Michael Grunwald, author of The Swamp, his book on the history of the Everglades, has recently written in Politico the story of Cape Coral and its development.
Grunwald says that as far back as the 1960’s, Cape Coral was touted as “America’s land of tomorrow, just $20 down and $20 a month for a quarter-acre slice of heaven – America’s boomtown of the future.” As he notes, the claims turned out to be correct as Cape Coral is now the largest city in the fastest growing area of the country. Its population is 180,000.
“It really captured the essence of Florida, a precarious civilization engineered out of a watery wilderness, a bewildering dreamscape forged by greed, flimflam and absurdly grandiose visions that somehow stumbled into heavily populated realities.”
He calls Cape Coral “the ultimate microcosm of Florida” and the place to watch in the future to see if the state has “any hope of overcoming its zany developmental, political and environmental history.” Since World War II the state has grown from 27th to 3rd most populous in the nation and Grunwald sees no reason for that to change. Forbes magazine recently listed nine Florida cities among its 25 fastest growing.
He contrasts Cape Coral with the development about to open at Babcock Ranch where much of the land has been kept in its natural state “to preserve the area’s historic flows and Old Florida swamps.” The plan is for 50,000 residents with a well-defined downtown, commercial space and a transit system.
Michael Grunwald will be lecturing on Florida and the Everglades on Tuesday, Jan. 16 at 10 a.m. in the Boca Grande Community Center’s auditorium sponsored by Hazeltine Nurseries and the Boca Grande Historical Society.Tickets are $25 and are available at bocagrandehistoricalsociety.com or in their office at 170 Park Avenue (next to Boca Bargains), or by calling 964-1600.