A Prickly Tale: The History of Pineapples in Florida

Cube it, slice it, shred it, juice it, grill it, cook it. Pineapples are a delicious treat or compliment to any dish. Today, many people think of Hawaii as the pineapple capital of the United States, but did you know pineapples were cultivated in Florida before Hawaii was even a U.S. territory?

Florida pines

Florida pineapples

The earliest pineapple cultivation in Florida started in Key West in the 1860s. Benjamin Baker, known as “King of Wreckers” for his engagement in the business of salvaging ships, grew pineapples on Plantation Key, typically shipping them by schooner to New York, Baltimore and Philadelphia. Around the same time, a Mr. Brantley was producing pineapples on Merritt Island.

Pineapples being transported on a sailboat.

Pineapples being transported on a sailboat (Between 1890 and 1910)

By 1899, the industry had expanded rapidly, thanks in part to the southward extension of the Florida East Coast Railway. Pineapple plantations could be found across Florida, including in Lee, Volusia and Orange counties. Despite freeze issues, there were an estimated 1,325 acres of pineapple plantations in Florida, producing 95,442 crates of fruit.

Pineapple field in Winter Haven (Between 1880 and 1900)

Pineapple field in Winter Haven (Between 1880 and 1900)

 

Pineapples in transport - Volusia County, Florida (191-)

Pineapples in transport – Volusia County, Florida (191-)

Though the industry seemed to be on the rise, troubles began around 1908. Although Florida growers produced over 1.1 million crates of pineapples that year, Cuba produced 1.2 million crates and flooded the market. Cuba could also ship pineapples at a cheaper rate than Florida.  And there was more…

In 1910, portions of crops along Indian River plantations began to show signs of failing. A “red wilt” was rotting the roots of the pineapple plants, causing them to die. The disease quickly spread to entire fields. Add to that a lack of proper fertilizer due to World War I in Europe and freezes in 1917 and 1918, and the industry seemed to have disappeared.

R.A. Carlton, an agricultural agent for the Seaboard Air Line railway attempted to revive pineapple production in Florida in the 1930s, but the industry was never able to fully recover.

 

George S. Morikami and Al Avery holding prize pineapples

George S. Morikami and Al Avery holding prize pineapples (1966)

What is your favorite way to enjoy a delicious pineapple? Tell us about it by leaving a comment!

Caption the Cat

What is that cat thinking about? June is Adopt-a-Cat-Month, and in honor of the occasion we’ve taken our favorite cat photos and want to know…  Can you caption these cats’ thoughts?

Portrait of Susan Mayo with a Siamese cat - Tallahassee, Florida.

Portrait of Susan Mayo with a Siamese cat – Tallahassee, Florida

 

View showing the Hansen family cats "Corina" and "Julie" in the photographic studio - Tallahassee, Florida.

View showing the Hansen family cats “Corina” and “Julie” in the photographic studio (1971)

 

View showing the Hansen family cat in the photographic studio - Tallahassee, Florida.

View showing the Hansen family cat in the photographic studio – Tallahassee, Florida (1969)

 

View showing Dorothy Hansen's cat and kitten in the photographic studio - Tallahassee, Florida.

View showing Dorothy Hansen’s cat and kitten in the photographic studio – Tallahassee, Florida (1970)

 

Portrait of Julian Hansen playing with a cat - Tallahassee, Florida.

Portrait of Julian Hansen playing with a cat – Tallahassee, Florida (1967)

 

 

Happy Father’s Day!

You taught us how to bait our hooks and land the big catch.  You showed us how to throw and how to hit the ball just right. You picked us up and swung us around and cheered us up when we needed it most. Thank you to all the wonderful dads out there. Happy Father’s Day!

3 year old Bruce Carlton shows his father, Pet Carlton, his first fish - Saint Petersburg, Florida

3 year old Bruce Carlton shows his father, Pet Carlton, his first fish – Saint Petersburg, Florida (1948)

 

Commercial seine net fisherman with his son in Naples, Florida.

Commercial seine net fisherman with his son in Naples, Florida (June 1949)

 

Edwin Perry having breakfast with his daughters on Father's Day in Tallahassee.

Edwin Perry having breakfast with his daughters on Father’s Day in Tallahassee (1962)

 

Leigh M. Pearsall and daughter Edna with alligator on dock - Melrose, Florida

Leigh M. Pearsall and daughter Edna with alligator on dock – Melrose, Florida (ca. 1905)

 

Governor Farris Bryant playing ping pong with his daughters on Father's Day in Tallahassee (1962)

Governor Farris Bryant playing ping pong with his daughters on Father’s Day in Tallahassee (1962)

 

Gubernatorial candidate Fred B. Karl with his daughter (1964)

Gubernatorial candidate Fred B. Karl with his daughter (1964)

 

Eddie Oxendine and son with hoop nets - Georgetown, Florida

Eddie Oxendine and son with hoop nets – Georgetown, Florida (1985)

 

Daughter wields gavel at legislative session - Tallahassee, Florida

Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Peter Rudy Wallace prepares to conduct business while his daughter wields gavel at legislative session – Tallahassee, Florida (1995)

 

John Cypress holding his daughter Julia at a temporary camp in Immokalee, Florida.

John Cypress holding his daughter Julia at a temporary camp in Immokalee, Florida

Happy Mother’s Day!

To the women who tucked us in at night and rocked us to sleep, who baked us cookies and let us lick the spoon, who dressed us up and made sure we were warm… Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

Thelma Thompson and mother, Ida May Thompson Bembry

Thelma Thompson and mother, Ida May Thompson Bembry

 

Mikasuki mother rocks her baby in a hammock

Mikasuki mother rocks her baby in a hammock

 

Mother baking with her children in Tallahassee.

Mother baking with her children in Tallahassee (1959)

 

Seminole Indian mother Frances Willie styling her daughter's hair in Miami, Florida.

Seminole Indian mother Frances Willie styling her daughter’s hair in Miami, Florida (1948)

 

Mother helping her son with the fish he caught - Apalachicola, Florida

Mother helping her son with the fish he caught – Apalachicola, Florida (1970)

 

Two African American women with their babies in Tallahassee.

Two African American women with their babies in Tallahassee (1959)

 

Portrait of Mrs. Don Hamrick with her baby - Tallahassee, Florida.

Portrait of Mrs. Don Hamrick with her baby – Tallahassee, Florida (1973)

 

 

Mother tucks her children to sleep on a houseboat - Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Mother tucks her children to sleep on a houseboat – Fort Lauderdale, Florida (1957)

 

 

 

Greetings from Florida!

Happy National Tourism Day! Whether you just want to lay out on the beach, see Mickey and Minnie, or take a walk through the past, Florida is the perfect vacation destination.

When you’re here, make sure to tell your loved ones how much fun you’re having, and show off a little by sending a postcard! We’ve chosen some of our favorites from the Postcard Collection! Do you have a favorite?

Florida - the sunshine state

Florida – the Sunshine State

 

When the Yankees come to Florida

When the Yankees come to Florida

 

Bathing beauties on the beach in Florida

Bathing beauties on the beach in Florida

 

Greetings from Florida

The Box of Oranges I Promised you from the Sunshine State, Florida

 

 

Enjoying "The Pause that Refreshes" underwater at Silver Springs.

Enjoying “The Pause that Refreshes” underwater at Silver Springs

 

Tropical beauty in McKee Jungle Gardens

Tropical beauty in McKee Jungle Gardens

 

Where humans are caged and monkeys run wild

Where humans are caged and monkeys run wild

 

 

 

 

We’re Fanning Ourselves Over Four Thousand Likes

4,000 likes on Facebook and we couldn’t have done it without amazing fans like you…  We are so excited about our new fans, we’re fanning ourselves!

Miss Cap (?) with fan

Miss Cap with fan

 

Young African American woman wearing a dress and holding a feather fan.

Young African American woman wearing a dress and holding a feather fan

 

Clara Lewis? holding an open fan

Clara Lewis holding an open fan

 

Kazuko Law performing a traditional Japanese dance - Gulf Breeze, Florida

Kazuko Law performing a traditional Japanese dance – Gulf Breeze, Florida (1995)

 

A fashion model holding a fan poses outdoor for a photo

A fashion model holding a fan poses outdoor for a photo (1958)

 

Jean Waldron holding hand fan she made of palmetto - White Springs, Florida

Jean Waldron holding hand fan she made of palmetto – White Springs, Florida

 

Dancer Kazuko Law - Gulf Breeze, Florida

Dancer Kazuko Law – Gulf Breeze, Florida (1994)

 

Panchita Plummer

Panchita Plummer

 

Release the Birds for One Thousand Twitter Followers!

Thanks for helping us reach 1,000 followers on Twitter! In honor of the Twitter bird, we’re releasing our own birds.

Black skimmers in flight at Cedar Key, Florida.

Black skimmers in flight at Cedar Key, Florida (2007)

 

Flamingo at the Flamingo Gardens aviary in Davie, Florida

Flamingo at the Flamingo Gardens aviary in Davie, Florida

 

 

Avocets at Cedar Key, Florida.

Avocets at Cedar Key, Florida

 

Marbled Godwits in flight at Cedar Key, Florida.

Marbled Godwits in flight at Cedar Key, Florida (2010)

 

Oystercatchers in Cedar Key, Florida.

Oystercatchers in Cedar Key, Florida

 

Pelicans await hand out from Capt. John Battilo and his mate Jeff.

Pelicans await hand out from Capt. John Battilo and his mate Jeff (1987)

 

National Library Week (April 13-19, 2014)

Celebrate National Library Week by checking out a book at one of your local Florida libraries!  But first, get a look at some of these library photos from Florida Memory.

Randall Sineath with Webster's dictionary at Leonard Wesson School in Tallahassee.

Randall Sineath with Webster’s dictionary at Leonard Wesson School in Tallahassee (1961).

 

Miami Public Library

Miami Public Library (1950s).

 

Young woman binding book at Florida A & M College

Young woman binding book at Florida A & M College.

 

Gainesville Public Library in Alachua County, Florida.

Gainesville Public Library in Alachua County, Florida.

 

Florida State University School of Library and Information Science library

Florida State University School of Library and Information Science library (1986).

 

Public library : Jacksonville, Florida

Public library : Jacksonville, Florida

 

Public Library - De Land, Florida

Public Library – De Land, Florida (1950s).

 

Leon County Public Library - Tallahassee, Florida

Leon County Public Library – Tallahassee, Florida (1957).

 

First library building in Fort Myers.

First library building in Fort Myers (1955).

 

Minerva Monroe Library : New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Minerva Monroe Library : New Smyrna Beach, Florida (1940s).

Public library - Kissimmee, Florida

Public library – Kissimmee, Florida (1920s).

 

 

 

View of Florida's State Library's storage area - Tallahassee, Florida.

View of Florida’s State Library’s storage area – Tallahassee, Florida (1947).

Public library - Saint Petersburg, Florida

Public library – Saint Petersburg, Florida

 

Library - Lake Worth, Florida

Library – Lake Worth, Florida

 

Mikasuki boys reading at the Mission

Mikasuki boys reading at the Mission (1941).

 

 

World Health Day

World Health Day celebrates the anniversary of the founding of the United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948. Early Florida settlers considered their health a primary concern and established the first hospital in North America in St. Augustine in the early 17th century.

This year, WHO has chosen vector-borne diseases as the topic for 2014. Florida is no stranger to vector-borne diseases. In the 19th century an outbreak of yellow fever, a viral disease that is transmitted to humans through infected mosquitoes, had a devastating impact on the people of Florida. In 1889, the State Board of Health was created in response to the yellow fever epidemic. Its creation helped to coordinate quarantine and disinfection efforts to protect the state’s citizens and visitors.

 

Print in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper about yellow fever

Print in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper about yellow fever (1888)

 

View showing people sitting together at a quarantined isolation camp.

View showing people sitting together at a quarantined isolation camp

 

View showing people gathered at a pavilion in a quarantined isolation camp.

View showing people gathered at a pavilion in a quarantined isolation camp.

 

Print showing fires on Bay street to kill yellow fever germs - Jacksonville, Florida

Print showing fires on Bay Street to kill yellow fever germs – Jacksonville, Florida (1888)

 

Life insurance policy with yellow fever exclusion clause

Life insurance policy with yellow fever exclusion clause (1882)

 

Learn more about yellow fever in Florida in our Early Florida Medicine exhibit: http://floridamemory.com/exhibits/medicine/disease/

Then and Now: The Breakers

Open for more than 100 years, The Breakers is one of the landmarks of Palm Beach. Henry Flagler built The Palm Beach Inn in 1896. When Flagler expanded the hotel, he renamed it “The Breakers.”

Now” photos courtesy of VISIT FLORIDA

Entrance to The Breakers hotel

Entrance to The Breakers hotel (1920s)

 

The Breakers (Pete Cross for VISIT FLORIDA), 2013

The Breakers (Pete Cross for VISIT FLORIDA), 2013

 

Breakers Hotel and golf links

The Breakers hotel and golf links (1920s)

 

The Breakers (Pete Cross for VISIT FLORIDA), 2013

The Breakers (Pete Cross for VISIT FLORIDA), 2013

 

Fountain in the courtyard at the Breakers hotel - Palm Beach, Florida

Fountain in the courtyard at the Breakers hotel – Palm Beach, Florida (1920s)

 

The Breakers (Pete Cross for VISIT FLORIDA), 2013

The Breakers (Pete Cross for VISIT FLORIDA), 2013

 

Swimming pool at the Breakers hotel - Palm Beach, Florida

Swimming pool at the Breakers hotel – Palm Beach, Florida (1920s)

 

The Breakers (Pete Cross for VISIT FLORIDA), 2013

The Breakers (Pete Cross for VISIT FLORIDA), 2013

 

North loggia at the Breakers hotel - Palm Beach, Florida

North loggia at the Breakers hotel – Palm Beach, Florida (1920s)

 

The Breakers (Pete Cross for VISIT FLORIDA), 2013

The Breakers (Pete Cross for VISIT FLORIDA), 2013

 

Main dining room of the Breakers hotel - Palm Beach, Florida (1920s)

Main dining room of the Breakers hotel – Palm Beach, Florida (1920s)

 

The Breakers (Pete Cross for VISIT FLORIDA), 2013

The Breakers (Pete Cross for VISIT FLORIDA), 2013