New book lists Florida’s most-influential people
Some of the most influential people in the history of Florida include household names such as Henry Flagler, Walt Disney and ... Fidel Castro?
According to a new book from former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux and co-author Laura Mize, the late Cuban dictator’s unlikely role in molding the Sunshine State had to do with his authoritarian regime, which was so bad it precipitated the influx of Cuban residents that remade Miami. It was a “sleepy, Southern town” before Cubans and other Hispanics started flooding in and changing the city into today’s bustling international metropolis.
“Some of the most talented, successful people of Latin America resettled in Miami,” LeMieux said.
The book Florida Made: The 25 Most Important Figures Who Shaped the State was recently published and includes profiles of other influential people such as:
German rocket scientist Kurt Debus, who moved the National Aeronautics and Space Administration headquarters to Cape Canaveral.
Inventor John Gorrie, who is considered the father of the modern air conditioning unit, which allowed people to stave off the summer heat.
Hamilton Disston, who bought a chunk of Florida land bigger than the state of Connecticut, spurring economic growth and causing Flagler to extend his railway all the way down the state.
The impact that Walt Disney had on Central Florida and tourism in the state with the development of Disney World outside of Orlando defies measurement.