The Venetian Islands: History

Real Estate Agent with Charles Rutenberg Realty LLC

The Venetian Islands in Miami Beach are home to some of the most gorgeous houses in South Florida.  Rich in history, few people know about the beginnings of these Islands.  This week I will write a series of posts on the history, architecture and what could have been in the Venetian Islands.

The Venetian Islands are a chain of six man-made islands in Biscayne Bay in Miami Beach and Miami, Florida.  The islands are, from east to west (the order the islands were developed): Belle Isle, Rivo Alto Island, Di Lido Island (the largest), San Marino Island, San Marco Island and Biscayne Island.  The four easternmost islands are part of Miami Beach while the two westernmost islands belong to the city of Miami.

During the Florida Land Boom of the 1920's, dredging and "island building" of new waterfront real estate was popular.  The 2.5 mile long Venetian Causeway and Venetian Islands were developed by the Biscayne Bay Improvement Company who chose this location along the wooden Collins bridge. Plans called for the creation of four islands and platting proceeded as follows: Rivo Alto Island in February 1922, Di Lido Island in January 1923, San Marino Island and San Marco Island in June 1923. 

Two sales offices were set up to sell the 450 lots while many were still underwater.  New owners were promised seawalls, utilities, roads, sidewalks and the replacement of the wooden Collins Bridge with a new toll bridge reported to cost two million dollars.  Residents would not be charged to use the toll road.  The Venetian Islands and new bridge were completed on February 28, 1926.  Biscayne Island was not part of the original Venetian Islands plan but was platted in 1936 after being home to the Viking Field airport, primarily used for seaplanes.

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