In honor of the Sagamore Hotel’s 70th Anniversary, HistoryMiami Museum curated a special exhibition at the hotel called Miami Beach: The Fabulous Fifties. For Miami Beach, the Fifties were the best of times. By then, Miami Beach had assumed its place as the nation’s premier resort with hotels that lined Collins Avenue for miles, clubs and restaurants that drew Hollywood royalty, and high end stores on Lincoln Road and in the winding corridors of posh hostelries, which obviated the need for some guests to leave their premises.
The stage had been set for Miami Beach’s ascendancy in the early postwar era as a wave of tourists, flush with dollars after years of economic stagnation and sacrifice, flocked to some of America’s and Miami Beach’s newest and most glamorous hotels, like the Sagamore, Sans Souci and Saxony in the South and Mid-Beach areas of Collins Avenue. There they enjoyed glamorous poolside amenities, fine food, and fabulous entertainment. Media personalities like Walter Winchell and Arthur Godfrey broadcasted their popular radio shows from Miami Beach while movie stars embraced that vacation hot spot.
With the opening of the fabulous Fontainebleau Hotel in 1954, followed by those of the Eden Roc, Deauville, and Carillon Hotels, areas once far north of the resort areas of Miami Beach now became the glamour spots of the island’s tourist industry. And the stars followed, led by Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, long before their presence and antics brought Las Vegas’s tourist industry to the fore. The shows, restaurants, and personalities present in this world famous resort grew as the Fifties unfolded bringing it unprecedented exposure and ever increasing numbers of visitors. Miami Beach was the place to be in that fabulous era.
Curated by Paul S. George, Ph.D.
Resident Historian at HistoryMiami Museum