Hello, my name is Lukas Stump. I am 19 years old and of those years, 18 of them I spent living a in Panama City, Panama where I grew up. Currently, I am a sophomore at Florida International University honors college studying Internet of Things (IoT). This is my first semester at FIU and unfortunately, because of the ongoing Novel Corona Virus (Covid-19), I have not been able to receive the full FIU college experience it has to offer. Thankfully, I stumbled across this amazing class called Miami in Miami taught by one of my favorite professors so far, John William Bailly. I decided to take this class because of how new and unexperienced I was to Miami. With this class I have been able to expand my knowledge and forget what I think I new about Miami. Of all the neighborhoods throughout Miami South Beach calls my attention the most, that is why for my Ineffable Miami project I am choosing to learn and write more about this neighborhood.
South Beach is in Miami Dade County at the southern end of the City of Miami Beach. It stretches from 14th street to 67th street. Across from it lies Fisher Island and Dodge Island. Miami Beach is somewhat of an island so to get to South Beach you need to either take the McArthur causeway, the new Venetian way, or the Intercoastal Waterway. To the left lies Biscayne Bay and to the right is the Atlantic Ocean. Although South Beach is an Island, there are some green parks you can find. At the top of this neighborhood you will find Collins Park and Soundscape Park. At the southern tip you can also enjoy the green outdoors at South Pointe Park. You can also enjoy the outdoors by going to the beach and swimming in the Atlantic Ocean.
Miami Beach began to develop in 1870 when Henry and Charles Lomb ran across it while sailing from Key West. Henry and his son Charles decided to buy the land from the federal government for only 25 cents an acre. Shortly after, they built what would be known to be the first house on the beach. Before South Beach came to be, it was part of a barrier peninsula. It was not until the 1920’s that it became known as an island. On the side that bordered Biscayne Bay there were enormous mangroves. As you ventured towards the interior one would continue to find more mangroves. Unlike today, the interior was concave which resulted in a lot of water being collected, so it was pretty much a swamp. On the Atlantic side was the beach where we currently swim and enjoy the Atlantic Ocean. Today, we can drive, walk, or ride our bikes to get to South Beach, but in the late 19 century Miamians would hop on a fairy boat that would doc at what is known today as Flagler Street. The fairy would depart from there and go through Biscayne Bay and then doc on the bayside of Miami Beach. After getting off the fairy, you would walk through the mangroves on a wooden bridge they built until you got to the beach.
Lomb’s initial idea was to produce, sell, and export coconuts as a business. His idea failed because of the wind and rats that would kill the trees they planted. After being unsuccessful to make profit off their land, he sold it to a pioneer from New Jersey called John Collins. Collins believed that rather than trying to sell coconuts he would plant mangos, tomatoes, and avocados. It was with Collins that the clearing of mangroves and swamps began. To block out the wind he planted Australian Pine Trees, these trees are still found there today. Collins also built a canal known today as the Collins Canal. This made it easier for him to move around his produce and take it to the mainland to export it up north.
As Miami’s South Beach continued to attracted people and grow, everything changed one day when a visionary man found out about the “little paradise”, this man was Carl Fisher. Fisher was an industrialist from Indiana who at an early age (22 to 24 years old) made a fortune off cars. One of his most predominate creations was the Indianapolis Speedway. Fisher new that the automobile was the future, so he decided to build the first road designed for cars that would stretch form New York to San Francisco called the Lincoln Highway. After seeing how successful he was with the road he decided to build a road that would go from the north to southernmost tip of the United States (Miami, Florida) called the Dixie Highway. This highway brought rich investors form the industrial north. This road today is called 2nd Avenue and it lies in the heart and center of Miami.
Roads were beginning to get important in across the United States. John Collins realizes that the best way to really transform Miami Beach into what it is today he needed to build a road bridge for cars that connected with the mainland and stretched over Biscayne Bay to get to the beach. Unfortunately, Collins runs out of money to finish funding the bridge when it was only missing about a half a mile to finish. Luckily, Fisher steps in and finishes it for him for a price. Collins repays Fisher by giving him 200 acres of his land. The Collins bridge opened in 1913 and became the longest wooden bridge in the world, today it is known as the Venetian Bridge.
After the bridge was finished being built, Fisher and Collins, alongside many bankers from Miami, began to plan and make a resort on the island. Collins and Fisher had different ideas but the same goal. Collins thought the best move was to make Miami Beach the new Atlantic City from the south. On the other hand, Fisher believed the best move was create a winter beach retreat for the rich and famous people at the time. It was at this time that the real work began. Fisher brought engineers and workers to begin to clear the land. He dredged the swamps and filled them up, he used bay bottom to fill in the concaved area of the island and made it completely flat.
After flattening the land, the construction began. He made the first hotel called the Flamingo in South Beach. What was iconic about the Flamingo was because it was the first hotel, the wealthy stayed there while they had their mansions built. He also built the first Casino and pool right on Ocean Drive and 22nd street, a golf course, and polo field. He began to promote South Beach in all the papers and even got a billboard in Times Square. People from across the country wanted a piece of this action, South Beach began to flood with people. The federal government even gets involved, they cut a channel right through the beach and made the Port of Miami. From this cut an island was created, Fisher had a brilliant idea of what to do with this island, so he bought it. Today, that island is known as Fisher Island.
South Beach is a diverse neighborhood full of different races, religions, and genders. Miami Beach, which is the city South Beach is in has a population of 91,756. South Beach only carries 3,325 of that total. The population density is around 1,224 per square mile and the Male to Female ratio is around 0.9:1. 75.2% of people are white, 4.1% are black, 1.2% are Asian, and 55.6% are Hispanic Latino. The average income per household is around 240,000 dollars a year.
Interview of Victor Hernandez
Lukas: Hello Victor, can you introduce yourself and mention what kind of work you do?
Victor: Hello, my name is Victor Hernandez and I am a real-estate agent. I have lived in South Beach for many years now. However, most of my work is in other parts of Miami.
Lukas: What is favorite part about South Beach?
Victor: My part of South Beach would have to be Ocean Drive and the people who are here.
Lukas: Where is your favorite place to eat in South Beach?
Victor: My favorite place to eat is at at a restaurant called Puerto Sagua. It is my favorite cuban place to eat. When I first discovered it I could never get enough.
Lukas: How do you get around South Beach?
Victor: I own a car but I only use it when I leave South Beach for work. When I want to get around home I typically use my bicycle, sometimes the electric scooters when I feel like it.
Holocaust Memorial(1933-1945 Meridian Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139)
The Holocaust Memorial is one of South Beach’s most popular monument. The Memorial was done by a group of Holocaust survivors in 1984. It is meant to represent the 6 million Jews who perished at the hand of Nazi soldiers. It is also now part of the Jewish Museum.
Flagler Memorial (Island)
The Flagler Memorial is another popular monument found on South Beach. The obelisk sits on a man made island in Biscayne Bay. It was built to commemorate Henry Flagler who passed away in 1913. Flagler is accredited for developing Florida into what it is today, especially South Florida.
Bass Museum (2100 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139)
The Bass Museum is part of Collins Park. This museum is known to show case the art deco side of Miami. Inside you will find sculptures, artifacts, films, and more. The museum is named after John and Johanna Bass, who donated some of their wealth to establish it.
Collins Park (2100 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 3314)
Collins park is one of the bigger green areas you will find in South Beach. Next to it is the Bass Museum as mentioned previously. This park is meant more for walking your dog or enjoying the outside on the lawn. This park is named after John Collins, who is one of the founders of Miami Beach.
Soundscape Park (400 17th St, Miami Beach, FL 33139)
If you ever find yourself wanting to clear your mind and take a stroll outside one evening, I suggest visiting Soundscape park. This park is amongst my favorite in South Beach. It has an amazing mosaic path and an abundance of palm trees. Everyone gathers in the evening to chill and have a goodtime.
Flamingo Park (1200 Meridian Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139)
Flamingo park is the go to green space in South Beach if you are looking to work out. Here you will find public exercise equipment, tennis courts, soccer fields, and more. It also has a baseball field that was used as training ground for some big teams back in the day.
At South Beach there are many ways to get around, some are convenient, and some make your life more difficult. The easiest way of getting around is either on bike or by using the electric bird scooters you can find anywhere, just tap and go. Motorcycles are also an efficient and cheap way of getting around. There is public transportation such as cabs and the bus that can get you to place as well. If you feel like showing off your whip you can always drive around the streets but just to warn you, there are streetlights everywhere, pedestrians, and limited expensive parking.
Tanuki (1080 Alton Rd, Miami Beach, FL 33139)
South Beach is full of different kinds of cultures and food. Tanuki is a Pan-Asian sit in dining restaurant. Its rating on google is 4.4 stars, 4 stars on trip advisor, and 4.5 stars for me . The inside is really fancy and feels like you are in an authentic Asian setting. If your wondering what to get, you can not go wrong with their sushi.
CVI.CHE 105 (1245 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach, FL 33139)
CVI.CHE 105 is a Peruvian style restaurant. Its menu varies from food from the ocean to food on land. Inside the restaurant it is very modern and fun. On google this restaurant is given 4.7 stars, my rating is a 5. The food is amazing and caters to everyone, if you go you must try one of their ceviches.
Al Basha Grill (1533 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139)
Al Basha Grill is an amazing whole in the wall Mediterranean restaurant that will blow your mind. Although it is nothing fancy, I have got to admit the food there is as authentic as it can come, Google rates it 4.3 stars and I give it a 4.5. I recommend getting there famous halal burgers, they don’t have a sign outside advertising it for nothing.
Club Madonna is a local Strip club in South Beach. I chose to write about it because of its reputation and because of the stories that have come from it. When you look this business up the first things you see are negative articles about it and claims of it being “the worst club in Miami.” This club has been there for years and you’d think they should be shut down because of their reviews but really it is a hot spot for tourists. This place has a crazy history and that is why I chose it.
Delano (17th Street Entrance – Poolside Restaurant, 1685 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139)
The Delano is an iconic hotel in South Beach. I feel that because it is not on Ocean Drive, it doesn’t get enough credit for what it actually is. This place has an extensive history that begins in 1947. The Delano was built by architect Rose Schwartz and was initially used as military housing. This beach club was the tallest building in South Beach in its time and it is part of the art deco theme. In 1994 it was renovated and now it still stands tall and proud on the corner of 17th street.
Cameo (1445 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139)
The Cameo was an iconic theater back in the day. Over the years it has turned into many things and has hosted many venues over its time. Today, it stands as one of the biggest night clubs in South Beach. The Cameo is a hot spot for the night life of South Beach, all sorts of people and celebrities’ go there to party.
In the end, South Beach is more than just the beach, Ocean Drive, and the nightlife. Every place I chose to visit and write about were places I did not know existed. It amazed me how South Beach had everything you would ever need, there is never need to leave the island because of how well it has been developed and organized. The people from this neighborhood are all unique in their special way and make you feel welcome when you visit. Although South Beach takes up a small portion of Miami Beach, it is huge!!! I recommend you go and visit South Beach if you ever find your self in Miami, trust me you will not regret it.
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