Miami was put on the map like many other towns and cities at that time, by the building of railroads in the late 1800s. It started with downtown Miami when the East Coast Railroad arrived in 1896, mainly focusing on the square mile on the banks of the Miami River. In the present downtown area, wealthy industrialists from the north set up banks and other similar institutions, and built winter estates along Brickwell Avenue. A further banking boom took place here in the 1980s and the many skyscrapers confirm the city’s status as a major financial and trade centre.
Miami Beach, known as the American Riviera, is a narrow strip of land connected to the mainland by road causeways over Biscayne Bay. The building of a bridge from the mainland in 1913, enabled millionaire Carl Fisher and others to develop the island. From 1920 Miami Beach grew into a desirable winter resort, further expansion was halted in 1926 and Wall Street crashed in 1929. Development bounced back in the 1930s and hundreds of Art Deco buildings were erected; decline set in again after World War II. As a result of several spirited preservation campaigns, South Beach (south part of Miami Beach) was saved from destruction and given a second lease of life. The main campaign was started in 1976 by Barbara Chapman who set up the Miami Design Preservation League.
With the arrival of the large number of Cuban exiles from 1959 onwards, this led to the city limits being extended greatly, mainly across the river to Little Havana which feels very Hispanic. One of the main attractions downtown is Bayside Marketplace which has several eating places, some outside entertainment and limited shopping. It is also the starting point for boat trips around Biscayne Bay.
George Merrick created Coral Gables in the 1920s, fulfilling a dream he had of building a new city within a city. Its Architecture is partly Spanish and partly Italian and two famous creations are the Venetian Pool and the Biltmore hotel. Unfortunately, the 1926 hurricane and the Wall Street crash halted development. The area has been carefully restored and further development has been carefully controlled making sure the newer buildings are built in a similar style.
Places to Visit
Visit Miami Beach and the famous Fontainbleau Hilton; walk along the boardwalk to South Beach Art Decor Historic area – also downtown Miami including Bayside Marketplace and try a ride on the elevated Metromover round downtown Financial District. For shopping try Adventura Mall or more up market shopping Bal Harbour Shops (North Miami Beach). Travel out to Coral Gables or Key Biscayne (a tropical island paradise). Take the famous Everglades National Park Airboats Tour. Fashion and jewellers stores can be found at Miracle Mile.
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Photo: South Beach (SG) 51