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.
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.