in every stone and every tree of Coral Gables.
With unprecedented access to the Merrick family, and mining a treasure trove of Merrick's personal letters, documents, speeches, and manuscripts, Parks presents the remarkable story of George Merrick and the development of one of the nation's most iconic planned cities.
~ University Press of Florida
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