Welcome Aboard the Houseboat

June 1st, 2016

Houseboat communities have a long history in Florida. These laid-back waterfront neighborhoods attracted free spirits looking for a seafaring lifestyle that wouldn’t break the bank. Floating homes gained mainstream success due to 1960s crime genre films like Lady in Cement starring Frank Sinatra and the popular detective TV series Surfside 6. This Wolfson Archives clip features the “Surfside 6″ houseboat arriving in Miami after a revamp in Fort Lauderdale:

In the 1970s, Miami Beach’s million-dollar condominium communities began yanking the welcome mat from under houseboat owners’ feet. The city banned houseboats and ordered their removal by 1981. The City of Miami soon followed and banned sizable houseboat communities along the Miami River and Little River.

In other cities, houseboats vanished as planners and residents viewed them as unsightly, navigational hazards, or simply competition for valuable waterfront property. Numerous houseboats were destroyed by storms such as Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Others were simply abandoned. Now only 16 floating homes remain, all located in North Bay Village, where there have been no restrictions on houseboats.

In celebration of Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday, HistoryMiami presents Sinatra: An American Icon, a multi-media exhibition celebrating the life of one of the most popular and influential American artists of the 20th century.

On June 2, the Wolfson Archives presents a special event, “Icon Off-Screen: Sinatra on Location,” an informal discussion by the Wolfson Archives’ very own film critic and history aficionado Kevin Wynn. This presentation features exclusive film footage from the Wolfson Archives, including behind-the-scenes films of Frank Sinatra during the production of Lady in Cement and other made-in-Miami movies.

“Icon Off-Screen” begins at 6:00 PM Thursday, June 2 at HistoryMiami; admission is free for HistoryMiami members and $10 for non-members. Visit HistoryMiami for tickets.

-Ursa Gil

A Walk Down Memory Lane: South Beach in the 70s

May 17th, 2016

For most of its history, Miami Beach was the hottest vacation destination in the world. That was until the 1970s, when the city fell out of fashion with tourists. The growing popularity of air travel, which beckoned tourists to exotic locations, and the opening of Disney World in 1971, siphoned tourism away from the Beach Read More...

Legacy of the Nautilus: From Hotel to Hospital

April 27th, 2016

Photo courtesy of floridamemory.com   Although not the most famous of real-estate developer Carl Fisher's original Miami Beach hotels (that distinction would  go to the 1912 Flamingo Hotel), the Nautilus Hotel was undoubtedly the most illustrious. Built in the early 1920s, Fisher employed renowned architects Leonard Schultze and Fullerton Weaver to design the one million dollar Mediterranean-style resort Read More...

Florida’s First Television Station

April 1st, 2016

  [caption id="attachment_3226" align="aligncenter" width="306"] Capitol Theater Downtown Maimi. Photo Courtesy of www.floridamemory.com[/caption] In 1925, Mitchell Wolfson and Sidney Meyer founded the Wolfson-Meyer Theatre Company. One year later, they opened the Capitol Theater, an innovative auditorium in the heart downtown Miami Read More...

Developers Unveil Proposals for Miami Dade College’s Downtown Site

March 16th, 2016

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1f00RFkR7M Miami Dade College is currently seeking one lucky developer to enter into a partnership for the 2.6 acre parcel located next to the Freedom Tower. Formerly the location of the Alcazar Hotel, the space is currently being used as a parking lot for the Wolfson Campus Read More...

White Weddings in South Florida

February 11th, 2016

Coral Castle Often associated with the engineering triumphs of Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid of Egypt, Coral Castle was built by a reclusive eccentric named Edward Leedskalnin, who excavated gigantic quarried stones to construct his mysterious castle. Originally located in the tiny town of Florida City in the 1920's, the site was later moved to its current location in Homestead, Florida Read More...

Pablo Escobar’s Hidden Treasure

February 1st, 2016

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuerYh-60So&feature=youtu.be On January 19, 2016, the pink water-front mansion on Miami Beach once owned by the 1980s Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar was demolished. Built in 1948, the 6,500 square foot, the four-bedroom mansion would have been quite unassuming for the "King of Cocaine" who at the pinnacle of his career was one of the richest men in the world Read More...

A Fond Farewell: Buildings Demolished in 2015

January 14th, 2016

It's out with the old and in with the new. As 2016 kicks off, a multitude of new real estate mega projects are already poised to further change Miami's skyline. As the city grows, developers continue to tear down some of Miami's older buildings to make way for new ones. Learning From Miami remembers some of the city's most iconic buildings demolished in 2015 Read More...

Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Child of the Sun”

October 30th, 2015

Florida Central College campus. Photo courtesy of the State Archives of Florida. Central Florida is known as "The Theme Park Capital of the World", but did you know that one of America’s most famous architects designed a college campus there? Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida is home to the largest collection of buildings designed by celebrated architect Frank Lloyd Wright Read More...

Former Miami Museum of Science Returns to its Roots

October 9th, 2015

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D29Uf6IAf0Q&feature=youtu.be Nearly thirty five years before the Museum of Science was established across from Villa Vizcaya, business mogul James Deering built a functioning community to serve his residence. Located across from Vizcaya, the village included a large farm and a greenhouse that grew food and plants for the estate Read More...