Brittany Rizo: South Beach 2020

Photo taken by Ana Olivares (CC by 4.0)


My name is Brittany Rizo and I am a sophomore in the Honors College at Florida International University. I am majoring in Biological Science on the Pre-Med track. My goal is to become a Cardio Thoracic Surgeon in the future, possibly for Pediatrics. Although I was born in Miami, I still consider myself to be Hispanic. My family is from Cuba and we still hold on to the Cuban values that my grandparents taught us, and I will make sure to teach my kids in the future.


Retrieved from Apple Maps         Photo by Cristo Vlahos (Wikimedia Commons) CC by SA 4.0

South Beach is the southern-most part of Miami Beach, extending from South Pointe Dr. to Collins Canal. There are many hotels, especially along Ocean Drive and it is known for its Art Deco styled buildings. As a whole, it is definitely a more urban area with a lot of restaurants, night life, clubs, and shops. However, while it is very urban there are also a lot of parks, greenery, and of course the beach that extends along the entire east side.


Ocean Drive by Francisco Anzola (Wikimedia Commons) CC by 3.0

South Beach’s history dates back all the way to 1870. Before this the entire area was just large farmlands, but the Lum brothers bought 160 acres of the land during 1870 in order to grow coconuts, during which time one of their daughters came up with the name “South Beach.” Fast forward to 1894, the land was left to John Collins who expanded his land until what would now be considered 67th street. He owned all of this land until 1912, when two businessmen named the Lummus Brothers bought 400 acres from him. They were the first ones with the idea to use the island to build homes, but it was Collins’ idea to connect the island to Miami with a bridge. Collins ran out of money before completing the bridge, but with the help of Carl G. Fisher, it was finished in 1913. These four men—the Lummus brothers, John Collins, and Carl Fisher—were the ones responsible for officially incorporating the Town of Miami Beach in 1915. In 1920, the city started coming together with all of the main roads that we currently know—Collins, 5th, Washington, and Ocean Drive—along with many rich members of society building their mansions in the area. The city started off well, but eventually reached a slump because of how difficult it was to maintain a clean and affluent appearance being surrounded by salt water. Eventually, around the late 1980s, the area began to prosper again and rebuild to beautiful vacation destination that it is today.


POPULATION: 3,538 people

                             (45.31% Male, 54.69% Female)

ETHNICITY:      96.5% White

                                   2.48% Latin/Hispanic

                                   1.01% Two+ Races

MEDIAN AGE: 69.2 years old

EMPLOYMENT: 92.01% White collar

                                   7.99% Blue collar

AVG. INCOME:  $241,895


Photo provided by Vincent Timiraos


Vincent Timiraos has pursued a career in Law Enforcement since an early age. He began by participating in MDPD Police Explore program which provides youth a perspective into what a career in Law Enforcement would be like. After graduating high school, he self-enrolled into the City of Miami Police Academy. Upon completion of the academy, Timiraos applied to the Miami Beach Police Department. He began his career in 2011 as a Patrol Officer for the Miami Beach Police Department. His primary function was acting in a patrol function and answering calls for service. During his 4 years as a Patrol Officer, Timiraos participated in numerous specialty units, some of which were the Honor Guard, Field Training Officer, and Hostage Negotiations. After the completion of his 4th year, he was selected for the Criminal Investigations Unit where he was assigned to the Burglary Apprehension Team as a Detective. Timiraos has been with this unit for 4 years and his strong work ethic had not gone unnoticed. In 2018, he was selected by the United States Secret Service to attend specialty training in Computer Forensics where he is assigned today.


“I think that South Beach is very unique. On the East side you have beautiful sandy beaches, and on the West side you have The Bay separating Miami Beach from the City of Miami. I love my job and I love where I work. How many people can say they work were others vacation? I believe South Beach has one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. People all around the world visit South Beach year around. It’s a vastly cultural city with residents and tourists from all parts of the world. South Beach hosts hundreds of special events year-round, from Art Basel to the Super Bowl earlier this year. These events bring thousands of people to this area. Art is one of South Beach’s historical footprints. As you take a drive down the famous Ocean Drive, it becomes very apparent. The Art Deco structures and Versace Mansion at 11th Street and Ocean Drive are great representations of what Miami Beach is.” – Vincent Timiraos


Lincoln Road by Visitor7 (Wikimedia Commons) CC by SA 3.0


Although it seems like just an ordinary mall in South Florida, Lincoln Road has a very interesting history. It was built in the 1920s, extending from Collins Avenue to Bay Road, and was bestowed the name “the Fifth Avenue of the South.” For many years, it was only a shopping district until the early 1960s when eight blocks were repaved and blocked off, not allowing the passage of any cars and transforming the area into one of the first pedestrian-only outdoor malls. The architect who performed the transformation was Morris Lapidus, and he did so in his “MiMo” style—short for Miami Modern architectural style. Today, Lincoln Road is still visited by many people, allowing for a more open shopping experience.

Photo from Unsplash


Ocean Drive is arguably the most iconic and recognizable streets in South Beach, ranging from 1st to 15th street. It is notorious for its extensive rows of palm trees, vibrant lights and still-present classic Art Deco style. It is home to several iconic hotels such as the Clevelander, known for its outside pool and bar area; the Colony Hotel, known for being amongst the highest photographed buildings in South Beach; and The Carlyle, known for appearing in numerous movies such as “Bad Boys 2” and the legendary “Scarface.”

Photo by Daniel Di Palma (Wikimedia Commons) CC by SA 4.0


This museum was established in 1984 by a group of Holocaust survivors who wanted to pay tribute to the millions of Jews that fell victim to this tragic time in history. Surprisingly, many people at the time were against the memorial, saying that Miami was a fun vacation destination and that the memorial would be too upsetting for the atmosphere. They also argued that the memorial was religious and therefore trying to build it on land that was owned by the city of Miami Beach would be a violation of Church and State separation. To support the plea for the memorial in 1984, about 500 people protested a Miami Beach board meeting including dozens of survivors from the area who told their stories, in hopes of convincing the board through emotion. In the end, the plea was successful and the board unanimously voted in support of the memorial being built. Today, the memorial provides a very educational, emotional, and eye-opening experience for anyone that visits


South Pointe Promenade by iJammin (Wikimedia Commons) CC by 2.0

There are many parks and green spaces in South Beach, but the main ones include the following:

SOUTH POINTE PARK: This park is at the southern-most end of South Beach, connecting to South Pointe Pier and the beach itself.

FLAMINGO PARK: This is one of the biggest parks in South Beach. It includes everything from a football field to a baseball diamond, tennis courts, a soccer field, a swimming pool, and basketball courts.

MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS OCEAN BEACH PARK: This park is smaller than the two pervious, and is mostly just a green area with many palm trees. It connects Ocean Drive to the beach and has beach access on the East side.

LUMMUS PARK: This park is similar to MSD Ocean Beach Park, except it is much longer and has many points of beach access, from 5th street all the way until 14th street.

MIAMI BEACH BOTANICAL GARDEN: This is the most unique green space in South Beach located next to the convention center. It is 2.6 acres and includes many gardens, ponds, and beautiful landscapes.


The main forms of public transportation within South Beach are the Metrobus and the Miami Beach Trolley. The Metrobus is a public bus system that operates year-round at $2.25 each trip. There is also a bus called the Miami Beach Airport Express that transports specifically to the Miami International Airport at the same price. The Miami Beach Trolley is a free alternative to the Metrobus that runs between South Beach, Mid-Beach, and North Beach. It runs from 6AM-12AM from Monday-Saturday and 8AM-12AM on Sundays with a trolley coming around about every 15 minutes. There is also the option to use ride-sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft or renting a car, but the bus and trolley be more cost effective. If you are looking to experience the beach more personally, but don’t want to walk there is one more option to try. There are also electric scooters by companies like Uber and Lyft, and Citi Bikes that many people use to travel shorter distances. The bikes can be picked up and dropped off at any Citi Bike station, and the scooters can be picked up and left anywhere that meets the app’s guidelines. A small fee is charged for both of these options, but they are very convenient especially if traveling alone and provides a great way to freely experience the South Beach.


Photo by Cullen328 (Wikimedia Commons) CC by SA 3.0


Joe’s Stone Crab is definitely one of the most authentic places to eat in South Florida. It is the only one in existence and is known for, as you can probably guess, their fresh seafood, especially their stone crabs that are freshly caught in the Florida Keys. The restaurant first opened by Joe Weiss as a lunch counter back in 1913, 107 years ago. This was before Miami Beach was even considered an actual city! It has grown immensely since then, serving countless people and even celebrities like Al Capone, George Clooney, and more. However, what makes this restaurant so special is the family aspect. A family built it from the ground up, and it remains with the family even till this day.

PRIME 112:

Prime 112 is one of the most high-end steakhouses in South Beach. It is located at the Brown’s Hotel on Ocean Drive and was opened by Myles Chefetz in 2004. Since then, it has been known for having the highest quality steak and other unique menu items. It is not the typical chain steakhouse—like Outback for example—which separates it from most other restaurants, giving it a more personal atmosphere. However, this is not the only extremely successful restaurant that Myles Chefetz has opened.

Photo by Visitor7 (Wikimedia Commons) CC by SA 3.0


Big Pink was also opened by Myles Chefetz in 1996, and while it is not as high-end as Prime 112, it is known as a South Beach staple. It is located on Collins Avenue and still has a retro-diner style that makes you feel like you are in a different era. This is the go-to place in South Beach for a lunch of comfort food after a long, hot day at the beach.  



The Miami Design Preservation League is definitely one of the most unique businesses in all of South Beach. It was established in 1976 by Barbara Baer Capitman and her son John. The purpose of this organization at the time was to preserve the architecture of the Art Deco area. In 1979, they successfully accomplished this and got the area recorded into the National Register of Historic Places. This made the Art Deco District the “nation’s first urban 20th century Historic District.” Today, the MDPL is still an active non-for-profit organization that aims to preserve the culture of Miami Beach through its architecture and environment.

Photo by Ebyabe (Wikimedia Commons) CC by SA 3.0


The Fillmore is one of the infamous theaters in Miami Beach and it is located on Washington Avenue. It opened in 1950, hosting all kinds of entertainment events such as comedy shows, concerts, and sometimes even boxing matches. Some television shows were even filmed there, such as The Dick Clark Show and the Miss Universe Pageants. As recently as 2007, the Fillmore underwent a transformation that cost millions of dollars and still hosts concerts today.


This museum was opened in 2006 by Naomi Wilzig on Washington Avenue. What began as her son gathering “conversation pieces” for his apartment turned into Naomi collecting erotic art from Roman up to modern times. The minimum age to enter the museum is 18 years old and includes 20 rooms full of erotic artwork expressing the way sexual culture has changed over time. 


Photos from Unsplash

Although it has had its ups and downs throughout history, I would consider South Beach to be a very successful neighborhood. There is an exorbitant amount of history throughout the area, and it is very unique with its architecture and style. It is a vacation destination even for people that live in Miami because it is a place to go enjoy the beach, the atmosphere, the architecture, and to just disconnect from everyday life. There is no doubt that South Beach is one of the most distinct places to visit in South Florida, and possibly even all of Florida as a whole.


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“Lincoln Road.” Flashback Miami, 25 Feb. 2015,[group-5307]/23/.

“Miami Design Preservation League.” Miami Design Preservation League,

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Scicchitano, Paul. “Joe’s Stone Crab Celebrates 105 Years Of History.” Miami Beach, FL Patch, Patch, 14 Oct. 2018,

Shulman, Sara. “Ocean Drive Miami: The Complete Guide.” TripSavvy, TripSavvy, 3 June 2019,

“South Beach Demographics.” South Beach Population & Demographics, Median Income – Point2 Homes,

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“Top 10 Art Deco Hotels in Miami Beach.” Visit Florida,

“World Erotic Art Museum.” Atlas Obscura, Atlas Obscura, 26 Oct. 2010,

Author: miamiastext

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