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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  April 20, 2015 7:51am-8:01am EDT

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harding in 1921 had a reception here. so it's a room that is full of history. the hotel ponce de leon was built by henry morrison flagler. now, flagler is a man who is very little known outside the state of florida. but he was one of the wealthiest men in america. he essentially had been a cofounder of standard oil company with john d. rockefeller. and in the early years of standard oil, rockefeller and flagler were best friends. they had homes on euclid avenue in cleveland near each other. when standard move its headquarters to new york city, rockefeller and flagler had homes across the street from each other on fifth avenue. into office back in cleveland they pushed their desks back to back so that they could hand the
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documents back and forth to each other. flagler was standard oil's railroad man. he was the person who worked out the deals with the railroads in new york and pennsylvania and ohio to all standard oil's products. and flagler was noted for driving hard bargains, that he would get rebates from the railroads which would be reduced rates for flagler's, for standards products. mek standard a big advantage over his competitors and that it could ship more cheaply over the railroads than they could. the other thing that flagler did was that he our region and the
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of the standard oil trust, a way of combining various refining companies into one big organization. later on john d. rockefeller was asked, who had come up with the idea and rockefeller said come well, i wish i had the brains to think of it but it was henry flagler's idea. so he was the key person in standard oil although he's not given much credit in the general histories. by the 1880s, standard oil was complete, it was a finished work. it was perhaps the largest corporation in the world. it dominated the oil industry and to think henry flagler was looking for a new challenge. it was a man who always wanted to undertake some great
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enterprise. and as it turned out florida was it. he had invested in florida in the early 1880s because another of his neighbors on fifth avenue in new york was henry b. plant a railroad builder in the south, who was building a railroad line down to tampa on the west coast of florida. and flagler invested some money in plans enterprises. later on when both flagler and plant were very active in florida, they essentially divided the state rather than compete with each other. plant to the west coast and flagler of the east coast. and they both build railroads. they both build hotels. they were friendly competitors. when flagler decided to build
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the hotel ponce de leon to begin his florida enterprises, he realized that the industrial commercial revolution had credit a large class of wealthy people, and also of upper-middle-class people, people who could take the time and who had the money to come to florida in the winter time, and thus he said what would they want? well, they would want a modern hotel, one that had electricity that had modern bathrooms, one that had an excellent up-to-date kitchen and dining room that had steam heat, that had elevators, all the amenities that a first class hotel would have. and flagler did this to them. but he gave it to them in this
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setting of a spanish renaissance palace. he hired thomas hastings and john career, two young architects who later would go on to be the architects most notably of the new york public library, and they turned what had been a marsh into a luxury resort hotel that look like something that had been picked up from spain, from seville and brought over here and dropped down on the east coast in what was an old spanish town. st. augustine was noted at the time, still lives of course as the oldest city in america. so flagler was sensitive in coming up with a modern building but one that would fit in with the ambience of an old
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spanish town. henry flagler was a hardheaded businessman and at standard oil we saw him as a hardheaded businessman. but he was also somebody who had big ideas. at standard he was able to envision a giant corporation. and in florida i believe he came with a limited idea at first just build a hotel and st. augustine but i also believe that very quickly that dream expanded. for example, he realized that he needed to own the railroad between jacksonville and st. augustine to ensure that guests could get to his hotel conveniently. he built the first railroad bridge across the st. john's river in jacksonville so that people could make it from new
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york to st. augustine without changing trains. but in buying a railroad he bought the rights to extend the railroad all the way to daytona beach. this was even before he had completed his hotels and st. augustine. so clearly the dream was beginning to grow on flagler, and later on some we asked him that question. did you envision an empire that would expand all the way to miami and key west? and flagler said yes. he was a man who had big dreams. he was a visionary. and the question is what impact and flagler have on florida history and on the future of florida. and would florida have developed the same way they did without flagler? well, we don't know but i suppose you could guess that yes, florida would have developed pretty much the same
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way but flagler certainly accelerated the process. so much of the east coast of florida was essentially wasteland until he build his railroad. you simply couldn't develop an area like palm beach or miami until you had secure rail transportation to the outside world. so flagler realized that he was pioneering, that he was opening up of these areas to development, and it surprised even him in his old age he said i always believed in the future of florida but i didn't appreciate how quickly it would happen. ..
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and this week on "the communicators," an update on the net neutrality regulations passed by the fcc earlier this year. julian hattem is with the hill. give us an update, where do we stand? >> guest: sure. so we're really at the new chapter, the battle of the long, ongoing saga of the federal communications commission on a party line vote voted back in

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