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Thousands of Live Alligators on Free Exhibition
This broadside, dating from about 1950, is an advertisement for Osky’s, also known as Osky’s Curio Shop or Osky’s Alligator Store, a Jacksonville mercantile store that sold gift items, rare or bizarre decorative items, and goods made out of alligator skin, including lamps, purses, and wallets. The shop also exhibited live alligators and other reptiles. Jacksonville was home to many of Florida’s earliest tourist attractions, including the Florida Alligator Farm. Operating for several decades on Jacksonville’s historic Bay Street, Osky’s promoted itself through postcards ...
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State Library and Archives of Florida
African American Man Wrestling an Alligator at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm
One of the symbols of the state of Florida in the popular imagination is the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis). From the earliest European explorers to the present day, visitors have been fascinated by this cold-blooded freshwater reptile. With a name derived from the Spanish word lagarto (the lizard), alligators can grow to an average of 13–15 feet (4–4.6 meters) and weigh 500–1,000 pounds (227–453 kilograms). The alligator used to be prized for its meat and skin, was once hunted and harvested to near extinction ...
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State Library and Archives of Florida
Ross Allen Reptile Institute
E. Ross Allen was a pioneer promoter and theme-park entrepreneur who achieved national and international fame for his animal wrestling. Born in 1908 in Pittsburgh, he was an Eagle Scout as a boy and later a stand-in for Johnny Weismuller in the Tarzan movies. He transformed the historic, natural tourist attraction of Silver Springs into a prototype of modern theme parks. Ross Allen’s Reptile Institute opened in 1929 and catered to Florida traditions (and mythology) while employing Florida residents, including Seminole Indians. The institute later shifted its emphasis a ...
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State Library and Archives of Florida