This is a brilliant and entertainiong essay on Florida. I think I need to read his book.
Florida probably was first sighted by Portuguese navigators, or perhaps by the Cabots sailing from England. Either way, it started appearing on maps as early as 1500. By 1510, its distinctive peninsular shape had emerged clearly on maps in Europe. By 1513, when Ponce de Léon first arrived, so many Europeans had visited Florida that some Indians greeted him in Spanish.
Heh. Yo, Dude! This is America! Speak Injun!
The Spanish never named anything after Ponce de León. It was the plutocrat Henry Flagler — raised, like every red-blooded American boy back then, on the tales of Washington Irving — who resurrected the explorer in the 1880s, naming his grandiose hotel in St. Augustine after him. The Ponce de Léon hotel, like Flagler’s Florida railroad, lost money from the start. “I would have been a rich man,” the tycoon later remarked, “if it hadn’t been for Florida.”
You did OK, Hank, really. And thanks again for that railroad to Key West — hadn’t been for you, most of us would never jave so much as sniffed the place.
Read the essay. Pop quiz Friday.