Miami Beach, Florida is a coastal resort city of Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States. It was incorporated on March 26, 1915. The municipality is located on a series of natural and man-made barrier islands between the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay, the latter which separates the Beach from Miami city proper. 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, collectively form the commercial center of South Florida. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 87,779. Miami Beach 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.
In 1870, a father and son, Henry and Charles Lum, purchased the land for 25 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. 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 land fill for development was a herculean effort.
The Town of Miami Beach was chartered on March 26, 1915; it grew to become a City in 1917. 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 build their winter homes here. In addition, Fisher built five hotels (none surviving). 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.
Post World War American history
After World War II, a wave of immigrants entered the area from the Northern United States. Miami Beach, like the rest of South Florida, went through a population explosion, adding tens of thousands of persons in only a few decades.
After Castro's rise to power in 1959, a wave of refugees entered South Florida and dramatically changed the demographic make-up of the area.
Modern American history -
Image and cultural depictions
South Beach (also known as SoBe, or simply The Beach, the area from 1st street to about 25th street) is one of the more popular areas of Miami Beach. Topless sunbathing by women is illegal, but is officially tolerated on South 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.
Art deco hotels in Miami Beach -
Miami Beach, particularly Ocean Drive of what is now the Art Deco District, was also featured prominently in the 1983 feature film Scarface and the 1996 comedy The Birdcage.
The New World Symphony Orchestra is based in Miami Beach, under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas.
Lincoln Road, running east-west between 16th and 17th Streets, is a nationally known spot for outdoor dining, bicycling, rollerblading and shopping and features and 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. In addition, there is also a liberal Jewish community containing such famous synagogues as Temple Emanu-El (Miami Beach, Florida) and Cuban Hebrew Congregation. It is also a magnet for Jewish families, retirees, and particularly snowbirds when the cold winter sets in to the north. They 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.
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. 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. A handful of attacks and 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, some of the largest LGBT events in Miami Beach are:
The Winter Party
The White Party
The Miami Recognition Dinner
The Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
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 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 transgendered 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.
In 2010, the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, with support from the City of Miami Beach, opened an LGBT Visitor Center at Miami Beach's Old City Hall.
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, which 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.
In November 2007 and 2009, a multi-media art festival ("Sleepless Night") was held based on Nuit Blanche. The festival returns on November 5, 2011.
South Beach in March 2008
Miami Beach is located at 25°48'47?N 80°08'03?W (25.813025, -80.134065).
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 has a tropical climate (Köppen Am), with hot humid summers and warm dry winters, although located north of the Tropic of Cancer. Other than the Florida Keys, Miami Beach has the warmest winter weather in the United States (mainland). The warm and sunny weather in Miami Beach and South Florida attracts millions of travelers from around the world from November through April. Sea surface temperatures range from 75 F in winter to 86 F in the summer/fall months. Miami Beach has the warmest ocean surf in the United States mainland annually.
Like much of Florida, there is a marked wet and dry season in Miami. 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 proper 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)and Hawaii (at sea-level), Miami Beach is the only U.S. city 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 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), Andrew (1992), Irene (1999), Michelle (2001), Katrina (2005), and Wilma (2005).
See also: Transportation in Miami
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 $2.35, 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.
North Beach Elementary
Treasure Island Elementary
South Pointe Elementary
Mater Beach Academy
Fienberg/Fisher K - 8 Center
Nautilus Middle School
Miami Beach Senior High School
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.
Colleges and universities
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
A portion of the southern part of the South Beach skyline as seen from Biscayne Bay. Photo: Marc Averette
The northernmost section of the city referred to as North Beach
Di Lido Island
Flagler Monument Island
Rivo Alto Island
San Marino Island
Isle of Normandy
Points of interest
Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theatre
Eden Roc (hotel)
Flagler Monument Island
Versace Mansion (Casa Casuarina)
Miami Beach Architectural District
Miami Beach Botanical Garden
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