Miami Beach

Miami, Florida | C.1915

Photo Credit: Tommy Clarke

The coastal resort city of Miami Beach, Florida was not always the luxurious destination it is today. The land was purchased for just 75 cents-an-acre in 1870 when the father-son duo of Henry and Charles Lum recognized the potential of the area. The original settlement was so remote that the first structure to stand on the oceanfront was the Biscayne House of Refuge, a building erected by the United States Life-Saving Service to provide food, water and shelter to shipwrecked seamen.

Miami Beach’s identity as a beach resort town started with wealthy agriculturist John S. Collins when he and his family began to develop the beach as a resort in the early years of the 20th century. Collin’s development brought bath houses, food stands and the town’s first hotel – Brown’s Hotel – built in 1915. The area was soon promoted as a site for wealthy industrialists from the north and Midwest to come and build winter homes.

An era known as the Florida Boom was underway, but was tragically cut short by a massive hurricane in 1926. In the 1930s, Miami Beach still attracted some tourists, which prompted investors to construct the mostly small-scale, stucco hotels and rooming houses for seasonal rental that comprise much of the present “Art Deco” historic district.

The 1980s and early 90s brought a massive infusion of investment capital that produced a reborn Miami Beach. The area has thrived amidst that change and overcome many difficulties as it continues to be an international destination for travel, business and permanent residents.

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