When you ask people today what comes to mind when they think of Florida, they will probably think of warm weather year round, beautiful tropical beaches, palm trees everywhere, and Disney world, i.e. tourism. However, if you would have asked people 50 years ago or longer then they probably would have said, “Oranges! Lots and lots of oranges!” I can even remember taking pride in my home state as a child (even though oranges weren’t grown in my hometown in North Florida) whenever I watched an orange juice commercial boasting in Florida having the best oranges in America. That wasn’t even that long ago. That was the 1990s!
Florida, like any other community, has evolved in its image to the world over time. For a long time, after Florida was incorporated as a state, the population was concentrated in the northern & panhandle regions. The people who lived there were rich southern farmers with plantations and slave labor. It wasn’t long before wealthy Americans in the Northeast began vacationing down in the uninhabited (and warmer) central & south florida, and eventually settling down there. The political differences between Northerners in south Florida and Southerners in north Florida have created the “swing state” that we know of today when it comes to presidential elections.
In our future, it seems that Florida is changing its image yet again. From a transient community of tourists at beaches, hotels, & theme parks to a large, growing permanent community families & businesses who want to settle down here. People & businesses have been moving down here for a while. The difference is that now so many are accumulating that people are starting to take notice. Pretty soon, the residents will outnumber the tourists.