The history, culture and people of Miami Beach

An informational and educational site introducing Miami Beach — the sounds, artifacts and images that make it the international center it has become.

Our partners share a common interest in opening their archives so that anyone wanting to delve into the colorful history of Miami Beach will have a variety of sources at their fingertips. By sharing a portal, we are creating an online neighborhood of specialty resources – photography, oral histories, historic documents, preservation tours, and architectural blueprints of renowned hotels.

Miami Design Preservation League

— preserving, protecting, and promoting the cultural, social, economic, environmental and architectural integrity of the Miami Beach Architectural Historic District.

The South Florida Collection at FIU Libraries

— contributing to the preservation of materials that are recognized for being unique, relevant, and having historical value to South Florida.

The Miami Beach Digital Archive

— the large and fascinating collection of photographs, postcards, and visual materials from the historical archive held by the City of Miami Beach.

The Jewish Museum of Florida - FIU

— the history of the Jewish experience in Florida, the ways in which Florida Jews influence and are influenced by the cultural dynamics of Florida, the nation, and the world, and issues of discrimination against all peoples in Florida throughout history.

Miami Beach Visual Memoirs

— recording the history of Miami Beach through the memories and stories of the people who grew up here and have been a part of its development. Sharing the legacy of the Beach’s past expands the appreciation for the unique beach community.

University of Miami Libraries Digital Collections

— over 40,000 unique digital resources on the cultural history of South Florida, Cuba, and the Caribbean.

MiamiHerald Flashback Miami

— looking at history through the lens of archived stories, images and photos that appeared in the Miami Herald.

Bass Museum

— reflecting the artistic spirit, international character and historic legacy of Miami Beach.

Lynn and Louis Wolfson II
Florida Moving Image Archives

— collecting, preserving, cataloging film and video materials that document Florida’s history and culture.

Florida Room, Miami-Dade Public Library System

— rare books, documents and photographs, recording Miami’s history.against all peoples in Florida throughout history.

Wolfsonian FIU Digital Catalog

— access to 75 thousand collection records and almost 100 thousand images from the combined Objects Collection and Rare Books Library

Our Ocean View...

How to get there…The Collins Bridge was the first road link to Miami Beach. Opened in 1913 it crossed Biscayne Bay between Miami and Miami Beach. When it opened it was the longest wooden bridge in the world. Quaker farmer and developer John S. Collins (1837–1928) built the bridge with financial assistance from automotive parts and racing pioneer Carl G. Fisher. The 2.5-mile (4.0 km) wooden toll bridge opened on June 12, 1913, providing a critical link to newly established Miami Beach, formerly accessible only by ferry.
(UM Archive)

Our Fabulous Visitors...

Feb. 13, 1964, The Beatles came to Miami Beach bringing the “Youthquake” revolution with them. The next day the Fab Four soaked up Miami’s rays in the hotel’s pool for a Life Magazine shoot, then on to an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. The show was watched by a record 70 million people.

Our Colorful Characters...

Al Capone got an icy reception when he arrived in Miami Beach in 1928. Whether he was winter-weary like other Northern tourists was immaterial; Miami saw him as a blight on its reputation. Residents feared that Capone’s presence would convince the country that Miami Beach was no longer the good clean fun it had been in 1920.

Our Public Image…

Pioneering developer Carl Fisher used Rosie, an Asian elephant, in publicity photos to create a reputation for Miami Beach as a place visitors had to see to believe. Rosie was shown hauling building materials, pulling children in a cart and on the golf course, as in this 1927 photo. Rosie starred in publicity photos as a “golf caddy” for vacationing president Warren G. Harding, which established Miami Beach as an exotic destination.

Our Stormy Horizon...

The 1926 Miami hurricane, commonly called the “Great Miami” hurricane, was a large, intense tropical cyclone that devastated the Greater Miami area. The storm remains the costliest in U.S. history when adjusted for inflation, population, and wealth normalization, yielding a cost of nearly US$165 billion.

Our Preserved Past...

Historic designation and preservation is an important part of Miami Beach’s recognition as an international tourist and cultural center. It’s Art Deco district is one of the largest heritage sites in the world with 800 buildings constructed between the Great Hurricane of 1926 and the beginning of the Second World War.

Learning and Teaching — that’s what ON-MiamiBeach.com is about. Tools here range from videos that teach history to tutorials that help master the searching for “gems” in partners’ archives. And don’t miss the curated exhibits, and competitions.


is an educational web portal made available for research and education by its partnering organizations. The partners make their information, resources and archives available to the public and give permission for these materials to be used for educational and non-commercial purposes with the understanding that where copyright claims exist they need to be cleared with the original copyright holder.

If you have materials that you would like to contribute to the ON-MiamiBeach portal, we ask that you upload them to us for review and potential posting with the understanding that these materials, images or videos will be made available for non-commercial, educational use.

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