Miami Beach is a coastal resort city in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States. It was incorporated on March 26, 1915. The municipality is located on natural and man-made barrier islands between the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay, the latter of which separates the Beach from Miami. The neighborhood of South Beach, comprising the southernmost 2.5 square miles (6.5 km2) of Miami Beach, along with downtown Miami and the Port of Miami, collectively form the commercial center of South Florida. As of the 2010 census, Miami Beach had a total population of 87,779. It has been one of America's pre-eminent beach resorts since the early 20th century.
In 1979, Miami Beach's Art Deco Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Art Deco District is the largest collection of Art Deco architecture in the world and comprises hundreds of hotels, apartments and other structures erected between 1923 and 1943. Mediterranean, Streamline Moderne and Art Deco are all represented in the District. The Historic District is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the East, Lenox Court on the West, 6th Street on the South and Dade Boulevard along the Collins Canal to the North. The movement to preserve the Art Deco District's architectural heritage was led by former interior designer Barbara Capitman, who now has a street in the District named in her honor.
Miami Beach is governed by a ceremonial mayor and six commissioners. Although the mayor runs commission meetings, the mayor and all commissioners have equal voting power and are elected by popular election. The mayor serves for terms of two years with a term limit of three terms and commissioners serve for terms of four years and are limited to two terms. Commissioners are voted for citywide and every two years three commission seats are voted upon.
A city manager is responsible for administering governmental operations. An appointed city manager is responsible for administration of the city. The City Clerk and the City Attorney are also appointed officials.
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In 1870, a father and son, Henry and Charles Lum, purchased the land for 75 cents an acre. The first structure to be built on this uninhabited oceanfront was the Biscayne House of Refuge, constructed in 1876 by the United States Life-Saving Service at approximately 72nd Street. Its purpose was to provide food, water, and a return to civilization for people who were shipwrecked. The next step in the development of the future Miami Beach was the planting of a coconut plantation along the shore in the 1880s by New Jersey entrepreneurs Ezra Osborn and Elnathan Field, but this was a failed venture. One of the investors in the project was agriculturist John S. Collins, who achieved success by buying out other partners and planting different crops, notably avocados, on the land that would later become Miami Beach. Meanwhile, across Biscayne Bay, the City of Miami was established in 1896 with the arrival of the railroad, and developed further as a port when the shipping channel of Government Cut was created in 1905, cutting off Fisher Island from the south end of the Miami Beach peninsula.
Collins' family members saw the potential in developing the beach as a resort. This effort got underway in the early years of the 20th century by the Collins/Pancoast family, the Lummus brothers (bankers from Miami), and Indianapolis entrepreneur Carl G. Fisher. Until then, the beach here was only the destination for day-trips by ferry from Miami, across the bay. By 1912, Collins and Pancoast were working together to clear the land, plant crops, supervise the construction of canals to get their avocado crop to market, and set up the Miami Beach Improvement Company. There were bath houses and food stands, but no hotel until Brown's Hotel was built in 1915 (still standing, at 112 Ocean Drive). Much of the interior land mass at that time was a tangled jungle of mangroves. Clearing it, deepening the channels and water bodies, and eliminating native growth almost everywhere in favor of landfill for development, was expensive. Once a 1600-acre, jungle-matted sand bar three miles out in the Atlantic, it grew to 2,800 acres when dredging and filling operations were completed.
With loans from the Lummus brothers, Collins had begun work on a 2½-mile-long wooden bridge, the world's longest wooden bridge at the time, to connect the island to the mainland. When funds ran dry and construction work stalled, Indianapolis millionaire and recent Miami transplant Fisher intervened, providing the financing needed to complete the bridge the following year in return for a land swap deal. That transaction kicked off the island's first real estate boom. Fisher helped by organizing an annual speed boat regatta, and by promoting Miami Beach as an Atlantic City-style playground and winter retreat for the wealthy. By 1915, Lummus, Collins, Pancoast, and Fisher were all living in mansions on the island, three hotels and two bath houses had been erected, an aquarium built, and an 18-hole golf course landscaped.
The Town of Miami Beach was chartered on March 26, 1915; it grew to become a City in 1917. Even after the town was incorporated in 1915 under the name of Miami Beach, many visitors thought of the beach strip as Alton Beach, indicating just how well Fisher had advertised his interests there. The Lummus property was called Ocean Beach, with only the Collins interests previously referred to as Miami Beach.
Carl Fisher was the main promoter of Miami Beach's development in the 1920s as the site for wealthy industrialists from the north and Midwest to and build their winter homes here. Many other Northerners were targeted to vacation on the island. To accommodate the wealthy tourists, several grand hotels were built, among them: The Flamingo Hotel, The Fleetwood Hotel, The Floridian, The Nautilus, and the Roney Plaza Hotel. In the 1920s, Fisher and others created much of Miami Beach as landfill by dredging Biscayne Bay; this man-made territory includes Star, Palm, and Hibiscus Islands, the Sunset Islands, much of Normandy Isle, and all of the Venetian Islands except Belle Isle. The Miami Beach peninsula became an island in April 1925 when Haulover Cut was opened, connecting the ocean to the bay, north of present-day Bal Harbour. The great 1926 Miami hurricane put an end to this prosperous era of the Florida Boom, but in the 1930s Miami Beach still attracted tourists, and investors constructed the mostly small-scale, stucco hotels and rooming houses, for seasonal rental, that comprise much of the present "Art Deco" historic district.
Carl Fisher brought Steve Hannagan to Miami Beach in 1925 as his chief publicist. Hannagan set-up the Miami Beach News Bureau and notified news editors that they could "Print anything you want about Miami Beach; just make sure you get our name right." The News Bureau sent thousands of pictures of bathing beauties and press releases to columnists like Walter Winchell and Ed Sullivan. One of Hannagan's favorite venues was a billboard in Times Square, New York City, where he ran two taglines: "'It's always June in Miami Beach' and 'Miami Beach, Where Summer Spends the Winter.'"
Post–World War II economic expansion brought a wave of immigrants to South Florida from the Northern United States, which significantly increased the population in Miami Beach within a few decades. After Fidel Castro's rise to power in 1959, a wave of Cuban refugees entered South Florida and dramatically changed the demographic make-up of the area. In 2017, one study named zipcode 33109 in Miami Beach as having the 4th most expensive home sales in the United States.
South Beach (also known as SoBe, or simply the Beach), the area from Biscayne Street (also known as South Pointe Drive) one block south of 1st Street to about 23rd Street, is one of the more popular areas of Miami Beach. Although topless sunbathing by women has not been officially legalized, female toplessness is tolerated on South Beach and in a few hotel pools on Miami Beach. Before the TV show Miami Vice helped make the area popular, SoBe was under urban blight, with vacant buildings and a high crime rate. Today, it is considered one of the richest commercial areas on the beach, yet poverty and crime still remain in some places near the area.
Lincoln Road, running east-west parallel between 16th and 17th Streets, is a nationally known spot for outdoor dining, bicycling, rollerblading and shopping and features galleries of well known designers, artists and photographers such as Romero Britto, Peter Lik, and Jonathan Adler.
Miami Beach is home to a number of Orthodox Jewish communities with a network of well-established synagogues and yeshivas, the first of which being the Landow Yeshiva, a Chabad institution in operation for over 30 years. There is also a liberal Jewish community containing such famous synagogues as Temple Emanu-El and Cuban Hebrew Congregation. Miami Beach is also a magnet for Jewish families, retirees, and particularly snowbirds when the cold winter sets in to the north. These visitors range from the Modern Orthodox to the Haredi and Hasidic – including many rebbes who vacation there during the North American winter. Till his death in 1991, the Nobel laureate writer Isaac Bashevis Singer lived in the northern end of Miami Beach and breakfasted often at Sheldon's drugstore on Harding Avenue.
There are a number of kosher restaurants and even kollels for post-graduate Talmudic scholars, such as the Miami Beach Community Kollel. Miami Beach had roughly 60,000 people in Jewish households, 62 percent of the total population, in 1982, but only 16,500, or 19 percent of the population, in 2004, said Ira Sheskin, a demographer at the University of Miami who conducts surveys once a decade. The Miami Beach Jewish community had decreased in size by 1994 due to migration to wealthier areas and an aging of the population.
Miami Beach is home to the Holocaust Memorial on Miami Beach.
After decades of economic and social decline, an influx of gays and lesbians moving to South Beach in the late-1980s to mid-1990s helped contribute to Miami Beach's revitalization. The newcomers purchased and restored dilapidated Art Deco hotels and clubs, started numerous businesses, and built political power in city and county government.[dead link] As South Beach became more popular as a national and international tourist destination, there have been occasional clashes between cultures and disputes about whether South Beach is as "gay-friendly" as it once was.
Miami Beach is home to numerous gay bars and gay-specific events, and five service and resource organizations. The passage of progressive civil rights laws, election of outspokenly pro-gay Miami Beach Mayor Matti Bower, and the introduction of Miami Beach's Gay Pride Celebration, have reinvigorated the local LGBT community in recent years, which some argued had experienced a decline in the late 2000s. Some instances of Miami Beach Police brutality against gay men have been at odds with Miami Beach's longstanding image as a welcoming place for gay people.
Miami Beach is home to some of the country's largest fundraisers that benefit both local and national LGBT nonprofits. As of 2011[update], some of the largest LGBT events in Miami Beach are:
In 2008, the new Miami Beach Mayor Matti Bower created a Gay Business Development Ad Hoc Committee, with a mission to bring recommendations to the Mayor and City Commission on initiatives to be implemented and supported by the city regarding a variety of issues to ensure the welfare and future of the Miami Beach LGBT community.
While being a gay mecca of the 1980s and 1990s, Miami Beach never had a city-sanctioned Gay Pride Parade until April 2009. With strong support from the newly elected mayor Matti Bower, Miami Beach had its first Gay Pride Festival in April 2009. It is now an annual event. The 2010 Pride drew tens of thousands of people.
In 2009, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) began looking into instances of Miami Beach Police Department (MBPD) targeting gay men for harassment. In February 2010, the ACLU announced that it will sue the City of Miami Beach for an ongoing targeting and arrests of gay men in public. According to the ACLU, Miami Beach police have a history of arresting gay men for simply looking "too gay".
The incidents between gay men and MBPD resulted in negative publicity for the city. At the meeting with the local gay leaders, Miami Beach Police Chief Carlos Noriega claimed that the incidents were isolated, and promised increased diversity training for police officers. He also announced that a captain, who is a lesbian, would soon be reassigned to Internal Affairs to handle complaints about cops accused of harassing gays. Some members of the committee were skeptical of Noriega's assertion that the recent case wasn't indicative of a larger problem in the MBPD, and provided examples of other cases.
In January 2010, Miami Beach passed a revised Human Rights Ordinance that strengthens enforcement of already existing human rights laws and adds protections for transgender people, making Miami Beach's human rights laws some of the most progressive in the state. Both residents of, and visitors to, Miami Beach have been able to register as domestic partners since 2004; in 2008 this benefit was extended to all of Miami-Dade County.
Each December, the City of Miami Beach hosts Art Basel Miami Beach, one of the largest art shows in the United States. Art Basel Miami Beach, the sister event to the Art Basel event held each June in Basel, Switzerland, combines an international selection of top galleries with a program of special exhibitions, parties and crossover events featuring music, film, architecture and design. Exhibition sites are located in the city's Art Deco District, and ancillary events are scattered throughout the greater Miami metropolitan area.
Miami Beach is home to the New World Symphony, established in 1987 under the artistic direction of Michael Tilson Thomas. In January 2011, the New World Symphony made a highly publicized move into the New World Center building designed by Canadian American Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry. Gehry is famous for his design of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California. The new Gehry building offers Live Wallcasts™, which allow visitors to experience select events throughout the season at the half-acre, outdoor Miami Beach SoundScape through the use of visual and audio technology on a 7,000-square-foot (650 m2) projection wall.
The Miami City Ballet, a ballet company founded in 1985, is housed in a 63,000-square-foot (5,900 m2) building near Miami Beach's Bass Museum of Art.
The Miami Beach Festival of the Arts is an annual outdoor art festival that was begun in 1974.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.7 sq mi (48.5 km2), of which 7.0 sq mi (18.2 km2) is land and 11.7 sq mi (30.2 km2) (62.37%) is water.
Miami Beach encounters tidal flooding of certain roads during the annual king tides, though some tidal flooding has been the case for decades, as the parts of the western side of South Beach are at virtually 0 feet (0 m) above normal high tide, with the entire city averaging only 4.4 feet (1.3 m) above mean sea level (AMSL). However, a recent study by the University of Miami showed that tidal flooding became much more common from the mid 2000s. The fall 2015 king tides exceeded expectations in longevity and height. Traditional sea level rise and storm mitigation measures including sea walls and dykes, such as those in the Netherlands and New Orleans, may not work in South Florida due to the porous nature of the ground and limestone beneath the surface.
In addition to present difficulty with below-grade development, some areas of southern Florida, especially Miami Beach, are beginning to engineer specifically for sea level rise and other potential effects of climate change. This includes a five-year, US$500 million project for the installation of 60 to 80 pumps, building of taller sea walls, planting of red mangrove trees along the sea walls, and the physical raising of road tarmac levels, as well as possible zoning and building code changes, which could eventually lead to retrofitting of existing and historic properties. Some streets and sidewalks were raised about 2.5 feet (0.76 m) over previous levels; the four initial pumps installed in 2014 are capable of pumping 4,000 US gallons per minute. However, this plan is not without criticism. Some residents worry that the efforts will not be sufficient to successfully adapt to rising sea levels and wish the city had pursued a more aggressive plan. On the other hand, some worry that the city is moving too quickly with untested solutions. Others yet have voiced concerns that the plan protects big-money interests in Miami Beach. Pump failures such as during construction or power outages, including a Tropical Storm Emily-related rain flood on August 1, 2017, can cause great unexpected flooding. Combined with the higher roads and sidewalks, this leaves unchanged properties relatively lower and prone to inundation.
Like much of Florida, there is a marked wet and dry season in Miami Beach. The tropical rainy season runs from May through September, when showers and late day thunderstorms are common. The dry season is from November through April, when few showers, sunshine, and low humidity prevail. The island location of Miami Beach however, creates fewer convective thunderstorms, so Miami Beach receives less rainfall in a given year than neighboring areas such as Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Proximity to the moderating influence of the Atlantic gives Miami Beach lower high temperatures and higher lows than inland areas of Florida. Other than the Florida Keys (and Key West), Miami Beach is the only U.S. city (mainland) to never report snow flurries in its weather history.
Miami Beach's location on the Atlantic Ocean, near its confluence with the Gulf of Mexico, make it extraordinarily vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms. Though direct strikes from hurricanes are rare (Miami has experienced only two direct hits from major hurricanes in recorded weather history – the 1926 Miami hurricane and Hurricane Cleo in 1964), the area has seen indirect contact from hurricanes Betsy (1965), Inez (1966), Andrew (1992), Irene (1999), Michelle (2001), Katrina (2005), Wilma (2005), and Irma (2017).
|Climate data for Miami Beach, 1981-2010 normals, extremes 1927-present|
|Record high °F (°C)||87
|Average high °F (°C)||73.8
|Average low °F (°C)||61.4
|Record low °F (°C)||32
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||2.09
|Average rainy days (≥ 0.01 in)||6.9||6.1||7.2||6.2||9.1||14.9||12.4||14.6||15.1||12.0||8.7||7.0||120.2|
|January||71 °F (21.7 °C)||May 1–15||80 °F (26.7 °C)||July 16–31||86 °F (30.0 °C)||October 1–15||83 °F (28.3 °C)|
|February||73 °F (22.8 °C)||May 16–31||81 °F (27.2 °C)||August 1–15||86 °F (30.0 °C)||October 16–31||79 °F (26.1 °C)|
|March||75 °F (23.9 °C)||June 1–15||84 °F (28.9 °C)||August 16–31||84 °F (28.9 °C)||November||76 °F (24.4 °C)|
|April 1–15||78 °F (25.6 °C)||June 16–30||85 °F (29.4 °C)||September 1–15||84 °F (28.9 °C)||December||73 °F (22.8 °C)|
|April 16–30||78 °F (25.6 °C)||July 1–15||86 °F (30.0 °C)||September 16–30||83 °F (28.3 °C)|
|U.S. Decennial Census|
|Miami Beach demographics|
|2010 Census||Miami Beach||Miami-Dade County||Florida|
|Population, percent change, 2000 to 2010||-0.2%||+10.8%||+17.6%|
|Population density||11,511.1/sq mi||1,315.5/sq mi||350.6/sq mi|
|White or Caucasian (including White Hispanic)||87.4%||73.8%||75.0%|
|(Non-Hispanic White or Caucasian)||40.5%||15.4%||57.9%|
|Black or African-American||4.4%||18.9%||16.0%|
|Hispanic or Latino (of any race)||53.0%||65.0%||22.5%|
|Native American or Native Alaskan||0.3%||0.2%||0.4%|
|Pacific Islander or Native Hawaiian||0.1%||0.0%||0.1%|
|Two or more races (Multiracial)||2.7%||2.4%||2.5%|
|Some Other Race||3.2%||3.2%||3.6%|
As of 2010[update], those of Hispanic or Latino ancestry accounted for 53.0% of Miami Beach's population. Out of the 53.0%, 20.0% were Cuban, 4.9% Colombian, 4.6% Argentinean, 3.7% Puerto Rican, 2.4% Peruvian, 2.1% Venezuelan, 1.8% Mexican, 1.7% Honduran, 1.6% Guatemalan, 1.4% Dominican, 1.1% Uruguayan, 1.1% Spaniard, 1.0% Nicaraguan, 0.9% Ecuadorian, and 0.8% were Chilean.
As of 2010[update], those of African ancestry accounted for 4.4% of Miami Beach's population, which includes African Americans. Out of the 4.4%, 1.3% were Black Hispanics, 0.8% were Subsaharan African, and 0.8% were West Indian or Afro-Caribbean American (0.3% Jamaican, 0.3% Haitian, 0.1% Other or Unspecified West Indian, 0.1% Trinidadian and Tobagonian.)
As of 2010[update], those of (non-Hispanic white) European ancestry accounted for 40.5% of Miami Beach's population. Out of the 40.5%, 9.0% Italian, 6.0% German, 3.8% were Irish, 3.8% Russian, 3.7% French, 3.4% Polish, 3.0% English, 1.2% Hungarian, 0.7% Swedish, 0.6% Scottish, 0.5% Portuguese, 0.5% Dutch, 0.5% Scotch-Irish, and 0.5% were Norwegian.
As of 2010[update], those of Asian ancestry accounted for 1.9% of Miami Beach's population. Out of the 1.9%, 0.6% were Indian, 0.4% Filipino, 0.3% Other Asian, 0.3% Chinese, 0.1% Japanese, 0.1% Korean, and 0.1% were Vietnamese.
As of 2010[update], there were 67,499 households, while 30.1% were vacant. 13.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 26.3% were married couples living together, 8.4% have a female householder with no husband present, and 61.1% were non-families. 49.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older (4.0% male and 8.0% female.) The average household size was 1.84 and the average family size was 2.70.
In 2010, the city population was spread out with 12.8% under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 38.0% from 25 to 44, 25.7% from 45 to 64, and 16.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40.3 years. For every 100 females there were 109.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 111.0 males.
As of 2010[update], the median income for a household in the city was $43,538, and the median income for a family was $52,104. Males had a median income of $42,605 versus $36,269 for females. The per capita income for the city was $40,515. About 10.9% of families and 15.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.0% of those under age 18 and 27.5% of those aged 65 or over.
In 2010, 51.7% of the city's population was foreign-born. Of foreign-born residents, 76.9% were born in Latin America and 13.6% were born in Europe, with smaller percentages from North America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania.
As of 2000, speakers of Spanish at home accounted for 54.90% of residents, while those who spoke exclusively English made up 32.76%. Speakers of Portuguese were 3.38%, French 1.66%, German 1.12%, Italian 1.00%, and Russian 0.85% of the population. Due to the large Jewish community, Yiddish was spoken at the home of 0.81% of the population, and Hebrew was the mother tongue of 0.75%.
As of 2000, Miami Beach had the 22nd highest concentration of Cuban residents in the United States, at 20.51% of the population. It had the 28th highest percentage of Colombian residents, at 4.40% of the city's population, and the 14th highest percentage of Brazilian residents, at 2.20% of the its population (tied with Hillside, New Jersey and Hudson, Massachusetts.) It also had the 27th largest concentration of Peruvian ancestry, at 1.85%, and the 27th highest percentage of people of Venezuelan heritage, at 1.79%. Miami Beach also has the 33rd highest concentration of Honduran ancestry at 1.21% and the 41st highest percentage of Nicaraguan residents, which made up 1.03% of the population.
Public Transportation in Miami Beach is operated by Miami-Dade Transit (MDT). Along with neighborhoods such as Downtown and Brickell, public transit is heavily used in Miami Beach, and is a vital part of city life. Although Miami Beach has no direct Metrorail stations, numerous Metrobus lines connect to Downtown Miami and Metrorail (i.e., the 'S' bus line). The South Beach Local (SBL) is one of the most heavily used lines in Miami, and connects all major points of South Beach to other major bus lines in the city. Metrobus ridership in Miami Beach is high, with some of the routes such as the L and S being the busiest Metrobus routes.
The Airport-Beach Express (Route 150), operated by MDT, is a direct-service bus line that connects Miami International Airport to major points in South Beach. The ride costs $2.65, and runs every 30 minutes from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. seven days a week.
Since the late 20th century, cycling has grown in popularity in Miami Beach. Due to its dense, urban nature, and pedestrian-friendly streets, many Miami Beach residents get around by bicycle.
In March 2011 a public bicycle sharing system named Decobike was launched, one of only a handful of such programs in the United States. The program is operated by a private corporation, Decobike, LLC, but is partnered with the City of Miami Beach in a revenue sharing model. Once fully implemented, the program hopes to have around 1000 bikes accessible from 100 stations throughout Miami Beach, from around 85th Street on the north side of Miami Beach all the way south to South Pointe Park.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools serves Miami Beach.
Private schools include Rabbi Alexander S. Gross Hebrew Academy, St. Patrick Catholic School, Landow Yeshiva – Lubavitch Educational Center (Klurman Mesivta High School for Boys and Beis Chana Middle and High School for Girls), and Mechina High School.
In the early history of Miami Beach there was one elementary school and the Ida M. Fisher junior-senior high school. The building of Miami Beach High was constructed in 1926, and classes began in 1928.
The Florida International University School of Architecture has a sister campus at 420 Lincoln Road in South Beach, with classroom spaces for FIU architecture, art, music and theater graduate students.
... The design — featuring a street and sidewalk perched on an upper tier, 2 ½ feet above the front doors of roadside businesses, and backed by a hulking nearby pump house — represents what one city engineer called "the street of tomorrow" ...'
A street of Miami Beach with royal palms