Tuesday, July 17, 2012

From "Millionaire's Row" to Hotel Row

James H. Snowden residence, 1922.

A few years before the start of WWI, Oklahoma oil millionaire James Snowden built a luxurious 15-bedroom mansion on a desolate stretch of sand on Miami Beach near what is now Collins Ave. and 44th Street.

Snowden's home afforded him a fabulous view of the Atlantic Ocean.

In 1923, Snowden sold the residence for $250,000 to Harvey S. Firestone, founder of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company.

Firestone estate in 1923.

Harvey Firestone entertains inventor Thomas A. Edison at
his Miami Beach home, April, 1928.

In 1928, The Miami Daily News reported the 34 homes along four-miles of oceanfront from "14th st. north to the exclusive Miami Beach Bath Club" - dubbed "Millionaire's Row" - were worth an estimated $7,645,000. 

Firestone died in 1938 at age 70. His passing made the front page of The Miami Daily News.

The Miami Daily News, Feb. 7, 1938. (Click to enlarge)

In 1952, hotelier Ben Novack purchased the Firestone estate and announced plans to build a 554-room, $14,000,000 hotel on the site.

Construction started on the Fontainebleau in January, 1954.

Miami Daily News, Jan. 17, 1954.

Fontainebleau Hotel under construction in 1954.
Firestone estate in center of the photo was used as a construction office.
(Click to enlarge)

By 1957, what remained of Millionaire's Row had become a "blighted, broken down area, with dilapidated buildings, many rats and rust, old seaweed and a lover's lane."

In 1958, some wanted to turn the area north of the Eden Roc Hotel into a public park. Others thought more hotels should be built.

Fontainebleau Hotel, 1960s.

Looking south from 48th Street and Collins Avenue - 1963.


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