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Miami Beach 411
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Miami Beach Journal
Early Development

Collins Ave.

    1868 - 1911
The Farming Period

1911 - 1920
Early Development Years

1920 - 1925
The Boom Years

1925 - 1930
Post Boom Years

1930 - 1941
The Post Depression Years

1942 - 1945
The War Years

1945 - 1965
The Post War Boom
In 1911 Collins started the Miami Beach Improvement Company. He was beginning to tire of making the 10-mile boat trip across the bay to bring harvest to market. His vision was to first dredge a canal through Miami Beach which would allow him to move his fruits and vegetables to the Bay followed by the construction of a wooden bridge that would connect Miami Beach to the mainland.

The Collins Bridge Project was costly. Collins borrowed money from the Lummus Brother's banks to finance the project, but at $50,000 per mile, funding for the bridge ran out just a half a mile short of completion.

In 1913, Carl Fisher, a wealthy Midwestern industrialist appeared on the development scene. Fisher loaned Collins the money to complete the bridge which opened on June 12th, 1913. At over two miles in length, the Collins bridge was the longest wooden bridge in the world.

Fisher also loaned money to the Lummus Brothers to carry out improvements on the southern end of the island such as draining the swamps and dredging the bay.

Fisher establishes the third real estate company on the Beach, the Alton Beach Reality Company, and acquired the land between 14th and 19th Streets; linking Lummus to the south and Collins to the north. Fisher also had a vision for the island--to create a city existing in an of itself - not as an adjunct to the established city of Miami across the bay. Immediately, he draws the plans to build a luxury outdoor commercial center (Lincoln Mall) and large residential homesites to lure the wealthier residents to the island.

On March 26, 1915, the leaders of the three land sales companies consolidate their efforts and incorporate the young community into the Town of Miami Beach. The following Year the name was changed to Miami Beach.

At this time 80% of the population lived at the southern end of the island in the Lummus tracts and there were only thirty-three registered voters in the community. J.N. Lummus was elected Mayor and plans were made to supply electricity, telephone, sewage and water, which at the time was supplied by windmill powered underground wells.

In 1916 the sale of the land was sluggish. Both Lummus and Fisher had invested large sums of money in improvements, but the land sales did not meet their expectations and they were compelled to create further incentives. Lummus offered free lots to anyone who promised to build homes on his land.
In 1919 Collins and Fisher became partners to sell real estate and promote the area. Fisher had a flair for promotion. He brought in an elephant to pose with celebrities for publicity photos. During the winter months, he bought a billboard on 5th Avenue and 42nd Street in New Your which flashed "It;s June in Miami".

Fisher's vision began to be realized as wealthy visitors saw Miami Beach property as solid. He raised the prices of his lots and increased his marketing efforts. He built the luxurious Flamingo Hotel to house visitors until they could settle. Never did he envision a city dominated by large scale hotel development for transient seasonal population. Significantly he refused to locate any of his many hotels along prime oceanfront property.

Miami Beach history guide
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