Miami Beach (population 95,800) is on an island in southeastern Florida. The island is 10 miles long by 1 to 3 miles wide and sits between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, just across from the city of Miami. Causeways connect it to the mainland.
The long, narrow island and adjacent islets were settled in 1870 and, at that time, the area was a swampland. In 1907, businessman John Collins dredged sand from the bay and transformed it into solid ground.
Dredging created a yacht basin and islets. He built the longest wooden bridge of that time and started selling plots of land. During the boom of the 1920s, many Art-Deco structures were built. Today in South Miami Beach over 800 Art-Deco buildings make up the Art-Deco Historic District. Year-round tourism aided by a large convention center drives the local economy.
South Miami Beach is America’s Riviera, and is known as “SoBe.” Packed into these 40 blocks are refurbished, streamlined, and modern hotels and apartment complexes, shops, restaurants, and the area’s best beaches and nightclubs. No other area in the nation is such a melting pot of cultures. A typical evening here is to enjoy a leisurely dinner followed by clubhopping until dawn. Models and movie stars come here for the atmosphere, many celebrities own homes in the area, and it has a thriving gay community.
Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue, and Washington Avenue from 6th to 23rd Streets are the heart of the Art-Deco Historic District. In 1979 the area was granted a listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The most convenient way to explore this district is on foot.
Miami Beach attractions include beaches, parks, swimming pools, museums, theaters, golf courses, and recreation areas such as the North Shore Recreation Area, a 40-acre sand-dune preserve.