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Miami Beach History
From war stories to the Rat Pack, there are 100 years of history for you to explore on Miami Beach.
In 1870, Henry Lum and his son Charles arrived by sailboat on the large sandbar off the southeast Florida coast. They were so impressed by the island that they bought most of it from the federal government for $.25 an acre.
Lum would later sell the property to fellow New Jerseyites Elnathan Field and Ezra Osborne, who would in turn sell the land to John S. Collins and his son-in-law, Thomas Pancoast, also from New Jersey.
In 1913, Collins and Carl Fisher embarked on an agricultural venture along the beachfront land. Fisher loaned Collins the money he needed to complete the first bridge from Miami Beach to the mainland that same year. This causeway, at the time the longest wooden bridge in the world, would provide the catalyst for the 1915 incorporation of Miami Beach.
The great boom of the 1920ís would bring enormous growth. During the Great Depression, investor groups from the Northeast built many small hotels along lower Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive. This building boom helped lift the area out of the Depression, and forty years later would become the famous Art Deco District -- known the world over as "South Beach", or "SoBe."
During World War II, half a million Army Air Corps cadets passed through Miami Beach, which became a major training center. Many of these servicemen returned to make the area their home after the war. By 1960 South Florida had more than doubled its pre-war population.
The 1980s and early 90s brought a massive infusion of investment capital that produced a reborn Miami Beach. Although the city has changed almost beyond recognition over the past 100 years, it has thrived amid that change and overcome numerous difficulties. The city continues to be an international mecca for travel, business, and permanent residents.