South Beach

South Beach (also nicknamed SoBe) is a neighborhood of Miami Beach, Florida, encompassing the barrier islands south of Indian Creek and east of Miami city proper, located between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Going back to 1870, it was originally used as farmland for growing coconuts. A few decades later, it was the first section of the new oceanfront city of Miami Beach to be developed, independent of Miami, starting in the 1910s.

In 1913, construction of a bridge connecting the city of Miami with Miami Beach began. This bridge, then known as the Collins Bridge, was later replaced by the Venetian Causeway. During the 1920s, several millionaires such as Harvey Firestone, J.C. Penney, Albert Champion (the spark plug producer), and Frank Seiberling (co-founder of Goodyear Tire & Rubber) built homes on Miami Beach. However, South Beach became even more famous when Jackie Gleason brought his weekly variety series here for taping in 1964, a rarity for the entertainment industry. Later, the 1980s TV show Miami Vice used South Beach as a backdrop because of its unique visual beauty.

In the 1930s, the architecture that the city is famous for came to South Beach — Art Deco, along with its derivatives, Streamline Moderne and Nautical Moderne. In fact, the city claims to have the world’s largest collection of Streamline Moderne architecture. Today, almost one square mile of South Beach is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (The most architecturally comparable city, would have to be Napier, New Zealand, rebuilt in the Ziggurat Art Deco style, after being destroyed by an earthquake in 1931.)

The presence of several colorful stands used by Miami Beach’s lifeguards makes for another unique aesthetic attribute of the neighborhood.


  • Visited: Jan 2007, Apr 2014
  • National Register of Historic Places: 1979 (The Miami Beach Architectural District)

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