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The Everglades, over the years and through your eyes. A Florida treasure turns 75

 A park ranger using an airboat to patrol sawgrass prairies. Flat bottom airboats became popular in the 1930s when they were independently invented and used for frog hunting in the shallow Everglades prairies, circa 1960.
South Florida Photograph Collection
/
HistoryMiami Museum
A park ranger using an airboat to patrol sawgrass prairies. Flat bottom airboats became popular in the 1930s when they were independently invented and used for frog hunting in the shallow Everglades prairies, circa 1960.

The Everglades National Park celebrates its 75th anniversary this week. To mark the occasion, WLRN takes a look at stunning images that show the history of the park and its majestic beauty — including photographs from readers and listeners.

The Everglades National Park is celebrating its 75th anniversary this week. The unique subtropical wetland ecosystem, which spans two million acres across Central and South Florida, was dedicated on December 6, 1947.

To mark the occasion, we are taking a look at stunning images that show the history of the park and its majestic beauty – including photographs by our readers and listeners.

The extraordinary 'River of Grass'

One of the most extraordinary yet fragile ecosystems in the planet, the Everglades provide essential habitats for animals like the manatee, the American crocodile, various bird species and the Florida panther.

For Floridians, the ‘River of Grass’ provides drinking water for more than 8 million people, protects communities from flooding and supports the state's fishing industry.

Evette Alexander, executive director of Artists in Residence in Everglades (AIRIE), said the Everglades is "much more than sawgrass, but a constellation of different habitats all working together to support such unique biodiversity."


A history of conservation

At a time when it was targeted for drainage and urbanization, land developer turned conservationist Ernest F. Coe was one of the key figures in the establishment of the Everglades National Park.

It was dedicated a month after Marjory Stoneman Douglas published her influential book The Everglades: River of Grass. The journalist founded the Friends of the Everglades conservation group and became one of the park's staunchest defenders.

HistoryMiami Museum, in association with the Everglades National Park, is holding the exhibit Traversing the Wilderness: Exploring Human Transportation Across the Everglades. Showcasing historic photos that show how humans have navigated the landscape, and the beginnings of the park, it is being held until February 12, 2023. For more information, click here.


A South Florida favorite

At least one million people visit the Everglades every year — including many of WLRN's listeners and readers. Through WLRN's Instagram account, they have shared with us some of their favorite photos and memories this week.

"It's my favorite place in the world and helping protect it is my reason for existence," said Emilio Lerdo de Tejada, 27. The environmental engineer said he was in awe the first time he visited the park, in 2020. "I remember feeling overwhelming peacefulness and calmness," he wrote. He's since become an annual pass holder and visits the national park frequently.

Maria Llores said the wilderness of the Everglades "nourishes the soul." She added: "The Everglades is where I go when I need to be reminded that the world is more than concrete and traffic and phone screens."

Photographer Alejandro Cupi wrote: "It's my space for creation, meditation and silence."

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Helen Acevedo