THEN AND NOW: SOUTH FLORIDA’S LOVE AFFAIR WITH YACHTS AND BOATING CULLED FROM THE WOLFSONIAN-FIU LIBRARY COLLECTION

Bicycling into work this morning, I was detoured from my usual route down Convention Center Drive by a roadblock prompted by as organizers prepare for the Miami International Boat Show (open from February 14-18, 2013). My glimpse of some of the rather impressive vessels being towed into the lot got me to thinking about South Florida’s long-time love affair with boats and boating as reflected in the Wolfsonian-FIU library collection.

In the early nineteen teens, automobile enthusiast and founder of the Indianapolis 500 Carl G. Fisher (1874-1939) turned his sights to South Florida as a real estate developer. In 1918 Fisher self-published a brochure promoting Miami Beach titled: A Little Journey to Altonia: the Lure of a Clockless Land Where Summer Basks in the Lap of Winter.

XB1991.351.000

In that advertising booklet, Fisher included photographic reproductions of yachting enthusiasts and water-skiers enjoying the waters off the coast of Alton Beach.

XB1991.351.014

XB1991.351.028

It also includes a photograph of his yacht, the Shadow K speeding across the calms of Biscayne Bay.

XB1991.351.030

We also possess a photograph album printed to promote Fisher’s Flamingo Hotel on the Biscayne Bay side of Miami Beach. The hotel, designed by the Price and McLanahan architectural firm, first opened to the public in 1921 and featured a bay side dock.

XC1992.837.2.08

To promote the hotel and attract wealthy socialites to Miami Beach, the racing promoter-turned-real estate developer organized Biscayne Bay Speed Boat Regattas and built stadium bench seating for spectators.

XC1992.837.1.01

Of course, tourists not possessing yachts of their own were also enticed to Miami and Miami Beach by the opportunity to do some ship-board sightseeing and to sneak a water-view peek at the estates of South Florida’s “rich and famous.” Hotel guests and other winter visitors staying near the Roney Plaza Yacht Basin could book a tour on the luxury cruiser, the Lake Pancoast, a “private yacht” making two fifty-mile daily trips about the beach, bay, and keys.

XC1993.34.000

In the mid-twenties the Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce was also keen on promoting their city as a “tropical wonderland” on the Dixie Highway between Palm Beach and Miami. One of its advertising brochures used a scene of a yacht race down the intracoastal waterway to attract affluent visitors and included spectators in bathing suits or motorists with a golf bag to remind Northerners they could escape the winter weather.

XB1991.322.000

The railroads also had a vested stake in promoting “travel luxury” to America’s winter vacationland, as another advertisement, Florida: the Land of Sunshine suggests.

XB1991.335_000

Published by the Illinois Central Railroad in 1930 and illustrated by Paul Proehl (1887-1965), a prominent Chicago commercial and graphic artist of the period, the brochure’s artistic and photographic illustrations were intended to remind potential visitors of the pleasures of yachting and boat races available for their entertainment.

XB1991.335_005

XB1991.335_041

I will end today’s blog post with some images from one last book published by the Florida Inland Navigation District in 1935 to promote the Florida Intracoastal waterway leading from the St. John’s River down to Miami, Florida.

XC1994.3021.008

A yacht stands out in bold relief on the cover of the publication and the images inside reinforce the message that the east coast of Florida had become a boater’s paradise—something that the attendees of this year’s Miami International Boat Show are doubtlessly aware.

XC1994.3021.000

XC1994.3021.002

~ by "The Chief" on February 13, 2013.

One Response to “THEN AND NOW: SOUTH FLORIDA’S LOVE AFFAIR WITH YACHTS AND BOATING CULLED FROM THE WOLFSONIAN-FIU LIBRARY COLLECTION”

  1. Good time to refresh the memory about!!!! Another great blog. Beautiful images. Thanks.

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