History and museums
South Beach, also nicknamed SoBe, is a neighborhood in the city of Miami Beach, Florida, United States, located due east of Miami city proper between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The area encompasses all of the barrier islands of Miami Beach south of Indian Creek.
This area was the first section of Miami Beach to be developed, starting in the 1910s, thanks to the development efforts of Carl G. Fisher, the Lummus Brothers, and John S. Collins, the latter whose construction of the Collins Bridge provided the first vital land link between mainland Miami and the beaches.
The area has gone through numerous artificial and natural changes over the years, including a booming regional economy, increased tourism, and the 1926 hurricane, which destroyed much of the area. In 2010, 39,186 people lived in South Beach.
South Beach started as farmland. In 1870, Henry and Charles Lum purchased 165 acres (67 ha) for coconut farming. Charles Lum built the first house on the beach in 1886. In 1894, the Lum brothers left the island, leaving control of the plantation to John Collins, who came to South Beach two years later to survey the land. He used the land for farming purposes, discovering fresh water and extending his parcel from 14th Street to 67th in 1907.
In 1912, Miami businessmen the Lummus Brothers acquired 400 acres (160 ha) of Collins' land in an effort to build an oceanfront city of modest single family residences. In 1913 Collins started construction of a bridge from Miami to Miami Beach. Although some local residents invested in the bridge, Collins ran short of money before he could complete it.
Carl G. Fisher, a successful entrepreneur who made millions in 1909 after selling a business to Union Carbide, came to the beach in 1913. His vision was to establish South Beach as a successful city independent of Miami. This was the same year that the restaurant Joe's Stone Crab opened. Fisher loaned $50,000 to Collins for his bridge, which was completed in June, 1913. The Collins Bridge was later replaced by the Venetian Causeway.
On March 26, 1915, Collins, Lummus, and Fisher consolidated their efforts and incorporated the Town of Miami Beach. In 1920 the County Causeway (renamed MacArthur Causeway in 1942) was completed. The Lummus brothers sold their oceanfront property, between 6th and 14th Streets, to the city. To this day, this area is known as Lummus Park.
In 1920, the Miami Beach land boom began. South Beach's main streets (5th Street, Alton Road, Collins Avenue, Washington Avenue, and Ocean Drive) were all suitable for automobile traffic. The population was growing in the 1920s, and several millionaires such as Harvey Firestone, J.C. Penney, Harry C. Stutz, Albert Champion, Frank Seiberling, and Rockwell LaGorce built homes on Miami Beach. President Warren G. Harding stayed at the Flamingo Hotel during this time, increasing interest in the area.
In the 1930s, an architectural revolution came to South Beach, bringing Art Deco, Streamline Moderne, and Nautical Moderne architecture to the Beach. South Beach claims to be the world's largest collection of Streamline Moderne Art Deco architecture. Napier, New Zealand, another notable Art Deco city, is architecturally comparable to Miami Beach as it was rebuilt in the Ziggurat Art Deco style after being destroyed by an earthquake in 1931.
By 1940, the beach had a population of 28,000. After the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the Army Air Corps took command over Miami Beach. That year, tourism brought almost two million people to South Beach.
In 1964, South Beach became even more famous when Jackie Gleason brought his weekly variety series, The Jackie Gleason Show to the area for taping, a rarity in the industry. Beginning in the mid 1960s and continuing through the 1980s, South Beach was used as a retirement community with most of its ocean-front hotels and apartment buildings filled with elderly people living on small, fixed incomes. This period also saw the introduction of the "cocaine cowboys," drug dealers who used the area as a base for their illicit drug activities. Scarface, released in 1983, typifies this activity. In addition, television show Miami Vice used South Beach as a backdrop for much of its filming because of the area's raw and unique visual beauty. A somewhat recurring theme of early Miami Vice episodes was thugs and drug addicts barricading themselves in utterly run-down, almost ruin-like empty buildings. Only minor alterations had to be made for these scenes because many buildings in South Beach really were in such poor condition at the time.
While many of the unique Art Deco buildings, such as the New Yorker Hotel, were lost to developers in the years before 1980, the area was saved as a cohesive unit by Barbara Capitman and a group of activists who spearheaded the movement to place almost one square mile of South Beach on the National Register of Historic Places. The Miami Beach Architectural District was designated in 1979.
Before the days of Miami Vice, South Beach was considered a very poor area with a very high rate of crime. Today, it is considered one of the wealthiest and most prosperous commercial areas on the beach. Despite this, poverty and crime still exist in some isolated places surrounding the area.
In 2009, Natalie O'Neill of the Miami New Times said, "Until the 1980s, Miami Beach was a peculiar mix of criminals, Cubans, and little old ladies. Then the beautiful people moved in." In the late 1980s, a renaissance began in South Beach, with an influx of fashion industry professionals moving into the area. In 1989, Irene Marie purchased the Sun Ray Apartments (famous for the chainsaw scene in Scarface) and opened Irene Marie Models - the first international full-service modeling agency in Florida. Many of the large New York-based agencies soon followed.
Thomas Kramer is credited with starting the construction boom in South Beach, driving the gentrification of the area. It is now a popular living destination for the wealthy. Condominium units in the upscale high rises sell for millions. There are a number of vocal critics of the developments. The high-rise and high-density buildings are derided as a "concrete jungle". However, even critics concede that the development has changed the area into a pedestrian friendly, low-crime neighborhood.
In both daytime and at nightfall, the South Beach section of Miami Beach is a major entertainment destination with hundreds of nightclubs, restaurants, boutiques and hotels. The area is popular with tourists from Europe, Israel and the entire Western Hemisphere, with some having permanent or second homes. The large number of European tourists results in South Beach's tolerance of the female monokini, aka topless sunbathing, despite it being a public beach.
South Beach's residents' varied backgrounds are evident in the many languages spoken. In 2000, 55% of residents of the city of Miami Beach spoke Spanish as a first language, while English was the first language for 33% of the population. Portuguese (mainly Brazilian Portuguese) was spoken by 3% of residents, while French (including Canadian French) was spoken by 2%, and German by 1%. Italian, Russian, Yiddish and Hebrew were all spoken by less than 1%.
Another unique aesthetic attribute of South Beach is the presence of several colorful and unique stands used by Miami Beach's lifeguards on South Beach. After Hurricane Andrew, Architect William Lane donated his design services to the city and added new stops on design tours in the form of lifeguard towers. His towers instantly became symbols of the revived City of Miami Beach.
After decades of economic and social decline, an influx of gay men and lesbians moving to South Beach in the late-1980s to mid-1990s helped contribute to Miami Beach's revitalization. The newcomers purchased and restored dilapidated Art Deco hotels and clubs, started numerous businesses, and built political power in city and county government. As South Beach became more popular as a national and international tourist destination, there have been occasional clashes between cultures and disputes about whether South Beach is as "gay friendly" as it once was.
While being a gay mecca of the 1980s and 1990s, Miami Beach never had a city-sanctioned Gay Pride Parade until April 2009. With strong support from Mayor Bower, Miami Beach had its first Gay Pride Festival in April 2009. It is now an annual event. The 2010 Pride drew tens of thousands of people.
Gay Pride week end has gained prominence since it first started in 2009, there has been an increase in attendance every year. In 2013 there were more than 80,000 people who participated in the event. It has also attracted many celebrities such as Chaz Bono who was Grand Marshal for the event in 2012 and Mario Lopez who will be Grand Marshal for Pride week end 2015 this upcoming April. There are over 125 businesses who are LGBT supportive that sponsor Miami beach Gay Pride week end. The sponsors include Pinnacle Vodka, Fiat, Hard Rock Cafe, Miami’s hit radio station 103.5 The beat WMIB and Jeep. Also, at the 2015 Pride Festival, the city has decided to commemorate two gay “Legacy couples” who have been together for more than 50 years. The two couples Frank Petrole and Mark Rudick who have been together for 55 years and Mary Maguire and Jackie Emmett who have been together for 53 years.
In 2009, the ACLU began looking into instances of Miami Beach Police targeting gay men for harassment. In February 2010, ACLU announced that it would sue the City of Miami Beach for an ongoing targeting and arrests of gay men in public. According to the ACLU, Miami Beach police have a history of arresting gay men for simply looking “too gay”.
At the meeting with the local gay leaders, Miami Beach Police Chief Carlos Noriega claimed that the incidents were isolated, and promised increased diversity training for police officers. He also announced that a captain, who is a lesbian, would soon be reassigned to internal affairs to handle complaints about police officers accused of harassing gays. Some members of the committee were skeptical of Noriega's assertion that the recent case wasn't indicative of a larger problem in the MBPD, and provided examples of other cases.
South Beach is traversed by numerical streets which run east-west, starting with Biscayne Street, now popularly known as South Pointe Drive, one block south of First Street and the largely pedestrianized Lincoln Road (running parallel between 16th and 17th streets). It also has 13 principal Roads and Avenues running north-south, which, from the Biscayne Bay side, are Bay Road, West Avenue, Alton Road, Lenox Avenue, Michigan Avenue, Jefferson Avenue, Meridian Avenue, Euclid Avenue, Pennsylvania Avenue, Drexel Avenue, Washington Avenue, Collins Avenue (State Road A1A), and Ocean Drive. There are three smaller avenues (that do not run the entire length of South Beach) in the Collins Park area, named Park, Liberty, and James. Most locals agree that South Beach's northern boundary runs along Dade Boulevard from Lincoln Road on the bay side of the island, and heads east-north-east until it connects with 23rd Street, which forms the northern boundary on the ocean side. See a map of the area via this link: http://www.openstreetmap.org/?mlat=25.7681&mlon=-80.131&zoom=12
Köppen-Geiger climate classification system classifies its climate as borderline between tropical monsoon (Am) and humid subtropical (Cfa).
Public Transportation in South Beach, along with Downtown and Brickell, is heavily used, and is a vital part of South Beach life. Although South Beach has no direct Metrorail stations, numerous Metrobus lines (operated by Miami-Dade Transit), connect to Downtown Miami and Metrorail (i.e.: the 'S' bus line). The 'South Beach Local' or 'SBL' is one of the most heavily used lines in Miami, and connects all major points of South Beach to other major bus lines in the city. The ride for the SBL costs $0.25.
The Airport-Beach Express (Route 150), operated by MDT, is a direct-service bus line that connects Miami International Airport to major points in South Beach. The ride costs $2.35, and runs every 30 minutes from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. seven days a week.
South Beach, along with a handful of other neighborhoods in Greater Miami (such as Downtown and Brickell), is one of the areas where a car-free lifestyle is commonplace. Many South Beach residents get around by foot, bicycle, motorcycle, bus or by taxi, as the neighborhood is very urban, and pedestrian-friendly. Automobile congestion in the area is frequent, so getting around in South Beach by car can often prove more difficult than simply walking. Recently, Miami Beach has begun bicycle initiaves promoting city-wide bike parking and bike lanes, that have made bicycling much more popular for residents and tourists. The Venetian Causeway for example, is a popular bicycle commuter route that connects South Beach to Downtown.
Lincoln Road, Ocean Drive, Washington Avenue, and Collins Avenue are popular shopping, eating, and entertainment streets for pedestrians. Lincoln Road is a pedestrian-only shopping street, and Collins Avenue around 5th Street, is mostly upscale retail.
Currently, a streetcar system, named 'Baylink' is in the planning stages. Baylink would connect South Beach to Downtown at Government Center Station via the MacArthur Causeway.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools operates area public schools:
Miami-Dade County Public Schools operates area public schools:
Lincoln Road is an open-air pedestrian mall, considered South Beach's premiere shopping area. It is home to many restaurants and several night clubs, such as Score, as well as many retail outlets. While Lincoln Road was one time rather downtrodden, it began a renaissance in the 1980s as an arts and cultural center. With its unique boutique shops and restaurants, it has had "an esoteric chic that maintains its trendy appeal." It runs parallel in between 16th Street and 17th Street and spans the Beach in an east-west direction. Lincoln Road was fully accessible to automobile traffic until the 1950s when automobile access was limited from Alton Road to Biscayne Bay on the west end and Washington Avenue to the beach on the east end of Lincoln Road with Lincoln Mall limited to pedestrians stretching from Alton Road to Washington Avenue. Among the late 1990s restaurants on Lincoln Road was one owned by actor Michael Caine, and managed by one of his daughters. The restaurant has since closed. The Miami Beach Preservation Board approved the closure of automobile traffic on the westward part of Lincoln Mall, in favor of the renovation of the SunTrust building including the development of the acclaimed 1111 Lincoln Road parking garage. Several other parking garages nearby greatly facilitate commerce.
Ocean Drive is the easternmost street in South Beach, and stems from Biscayne Street to 15th Street, running in a north-south direction. Ocean Drive is responsible for the South Beach aesthetic that most out-of-town visitors expect. It is a popular Spring Break and tourist area, including the famous, yet predominantly local, Pearl and Nikki Beach night spots. It is also home to several prominent restaurants (including "News Cafe," "Mango's," and the MTV-popularized "Clevelander") and is the site of Gianni Versace's former ocean front mansion.
Collins Avenue runs parallel to Ocean, one block west. It is also State Road A1A. Collins is home to many historic Art Deco hotels, and several nightclubs to the north, including Mynt and Rokbar.
Española Way, which runs from Collins Avenue to Pennsylvania Avenue, was conceived by N.B.T. Roney (of Roney Plaza Hotel fame) in 1925 as "The Historic Spanish Village," modeled after the romantic Mediterranean villages found in France and Spain. Today it consists of restaurants, bars, art galleries, and quirky shops.
Alton Road is the main westside north-south street located 1-3 blocks from Biscayne Bay. On the part that traverses South Beach, the road is host to many local businesses, including dry cleaners, small furniture stores, small grocery markets, non-chain restaurants and fast food restaurants. It is mainly residential once it crosses Michigan Avenue north of South Beach.
Washington Avenue is one of the best-known streets in South Beach. Running parallel with Ocean and Collins, Washington is notorious for having some of the world's largest and most popular nightclubs, such as Cameo and Mansion. During "season" the street is jammed with traffic until early in the morning (as late as 6 am) every night of the week. In the 1990s explosion of South Beach as a nightclub venue, its nightclub moguls included Ingrid Casares, whose investors included the singer Madonna. Washington Avenue is also home to countless shops, hotels, and such noted architectural features as Temple Emanu-El.
The West Avenue Corridor extends from 5th Street north to 17th Street and bounded by the east side of Alton Road and Biscayne Bay. Development in the West Avenue Corridor began in the 1920s when three grand hotels were built on the shores of Biscayne Bay: The Flamingo, The Fleetwood and the Floridian. Al Capone and vacationing billionaires from the Golden Age made these hotels their winter hideaway. By the 1950, the hotels fell into ruin and tourists abandoned this side of South Beach for the oceanside.
All three properties, along with the rest of the Corridor, have since evolved into a middle-class, mixed use residential neighborhood. Each passing decade saw the addition of new architectural styles that enhance the diversity and appeal of the neighborhood. Amenities for residents and visitors include shopping, houses of worship, cafes, restaurants, parks and gyms.
Today, the West Avenue Corridor is one of the most desirable places to live in Miami Beach. Vacationers, homeowners and renters can find an abode to suit any style in this neighborhood that supports a combination of single family homes, original art deco buildings, MiMo mid-rises and contemporary high density high-rises.
The Corridor is home to almost 10,000 residents, over 40 different condominiums, several single family homes and a number of rental buildings. The neighborhood has changed over the years. The recent Census shows the neighborhood to be much younger and more year-round than in years past. It is highly walkable since it is a quiet neighborhood and is close to many amenities - Flamingo Park, Lincoln Road, the ocean, the nightlife of Ocean Drive and Washington Avenue, Whole Foods Market, Publix and many restaurants.
Located at 10th Street and West Avenue, The Shoppes at West Avenue, built almost 12 years ago by Gumenick Properties, hosts a locus of business activity that complements the residential community. There is a parking garage disguised by the architecture and on the ground level are shops such as Starbucks, one of the most neighborly on the Beach, Oliver's Bistro, a local "joint" with a European flair overseen by the welcoming and gracious owner, Hagen Taudt, a dry cleaner, the South Beach Animal Hospital, a spa, Massage by Design and other businesses.
Adding the neighborhood's attractiveness is its proximity to the neighborhoods of South of Fifth, Sunset Harbor, Belle Isle, the Venetian Islands and North Bay Road. In the South of Fifth community is the highly rated South Pointe Elementary School, an "A" rated school boasting the highly coveted International Baccalaureate® program.
One could say the Corridor has come full circle - the forefathers intentions were to create a magical lifestyle in a tropical paradise, and the residents who now make their home along the Bay fulfill and continue that lifestyle.