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Nov 20th
The Grand Flamingo Hotel, Part 2 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Paul S. George, BT Contributor   
November 2018

A view of our past from the archives of HistoryMiami

IPix_PictureStory_11-18n the last installment of “Picture Story,” we explored the origins of developer Carl Fisher’s Flamingo Hotel, early Miami Beach’s most spectacular hostelry. The hotel opened with a private New Year’s Eve party in 1920 and officially opened to guests the following day.

Room rates started at $15 for a single and $20 for a double. During its inaugural month, the Flamingo Hotel welcomed a special guest, President-elect Warren G. Harding. During his brief stay, Harding enjoyed poker games and whiskey, despite a national prohibition law that was recently enacted. He also got in a round of golf with the quirky Fisher’s elephant, Rosie, as his caddy!

The national publicity from that visit, and his praise for the area, helped elevate the hotel’s business, as did the onset of a massive real estate boom that brought record numbers of visitors to the area. As the boom crested in the mid-1920s, the Flamingo Hotel, in the telling of Jane Fisher, Carl’s wife, became “the center of gaiety” on Miami Beach, which had by then become a leading East Coast tourist resort.

The boom’s collapse and the ensuing Great Depression caused the hotel to operate on a smaller scale, but Miami Beach and the Flamingo were again brimming with tourists by early 1940s. With the U.S. entry during World War II, the Flamingo leased its facilities to the Army Air Forces (AAF). In addition to housing AAF personnel, the hotel served as Branch No. 2 of servicemen’s recreational facilities during the war.

In the postwar era, Miami Beach rocketed to the top of U.S. tourist destinations, but the Flamingo, along with other older hotels on Biscayne Bay, suffered from a location away from the warm Atlantic waters and the addition of new hotels with attractive amenities. In 1960 the Flamingo Hotel was demolished to make way for the massive Morton Towers, 1500 Bay Rd., and is little remembered today.

 

Paul George is historian at HistoryMiami Museum. To order a copy of this photo, contact HistoryMiami archives manager Ashley Trujillo at 305-375-1623, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

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