Then & Now: 1958 Florida vs. Florida today
Politics, demographics, the economy and headlines.
Business Headlines of 1958
- Houston Corp.’s natural gas pipeline connecting Florida to Texas was nearing completion.
- Pratt & Whitney’s engine testing facility in Palm Beach County was less than five years old.
- The Sunshine State Parkway — now Florida’s Turnpike — was a year old, opening in 1957 from Miami to Fort Pierce.
Sources: Bureau of Economic and Business Research; U.S. Census; National Association of Theater Owners, FBI, Winn-Dixie, Publix, Florida Citrus Hall of Fame, Loews, Gary Mormino, Florida Secretary of State; FLORIDA TREND research
Events in 1958 That Shaped Florida’s Future
- Just a few months after the Soviet Union put Sputnik in orbit in October 1957, the free world got on the scoreboard from Cape Canaveral with Explorer I. Launched Jan. 31, 1958, the first U.S. satellite weighed just under 30 pounds, but it began an industry like no other. Space Florida expects in the next 10 to 15 years to see 100 to 200 launches a year from Florida.
- One 1958 development critical to Florida’s future happened quietly, out of the public eye. That year, Walt Disney hired Economics Research Associates to help him find a site for an East Coast Disneyland. News of Florida’s selection didn’t break until 1965.
- On New Year’s Eve 1958, Fulgencio Batista resigned as Cuba’s president, clearing the way for Fidel Castro and his chaotic Communist takeover, ensuing dictatorship and a decades-long migration of Cubans to Florida, reshaping the state.
- A record cold winter in 1957-58 devastated vegetables, citrus and cattle. Tampa recorded a low of 24 while Miami got into the mid-30s. “The Florida cold wave, third of the season, forced tourists to don furs, froze tender vegetables. Cattle were reported dying by the hundreds on the ranges,” a newspaper reported.
Then and Now: Florida by the Numbers
Then and Now: Biggest 5 Cities
In 1960, the five biggest cities - and their population - were:
- Miami - 291,688
- Tampa - 274,970
- Jacksonville - 201,030
- St. Petersburg - 181,298
- Orlando - 88,135
In 2017, the five biggest cities, their population, and the percentage increase, were:
- Jacksonville* - 891,207 -343.3%
- Miami - 467,872 - 60.4%
- Tampa - 373,058 - 35.7%
- Orlando - 279,789 - 217.5%
- St. Petersburg - 264,768 - 46.0%
* The city of Jacksonville consolidated with Duval County in 1968.
Then and Now: Biggest 5 Counties
In 1960, the five biggest counties - and their population - were:
- Miami-Dade - 935,047
- Duval - 455,411
- Hillsborough - 397,788
- Pinellas - 374,665
- Broward - 333,946
In 2017, the five biggest counties, their population, and the percentage increase, were:
- Miami-Dade - 2,743,095 - 193.4%
- Broward - 1,873,970 - 461.2%
- Palm Beach - 1,414,144 - 520.0%
- Hillsborough - 1,379,302 - 246.7%
- Orange - 1,313,880 - 398.6%