Friday, July 17, 2015

Minsky's, Miami Beach's most popular strip club, was located on a pier

Carter's Million Dollar Pier and Dixie Bath House, 1934.

Miami Daily News, Jan. 18, 1935.

Miami Daily News, Feb. 2, 1935.

Miami Daily News, Jan. 18, 1935: New Attractions Mark Opening of Pier Tonight

Miami Daily News, Feb. 18, 1937.

Miami Daily News, March 24, 1942.



Miami Herald, November 22, 1984
by PAUL SHANNON Herald Staff Writer

Miami Beach's landmark South Beach pier, imbedded firmly in the memories of thousands who fished off it or danced on it during the past 60 years, will be demolished within 15 days, the City Commission decided Wednesday.

Ignoring an emotional plea from a local preservationist, commissioners unanimously approved spending $112,000 to tear down the pier -- twice the cost of building it in 1926. The aging pier is dangerously decayed and an eyesore, they agreed.

"The city can build another pier anytime," Mayor Malcolm Fromberg said.

Preservationist Nancy Leibman said such reasoning misses the point.

"I realize that the demolition is a fait accompli," she said, "but I just had to come back to try and raise the commission's consciousness of the obliteration of the city's past."

The pier is part of the city's heritage, she said.

"It is one of the reminders of the past that give us a sense of belonging in a community," she said. "It is part of the city's soul. I hope we are not so desperate for development that we would destroy the soul."

For Liebman, the commission modified the contract won by Cuyahoga Wrecking Co. before approving it. If possible, they will save the Pier Park sign that graces the pier's entrance.

"That's why we are currently in litigation with Miami Beach," said Ivan Rodriguez, Dade Historic Preservation Board director. The county board is suing the city to force it to buttress a preservation ordinance known as the weakest in the country. "The pier is quite irreplaceable."

"I can't think of a city with a worse track record of preservation," said Michael Zimny, historic site specialist for Florida's Division of Archives. In the past two years, the city has approved the destruction of three blocks of Art Deco hotels, its streamline moderne Sheridan Theater and its only surviving red brick and Dade County pine warehouse.

"The eyes of the city seem to be continually closed to its own history," Zimny said.

The pier, a concrete walkway flanked by a bandshell and dance pavilion jutting across the man-made beach where Ocean Drive and Biscayne Street come together, was built in the early 1920s by flamboyant casino owner and fight promoter George R.K. Carter. He put a two-story building on the pier's tip to house what became the city's most popular strip joint, Minsky's Burlesque, and he called it Carter's Million Dollar Pier.

Minsky's was knocked down by a runaway barge during the 1926 hurricane, and the pier became known for fishing and outdoor evening dances. When the city took over the pier in the 1950s, razing the honky-tonk bars at its entrance and proclaiming it Pier Park, the dances drew more than 1,000 revelers a night.

Indeed, the pier was touted as "demonstrating the city's eternal pledge to give tourists of all ages and inclinations a happy holiday on Miami Beach."

The city stopped maintaining the pier in 1973, when it was to be demolished under the old redevelopment plan condemning everything south of Sixth Street. When the plan was officially dropped more than a year ago, the pier became a hangout for drug dealers.

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