Though Florida became a part of the United States in 1845, there wasn’t much to put on a postcard until the first few decades of the 20th century, when the state’s tourism industry began to take off. During the boom years of the 1920s, towns from St. Augustine all the way to Key West capitalized on the Sunshine State’s mild weather, gorgeous white-sand beaches, and exotic green interiors. As Art Deco hotels sprang up all along Ocean Drive in Miami’s famous South Beach neighborhood, the city became a favorite for those wanting to escape New England’s icy winters.
Many of the state’s early luxury resorts used the same postcard design, showing a ring of alligators framing a view of each hotel’s unique building and grounds. Other favorite views included sunsets under palm trees, pin-up girls with brightly colored parrots, and a bounty of orange groves. By the 1960s, when Walt Disney began plotting out his eponymous resort in the middle of a swamp near Orlando, the state had a well-earned reputation as America’s “vacationland.” Disney World added famous attractions like Epcot Center to a plethora of postcards advertising more historic locales, like the enormous “Big Joe” cypress tree in Lake Mary, Florida.