In Conversation: Hot Springs Before Hot Pants

In Florida’s Healing Waters: Gilded Age Mineral Springs, Seaside Resorts, and Health Spas, Rick Kilby explores the Victorian belief that water promoted healing and rehabilitation, and a little-known time in […]


In Conversation: Hot Springs Before Hot Pants

Authors:Joy Wallace Dickinson, Rick Kilby


In Florida’s Healing Waters: Gilded Age Mineral Springs, Seaside Resorts, and Health Spas, Rick Kilby explores the Victorian belief that water promoted healing and rehabilitation, and a little-known time in Florida history – well before South Beach became an international getaway for cocktails and clubbing – when tourists poured into the state in search of good health, rather than a good time. Speaking with him is Joy Wallace Dickinson, who has written hundreds of “Florida Flashback” features in the Orlando Sentinel chronicling Central Florida’s past, and is the author of several books, including Remembering Orlando: Tales from Elvis to Disney.

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Joy Wallace Dickinson

Joy Wallace Dickinson has written hundreds of “Florida Flashback” features in the Orlando Sentinel about aspects of Central Florida’s past. She’s also the author of Orlando: City of Dreams, Remembering Orlando: Tales from Elvis to Disney, and Historic Photos of Orlando. In a past life, she worked at Stanford University Press and as a book and publication designer in San Francisco.

Rick Kilby

Rick Kilby has studied Florida’s popular history and helped clients present historical topics in interesting, visual ways for more than 25 years. A graphic designer, Kilby was creative director of the Church Street Station in Orlando before launching Kilby Creative, his own design studio. In 2008 he started a blog about Florida history and culture, “Visual Ephemera: Musings from the State I’m In,” which features over 400 articles. His first book, Finding the Fountain of Youth: Ponce de León and Florida’s Magical Waters, was published in 2013. In Florida’s Healing Waters: Gilded Age Mineral Springs, Seaside Resorts, and Health Spas (University Press of Florida) Kilby spotlights a little-known time in Florida history when tourists poured into the state in search of good health. Filled with rare photographs, vintage postcards, ads, and fascinating descriptions from over 100 years ago, Florida’s Healing Waters explores the Victorian belief that water caused healing and rehabilitation. Nineteenth-century Americans traveled from afar to bathe in the outdoors and soak up the warm climate of Florida. With more than 1,000 freshwater springs, 1,300 miles of coastline, and 30,000 lakes, water was an abundant resource in the state. The tourism infrastructure built during the Gilded Age lasted well into the twentieth century, and these now-lost resorts helped boost the economy of modern Florida. And in Florida’s Healing Waters, Kilby emphasizes the value of honoring and preserving the natural features of the state in the face of continual development.

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