The area was originally a mangrove swamp. A wooden bridge was built from the mainland in 1913, but development was slow until the Florida land boom in the 1920s. The glamorous hotel and vacation industry began to decline in the 1970s. In the mid-1980s, large numbers of Cuban refugees from the Mariel boatlift flooded into the area, seeking its cheap accommodations. A spurt in less-expensive development along the ocean road followed and led to the influx of a younger population and to the exodus of many wealthier retirees to other resort cities in Florida. The 1979 designation of an Art Deco section of South Beach as a historic district, however, slowly set in motion an architectural revival of the city. By the 1990s Miami Beach had reemerged as a popular tourist destination. More recently there has been renewed interest in “Miami Modernism,” the architectural style that characterizes the city's 1950s hotels.
See H. Mehling,
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