"The definitive biography of one of the most energetic, versatile entrepreneurs of the early 20th century. In masterminding the development of the Indianapolis Speedway and Miami Beach, Fisher played a major role in teaching adult Americans how to play."--James Crooks, University of North Florida
In the booming early years of the 20th century, few entrepreneurs rivaled Carl Fisher (1874-1939) for sheer energy and imagination. Born in Indiana, he began as a bicycle racer and salesman, made his first fortune perfecting and marketing the automobile headlight, helped build the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and headed promotion of the Indy 500, and was a moving force behind the development of the Lincoln and Dixie highways, America’s first improved transcontinental roads. But all of these accomplishments were only prologue to his grandest adventure, as primary developer and promoter of Miami Beach.
This definitive biography of Fisher, abundantly illustrated and written in an engaging style, captures the headiness of the period. Mark Foster traces Fisher’s transformation of the South Florida landscape into a tourist’s dream of golf, polo, deep sea fishing, and luxury hotels and his animation of that dream with bronzed lifeguards, bathing beauties flashing new swimsuit styles, and visiting dignitaries who generated a stream of tantalizing headlines.
Foster also treats Fisher’s troubles with labor and with Miami businessmen, his attempted development of Montauk on Long Island, New York, and the collapse of the entire Fisher enterprise in the wake of the 1926 hurricane and the great stock market crash of 1929. Throughout, he sets Fisher’s insights, triumphs, loves, and shortcomings into the context of the early 20th century.
This biography of a great corporate builder reveals the emergence of a new American way of life. The man whose genius for promotion turned a swampy spit of land into a luxurious urban locale also framed aspirations of leisure and entertainment for generations of Americans.
Mark S. Foster is professor of history at the University of Colorado, Denver, and the author of eight previous books, including From Streetcar to Superhighway: American City Planners and Urban Transportation, 1900-1940 and Henry J. Kaiser: Builder in the Modern American West.
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"A compelling biography that captures Carl Fisher's amazing spirit and drive. Foster has recovered the fascinating history of this creative businessman whose accomplishments have persisted while his memory dimmed. " - Indiana Magazine of History
--Indiana Magazine of History
"An insightful study of a path breaking entrepreneur. Should remain the definitive study of ' Mr. Miami Beach' for years to come. Engaging and superbly written, it will be of interest to scholars of leisure, tourism, and Florida history."- Southern Historian
"Fisher did provide the emerging leisure revolution with things to play with and places to play in - bicycles, car racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and, by the 1920s, Miami Beach's finest hotels." -Miami Herald
"An excellent and thorough job of summing up, spotlighting Fisher's achievements and filling in the details of his personal life." -Booklist
"An excellent account of one of America's automotive pioneers who provided us with a rich leisure and entertainment legacy." -Cruise-IN.com
" This stands as the Fisher bio written without family spin. For Fisher fans, it's the rest of the story."
--Hemmings Classic Car
"The definitive biography of Fisher, abundantly illustrated and written in an engaging style."