Miami Beach’s History<br />Through “Then & Now” Photos

By: By Seth H. Bramson

It is, simply put, the “city—story of the century.” For there is no place on earth like Miami Beach and no city of its size has ever had more words written about it.

In 1870, father and son Henry and Charles Lum sailed up from Key West and camped overnight on a mangrove sandbar island that they would purchase from the state for an even then unbelievable amount — 75 cents an acre.

It was from that incredible start that what would become Miami Beach would eventually emerge as the world’s greatest and most famous resort destination.

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Collins Avenue

An aerial view looks north from above Collins Avenue and 27th Street on Miami Beach at the point at which Indian Creek Drive becomes a separate street and runs along it namesake at left. The Algiers Hotel is almost directly below the camera and the large hotel at right center is the Seville.

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Española Way

This is Española Way just west of Washington Avenue, circa 1927.

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Lincoln Road

Looking east on Lincoln Road, “the Fifth Avenue of the South.” The historic photo was taken sometime in the late 1930s from Pennsylvania Avenue. The Lincoln Theater is on the left. Lincoln Road is now a famous mall and the former Lincoln Theater is now retail stores.

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Ocean Drive

A marvelous view of Ocean Drive, taken in 1937, looking north from Ninth Street. The Edison Hotel is featured in this photo on the left.

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Government Cut

This historic Miami Beach aerial view looks north from a plane above Government Cut. Miami Beach Kennel Club is in the foreground on the immediate left, while the city’s South Beach pier juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. Just north of the short stretch of hotels on the ocean side, is the famous Lummus Park, named for the Lummus Brothers, one of whom (John Newton) became the first mayor of Miami Beach in 1915.

Miami Beach is, in the simplest terms, the world’s city and is once again one of the most desired and desirable destinations on the planet.

Seth H. Bramson, the official City Historian for the City of Miami Beach, has been a resident of Miami for 68 years, Mr. Bramson has published a number of books about the history of South Florida. Selected from his personal archives, the above vintage photos remind us of the days gone by. For more info about Miami Beach's centennial celebration, visit

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