Optimism built on optimism to drive prices up. Then came the crash and the eventual discovery of the severe mental and moral deficiencies of those once thought endowed with genius and their consignment, at best, to oblivion, but, more grimly, to public obloquy, jail, or suicide.
—John Kenneth Galbraith
The Great Depression began in October 1929 with the U.S. stock market crash and quickly became a severe worldwide economic contraction.1 Before the Great Crash, however, a significant boom and bust sequence took place in Florida, one that revealed the speculative tendencies of the time. In this chapter, we'll discuss the Florida land boom that took place during the mid-1920s and the rapid ascent of the stock market in the late 1920s before evaluating the events via the five lenses presented in Part I of the book.
Castles in the Sand
The great Florida real estate bubble of the 1920s was a revelatory manifestation of the speculative tendencies that were sweeping through America following World War I. Confidence was running high, and by the mid-1920s, an unsustainable boom in Florida land was underway. In fact, to many, the rapid boom and bust of Florida real estate was thought to be like castles built in sand. It only took high tide to wash them away. One of the most prominent developers of the times, Carl Graham Fisher, was also a promoter of the Indy 500 and helped create some of the first transcontinental ...