George Merrick, a son of a Congregational minister, Solomon Merrick, was not even thirty years old when he embarked on the construction of Coral Gables. His family first came here when he was only a child, escaping the raging blizzard happening in New England at the time. They were actually headed for Miami, but, because of a yellow fever quarantine, they decided to settle west in an area known then as "pine land.
George had a vision, a vision of a city inspired by the fury and tumult of the Old Testament. But instead of constructing a confining biblical fortress, as described by Ezekiel, Merrick proceeded to convert the plantation into a modern residential city with open inviting gates, wide avenues, trickling fountains and lush greenery, stretched into an immense garden commensurate with southern Florida. A visit to the city would begin with a passage through one of eight elaborately designed entrances intended to evoke the feeling of passing through the gates of...