Monday, 6 January 2014

A Brief History of Miami Beach

Miami Beach is well known for being one of the most glamorous destinations in the USA, with the area's beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife and rich and diverse culture attracting holiday-makers from every corner of the globe. But it wasn't always this way. Just 150 years ago, Miami beach was an uninhabitable island, purchased for just $0.25 per acre by a Henry Lum and since then, the area has undergone one of the most astounding changes in American history.

In 1870, Henry and his son Charles Lum happened to be sailing just off the coast of South East Florida. They noticed a beautiful sand bar, just offshore, and decided to put in an offer for the land. They purchased most of the island for a pittance, but failed to establish a strategy for developing the land into something of real worth.

Later, the island was sold on to Elnathan Field and Ezra Osborne, both residents of New Jersey, who in turn then sold the land to the Father and Son-in-law team of John Collin and Thomas Pancoast. During 1913, Collins took out a loan in order to build the first ever bridge between Miami Beach and the mainland, which at that time was the largest wooden bridge anywhere in the world. This is when Miami Beach started to change forever.

During the 1920s, America underwent unprecedented growth, and Miami started to expand, reaching a population of around 120,000. Even when the Great Depression of the 1930s struck, hotels were still being constructed, especially around lower Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive. Nowadays, this area is known officially as the Art Deco District, due to the architecture that reflects the styles of that time. But to the rest of the world, it is referred to as South Beach or "SoBe".

During World War II, the influx of servicemen brought another 100,000 people to the Greater Miami area, when army training centres were established. After the war, a lot of veterans decided to make the idyllic settings of South Florida their permanent home. By the end of the 1950s, South Florida had doubled its pre-war population.

Miami has continually expanded during the last century. In fact, from 1910 to 1960, the population of the City of Miami doubled every ten years, which had a knock on effect on the rest of Miami. In 1959, at the tail end of the Cuban revolution, 500,000 Cubans moved to the city, changing the cultural landscape of not just Miami, but Florida in general. From 1960 to 2000, Hispanics accounted for 90 percent of the total population growth in Miami-Dade County.

The Latino influence is felt to this day, influencing most aspects of Miami life - architecture, food and even the accent of the region all have an prominent Hispanic element. But the biggest transformation occurred in the late 80s and early 90s, when a multi-billion dollar infusion of investment capital produced the beautiful Miami downtown skyline that is so recognisable today.

Miami Beach emerged, complete with a modern transportation infrastructure, and a wealth of cultural, arts, sports and entertainment. Miami Beach has thrived, and has become somewhat of a "millionaires' playground", with many rich and famous people flocking to the area. The nightlife and lifestyle in the area is world renowned, with extraordinary restaurants, theatres, stadiums, nightclubs and Miami Beach hotels. Miami continues to be a fantastic destination for tourists, businesspeople and permanent residents of all nationalities.

Article submitted by Harald Bindeus, Director of Sales & Marketing at Grand Beach Hotel Miami. Newly built and opened in 2009, this Miami Beach Hotel is located right on the Atlantic Ocean close to South Beach, Miami. To find out more visit

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