19th Century Florida Hotels

2780 Words12 Pages
The Gilded Age in the United States saw unprecedented wealth being amassed. It coincided with the Industrial Revolution that brought about such innovations and technology as the telephone, growth of machine tools, the broad use of iron in construction, and assembly lines that allowed industrialists to increase production and reduce costs. Great wealth lead to increased leisure time and the rise of grand resort hotels throughout the United States. Railroad developments were key to both the Gilded Age and Industrial Revolution. Their magnates grew wealthy as they opened up the country and created grand resort hotels. Henry Flagler and Henry Plant were responsible for opening Florida to the grand tradition of luxurious travel. Flagler and Plant, both railroad tycoons, became hoteliers on an impressive scale, catering to the conspicuous consumption of the Gilded Age. Their hotels brought to Florida grand architecture, and most of the time, experimenting with different styles. The hotels of Flagler and Plant “relied upon the decorative and associational appeal of architectural styles to create luxury winter resort hotels that exhibited an unprecedented sense of fantasy and conspicuous luxury.” (fig. 1) The grandeur of the architecture of these hotels has stood the test of time and continues to impress visitors today, still as hotels or as different and mixed use buildings. Figure 1: The Resort Hotel of the Gilded Age and beyond. www.aarf.com But what made a resort hotel of the Gilded Age? The Gilded Age – from post civil-war to 1910 – was defined by the extravagant displays of wealth and excess of the expanded upper-class. Titans of industry, Flagler and Plant, made their wealth on railroads that then made it possible for them to create their stunning hotels. Railroad access opened Florida to the wealthy Northerners who sought out warmer destinations
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