FLORIDA’S GREATEST MAN MADE ATTRACTIONS

THE OVERSEAS HIGHWAY has become a video symbol of Florida in films and publications across the globe.

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There is nothing like it in the world – a 113 mile highway (US 1) going southward from Florida to Key West.  It had its base on an incredible 1912 Overseas Railroad destroyed in a Hurricane in 1935 which killed over 400 railway workers.  Now it is a multi-lane highway with 42 major bridges including the scenic Seven Mile Bridge.  You have seen parts of the old bridge filmed for famous action scenes in movies.

THE GREAT WALL OF FLORIDA, better known as the Hoover Dike, is the largest unknown attraction in Florida.  Tourist driving down US27 go past it thinking it is a 35 foot hill.  There are no hills in South Florida – it is a 109 mile multi-path giant dike surrounding the second largest lake found in one state in the United States.

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Behind that hill is a gigantic lake

In 1928 2,000 people were killed by a thirty foot tidal wave cause when a Hurricane went across the huge but shallow lake. So in Florida’s largest WPA project, the dike was built. Except for a gap at Fisheating Creek, people can bike and horse ride along the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail.  And do a little bass fishing.

THE VAB BUILDING at CAPE KENNEDY, known at NASA as the Vehicle Assembly Building was until 1974 the tallest building in Florida and it still is the tallest structure outside an urban area in the USA.  It is the largest single-story building in the world, since it houses the massive Saturn V.   Located at Launch Complex 39, the 129,428,000 cubic foot building will be the home of the future Space Launch System (SLS).

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THE SUNSHINE SKYWAY BRIDGE, spanning the entrance to Tampa Bay is an acable-stayed beauty, rated by the Travel Channel as the Number 3 bridge in the world.   In 1980 the original 21,877 foot complex was the site of a major disaster when a freighter in a fog hit the main span, destroying the bridge, and sending cars and a bus to their doom in the waters below.  The new bridge opened in 1987 with protections to prevent future ship crashes.

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Travel Channel’s #3 bridge in the world

THE VENETIAN ISLANDS AND CAUSEWAY may not be very popular with environmentalists for the 1920 roadway from Miami to Miami Beach, built in 1920, started a boom of man-made islands filling in bays across the Florida East Coast.  The islands built along the Venetian Causeway became the waterfront home of dozens of famous Miami celebrities and fostered dozens of similar Florida island communities.

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Man-made Island Living

WALT DISNEY WORLD revolutionized entertainment world wide and the 1971 park became the largest and most visited tourist attraction in the world, promoting added big parks like Universal and Sea World to come to Orlando, the family vacation center of the USA.  The technology from monorails to underground sanitation systems continues to amaze engineers and designers, but most people are just stunned at the size of the 43 square mile world.  WDW is the main reason why Florida became the first state with over 100 million visitors in a single year.

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Disney Springs At Night From A Balloon

Disney has twenty-seven themed resort hotels, nine non-Disney hotels, four theme parks, two theme water parks, eight golf courses, a huge camping resort, and more.  The Disney transportation system is bigger than only a few cities: 372 busses, 3 ferries, 9 friendship boats, 15 water taxis, 10 motor craft, and three monrails that farry 180,000 passengers every day of the year.   Because of WDW and the Orlando boom, Florida no longer has “a tourist season.”  Spring and fall visitors are just a few million visitors off summer and winter.

Secret: there was once a Walt Disney Airport at WDW but it was not for tourists and it is no longer in “operational use.”  When you taxied to the office, the runway actually sang “When You Wish Upon A Star.”

 

 

 

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About floridatraveler

Historian and travel writer M. C. Bob Leonard makes the Sunshine State his home base. Besides serving as content editor for several textbook publishers and as college professor, he moderates the FHIC at www.floridahistory.org
This entry was posted in attractions, disney, disney springs, florida history, florida vacations, Recreational Experiences, travel, Walt Disney World, wdw and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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