Miami Beach is more than a picture perfect tourist playground of sandy beaches, azure blue ocean and glitzy hotels. The seven mile-long barrier island is home to some 93,000 people with nearly 50 percent of them Hispanic. Spanish is heard everywhere and the atmosphere is definitely exotic. It’s quiet a change from 1920, when there were just 644 permanent residents on the island.
Since then, Miami Beach has gone through boom, bust and boom, culminating in its present incarnation as a thriving community where people live, work and play. South Beach, just two square miles at the southern tip of the barrier island, has rhythm all its own, played out against a back drop of colorful, whimsical Art Deco style hotels and apartment buildings. Home here may mean a condominium in a shiny new waterfront tower in SoFi-south of Fifth Street; a loft in a lovingly-restored historic building or a mansion on one of the islands in Biscayne Bay.
South Beach lifestyle centers on being within easy access of Downtown Miami across the Mac Arthur Causeway or working close to home in one of the Beach’s impressive new office buildings. With the vibe of Ocean Drive, Washington Avenue and Lincoln Road in your ‘ backyard ‘, you can stroll to fine restaurants and bistros or enjoy snacks at any hour in always-open eateries; find cultural diversion in the neighborhood’s art galleries, museums and theaters; stay up all night at hip dance clubs and posh watering holes; or take time out to shop the designer-name stores and boutiques on Collins Avenue and the eclectic shops on Lincoln Road.
Miami Beach’s streets are arranged in a grid system with numbers increasing as they go north. You’ll find everything from tiny cottages to grand mansions, studio apartments and vast luxury condominiums, all set among lush tropical vegetation, canals and golf courses. Single-family homes in the mid-beach area, (north and south of 41st Street) date back to the 1920’s, 30s and 40s. You won’t find any cookie-cutter houses here – designs are quite individual, ranging from coral rock bungalows to Deco delights with a tropical Mediterranean-style predominating. Several public and private schools serve children in the community .
Going north beyond the hotel area, Collins Avenue leads through a long row of luxury residential towers along the oceanfront and waterfront on Indian Creek. Many were originally deluxe rental buildings later converted to condominiums. North Beach and Normandy Village around 71st Street were formerly Miami Beach’s least expensive neighborhoods, but are now undergoing a makeover.
Miami Beach: http://www.miamibeachfl.gov/