1950's

Miami River

Five miles long, the Miami River has gone from a crystal clear wild river to gritty urban sprawl. Its early settlers, the Tequestas, shared the river’s banks and pools with panthers and alligators. In the first half of the 20th century, the Miami River Rapids area was dredged and dynamited to build the Miami Canal, […]

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Downtown Miami

Downtown Miami has had its ups and downs. Crowded sidewalks and empty condos have reflected the boom-and-bust cycle of Florida real estate. From the bustling ’40s through the moribund ’70s to the vibrant downtown of today, the city’s core has bounced back over and over again, shaped by by speculators, hurricanes and exiles.  Though the […]

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Jordan Marsh

Miami’s first Jordan Marsh store opened downtown in 1956, complete with a swimming pool and a dock. Styling itself “The Store with the Florida Flair,” Jordan Marsh’s sales and profits grew as it opened stores throughout the state — at Sunrise Shopping Center in Fort Lauderdale in 1960, at Colonial Plaza in Orlando in 1962 […]

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Moonshine

Florida has a long history of moonshiners and rumrunners. But long after Prohibition ended in 1933, moonshiners continued to make illegal liquor in South Florida cities and the Everglades. Into the 1950s and ‘60s, police and revenue authorities battled the moonshiners in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and other parts of the South, seizing untaxed home brew […]

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School Integration

The landmark Brown v. Board of Education desegregation ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court came out in May 1954, but it wasn’t until 1959 that Miami-Dade County’s schools admitted the first group of African Americans to Orchard Villa Elementary School, which had been all white.  Seven-year-old Gary Range and three other black students broke barriers […]

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Record Stores

Not long ago, 45-inch singles and 12-inch LPs sporting beautiful artwork and superb liner notes were the norm. South Florida music fans would faithfully visit their favorite record stores to discover the next Pink Floyd and find rare, out-of-print treasures. South Florida still houses a few audiophile havens including Sweat Records, Yesterday and Today Records, […]

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Chilly Cheesecake

While a Miami Beach photographer shot pictures, the girls lolled on the sand in their swimsuits, smiled, decorated the lifeguard boat, smiled, read big black headlines in the New York papers about “Bitter Cold In Storm’s Wake” and “Deep Freeze Hangs On,” smiled and acted warm. Then they confessed. Said Adrienne Bourbeau: “Not that I’m […]

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Diners and delis

The last blue plate specials may have been served quite a while ago at some of these diners but they were beloved in their day.  Wolfie’s, a Miami Beach landmark for a half-century,  served a slew of famous — and infamous — patrons. Meyer Lansky, Muhammad Ali, Deion Sanders and Liza Minnelli enjoyed the overstuffed […]

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Dade County Youth Fair

Back in 1952, the Dade County Fair was a four-day event that featured mom-and-pop concession stands. Over the years, it grew into a much larger annual event including carnival rides.

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Gambling, bookies and bolita

Legal and illegal gambling has long been a part of Florida.

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