Houseboats

Free spirits looking for an aquatic lifestyle and spectacular views created laid-back waterfront communities that have been a staple of South Florida life.  The floating homes were popularized in the 1960s by Travis McGee, the rough and romantic detective who lived on a houseboat and also by a popular TV series called Surfside Six, based on a houseboat moored across from the Fontainebleau. Thirty years later, police officer Sonny Crockett, played by Don Johnson in the TV series Miami Vice,  also lived on a houseboat – this time, with an alligator named Elvis. But the reputation of houseboats declined in late ’70s for environmental reasons – and because they sometimes blocked the view from million-dollar condominiums. Communities started yanking the welcome mat on houseboats with Miami Beach being among the first. In 1978, the city banned houseboats and ordered their eviction by 1981. The city of Miami soon followed suit and banned sizable houseboat communities along the Miami River and Little River. In other cities, houseboats vanished as planners and residents viewed them as eyesores, navigational hazards or simply competition for valuable waterfront land. Many were destroyed by storms such as Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Others were simply abandoned.  There are only 16 remaining floating homes, all in North Bay Village, where there have been no restrictions on houseboats.

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