| eginning in the late nineteenth century, members
of the nation's elite transformed remote areas of Georgia and Florida into luxurious
vacation havens. The region's tropical climate, natural beauty, and rich cultural heritage
attracted many of the country's wealthiest families. This sudden discovery was due in
large part to the nation's burgeoning transportation system. Steamboats and new rail
lines, and the later emergence of the automobile, allowed wealthy Northerners to escape
frigid winters and bask in the mild southern climate. The collapse of the
South's plantation economy after 1865 also made large tracts of land available at bargain
prices for resort development.
Wealthy business leaders such as Henry Flagler and Thomas Carnegie created magnificent tropical paradises the country hadn't seen before. Today, many clubhouses, hotels, and private homes from this period remain as reminders of an age when the well-to-do ushered in winter havens throughout the Golden Crescent.