Room 204 Immigration to Florida Audio Transcript

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This room focuses on the struggles and contributions of immigrants in Florida. In 2001, Florida had the third-largest immigrant population in the United States, after California and New York. The story of immigration in Florida started over twelve-thousand years ago, as early Native Americans migrated here. Europeans came in the 1500s and brought many Africans here as slaves. By statehood in 1845, many farmers and planters from Georgia, Alabama, Virginia and the Carolinas had migrated into Florida.

After the Civil War, Northerners moved into Florida, and between 1870 and 1900, Florida’s population nearly tripled. Bahamians migrated in the 19th and 20th centuries and helped develop Key West, Miami and Coconut Grove. By 1900, railroads opened new areas of Florida and many Americans moved to Florida and began buying land. In 1915, the Dixie Highway was completed, allowing automobiles to travel from Midwest states to Florida. Family vacations became popular and the booming tourist industry brought thousands of waiters, hotel staff and others to support vacationers. Some tourists moved to Florida permanently.

Florida was the location for many military training bases during World War II. After the war many veterans returned to settle in the state. Between 1950 and 1960, the retiree population in Florida doubled as seniors moved here to live out their retirement years. In the 1960s and 1970s, over 400,000 Cuban refugees came to Florida, most settling in the Miami-Dade County area. Between 1990 and 1995, legal immigrants to Florida averaged over 77,000 annually and came from many countries including: Haiti, Mexico, Colombia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Philippines, Vietnam, China and India.

Rooms 203 and 204 are adjoining rooms, both about 12 feet wide, with twenty-two foot ceilings. Also, like room 203, this room had many uses, an office for the State Comptroller, State Auditor and a store room for the Supreme Court. This room would have been a House committee room during the two-month long legislative sessions.