Celebrating 90 years of a dream realized
|On April 29, 2015, Coral Gables celebrates its 90th anniversary. On that day in 1925, the original charter was approved by the Florida Legislature. The City is marking that official milestone with a year-long celebration of entertaining and educational events meant to honor our visionary founder George Merrick and the creative minds who built our uniquely beautiful city. Enjoy a tour of the structures Merrick built, many of which are National Historic Landmarks; drive, bike or walk under the trees he planted and take part in one of the many events that will help mark the urban adventure that is Coral Gables.
Download a Piece of History (1 MB, PDF): This image is a scan of one of the original advertisements promoting Coral Gables. It first appeared as a full-page ad in 1926, and it ran nationally in magazines such as, House and Garden, Town and Country and even Vogue!
Celebrate with Us (click on 90th Anniv. category)
In the News (click on 90th Anniv. category)
Read about our History
Explore our Digital Collection and take a Virtual Tour
See the 90th Anniversary Cake!
View Entries for the Coral Gables Children's Art Contest
Our History through Photographs
Marking the City's Milestones (click on the timeline)
One hundred years ago George Merrick had a dream. He wanted to turn the family’s grapefruit plantation, and the surrounding tropical wilderness, into a city.
Inspired by the romantic Spanish and Italian tales he had read in his youth, Merrick’s dream city would bring those faraway places to life in the lush tropical setting of South Florida. He would name it after his childhood home – Coral Gables.
In the early 1900s, the Garden City Movement was sweeping across America. Started in England, it encouraged wide tree-lined avenues and stately civic monuments, winding roadways and lush green spaces.
The plantation where George Merrick grew up offered the perfect grounding for his dream of building a Miami suburb. In 1899, his father, the Reverend Solomon Merrick, had purchased 160 acres when he moved the family from Massachusetts and turned the land into avocado, orange and grapefruit groves.
After his father’s death in 1911, Merrick expanded the family’s land holdings and embarked in real estate, working with a developer. By 1921, Merrick had amassed 1,200 acres, most of it a rocky wilderness covered in scrub and pine. He put together a team of designers that included an architect, an artist and a landscape architect. They would set the aesthetic codes and design every feature of the new City, down to the corner lampposts and details on the archways. They carefully chose the colors – favoring ocher and sienna – and worked to evoke an old-world feel even in the newest buildings.
Land was set aside for homes and country clubs, industrial, craft and commercial areas. The zoning also carved out areas for golf courses, tennis courts and bridle paths.
From the coral limestone that lay underground emerged a city with beautiful entrances and plazas, and stunning boulevards. Large oaks trees and banyans, palm trees and royal poincianas began forming a canopy that shaded the new oasis from the harsh Florida sun. In one year alone, Merrick planted 20,000 trees and shrubs.
By the time the City was incorporated in April 1925, it boasted more than 600 homes – from quaint Spanish bungalows to two-story Spanish residences. Model Ts rolled along its 65 miles of newly laid roadways, and residents strolled on its 80 miles of tree-shaded sidewalks.
City of Coral Gables 90th Anniversary logo created by Design House Agency.