31-40. Miami Beach 1977-present

The halcyon days were past; the latter 1970s and early ’80s were in-between years for the once glorious island of Miami Beach. The glamour weathered with the passing of the 1960s; no longer did the Rat Pack patrol the hotel scene or did Jackie Gleason proclaim that Miami Beach was “the fun and sun capital of the world.” The world seemed to move to the Caribbean–just about anyplace but here. Drugs and crime, though, soon glamorized Miami; the cocaine wars gave rise to a new tide of those seeking adventure, however imagined, via television’s Miami Vice. Miami Beach was not on many people’s radar, and those still vacationing there were more affluent Jews than in South Beach, and they were at least a decade younger. The phenomenal resurgent popularity of Miami Beach, and Greater Miami, was a makeover and a redefining so radical that its history seemed unimportant. Finally, the place hardly resembled itself.

Miami Beach was my hometown. I was born and grew up there during a fascinating time. In my youth I hardly left South Beach. Central and North Beach were different places. Driving to Fun Fair was like going on a vacation. The mainland of Miami was another land altogether. It seemed everyone in Miami Beach was Jewish, the affluent almost exclusively lived above South Beach.