FEC Flashback

History says railroads are the track to a developed Florida.

Henry Flagler, a partner at Standard Oil Co., was delighted by Florida’s warm weather and scenery when he first visited St. Augustine on his honeymoon in 1881. He was disappointed by the lack of transportation infrastructure around the then-rural state, but saw great potential. By 1885, Flagler had sold his interest in the oil company to focus on developing the Florida peninsula for tourists and future residents.

His Florida East Coast Railway eventually brought tourists from Jacksonville to Palm Beach to Miami and, eventually, all the way to Key West, building extravagant hotels at every stop of the ride.

The FEC was finished by the turn of the century and brought tourists down the coast by the thousands. Flagler’s investment paid off and Florida would come to be known as a tropical paradise in the United States. However, as the interstate system gained favor after World War II, visitors began to step off of the railroad platforms and into the driver’s seat. The FEC discontinued its unprofitable passenger operations in 1975.

Now, as the Florida population soars and I-95 slows to a standstill, developers seek to mirror Flagler’s success by bringing people back to the railways – only this time traveling at speeds up to 125 mph. All Aboard Florida (AAF), a subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries, hopes to quickly transport people from Orlando International Airport to the downtowns of West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami using the old path of the FEC. AAF also wants to build its Miami and Fort Lauderdale stations where Flagler’s hub stations once stood, stirring up new interest in the urban areas. Will connecting urban areas to make travel easier in Florida be profitable? Henry Flagler would probably be on board.

Information for this feature is courtesy of the HistoryMiami Archives & Research Center, which is open to the public and contains more than 1.1 million images of Southeast Florida, the entire state and the Caribbean from 1883 to the present. For more information or to visit HistoryMiami, go to historymiami.org.

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky



Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.