Florida Humanities Council

Post War Florida

V J Day (Victory over Japan) August 13, 1945, was collectively and spontaneously the happiest moment in Florida history: the “boys” were coming home, bank accounts were bulging (in large part because of the wartime rations), and Florida’s beaches, downtowns, and farms were untouched by German and Japanese bombs. Two million servicemen left the state, all of them vowing to return some day. And almost all of them would, as tourists, as transplants, as retirees.

The period 1945-1950 sparked the first postwar boom. In 1945, the pollster George Gallop asked Americans what states they would most like to move to. California and Florida ranked first and second. The Florida Dream swelled during this era. Florida was the cheap alternative to California. Buoyed by prosperity and the lure of unhurried beaches and warm Februaries, migrants began to pour into the Sunshine State. Florida’s population grew from 1.9 million residents in 1940 to 2.7 million inhabitants a decade later.

World War II served as lynchpin and springboard to the population explosion. DDT, brewed in Central Florida laboratories, was sprayed liberally to rid the bayous and wetlands of voracious mosquitoes. Air conditioning, available only in fancy movie theaters in 1940, made its debut in window units in 1951. By 1950, the residents of Miami and Jacksonville watched the first TV signals beamed in Florida. In 1947, Newt Perry opened Weeki Wachee Springs on a lonely highway in sparsely populated Hernando County. Annually, hundreds of thousands of visitors made the trek south to enjoy tourist attractions such as Cypress Gardens, Marineland, and Silver Springs.



V-J Day Proclamation
The United States entered the Second World War in December 1941, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. For the next fours years Americans participated in what was arguably the greatest national endeavor in our nation's history. World War
Courtesy of the Florida State Archives
Funny letter from Woman
A letter to the editor of a Florida newspaper, written in response to a query about WW II experiences. It provides cheeky commentary on the allure of a soldier in uniform.
1950s Census Data
Florida Census Data for 1950, showing general characteristics of the population, housing data, number of inhabitants, and more.
General Charecteristics
Number of Inhabitants