Country: United States
Miami By The Numbers:
Population: 409,000 (city); 5.4 million (metropolitan)
Elevation: 11 ft / 3 m
Average Winter Temperatures: 60-75°F / 15-24°C
Average Summer Temperatures: 80-90°F / 29-32°C
Average Annual Rainfall: 56 in / 142 cm
Average days of sunshine: 250
Amount of golf courses in Florida: over 1,200
Major Industries: Tourism, International Trade, Software
Electricity: 110 volts
Time Zone: GMT-5
Country dialing code: +1
Area Codes: 305 and 786
Did You Know?
Miami is the only United States city to be planned by a woman, Julia Tuttle.
Benjamin Green, a Miami Beach pharmacist, invented the first suntan lotion by cooking cocoa butter on a stove in 1944.
It is also the only city bordering two national parks: Everglades and Biscayne.
City: Fort Lauderdale
Country: United States
Fort Lauderdale by the Numbers:
Elevation: 8 ft.
Average Annual Rainfall: 57.55 in
Average January Temperature: High 76 degrees F, Low 59 degrees F
Average July Temperature: High 90 degrees F, Low 75 degrees F
Major Industries: The economy is strong for tourism, high-tech manufacturing, marine industry, construction, and distribution.
Electricity: 110/115 volts, 60-cycle current
Time Zone: Eastern Time Zone
Country Dialing Code: 1
Area Code: 954
Did You Know?
There are 23 miles of beach in Fort Lauderdale. There are also 25 miles of Intercoastal waterways and 165 miles of navigable canals. Fort Lauderdale is renowned as a spring break headquarters for hundreds of thousands of party hearty refugees from colleges across the country.
Fort Lauderdale is located in the center of South Florida's Gold Coast between Palm Beach and Miami.
Miami: Driving down Highway 395 from Miami Beach, one can only gaze in wonder at the white skyline rising from the tropical waters and set upon the blue-pink-orange sky. It's amazing to think that not long ago, swampland vegetation and mosquitoes dominated the area. In a short period of time, the city has emerged as a major cosmopolitan center for international business, tourism, fashion and nightlife.
Long before the trendy street cafes of Coconut Grove or the pastel buildings of the Art Deco district, the Tequesta Indians made this region their home. The Spanish built a mission here in 1567, when the area was known as "Mayaimi," but it remained secluded and generally inactive until the U.S. acquisition of Florida in 1821. Hundreds of pioneers settled in the region around the Miami River, but growth was stymied by the lack of a speedy and efficient land route to the north.
Motivated by a vision of the region's potential, or simply because of a desire for "civilization," settler Julia Tuttle convinced magnate Henry Flagler to extend the route of the railroad he was building. In 1896, the completion of the Florida East Coast Railroad opened Miami to the rest of the United States, and marked the birth of a new city.
Flagler opened one of Miami's first luxury hotels, the Royal Palm, and its success inspired others to follow suit. In the 1910s, John S. Collins and Carl F. Fisher collaborated on an ambitious real estate project that transformed a mangrove swamp into present-day Miami Beach. A decade later, George E. Merrick developed the well-planned residential area of Coral Gables with its plazas, fountains, Spanish street names carved on white stones, broad boulevards and shady oak trees. To complement the residential developments, Merrick created the elegant Biltmore Hotel, with its elaborate Mediterranean-style design.
Other individuals decided to apply their investments to their personal estates. James Deering built his exquisite 16th century Italian Villa Vizcaya by the bay and filled the architectural masterpiece with a collection of art work.
The 1920s are widely associated with extravagant spending and ostentatious lifestyles. With the sudden property boom and influx of investment capital, Miami was in full swing in this era of abundance. Its population burgeoned, and the Art Deco movement brought a unique flavor to Miami Beach. But just as Miami began to enjoy this prosperity, the Depression and two devastating hurricanes temporarily halted progress.
In the 1940s, Miami became home to soldiers living in the city's military training camps. Known to attract a diverse blend of people, Miami also became the residence of the outlaw Al Capone. In the 1950s, the tourism industry continued to grow. The white sandy beaches and warm climate provided the perfect setting for winter vacations. But Miami was still mainly a tourist playground and had yet to reach its full potential as a metropolis.
Following Castro's 1959 revolution, the mass Cuban immigration has been greatly responsible for Miami's growth as an area of international business and commerce. The first wave of political exiles included several educated professionals with a desire to apply their knowledge and skills to the city's growth. The Cuban community developed its own economic and social enclave and fostered ties to the Latin American market. International business took Miami's downtown by storm as the city rapidly grew into more than just a tourist town.
As with any big city, Miami began to experience problems in its transitional growth. Crime rose tremendously in the 1980s. Race relations grew tense, riots broke out, and the historic Art Deco district in South Beach was left to deteriorate. Today, however, the crime rate is down and restoration projects abound.
Miami has come a long way since the days of Julia Tuttle and Henry Flagler. As the gateway to Latin America, Miami serves as the headquarters for many international companies and is home to the leading Spanish-language media in the United States. South Beach has become one of the country's hottest hubs of style, fashion and nightlife. The ethnically diverse city continues to attract a multitude of cultures. Miami is truly unique — a tropical paradise with a rich history, a diverse population and a "not quite in the United States" feel.
Fort Lauderdale: Florida's Gold Coast, of which Fort Lauderdale is such an integral part, is proof that contemporary alchemy exists.
Seven decades ago, what is now seductive sands, swaying sea oats and glittering hotels and condominiums was palmetto scrub and swampland. Along these sands, only the occasional beached sailor and the fabled barefoot mailman strode.
Many generations ago, the Abaniki tribe of Native Americans lived beside the sea here, followed generations later by pirates who awaited an opportunity to attack Spanish galleons heading home from Central America, loaded with gold.
Some didn't just await an opportunity—they created it. Early entrepreneurs called 'wreckers' lured ships onto the spiky shoreline stones that gave Boca Raton, which translates loosely to 'rat's mouth', its unglamorous Spanish name, a salute to the rocks' resemblance to rat's teeth. Wreckers had a pretty easy job of it, however as hurricanes and inadequate navigational aids sent many a ship to a watery death. So often did this happen, in fact, that the locals often went to church to pray not only for booty, but for specific booty, designed to meet the need of the moment. So handsomely were some prayers answered that a massive party went on for days in Boca Raton when a Spanish shipwreck produced hundreds of barrels of sherry.
The wreckers were such a demanding crowd that, by the late 1800s, they were accusing shipowners of sending out worthless cargo to collect insurance money. Audacity like that is nothing new in these climes, where some of the nation's most flamboyant characters have made miracles and millions, trading on pride and sunny circumstances.
One of these characters was long-ailing architect Addison Mizner, who rode railroad entrepreneur Henry Flagler's train to Palm Beach to swim in healing sunshine. He ended up swimming in millions of dollars, happily paid by those who commissioned him to build massive homes along the Gold Coast. Palm Beach and Boca Raton soon became the stronghold of Addison's flashy 'Bastard-Spanish-Moorish-Romanesque-Gothic-Renaissance-Bull Market- Damn-the-Expense' architectural style.
In 1925, he created Boca's Cloisters Hotel, which stands still as part of a massive resort complex. He created the Breakers Hotel. He created Palm Beach's toney Worth Avenue. He created half of Palm Beach, at least, and what he didn't create, others created by copying his embellished style.
No shrinking violets when it came to promotion, he and his cronies lured the famed and infamous of the day, perfecting an enduring technique Mizner called, 'Get the big snobs, and the little ones will follow'.
Mizner's boom spread southward to Fort Lauderdale and environs, where canny characters salted the seaside with 'pirate gold' to lure buyers who already were pouring USD2 million a week into Mizner's sales coffers. So wildly farcical and often felonious did it all become that Boca Raton earned the nickname Beaucoup Rotten.
While this investors' feeding frenzy was luring wealth-seekers to the Gold Coast, down in Fort Lauderdale, a young man named Frank Stranahan was seeking his fortune in the sunshine along the city's New River. There he opened a general store and built a ferryboat to sail Miami-bound travelers across the river. To his humble home and store, which still stands, Seminoles paddled downstream from the marshes. They would sleep over on his porch before beginning the upstream return. Later, boarders of a more conventional nature slept in his extra rooms. When a young teacher named Ivy arrived, he married her, and the town of Fort Lauderdale, named for Maj. William Lauderdale, who had once commanded a fort on the site, was born.
All the bubbles burst when the Depression spread its depressing tentacles across the nation, but at least Addison Mizner sunk into fiscal gloom with characteristic style. Mizner sold a barren plot of land to an entrepreneur, whose efforts to grow coconuts failed miserably. The buyer sued Mizner, claiming he had been told he could "grow nuts" on the land. 'Oh no', Mizner responded to the judge, 'I told him you could go nuts on the land'.
In the years that followed, some went nuts, some went broke, but as the decades passed, the lure of year-round sun, sparkling sea and swaying palms proved irresistible to buyers.
That booms continued—and continues—as Fort Lauderdale became Greater Fort Lauderdale, encompassing a host of smaller urban areas stretching from the southern border of Palm Beach to the northern edge of Miami, luring thousands to a golden coastline that has become one of the nation's best-loved sunspots.