Florida ’s contemporary history is deemed by many to have started on the day in 1971 when the Walt Disney World Resort opened. On that day the state was transformed from a somewhat quirky land of beaches, swamps, and roadside attractions into one of the world’s foremost tourist destinations. While the impact was felt most immediately in the Central Florida region, it also upped the ante throughout the state when it came to attracting tourists. Many cities also focused on other areas: Miami  struggled with the impact of waves of Cuban immigration throughout the 1960s and again in the 1980s, the latter period representing a population explosion that would have been difficult enough to deal with even if Miami hadn’t seen its economy falter and its crime rate skyrocket due to drug violence. Jacksonville  had extensive issues with segregation as late as the 1980s, and cities like Tampa  and Fort Lauderdale witnessed their urban cores explode as suburban sprawl irrevocably altered their geographic and cultural identity.
Still, through it all, people just keep coming to Florida. Even the recent real estate boom—which again hit Florida disproportionately hard due to rampant speculation—has been viewed as a temporary setback. After all, the lure of swamps, gators, scrubland…I mean, blue skies, gentle breezes, and swaying palm trees is eternal.