high-saline waters of Florida Bay. The geographic area of slowly moving water is known as the Everglades, although the term is also often used to refer more generally to the region's natural systems.
In 1845 the population of the entire state of Florida was less than 80,000; from 1950 to 1990 it rose from 760,000 to 4.65 million and the landscape was transformed physically in heroic ways. In recent decades in South Florida, the natural wetland has given way to agriculture and to urbanization along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. In this state known for its vast numbers of tourists and elaborate land development schemes, including some financial disasters in the latter half of the twentieth century, population growth has been driven by retirees from the north, joined by Latin American immigrants. Population concentrated on the state's eastern coast has produced a sharp contrast to the agricultural and natural landscape to the west.
To mitigate flood damage and provide drainage for potential agricultural land, the federal government and others have reengineered South Florida's wetland water systems. The immense infrastructure for water management includes levees, canals, pumping systems, and diversion structures. As a result, over the years the marshland of the Everglades has been reduced by half, and its wildlife populations of birds and mammals have been decimated. Even as the landscape has been transformed from one dominated by natural areas to one dominated by human activities, the efforts under way to return the engineered straight channel of the Kissimmee River to its “natural” meandering pattern reflect the changing values of society in the current era. In contrast, the city of Miami continues to grow and represents a major international metropolitan region, a dominant center of commercial activities between the United States and Latin America.
In summary, transformation of the landscape of South Florida has been driven by agriculture, real estate ventures to satisfy the demands for permanent housing and tourism, and commercial development. It also has been nurtured by government policies and facilitated by the provision of an engineered infrastructure on a grand scale.
The dynamism of the transformation of the Chicago region from the mid-nineteenth century to the present rivals that of South Florida, but in an entirely different landscape and over a somewhat different period of time. Overall, the region can be characterized as a flat plain that was, in earlier days, covered primarily with natural prairie grass; some forested areas were found in the northeastern reaches of the region. As the agricultural frontier moved west, however, the landscape was quickly trans-