It actually should be called southern Florida.


South is a direction. Southern is used to describe a region or area.

There's North Carolina and South Carolina and North Dakota and South Dakota. But south Florida isn't a state, it's part of the state of Florida. Let's look at California. Is southern California ever called south California?

I used the phrase south Florida too. I live here. It's just that way.

Now let's look at university names. There's the University of South Florida and The University of North Florida. This makes no sense to me. When did the state divide into two? I guess the University of Central Florida should really be called the University of Center Florida...
Oh, it gets better. The University of South Florida (where my office is that I'm sitting in right now) in Tampa is in the center of Florida on the west coast. That always confuses people, who seem to think when they hear the name of USF that I'm in Key West or Miami or Ft.Myers, all far south of here.

My pet theory is that when USF was founded (1956), this was South Florida, essentially. Florida wasn't really settled heavily until air conditioning was affordable and commonly available. Tampa was the end of the railroad line (Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders got off the train and sailed to Cuba from here).
South Florida and North Florida are the two competing sides of the state of Florida that have been at a fairly good equilibrium for the last decade or two: their front is roughly along Interstate 4. In general, South Florida refers to Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm, and their suburbs. Key West, Jupiter, and other cities in the region are, on rare occasions, tossed into the mix, but generally the idea of South Florida is that it's the hip, liberal, urban, Span-o-phonic side of the state.

North Florida, on the other hand, is represented best by Jacksonville, Pensacola, Gainesville, and Tallahassee, by cows, plantations, and military bases. The coast of the Gulf of Mexico around the Florida panhandle (especially around Panama City) is affectionately known as the "Redneck Riviera."

Tampa and Orlando are sort of in limbo between the two sides, because they have a very strong old-school conservative core that is slowly being pushed out by the same migration from the Northeast that populated South Florida in the first place. Whether they will end up like Miami in twenty or thirty years is pretty much a moot point, since the whole state will have sunk into the ocean by then.

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