Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Duval Street, Key West - 1937

southernmost city in the United States, which for decades has 
been content to drowse in semi tropical langour, 
today begins to give promise of 
progressive awakening. An almost completed steel and concrete highway, 
extending from Miami for 170 miles from Key to Key, over open 
sea to Key West, is chiefly responsible. 
Here is a view of 600 block of Duval Street. 28 December 1937.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Miami and Miami Beach, LIFE Magazine, Dec. 29, 1947

15 year-old Corine Gustafson graces the cover of
LIFE Magazine.
(Click here to enlarge)


Click here to enlarge. 

Original caption: Sunbathing on the edge of the Hotel Martinique
pool is Lois Shulder. 

from LIFE Magazine, Dec. 29, 1947

Miami...City of the Future -- 1950

From the Miami Daily News, June 10, 1934.

In June 1934, the Miami Daily News published a special section that attempted to give readers a glimpse of Miami in 1950.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

South Beach's 'Bucket of Blood' closes - 1986

Tommy's Deck Bar, 627 Fifth St. (1980)
Photograph by Walter Smalling via the Library of Congress.

September, 1986: Tommy's Deck Bar, South Beach's "most dangerous bar" closes.


Sunday, September 21, 1986
by IRENE LACHER, Herald Staff Writer

Tommy's Deck Bar, a draw for drug dealers and prostitutes that was once dubbed "the neighborhood bucket of blood" by its owner, was due to close at dawn today.

Bernie Toll, who owns the controversial bar, at 627 Fifth St., said he decided to shut it down because police were preparing to have his liquor license pulled.

"Rather than have them go through all this unnecessary, embarrassing type of legal actions, I felt that it was in the best interest of the neighborhood and my best interest to walk out clean."

Police have answered 168 calls at Tommy's this year alone. Complaints from neighbors prompted undercover officers to compile evidence of drug deals there, police say. And when Patrol Maj. Jack Mackie and Mayor Alex Daoud inspected the bar on Thursday, Daoud called Toll, who promptly announced he would close the bar .

"Basically the biggest problem was drug dealing," Mackie said. "That was the straw that broke the camel's back."

"It's long overdue," Daoud said. "That place has been an absolute cesspool for crime and criminal activity. I'm hoping we'll start closing down a lot more of these bars ."

On Friday afternoon, a handful of regulars drank at the faded Art Deco bar whose walls were designed to resemble a luxurious cruise ship. An owner who boxed at Madison Square Garden lent his name to the nearly 50-year-old bar , which once played host to such lights as Jimmy Durante and Dean Martin.

Customers idling over beers said they'd miss Tommy's, which evolved into one of the most dangerous bars in town.

"The bums will be depressed," said Diane Donlon. "I'm depressed myself. The poor misfits, where are they going to go?"

But even Tommy's biggest boosters acknowledged that the place turned into a nest for hookers and drug dealers at night.

"You wouldn't want to tangle with the people who come in here at night," Donlon said. "Real scumbags."

Said Toll: "I bought it because redevelopment was going through and I wanted to own a bar down in redevelopment. And then redevelopment went into the toilet and slowly my bar became the toilet. If I cleaned out my bar I would have no customers."

Despite it all, Toll waxed nostalgic about the bar he bought nine years ago.

"Years ago I had some pretty nice skid row characters there who were very pleasant. I shouldn't say skid row. Damon Runyon- type characters. It was fun, the bragging and lying that went on because every customer was either an ex-ballplayer or an entrepreneur or a corporate executive.

"But, in actual fact, they were all working stiffs who used to fantasize. I used to chuckle to myself that they were really nice people. They either died or moved on."

Monday, September 21, 2015

Banned in Coral Gables - a brief history of saying no to everything

Coral Gables calls itself "The City Beautiful."

But over the years it's also earned itself the unofficial nickname of "Moral Gables."

The city is infamously known for its strict building codes and goofy laws that spell out everything from how many cats a resident can own to an outright ban on tents and backyard tree houses.

In 1949, the city passed an ordinance banning "crime comic books."

In 1970, the city tried and failed to ban the showing of the movie, "Woodstock."

In 1972, the Coral Gables city commission was urged to ban the movie, "Last Tango in Paris," because the theater scheduled to show it was near a school.

In 1974, a Gables cop was suspended for shacking up with his  girlfriend.

In 1978, the city commission passed an ordinance that prohibited residents from owning more than four cats.

And, at one time, video games were banned within city limits.

As late as 1987, the city commission passed a ban on beer sales at a Miracle Mile outdoor street festival. One commissioner justified her vote by saying, "drugs and alcohol are linked together."

Twenty years ago, the city spent over $130,000 of taxpayer money trying to "outlaw Miami New Times' brightly colored newspaper boxes" on the city's sidewalks.

In June 2011, Coral Gables residents who owned pickup trucks were told they would not not be able to park their vehicles in their driveways or on city streets from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

The Miami Herald reported the city was resuming enforcement of a "controversial [city] law because ... the Florida Supreme Court decided not to consider an appeal by Lowell Kuvin, who sued Coral Gables in 2003 after code-enforcement officers cited him for parking his pickup truck on a residential street."

[UPDATE: From a March 2012 Miami Herald story: "Coral Gables pickup truck owners would be allowed to park their vehicles in residential driveways, but only if the front faces the street and the truck has a covered bed, under proposals discussed by a city advisory board on Monday."]

But, The Gables - it turns out - wasn't always so "moral."

In the 1920's, if you wanted to gawk at naked ladies, all you had to do was drive on over to the Coral Gables Golf and Country Club.

The staid country club, it seems, featured nude dancers.

But for some reason, in 1927, the club changed course and decided to give "dancers with a wardrobe a chance."

Said the club's managing director Fred E. Mann, "Not that we are opposed to dancers au naturelle, but we believe the patrons of the club have had sufficient of the terpsichorean endeavors of the young women who eschew clothing in their act."

From the Miami Daily News, March 4, 1927

Thursday, September 17, 2015

William's Grocery - 1941

William's Grocery at 1526 NW 1st Place, Miami.

-via Shorpy.com

Monday, September 14, 2015

Sears Tower on Biscayne Boulevard...Then and Now

Miami Daily News, Nov. 13, 1929. 

1930s. (Click to enlarge)

Miami Daily News, Oct. 10, 1954



Miami Herald, Saturday, February 5, 1983
by DAN FESPERMAN Herald Business Writer

After 54 years of selling everything from pajamas to power saws in downtown Miami, Sears , Roebuck and Co. will desert its deteriorating Biscayne Boulevard store this summer for greener pastures in the sprawling suburbs.

In Friday's announcement of the closing, scheduled for June or July, Sears officials blamed poor sales and the age of the building, which has become an Art Deco landmark and a rallying point for historic preservationists.

Sears announced that it also will close its Northside Shopping Center department store, at NW 79th Street and 27th Avenue in Liberty City, and a smaller appliance-catalog store at 8682 SW 24th St., to redirect its efforts toward more lucrative markets.

Stewart Thomas, Sears ' South Florida district manager, said that employes of all three stores will be offered jobs at the company's other stores. Those jobs will be available because of two stores scheduled to open -- one at the new Aventura Mall and the other at Miami International Mall.

Sears had hoped to stay downtown, Thomas said, but virtually gave up last spring when plans to rebuild the Biscayne Boulevard store fizzled.

Those plans, which stirred opposition among advocates of historic preservation, would have razed the old four-story building and its 66-foot tower to make way for a two-block complex of stores, offices and hotel rooms.

But the combination of a sluggish economy and a bank foreclosure on an adjacent property persuaded the project's Canadian developer, Cadillac Fairview Corp., to drop its plans, and the company's option on the land expired last March.

"After that fell through," Thomas said, "we couldn't make economic sense of it any more."

Fred Flagler, a Sears spokesman in the company's Southeast headquarters in Atlanta, said, "The cost of refurbishing the building far outweighed the actual benefits we could have gotten
from it."

The store also has been a victim of a boom-bust business cycle downtown.

Two years ago, business downtown was thriving, thanks mostly to a surge of Latin American tourists. It was no surprise in those days to see shoppers buy stacks of 10 to 20 shirts or slacks at a time.

But when Central and South American countries began devaluing and restricting their currencies, the number of tourists dropped dramatically, and those who came spent less.

"After that great influx, we've been hurt like everyone else as the buying has dropped off," Thomas said.

As for the fate of the historic tower, the options include "about anything you could imagine," according to Flagler.

Ralph Russell, another Sears official in Atlanta, said, "If anybody wants to buy it, then I guess it would be for sale, but as for now I guess we'll just hang on to it."

Joyce Meyers, the city of Miami's heritage conservation officer, said Friday afternoon that she and Sears officials will meet before the end of the month to discuss how Sears might use city and federal tax incentives to attract a developer to the property.

Because the tower is listed on the Dade County historic survey, a hearing would be required before it could be destroyed.

For now, the tower stands on the threshold of garnering extra protection from both the city and the federal government, although neither would guarantee the building's survival.

On Feb. 28, the city of Miami's nine-member Heritage Conservation Board will hear a proposal to protect the building under the city's new historic preservation ordinance.

In addition, Meyers said, the tower is eligible to be placed on the national register of historic sites. Either the city or the owners could nominate the building for the distinction, Meyers said, and the listing would mean that developers could receive a 25 per cent federal tax credit for money spent to renovate the building.

The closing of the store Sears leases in Liberty City, where a Woolco closed last month, is less likely to leave a gap for long.

Officials of the Edward J. DeBartolo Corp. confirmed Friday that they will pick up the lease for the 183,000-square foot store once Sears leaves.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Fontainebleau Hotel's trompe l'oeil mural - 1986

From the Miami News, Jan. 24, 1986.

Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Pier 5 at the Miami City Yacht Basin

Damage following the Nov. 1935 hurricane.
(Click all images to enlarge.)


ca. 1940s.




Friday, September 4, 2015

Miami wrestler Judy Grable appears on 'What's my Line?' - 1959

Judy Grable, a lady wrestler from Miami, appears on "What's My Line" on September 20, 1959.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The 1982 Miami News Restaurant Poll

Thirty years ago, the Miami News published the results of their 2nd annual restaurant poll that asked readers to name their favorite Miami restaurants by category.

Some of the places to grab first place honors in 1982 Miami were....

  • Barbecue: Tony Roma's.

  • Steak: Daphne's at the Sheraton River House at 3900 NW 21st Street.

  • Seafood: Joe's Stone Crab.

  • Health food: Unicorn Natural Food Restaurant.
  • Here's the full list:

    Click to enlarge.

    Click here to read the complete story at Google News Archives.