South Beach is unlike anywhere else in the world. Upon visiting, people often find themselves taken aback by not only our beautiful beaches but even more so by our iconic architecture. The pastel colors and geometric patterns featured on our facades complement the seemingly eternal sunshine and endless blue seas that envelope our beaches in an unforgettable way. So, how did this all come to be?
According to Visit South Beach Online, until 1870, the area that today is known as South Beach was simply unsettled farmland. The Lum Brothers then purchased 160 acres of the island to grow coconuts and one of their daughters decided to name their new property “South Beach”. They built South Beach’s very first structure, a farmhouse, in 1886, but then chose to leave the area. Upon leaving, they left the land to John Collins, who began expanding his parcel after discovering fresh water in the area.
Things really started moving along in 1912, when Collins sold 400 acres of land to the Lummus Brothers, who were two local businessmen. They created a vision of developing the island boy building modest single-family homes there. The next step for Collins was to build a bridge to make the area more accessible to potential new residents, which he began construction on in 1913. Unfortunately, before it could be completed, Collins ran out of money. Soon after, a man named Carl Fisher decided to see Collins’ dream through and gave enough money to finish the bridge that is known today as the Venetian Causeway.
The town of Miami Beach was officially incorporated in 1915, but it took another five years until the land boom began. Once our scenic roads were completed for automobile traffic, South Beach very quickly became a playground for the rich and famous. Notable members of the upper crust such as the Firestones, J.C. Penny, Albert Champion all had mansions built in this area.
It wasn’t long before visitors wanted to experience the new and unique island on vacation, which leads to 1936, when the design for The Cavalier South Beach came to life. Continue to follow our blog for the continuation of the evolution of South Beach after the 1930’s.
Find complete historic details on South Beach at VisitSouthBeachOnline.com
Vintage Miami Photos via Pinterest