From a tangled jungle of mangroves, to developers goldmine, to cocaine capital, and now as one of the top international tourist destinations the story of Miami Beach is indeed a fascinating one. This 5-part blog series will take you on a journey spanning nearly 100 years…the story of Miami Beach, the place I call home and ultimately one of the most amazing places in the world to live and play. By the time you finish reading the series you will certainly want to visit and you may want to join me and call Miami Beach ‘home’.
PART I: EARLY MIAMI HISTORY, The Vision of Carl Fisher
Miami Beach was developed in 1913 when a two-mile (3 km) wooden bridge built by John Collins was completed. The Town of Miami Beach was chartered on March 26, 1915; it grew to become a City in 1917.
The effort to develop the beach into a resort destination began in the early 20th century by the Collins/Pancoast family, the Lummus brothers (bankers from Miami), and Indianapolis entrepreneur Carl G. Fisher. Until then, the beach was only the destination for day-trips by ferry from Miami, across the bay. There were bathhouses and food stands, but no hotel until Brown’s Hotel was built in 1915 (still standing, at 112 Ocean Drive).
Carl Fisher was the main promoter of Miami Beach’s development in the 1920s as the site for wealthy industrialists from the north and midwest to build their winter homes here. Fisher was famous for purchasing a huge lighted billboard in New York’s Times Square proclaiming “Its June In Miami”. In addition, Fisher built five hotels here (none still surviving). This marked the start of a real estate bubble in Florida. Miami had an image as a tropical paradise and outside investors across the United States began taking an interest in Miami real estate.
In the 1920s, Fisher and others literally created much of Miami Beach as landfill by dredging Biscayne Bay; this manmade territory includes Star, Palm, and Hibiscus Islands, the Sunset Islands, much of Normandy Isle, and all of the Venetian Islands except Belle Isle. Click on the video link below for a comprehensive history of Miami Beach.
VIDEO BLOG: Miami Beach: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
PART II: “The Birth of Art Deco” Coming Soon…