Historic Markers Across Florida

Apalachicola's Cotton Era

Marker ID:  
Location: Live Oak St in front of the St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge Hdq, Apalachicola, FL
County: Franklin
Coordinates: N 29° 43.609    W 084° 59.205
  29.72681666    -84.98675
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMTTV2


Apalachicola's Cotton Era

The first shipment of cotton to leave this Port, arrived New York, 1822. Beginning 1836, forty-three, three- storied brick, Cotton Warehouses and Brokerages lined Apalachicola's waterfront. Their granite-columned facades caused Apalachicola to be known as "The City of Granite Fronts." Cotton receipts were over 55,000 bales per year. By 1840, 130,000 bales of cotton annually left this Port. Foreign and coastwise shipments amounted to between $6,000,000.00 and $8,000,000.00 yearly. Corresponding amounts of merchandise were received for transportation into the interior. Apalachicola was the third largest Cotton Port in the United States. The Apalachicola Board of Trade, 1860, in a resounding memorial to Congress, stated: "We are the great depot of the State. We do more business than each and every portion of the State put together. This year we have done $14,000,000.00 worth of business." In that year $13,000.00 was refused for a Water Street lot. Between 1828 and 1928 two hundred and four "Sidewheelers" and "Sternwheelers", Queens of the River, plied this waterway. Long Live The Apalachicola!"
"The Harrison-Raney Cotton Warehouse is one of the two remaining granite and brick Greek revival buildings built along Apalachicola's Water Street when “Cotton Was King.” Originally, there were more than fifty three- story buildings, with granite posts and lintels defining the entrances, similar to buildings still found today on Water Street in New York. They continue to be a visual reminder of the close economic and social connection between this once thriving cotton port and the Port of New York. The end of the cotton era in Apalachicola caused the vacating of the buildings, most of which eventually were destroyed over time by hurricanes, fires and non-use.

Harrison and Raney, who had commercial interests in Apalachicola, built this building in 1836, following the purchase of one of the 30 x 80 foot lots laid out by the Apalachicola Land Company after the Forbes Purchase title settlements. Eventually, an impressive row of wharf-front brick and granite buildings resembling those at the New York City waterfront was built to support the cotton trade that brought prosperity to Apalachicola. Bales of cotton often filled Water Street. The first floor of the building was used to store bales of compressed cotton received from inland cities for shipment to New York , Boston, and to foreign ports, as well as a place to sell other wares. The other two floors supported the business aspects of the Port of Apalachicola's trade. Over the years, the warehouse was also used as a ships' chandlery, saloon, hardware store, honey warehouse and for general purpose storage.

Sponsored by City of Apalachicola