Carl G. Fisher

Carl Graham Fisher (January 12, 1874 – July 15, 1939) was an American entrepreneur. Despite severe astigmatism, he became actively involved in auto racing. He was a seemingly tireless pioneer and promoter of the automotive industry and highway construction, and of real estate development in Florida. He is widely regarded as a promotional genius.[1]

Despite family financial strains and a disability, in the late 19th century he became a bicycle enthusiast and opened a modest bicycle shop with a brother. He became involved in bicycle racing, as well as many activities related to the emerging American auto industry. In 1904, Carl Fisher and his friend James A. Allison bought an interest in the U.S. patent to manufacture acetylene headlights, a precursor to electric models which became common about ten years later. Soon Fisher's firm supplied nearly every headlamp used on automobiles in the United States as manufacturing plants were built all over the country to supply the demand. The headlight patent made him rich as an automotive parts supplier when he and Allison sold their company, Prest-O-Lite, to Union Carbide in 1913 for $9 million (equivalent of approximately $230 million in 2018).[2]

Fisher operated in Indianapolis what is believed to be the first automobile dealership in the United States, and also worked at developing an automobile racetrack locally. After being injured in stunts himself, and following a safety debacle at the new Indianapolis Motor Speedway, of which he was a principal, he helped develop paved racetracks and public roadways. Improvements he implemented at the speedway led to its nickname, "The Brickyard."

In 1912, Fisher conceived and helped develop the Lincoln Highway, the first road for the automobile across the entire United States of America. A convoy trip a few years later by the U.S. Army along Fisher's Lincoln Highway was a major influence upon then Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower years later in championing the Interstate Highway System during his presidency in the 1950s.

Carl Fisher followed the east-west Lincoln Highway in 1914 with the conception of the north-south Dixie Highway, which led from Michigan to Miami. Under his leadership, the initial portion was completed within a single year, and he led an automobile caravan to Florida from Indiana.

At the south end of the Dixie Highway in Miami, Florida, Fisher, with the assistance of his partners John Graham McKay and Thomas Walkling, became involved in the successful real estate development of the new resort city of Miami Beach, built on a largely unpopulated barrier island and reached by the new Collins Bridge across Biscayne Bay directly at the terminus of the Dixie Highway. Fisher was one of the best known and active promoters of the Florida land boom of the 1920s. By 1926, he was worth an estimated $100 million, and redirected his promotional efforts when the Florida real estate market bubble burst after 1925. His final major project, cut short by the Great Depression, was a "Miami Beach of the north" at Montauk, located at the eastern tip of Long Island, New York.

His fortune was lost in the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression in the United States which followed shortly thereafter. He found himself living in a small cottage in Miami Beach, doing minor work for old friends. Nevertheless, years after his fortune had been lost, at the end of his career, he took on one more project, albeit more modest than many of his past ventures, and built the famous Caribbean Club on Key Largo, intended as a "poor man's retreat."

Although he had lost his fortune and late in life considered himself a failure, Fisher is widely regarded as a decidedly successful man in the long view of his life. He was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1971.[1] In a 1998 study judged by a panel of 56 historians, writers, and others, Carl G. Fisher was named one of the Fifty Most Influential People in the history of the State of Florida by The Ledger newspaper. PBS labeled him "Mr. Miami Beach." Just south of Miami Beach, Fisher Island (which he once owned, and is named for him), became one of the wealthiest and most exclusive residential areas in the United States.

Carl G. Fisher
Carl G Fisher 1909
Fisher in 1909
BornJanuary 12, 1874
DiedJuly 15, 1939 (aged 65)

Early life

Carl Fisher was born in Greensburg, Indiana, nine years after the end of the American Civil War, the son of Albert H. and Ida Graham Fisher. Apparently suffering from alcoholism, a problem which would also plague Carl later in life, his father left the family when Fisher was a child. Suffering from severe astigmatism, it was difficult for Carl to pay attention in school, as uncorrected astigmatism can cause headaches or eyestrain, and blur vision at all distances. He quit school when he was twelve years old to help support his family.

For the next five years, Fisher held a number of jobs. He worked in a grocery and a bookstore, then later he sold newspapers, books, tobacco, candy, and other items on trains departing Indianapolis, a major railroad center not far from Greensburg. He opened a bicycle repair shop in 1891 with his two brothers. A successful entrepreneur, he expanded his business and became involved in bicycle racing and later, automobile racing. During his many promotional stunts, he was frequently injured on the dirt and gravel roadways, leading him to become one of the early developers of automotive safety features. A highly publicized stunt involved dropping a bicycle from the roof of the tallest building in Indianapolis, which brought on a confrontation with the police.

In 1909 Fisher married a young woman while he was engaged to another. Fisher's previous fiancée sued him for a breach of promise. Meanwhile, he and his new wife Jane went on a business trip for their honeymoon. The couple had one child in 1921, that died at one month old from Pyloric Stenosis.[3] The couple were divorced in 1926.

S002710 loc carl fisher harlem racetrack chicago cropped
Fisher at the Harlem racetrack, near Chicago, Illinois

Automobile businesses

In 1904, Carl Fisher was approached by the owner of a U.S. patent to manufacture acetylene headlights. Soon Fisher's firm supplied nearly every headlamp used on automobiles in the United States as manufacturing plants were built all over the country to supply the demand. The headlight patent made him rich as an automotive parts supplier and led to friendships with notable auto magnates. Fisher made millions when he and partner James A. Allison sold their Prest-O-Lite automobile headlamp business to Union Carbide.

Fisher also entered the business of selling automobiles, with his friend Barney Oldfield.[4] The Fisher Automobile Company in Indianapolis is considered most likely the first automobile dealership in the United States. It carried multiple models of Oldsmobile, Reo, Packard, Stoddard-Dayton, Stutz, and others. Fisher staged an elaborate publicity stunt in which he attached a hot air balloon to a white Stoddard-Dayton automobile and flew the car over downtown Indianapolis. Thousands of people observed the spectacle and Fisher triumphantly drove back into town, becoming an instant media sensation. Unbeknownst to the public, the flying car had had its engine removed to lighten the load, and several identical cars were driven out to meet it, to allow Fisher to drive back into the city. Afterwards, he advertised, "The Stoddard-Dayton was the first automobile to fly over Indianapolis. It should be your first automobile too." Another stunt involved pushing a car off the roof of a building and then driving it away, to demonstrate its durability.

Indianapolis estate

"Blossom Heath" was Fisher's estate in Indianapolis. Completed in 1913, it was built on Cold Spring Road between the estates of his two friends and Indianapolis Motor Speedway partners, James A. Allison and Frank H. Wheeler. The house included portions of an earlier house on the site and featured a 60-foot-long living room with a 6-foot-wide fireplace where logs burned all day. There were twelve bedrooms and a huge glass-enclosed sun porch. Fisher built a house for his mother on the southern part of the estate. The estate also included a five-car garage, an indoor swimming pool, a polo course, a stable, an indoor tennis court and gymnasium, a greenhouse, and extensive gardens. A newspaper article dated February 2, 1913, described the simple dignity of the house. Unlike some of his friends and neighbors, Fisher built a large but simple house decorated primarily in yellow, his favorite color. It did not contain exotic woodwork, elaborate carvings, or extensive decoration.

In 1928, after Fisher moved permanently to Miami Beach, the Fisher estate in Indianapolis was leased and later purchased by the Park School for Boys. The Fisher mansion was damaged by fire in the 1950s and the rear portion of the house was demolished and replaced with a classroom wing during 1956–57. The property was sold to Marian College in the 1960s and combined with two nearby estates into one 110-acre (0.45 km2) campus. Today none of Fisher's original buildings remain on the Marian College campus.[5]

Indianapolis Motor Speedway - loc
early Indianapolis Motor Speedway photo

Auto racing

In 1909, Fisher joined a group of Indianapolis businessmen in a new project. He, Arthur C. Newby (president of National), Frank H. Wheeler (maker of the Wheeler-Schebler carburetor), and James A. Allison (partner in Prest-O-Lite)[6] invested in what became Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which is now surrounded by the city of Indianapolis. The first automobile race in August 1909 ended in disaster. The loose rock track led to numerous crashes, fires, terrible injuries to race car drivers and spectators, and deaths. The race was halted and canceled when only halfway completed

Undeterred, Fisher convinced the investors to install 3.2 million paving bricks, leading to the famous nickname "the brickyard". (This persists, even though it has since been resurfaced.) The Speedway reopened and, on Memorial Day, May 30, 1911, 80,000 paying spectators at $1 admission (and many thousands more unpaid in overlooking buildings and trees) watched the 500-mile (800 kilometers) event, the first in a long line of races known as the Indianapolis 500.

Lincoln Highway M0118-150dpi
Lincoln Highway scene in New Jersey
Dixie Highway Maitland
A restored section of the Dixie Highway in Florida

The Lincoln Highway

In 1913, foreseeing the automobile's impact on American life, Carl Fisher conceived and was instrumental in the planning, development, and construction of the Lincoln Highway, the first road across America, which connected New York City to San Francisco. Fisher estimated the highway, an improved, hard-surfaced road stretching almost 3,400 miles (5,500 km), would cost ten million dollars. Fellow industrialists Frank Seiberling and Henry Bourne Joy helped Fisher with their promotional skills, together creating the Lincoln Highway Association. Much of the highway was paid for by contributions from automobile manufacturers and suppliers, a policy bitterly opposed by Henry Ford.

Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas A. Edison, both friends of Fisher, sent checks, as well as the current President Woodrow Wilson, who has been noted as the first U.S. President to make frequent-use of an automobile for what was described as stress-relief relaxation rides.

In 1919, as World War I was ending, the U.S. Army undertook its first transcontinental motor convoy along the Lincoln Highway. One of the young Army officers was Dwight David Eisenhower, then a Lt. Colonel, who credited the experience when supporting construction of the Interstate Highway System when he became President of the United States in 1952.[7]

The Dixie Highway

Carl Fisher next turned his attention to creating the Dixie Highway, a network of north-south routes extending from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to southern Florida, which he felt would provide an ideal way for residents of his home state to vacation in southern Florida. In September 1916, Fisher and Indiana Governor Samuel M. Ralston attended a celebration opening the roadway from Indianapolis to Miami.

Miami Beach

The future City of Miami Beach became Fisher's next big project. On a vacation to Miami around 1910, he saw potential in the swampy, bug-infested stretch of land between Miami and the ocean, and in his mind transformed the 3,500 acres (14 km2) of mangrove swamp and beach into the perfect vacation destination for his automobile industry friends—he called it "Miami Beach". He and his wife bought a vacation home there in 1912 and he began acquiring land.[8]

The Collins Bridge across Biscayne Bay between Miami and the barrier island that became Miami Beach was built by John S. Collins (1837–1928), an earlier farmer and developer originally from New Jersey. Collins, then 75 years old, had run out of money before he could complete his bridge. Fisher loaned him the money in trade for 200 acres (0.81 km2) of land. The new 2 1/2-mile (4 kilometers) wooden toll bridge opened on June 12, 1913.[8]

The bridge replaced an old ferry service and connected Miami Beach and the mainland, providing a critical link between the established city of Miami and the new town. The Collins Bridge was awarded the title of being "longest wooden bridge in the world."

Fisher financed the dredging of Biscayne Bay to create its vast residential islands.[8] He later built several landmark luxury hotels including the famous Flamingo Hotel and attracted the wealthy and celebrated to visit the community, several of whom took up permanent residence there.[8]

Collins Bridge Miami FL
Collins Bridge across Biscayne Bay between Miami and Miami Beach, Florida opened in 1913 as the "longest wooden bridge in the world." photo from Florida Photographic Collection

Although a dedicated enthusiast of automobile travel, Fisher was aware that wealthy vacationers in those days often preferred to cross the long distances to southeastern Florida by railroad, a tradition begun by some families years earlier with Henry M. Flagler's Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) and the resorts he established at places like St. Augustine and Palm Beach, and eventually Miami, the southern terminus of the FEC, where he built the famous Royal Palm Hotel.

In developing Miami Beach's potential for resort hotels, Fisher needed a transportation connection the 5 miles (8.0 km) from the FEC railroad station in Miami.[9]

The solution he developed was the Miami Beach Railway, an electric street railway system which served the additional purpose of providing electric service. He and other investors formed the Miami Beach Electric Company and the Miami Beach Railway Co.[10] It began service on December 14, 1920 and ran from downtown Miami, where it shared tracks with Miami's own trolley system, to the County Causeway (renamed MacArthur Causeway after World War II).[11] After crossing Biscayne Bay to Miami Beach, the tracks looped around the section of Miami Beach south of 47th Street. Around 1926, Florida Power and Light acquired Fisher's streetcar system, and expanded it, double tracking the line across the causeway.[12] However, while sale of electric service was a growth industry across the United States, the street railway portion went into a period of decline, along with the entire industry. All rail service between Miami and Miami Beach was terminated on October 17, 1939.[9]

However, even with the new street railway connecting with the FEC, while wealthy people came to vacation, only a few were buying land or building homes. The U.S. public was apparently slow to catch on to the vacation land and homes Fisher envisioned for Florida. His investments in Miami Beach were not paying off, at least not until he again utilized his promotional skills which had worked so well years earlier in Indiana.

Ever the innovative promoter, Fisher seemed tireless in his efforts to draw attention to Miami Beach, a story recounted by PBS. Fisher had acquired a baby elephant named "Rosie" who was a favorite with newspaper photographers.[8] In 1921, he got free publicity all across the country with what we would call today a promotional "photo-op" of Rosie serving as a 'golf caddy' for vacationing President-elect Warren Harding. Billboards of bathing beauties enjoying white beaches and blue ocean waters appeared around the country. Fisher even purchased a huge illuminated sign proclaiming "It's June in Miami" in Times Square.[8]

During the Florida land boom of the 1920s, real estate sales took off as Americans discovered their automobiles and the paved Dixie Highway, which through no coincidence led to the foot of the Collins Bridge.[8] There were less than 1,000 year-round residents of Miami Beach in 1920. In the next five years, the resident population of the Miami Beach area grew 440%. People from all over the country flocked to South Florida in hopes of getting rich buying and selling real estate. They sent home tales of riches being made when orange groves and swamp lands were subdivided, sold, and developed.[13]

The art of the swap, which helped fund the Collins Bridge, was apparently the source of great satisfaction to Fisher. He had bought another 200 acres (0.81 km2) that now form Fisher Island from Dana A. Dorsey, South Florida's first African American millionaire, and had begun some development there in 1919. Five years later, in 1924, he traded seven acres of Fisher Island to William Kissam Vanderbilt II of the famous and wealthy Vanderbilt family, for the latter's 150-ft steam yacht "Eagle". Vanderbilt used the property, later expanded to thirteen acres, to create an enclave even more luxurious and exclusive than many of Miami Beach's finest.

By 1926, Fisher was worth an estimated $100 million, and could have been financially secure for life. However, he was always known for moving from project to project, and success had never stopped him from attempting something new. In her 1947 book, his ex-wife Jane Watts Fisher quoted him as replying, when she had hoped that he would slow down at some point, "I don't have time to take time." Instead, he redirected his promotional efforts to yet another new project far to the north.

Montauk Manor
Montauk Manor

Montauk, Long Island

In 1926, Fisher began working on a "Miami Beach of the north". His project at Montauk at the eastern tip of Long Island in New York was to provide a warm season counterpart to the Florida development. He and four associates purchased 9,000 acres (36 km2) and built a luxurious hotel, office building, marina, and attractions. The project built roads, planted nurseries, laid water pipes and built houses. He built Montauk Manor, which still exists as a luxury resort today (pictured at right). He also built the Montauk Tennis Auditorium.

However, after the real estate boom became a land "bust" in Florida around 1925, followed by a devastating hurricane in September 1926 which wiped out much of Miami Beach, tourism dropped off severely and Fisher's investments there were hit hard. His financing for the Montauk venture was dependent upon income from the Miami properties. Then, the Stock Market Crash of 1929 struck, followed by the Great Depression. The Montauk "Miami Beach of the north" project went into receivership in 1932.

Later years

The losses in his real estate ventures and the Crash of 1929 left Fisher virtually penniless. Always a man whose lifeblood seemed to be new dreams and projects, by the mid-1930s, he was living in a small cottage on Miami Beach and received a US$500 per month salary from his former partners to do promotional work. US$500 in 1935 had the same buying power as $9,198.66 in 2018.

Shortly before his death, as what turned out to be his last project, Fisher developed and built Key Largo's Caribbean Club, a fishing club for men of modest means, "a poor man's retreat." Ever the promoter, Fisher would probably have appreciated the value of the publicity as, about 8 years after his death, the Caribbean Club became famous as the filming site for the 1947 film "Key Largo" starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Almost 60 years later, in 2007, filled with Bogart memorabilia, it is still in business as a tourist attraction.

Carl G. Fisher died July 15, 1939 at age 65 of a stomach hemorrhage in a Miami Beach hospital, following a lengthy illness compounded by alcoholism. His pall bearers included Barney Oldfield, William Vanderbilt, and Gar Wood.[14][15] He was interred at the family mausoleum at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.[16]


Will Rogers remembered Fisher as a Florida pioneer with these words:

Fisher was the first man to discover that there was sand under the water...[sand] that could hold up a real estate sign. He made the dredge the national emblem of Florida.

Howard Kleinburg, an author and Miami Beach historian described Fisher:

If you look at Fisher's entire life, it's a marathon. It's a race. It was a race to achieve the top of whatever field he was in at the time. Everything he did he went into it with his heart, his soul, his money, and he would not stop until he reached the end. He wanted to be there the quickest and first...

In 1947, Jane Fisher, his ex-wife (who married him in 1909 and was divorced in 1926), wrote a book about his life. Fabulous Hoosier was published by R.M. McBride and Co. She wrote:

He was all speed. I don't believe he ever thought in terms of money. He made millions, but they were incidental. He often said, "I just like to see the dirt fly."

In 1952, Carl Graham Fisher was inducted into theIndianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame, and the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1971[1]. In 1998, PBS produced a program about Fisher titled Mr. Miami Beach as a part of the American Experience series.

Carl Fisher's legacies include promotion and distribution of an early form of headlights for motor vehicles in the U.S. auto industry, his early automobile dealership, the Indianapolis 500, and a national system of paved highways in the United States which followed the trends established by the National Auto Trails and the transcontinental east-west Lincoln Highway and the north-south Dixie Highway. He has also a school in Speedway, Indiana named for him titled Carl G. Fisher Elementary School.

In modern times, Montauk, with the huge Tudor-style hotel he built now a hotel-condominium project, remains a small but popular tourist destination. The Miami Beach area has some of the most valuable real estate in the world, home of the revitalized South Beach area with its restored art deco buildings and Fisher Island at the southern tip. And, at Speedway, Indiana, just outside Indianapolis, each Memorial Day, the race cars still pound the famed "brickyard" at the Indianapolis 500.

Fisher was named to the List of Great Floridians.

See also



  1. ^ a b c "Carl G. Fisher". Hall of Fame Inductees. Automotive Hall of Fame. 1971. Archived from the original on March 19, 2016. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  2. ^ Fisher 1998. p. 32.
  3. ^ Fisher 1947. p. 165.
  4. ^ "Lost Indiana: Carl Fisher". Lost Indiana.
  5. ^ "Fisher Hall to be Razed". Marian University. Marian University. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  6. ^ Clymer 1950, p.109.
  7. ^ The Lincoln Highway
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Paul Reyes, "Letter from Florida: Paradise Swamped: the boom and bust of the middle-class cream," Harper's, pp. 39–40. Abstract at Harper's Archives. Accessed August 5, 2010.
  9. ^ a b Carl Fisher's Miami Beach Railway Archived 2007-08-28 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Miami-Dade County - Transit". Archived from the original on 7 October 2006.
  11. ^ "1921 - the east end of County Causeway at Miami Beach, Florida photo - Don Boyd photos at". PBase.
  12. ^ Miami-Dade County – Transit Archived 2008-02-12 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Williams, Linda K.; George, Paul S. "South Florida: A Brief History". Historical Museum of Southern Florida. Archived from the original on April 29, 2010. Retrieved September 4, 2009.
  14. ^ Fisher 1998. p. 397.
  15. ^ "The Pacesetter: The Untold Story of Carl G. Fisher". Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
  16. ^ "Indianapolis Auto greats" (PDF). Celebrating Automotive Heritage at Crown Hill Cemetery. Crown Hill Cemetery. 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-09-13. Retrieved 2012-09-10.


  • Clymer, Floyd. Treasury of Early American Automobiles, 1877–1925 New York: Bonanza Books, 1950
  • Fisher, Jane. Fabulous Hoosier New York, New York: R.M. McBride and Co., 1947
  • Fisher, Jerry M. The Pacesetter: The Untold Story of Carl G. Fisher Ft. Bragg, California: Lost Coast Press, 1998
  • Foster, Mark S. Castles in the Sand: The Life and Times of Carl Graham Fisher. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida, 2000
  • Lummus, J. N. The Miracle of Miami Beach. (Self published);(Miami, Florida), 1944
  • Nolan, David. Fifty Feet in Paradise: The Booming of Florida. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984.

External links

Biscayne Bay

Biscayne Bay (Bahía Vizcaína in Spanish) is a lagoon that is approximately 35 miles (56 km) long and up to 8 miles (13 km) wide located on the Atlantic coast of South Florida, United States. It is usually divided for purposes of discussion and analysis into three parts: North Bay, Central Bay, and South Bay. Its area is 428 square miles (1,110 km2). The drainage basin covers 938 square miles (2,430 km2).

Carl Fischer

Carl Fischer may refer to:

Carl Fischer (baseball) (1905–1963), American baseball player

Carl Fischer (trumpeter), American trumpeter, trombonist and saxophonist of the Billy Joel Band

Carl Fischer (tennis), American tennis player from the 1920s and 30s

Carl Fischer (homeopath) (died 1893), New Zealand doctor, homoeopath and viticulturalist

Carl Fischer Music, American music publishing company

Carl Anthony Fisher (1945–1993), Roman Catholic bishop

Carl G. Fisher (1874–1939), American entrepreneur

Carl H. Fischer (1907–2005), American floriculturalist

Carl T. Fischer (1912–1954), Native American jazz pianist and composer

Charlie Merz

Charles Cleveland "Charlie" Merz (July 6, 1888 in Indianapolis, Indiana – July 8, 1952 in Indianapolis, Indiana) was an American racecar driver, military officer, engineering entrepreneur, and racing official. Active in the early years of the Indianapolis 500, he later became Chief Steward of the Memorial Day Classic.

Cocolobo Cay Club

The Cocolobo Cay Club, later known as the Coco Lobo Club, was a private club on Adams Key in what is now Biscayne National Park, Florida. It was notable as a destination for the rich and the politically well-connected. Four presidents (Warren G. Harding, Herbert Hoover, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon) visited while president, and numerous U.S. senators including John F. Kennedy visited the club. It was established by millionaire Carl G. Fisher as a getaway in 1922, passing to motor boat racer Gar Wood, then to Nixon friend Bebe Rebozo in 1954. The main club building burned in 1974 after the property was incorporated into Biscayne National Monument, and the remaining structures were destroyed by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Collins Bridge

The Collins Bridge was a bridge that crossed Biscayne Bay between Miami and Miami Beach, Florida. At the time it was completed, it was the longest wooden bridge in the world. It was built by farmer and developer John S. Collins (1837–1928) with financial assistance from automotive parts and racing pioneer Carl G. Fisher. Fisher, an auto parts magnate, loaned Collins $50,000 in 1911 ($1.3 million, adjusted for current inflation) to complete the bridge when Collins' money ran out. Collins, then 75 years old, traded Fisher 200 acres (81 ha) of land on Miami Beach for the loan. The 2.5-mile (4.0 km) wooden toll bridge opened on June 12, 1913, providing a critical link to the newly established Miami Beach, formerly accessible only by a ferry service. The middle of the bridge had a steel lattice truss design, while the ends were primarily wooden, as well as the deck being wooden for the entire length.The original wooden causeway was replaced in 1925 by a series of arch drawbridges and renamed the Venetian Causeway.

Dixie Highway

The Dixie Highway was a United States automobile highway, first planned in 1914 to connect the US Midwest with the Southern United States. It was part of the National Auto Trail system, and grew out of an earlier Miami to Montreal highway. The final result is better understood as a network of connected paved roads, rather than one single highway. It was constructed and expanded from 1915 to 1929.

The Dixie Highway was inspired by the example of the slightly earlier Lincoln Highway, the first road across the United States. The prime booster of both projects was promoter and businessman Carl G. Fisher. It was overseen by the Dixie Highway Association, and funded by a group of individuals, businesses, local governments, and states. In the early years the U.S. federal government played little role, but from the early 1920s on it provided increasing funding, until 1927, when the Dixie Highway Association was disbanded and the highway was taken over as part of the U.S. Route system, with some portions becoming state roads.

The route was marked by a red stripe with the white letters "DH", usually with a white stripe above and below. The logo was commonly painted on utility poles.

Fisher Island, Florida

Fisher Island is a census-designated place in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States, located on a barrier island of the same name. As of 2015, Fisher Island had the highest per capita income of any place in the United States. The CDP had only 218 households and a total population of 467.

Named for automotive parts pioneer and beach real estate developer Carl G. Fisher, who once owned it, Fisher Island is three miles off shore of mainland South Florida. No road or causeway connects to the island, which is accessible by private boat, helicopter, or ferry. Once a one-family island home of the Vanderbilts, and later several other millionaires, it was sold for development in the 1960s. The property sat vacant for well over 15 years before development was begun for very limited and restrictive multi-family use.

Flamingo Hotel, Miami Beach

The Flamingo Hotel overlooked Biscayne Bay on the west side of the newly formed city of Miami Beach, Florida, until the 1950s, when it was torn down to make room for the new Morton Towers development, which is now known as the Flamingo South Beach.

Fulford–Miami Speedway

The Fulford–Miami Speedway was a AAA Championship Car wood race track located in North Miami Beach, Florida. It was the first speedway built in South Florida. The 1.25 mi (2.01 km) track was built in 1925 by Indianapolis Motor Speedway co-founder Carl Fisher, who was also developing the city. To help build the track, Fisher hired 1911 Indianapolis 500 winner Ray Harroun, who also served as general manager of the track. The track's banking was at 50°, and as a result, cars had to drive at a speed of 110 mph (180 km/h) in order to remain on the track without sliding off. In comparison, the Daytona International Speedway's banking is 32°. Because of the speed the track's configuration produced, the track was considered as the fastest in the world.The track held only one event, the Carl G. Fisher Trophy in the 1926 AAA Championship Car season. The race was 240 laps and 300 mi (480 km), and was held on February 22, 1926 with a crowd of 20,000. The race's official starter was Barney Oldfield. The pole position was won by Tommy Milton with a lap speed of 142.93 mph (230.02 km/h), while the race was won by 1925 Indianapolis 500 winner Peter DePaolo, with Harry Hartz finishing second, less than a minute behind. Out of the 19 cars competing, only six finished the race. On September 17, 1926, the track was destroyed by the Great Miami Hurricane; the lumber that comprised the track's surface was scattered across the neighborhood, and was later, after being recovered, used by the city for reconstruction. After its destruction, the area was taken over by the Presidential County Club. South Florida did not have a major auto race again until 1983, when the Grand Prix of Miami was held on a street circuit in downtown Miami. Two years later, open wheel racing returned when CART used a street course at Tamiami Park for their season finale, the Beatrice Indy Challenge.

Henry Bourne Joy

Henry Bourne Joy (November 23, 1864 – November 6, 1936) was President of the Packard Motor Car Company, and a major developer of automotive activities as well as being a social activist.

In 1913, Joy and Carl G. Fisher were driving forces as principal organizers of the Lincoln Highway Association, a group dedicated to building a concrete road from New York to San Francisco. After the first several years, Fisher had become more involved with the Dixie Highway, but Joy remained dedicated to the Lincoln Highway. Naming it after former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was one of the moves Joy led, and his Lincoln Highway project was completed in his lifetime, despite lack of financial support by automotive leaders such as Henry Ford.

Joy was also a prominent figure on both sides of prohibition during that turbulent era.

Indianapolis 500 pace cars

The Indianapolis 500 auto race has used a pace car every year since 1911. The pace car is utilized for two primary purposes. At the start of the race, the pace car leads the assembled starting grid around the track for a predetermined number of unscored warm-up laps. Then if the officials deem appropriate, it releases the field at a purposeful speed to start the race. In addition, during yellow flag caution periods, the pace car enters the track and picks up the leader, bunching the field up at a reduced speed.

Prior to the first "500" in 1911, in the interest of safety, Indianapolis Motor Speedway founder Carl G. Fisher is commonly credited with the concept of a "rolling start" led by a pace car. Nearly all races at the time, as well as all Formula One races even to the present, utilize a standing start.

In almost every year since 1936, it has been a tradition that the winner of the Indianapolis 500 be presented with one of that year's pace cars (or a replica). In most years since 1911, the driver of the pace car at the start of the race has been an invited celebrity, a former racing driver, or notable figure in the automotive industry. Historically, the honor of supplying the pace car was, and continues to be, a coveted honor by the respective automobile manufactures and a marketing showcase for the particular make/model.

James A. Allison

James Asbury Allison (Marcellus, Michigan, 11 August 1872 – Indianapolis, Indiana, 3 August 1928) was an American entrepreneur and businessman. He was the inventor of the Allison Perfection Fountain Pen and, with Carl G. Fisher, founded Prest-O-Lite, a manufacturer of automobile headlights. Also with Fisher, Frank H. Wheeler, and Arthur C. Newby he was a founder of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. Allison formed the Indianapolis Speedway Team Company later known as the Allison Experimental Company, and later as the Allison Engine Company which was eventually purchased by General Motors after Allison’s death becoming the Allison Division of General Motors, a manufacturer of automotive transmissions (Allison Transmission), aircraft engines (Allison Engine Company), truck engines, and other products.

Allison died of pneumonia in 1928 at the age of 56 and was buried in at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis. His Indianapolis home, Riverdale, is now part of Marian University.

John S. Collins

John Stiles Collins (December 29, 1837-February 11, 1928) was an American Quaker farmer from Moorestown Township, New Jersey who moved to South Florida and attempted to grow vegetables and coconuts on the swampy, bug-infested stretch of land between Miami and the ocean, a barrier island which became Miami Beach.

Although the farming venture was not successful, with involvement from his family, notably his sons and sons-in law, John S. Collins also became a land developer. He and his family formed the Miami Beach Improvement Company in 1911, instituted the first recorded use of the term "Miami Beach", and built the Collins Bridge across Biscayne Bay from the established City of Miami in 1913. They built a casino, an oceanfront hotel and began residential development of the island.

The Collins Bridge project ran short of funds and the 2.5 mile (4 km) long wooden toll bridge was in danger of not being completed when 74-year-old Collins struck a deal with automotive pioneer and millionaire Carl G. Fisher (1874–1939) to loan him the needed funds in exchange for 200 acres (800,000 m²) of land. Fisher later described John Collins as "a bantam rooster, cocky and unafraid."

The Collins Bridge was located at the southern terminus of promoter Fisher's Dixie Highway project, which brought traffic from the mid-west as part of the National Auto Trail road system. Collins, his family, and Fisher all became very wealthy with the development of Miami Beach, which had a 400% increase in resident population between 1920 and 1925.

John S. Collins died in 1928 at the age of 90. Collins Avenue and the Collins Canal, both on Miami Beach, are named in his honor.

Key Largo

Key Largo (Spanish: Cayo Largo) is an island in the upper Florida Keys archipelago and is the largest section of the Keys, at 33 miles (53 km) long. It is one of the northernmost of the Florida Keys in Monroe County, and the northernmost of the Keys connected by U.S. Highway 1 (the Overseas Highway). Its earlier Spanish name was Cayo Largo, meaning long islet.

Key Largo is connected to the mainland in Miami-Dade County by two routes. The first route is The Overseas Highway, which is U.S. Highway 1 that enters Key Largo at Jewfish Creek near the middle of the island and turns southwest. The second route is Card Sound Road, which connects to the northern part of Key Largo at Card Sound Bridge and runs southeastward to connect with County Road 905, which runs southwest and joins U.S. 1 at about mile marker 106. These routes originate at Florida City on the mainland.

Key Largo is a popular tourist destination and calls itself the "Diving Capital of the World" because the living coral reef a few miles offshore attracts thousands of scuba divers and sport-fishing enthusiasts.In 1870 a Post Office was established at "Caya Largo" (in the current Rock Harbor area). It closed and another was opened called "Largo" in 1881. An additional Post Offices opened in Planter in 1891 and Aiken in 1895.Key Largo's proximity to the Everglades also makes it a premier destination for kayakers and ecotourists. Automotive and highway pioneer and Miami Beach developer Carl G. Fisher built the Caribbean Club in 1938 as his last project.

The island gained fame as the setting for the 1948 film Key Largo, but apart from background filming used for establishing shots, the film was shot on a Warner Brothers sound stage in Hollywood. After the film's success, pressure from local businesses resulted in a change in the name of the post office serving the northern part of the island, from "Rock Harbor" to "Key Largo", on June 1, 1952. After that, every resident north of Tavernier had a Key Largo address and the postmark read "Key Largo".Three census-designated places are on the island of Key Largo: North Key Largo, near the Card Sound Bridge, Key Largo, eight or nine miles from the southern end of the island, and Tavernier, at the southern end of the island. As of 2010, the three places have a combined population of 13,850. None of Key Largo is an incorporated municipality, so it is governed at the local level by Monroe County.

Key Largo is situated between Everglades National Park to the northwest and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park to the east, the first underwater park in the United States, which protects part of the Florida Reef, the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States.

Montauk Manor

Montauk Manor is a historic resort hotel located in the hamlet of Montauk in Suffolk County, New York, on Long Island. It was built in 1926 by Carl G. Fisher and is a three-story, 140 decorated condominium apartments in the Tudor Revival style. It was designed by Schultze and Weaver, the firm responsible for several Miami Beach-area hotels, The Breakers in Palm Beach, The Biltmore in Los Angeles, and The Pierre, The Sherry-Netherland and the former Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan, New York City.

The first floor of the hotel contains a variety of public rooms and service areas. The second and third floors contain hotel rooms and the attic is generally unfinished. It operates as a 140-apartment resort condominium hotel and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Montauk Tennis Auditorium

Montauk Tennis Auditorium, also known as Montauk Playhouse, is a historic tennis center located at Montauk in Suffolk County, New York, just below Montauk Manor. It was built in 1928-1929 as one of the central buildings of the great resort which developer Carl G. Fisher planned and partially completed in the 1920s. The Tudor Revival style structure is of light steel frame construction sheathed in prefabricated plywood frame panels and coated in stucco. The base is formed of rough fieldstone. The building is composed of three main volumes: two main gable roofed volumes mark the main tennis halls while the lower, shed roofed volume contains the lobbies and lounges. It began being used for stage productions in the 1950s. It now operates as a community playhouse.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

Rosie the Elephant

Rosie, an Asian elephant, was an instrumental figure in the history of the U.S. city of Miami Beach, Florida. Her appearance in publicity photos helped to contribute to the area's early reputation for being a place that a visitor had to see to believe.During the Florida land boom of the 1920s, pioneering developer Carl G. Fisher worked with fruit farmer John S. Collins to "improve" the barrier island near Miami, Florida which they began to call "Miami Beach". They worked to clear and protect land for development by building the Venetian Islands, a series of artificial islands in north Biscayne Bay.

Collins hired predominantly black work crews from "Colored Town", now known as Overtown, in his orchards and for clearing the mangrove forests on the barrier islands that would become Miami Beach. His crews used imported Asian elephants for pulling stumps and heavy lifting as well as mules and machinery. The black workers who did the work of clearing the mangroves and building solid land in Miami Beach out of a mangrove sandbar were unable to purchase property on the new land because the Lummus brothers' Ocean Beach Realty Company sold lots only to whites, and Fisher's Alton Beach Realty Company sold much bigger and more expensive lots for more expensive luxury homes.Fisher loved to stage publicity stunts to generate interest in his new development properties. He organized speed boat races in the bay south of Belle Isle, to promote his new Flamingo Hotel. Fisher was attempting to promote Miami Beach as a new luxury resort destination to the wealthy tourists who visited hotels like the Royal Palm Hotel across the bay in Miami, but who shunned the more casual oceanfront casinos operated by Collins.Fisher acquired a baby elephant, which he named "Rosie". "I'm going to get a million dollars worth of advertising out of this elephant," he said. He featured Rosie as a sort of mascot for the area in publicity photos that promoted Miami Beach as a luxury vacation destination. In 1921 Rosie starred in publicity photos as a "golf caddy" for vacationing president Warren G. Harding, which established Miami Beach as an exotic destination.Another of Fisher's publicity gimmicks, the Miami Beach bathing beauty, originated at around the same time. "We'll get the prettiest girls and put them in the goddamndest tightest and shortest bathing suits, and no stockings or swim shoes either. We'll have their pictures taken and send them all over the goddamn country!" The controversial photographs, depicting more bared flesh than was considered appropriate at the time, had exactly the desired effect. Property values in Miami Beach soared.

Rosie remained a fixture at press events for Fisher's resort hotels, giving rides to children while another of Fisher's elephants named Baby Carl helped to scoop sand during the construction of the Nautilus hotel in 1924. She was well-known and widely loved, and apparently survived as late as at least 1938, where she appeared at a party in support of the Miami Beach Committee of One Hundred on Boca Chita Key.

South Beach

South Beach, also nicknamed SoBe, is a neighborhood in the city of Miami Beach, Florida, United States, located due east of Miami city proper between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The area encompasses all of the barrier islands of Miami Beach south of Indian Creek.

This area was the first section of Miami Beach to be developed, starting in the 1910s, due to the development efforts of Carl G. Fisher, the Lummus Brothers, and John S. Collins, the latter of whose construction of the Collins Bridge provided the first vital land link between mainland Miami and the beaches.

The area has gone through numerous artificial and natural changes over the years, including a booming regional economy, increased tourism, and the 1926 hurricane, which destroyed much of the area. As of 2010, 39,186 people lived in South Beach.

Venetian Causeway

The Venetian Causeway crosses Biscayne Bay between Miami on the mainland and Miami Beach on a barrier island in south Florida. The man-made Venetian Islands and non-bridge portions of the causeway were created by materials which came from the dredging of the bay. The Venetian Causeway follows the original route of the Collins Bridge, a wooden 2.5 mi (4 km) long structure built in 1913 by John S. Collins and Carl G. Fisher which opened up the barrier island for unprecedented growth and development.

The causeway has one toll plaza (administered by the Miami-Dade County Public Works department) on Biscayne Island, the westernmost Venetian Island. The toll for an automobile is $3.00 (US).The causeway has two bascule bridges.

At the Downtown/Western Beginning of the causeway travelers are greeted by two columns vertically saying "VENETIAN WAY" along with a sign indicating that there is a weight limit .

At the South Beach/Eastern Terminus, drivers must choose whether to go north onto Dade Boulevard or eastbound onto 17th Street to Ocean Drive, Collins Ave/A1A, Lincoln Road, City Hall, The Convention Center, Jackie Gleason Theater and the beach .

The Venetian Causeway was re-dedicated in 1999 after the completion of a $29 million restoration and replacement project.A popular use of the causeway is for exercising, which includes both jogging and bicycling.

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