Florida Trend: 55th Anniversary
55 Years of Florida Trend
As the magazine turns 55, we review some interesting covers and the articles inside.
April 1958 (first issue)
Florida Trend’s first issue featured a stylized rocket and numerous references to the federal missile program, which had produced 15,000 jobs in the state. The issue’s lead story was on Florida’s “Negro Labor Force,” a statistic-heavy piece chronicling the migration of African-Americans out of rural counties. In an article on the state’s industrial prospects, Trend cited the opinion of B.R. Fuller, executive director of the Florida Development Commission, that, “In the fiercely competitive interstate poker game to attract new industries, Florida apparently holds all the aces in the deck.”
Trend’s founder, Tampa businessman Harris Mullen, developed a special relationship of sorts with legendary Florida businessman and power broker Ed Ball, who was pictured on the magazine’s third cover. Ball ran Alfred I. duPont’s business conglomerate in Florida, which included banks (Florida National), a railroad (Florida East Coast) and paper mills (St. Joe Paper Co.) along with real estate and insurance businesses. Though he disputed his influence, Ball was feared widely. He drank a whiskey toast each evening — “confusion to the enemy” — rarely spoke to reporters and even less rarely provided detailed information about his business affairs. Mullen got exclusive interviews with Ball on several occasions including in 1958, 1967 and 1977. Ball died in 1981. Mullen died in 2008 at age 84.
Sam Gibbons, the 16-time congressman from Tampa who was featured in an Icon interview shortly before his death in 2012, was a state senator in November 1960, when he told Trend: “I think the best thing that could happen to the Democratic Party would be for a strong Republican Party to challenge them. Because there really is no Democratic Party in Florida. To be a party, it would need party discipline, party patronage and a party philosophy. The Democrats in Florida have none of these.” He added that harder-fought and longer campaigns resulting from a two-party system “would not be all to the good. It would bring the national party platforms and policies as issues into local campaigns, where they can have no real meaning.”