Then and now — a Belle Isle view of the Flamingo

Carl Fishers signature Flamingo Hotel back when the bay featured speedboat races

When developer/promoter Carl Fisher turned Miami Beach into America’s winter playground, he focused development on Biscayne Bay — filling in spoil islands, and building hotels.

The first was the Flamingo, built in 1920 and opened in 1921, facing west on Biscayne Bay, featuring lush landscaping and a view of (what else) Belle Isle.

The hotel featured 145 rooms on opening day, with an 11-story tower with a revolving, lighted dome, which supposedly could be seen at sea for 100 miles. Guests included President Warren G. Harding.

Among the photographs Belle Isle Blog found in its research of the J.C. Penney estate (where Herbert Hoover stayed before his inauguration)  was a shot taken in the estate backyard, facing east across the bay to the Flamingo.

A view of the Flamingo from the J.C. Penney estate on Belle Isle. (J.C. Penney papers, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University)

The "new" Flamingo tower, on the same site.

During World War II, the military used the the Flamingo. It was refurbished after the war, but never air conditioned. It continued to be used as a hotel until 1960, when it was demolished to make way for a huge apartment complex called Morton Towers.

In 2002, the complex was renovated and a 32-story tower added in the middle. It was rechristened The Flamingo.

It’s signature feature? A lighted dome that changes colors at night.

The new Flamingo (viewed from Belle Isle) still mimics the lighted tower of the Carl Fisher legend.

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3 responses to “Then and now — a Belle Isle view of the Flamingo

  1. I love Belle Isle, but you have made it even better by giving me a sense of place. Thanks

  2. that “new” flamingo is ugly.

  3. Pingback: A 1920s postcard shows lush Belle Isle, early Rivo Alto, Fisher’s Flamingo Hotel | Belle Isle Blog

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