Category Archives: History

Flash from the past on Dade Boulevard

IMG_3766We photographed this throwback Friday truck at 6:45 a.m. at the corner of Meridian and Dade Boulevard.

Tell the truth. Don’t you miss Burdines?

Murder, dead body dumping and Belle Isle

So, file this post under “know your neighbors,” and “interesting people who live on Belle Isle.”

Twenty years ago, a woman was murdered, allegedly by her husband, and her body was dumped in Biscayne Bay.

Yesterday in Miami-Dade criminal court, 9 Island Avenue resident Alan M. Gold revealed how he helped dump the body with the accused murderer, Cliff Friend.

He said they put her body, stuffed into a bag, on a boat at the marina docked behind Gold’s Belle Isle condo and motored out to sea.

We don’t want to spoil the rest of Miami Herald reporter David Ovalle’s amazing story. There more to it, for sure.

We live in an interesting place.

Beautiful Belle Isle from the air

Belle Isle, Friday morning, June 20.

Belle Isle, Friday morning, June 20.

Thanks to Belle Isle Residents Association vice chair Charles Urstadt for this great snapshot out our island from a Friday morning flight out of Miami International Airport.

One more trip down memory lane: the Biscayne Bayfront in the 1930s and 1940s

This postcard, mailed in 1938, appears pre-development.

Mailed in 1938, a pre-development view from the old Venetian Hotel.

We found a couple more old postcards that show The Miami Herald property before The Herald built its bayfront headquarters in the early 1960s, so we thought we’d add them to the blog and create a gallery that shows different views in different years.

Your BelleIsleBlog is guilty of not being able to get enough of this….we admit it. But with The Herald leaving last week it’s 50-year headquarters last week, and portions of The Miami Herald sign coming down on Friday, and the prospect of Genting tearing the building down between now and year end, well…

So let’s look closer at what it looked like before the Knight brothers built Florida’s largest commercial building, which is what One Herald Plaza was upon completion in 1963.

Betwen the Venetian and County causeways (MacArthur wasn't a hero yet)

Between the Venetian and County causeways (MacArthur wasn’t a hero yet)

Here’s the tightest view we’ve seen of the Venetian Hotel, as well as the Boulevard Shops (now a historic landmark on the site) and some other small structures. Click on it to check out the detail. The postcard back describes non-stop traffic on the causeways.

1940backAnd here’s a look at the rest of the postcards we’ve found with the same general view.

Residences and the Venetian Hote, undated.

Residences and the Venetian Hotel, undated.

More of a step back view, mailed in 1930.

More of a step back view, mailed in 1930.

1939 view of Biscayne coast, from east to west.

1939 view of Biscayne coast, from east to west.

A look back at the Miami causeways and shoreline — before The Miami Herald

This postcard shows residences and a hotel on The Herald property

This 1930s postcard shows residences and a hotel on The Herald property

It’s a nostalgic time on the west end of the Venetian Causeway.

The Miami Herald printed its last newspapers  two weeks ago at 1 Herald Plaza, on the mainland between the Venetian and MacArthur causeways.

1939 view of downtown looking west.

1939 view of downtown looking west.

Since then, office and news gathering operations have been moving to the news organization’s new home in Doral.

The final newsroom employees — and few from other departments — are scheduled to finish packing this week and all will be working in Doral by Friday afternoon.

Some time after that — it’s not clear when — property owner Genting plans to tear down The Herald building to make way for its planned resort (no, it won’t be a casino — at least not yet).

The Miami Herald in 2006.

The Miami Herald in 2006.

The Herald’s been on the property for 50 some years. BelleIsleBlog has been trolling eBay again, finding old postcards that provide a view at the bayside property between the Venetian and MacArthur Causeways before The Herald built its offices and printing plant in the early 1960s. The Herald moved to One Herald Plaza from a location on South Miami Avenue in April 1963.

Another view of the Causeways, circa 1939.

Another view of the Causeways, circa 1939.

The postcards show another Miami — when the port was off an undeveloped Watson Island, and the shoreline south of the MacArthur Causeway (then the County Causeway) featured huge oil tanks. Biscayne Island, the first on the way east on the Venetian Causeway, was barren, used as a landing strip.

The postcard above shows the Boulevard Shops (originally the Shrine Building when buit in 1930) on Biscayne Boulevard — and the Trinity Cathedral to the west of the Venetian Causeway entrance. Both remain, dwarfed by the city that grew up in the next 80-plus years.

Circus elephants cross the Venetian Causeway west drawbridge, with under-construction Herald building in background.

Circus elephants cross the Venetian Causeway drawbridge, in 1960, with  Herald building property in background.

Construction on The Herald building began in 1961, and finished with the building opening on April 5, 1963.

Another Venetian curiosity: Ruby Foo’s on the Causeway

We think Rub Foo's closed back in the 1960s.

We think Ruby Foo’s closed back in the 1960s.

We know Ruby Foo’s — the Times Square Chinese restaurant and sushi bar at 49th and Broadway. It’s a Midtown landmark.

The matchbook cover.

The matchbook cover.

But only recently did we learn that there used to be a Ruby Foo on the Beach — right off the Venetian Causeway, where it meets Dade Boulevard east of  Belle Isle.

First, Nine Island resident Josh Fisher turned up the old black and white photo. And then we found this matchbook cover on eBay — with the old style phone number without area code and location — at Miami Beach and the Venetian Causeway.

According to historian Seth Bramson’s 2005 book, Miami Beach, Ruby Foo’s “was a favorite for Chinese food before Thai, Indian and Vietnamese became popular. Some Beachites vaguely recall the eatery relocating to 41st Street, but in any location it is a happy memory….’

Another Belle Isle post card memory: The Lido Spa

Touting the Lido as "Miami Beach's only spa."

Touting the Lido as “Miami Beach’s only spa.”

As we wait for updates on the next step for The Standard’s proposed renovation, our crack research team cranked up the Wayback Machine for a look at the Lido Spa in its second coming.

A new way to vacation...

A new way to vacation…

Remember, the Belle Isle motel/spa/hotel launched in 1953 as the Monterrey Hotel, designed by noted Miami Modern architect Norman Giller. Second Gen was the Lido Spa, in 1960, when the new owner added the three-story lobby and spa building with the classic sign and gold grille panels.

Out latest postcard find dates back to the early 1960s. The only high-rises visible on Belle Isle in the postcard are Belle Tower, the island’s first high-rise (1958) at 16 Island Ave., and behind it, Belle Plaza, at 20 Island Ave., Belle Plaza was completed in 1962.