YearMonthDayEvent Related
1940  The population of Miami Beach reaches 28,000. 
  The Cadillac Hotel was built. Its name was changed to the Courtyard Oceanfront after a renovation in 2003.display
  The National Hotel opened in Miami Beach. Designed by Roy France, it was one of the last large hotels built in the Art Deco style. 
  The Deco Grossinger Beach Hotel opened. Later to be called the Ritz Plaza Hotel, it was designed by L. Murray Dixon in classic Art Deco style. Seven years later, the Delano Hotel opened directly across the street. 
November14George B. Dunn contributed to the consolidation of Miami transit services. Using the name of the Miami Transit Company, he took over the city-owned lines and merged Dunn Bus Service into the combined operation resulting in a fleet of 208 buses (half of which were new Macks) covering 193 route miles. 
November16Miami's trolley cars were used for the last time.display
1941April United States Army soldiers began to arrive in Miami Beach, where many were to be housed throughout World War II. Many facilities were used, including hotels, restaurants, and golf courses.display
April10A memorial to Carl Fisher was dedicated. It was in Miami Beach at Fifty-first Street and Alton Road. 
June A large group of white Coconut Grove residents protested the move of two black families into white sections of the community. The group succeeded in the blocking the two families, but shortly thereafter blacks began moving into white areas of Coconut Grove. 
August Five-hundred whites in northwest Dade County actively opposed the construction of a 250-acre black development on NW Seventh Avenue. They were supported by the Ku Klux Klan and carried banners to the county courthouse where they presented a petition with over 1200 hundred signatures in opposition to the development. 
December07The Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor.display
1942February The Army Air Corps began sending the first of what was to be 4,000 men to Miami Beach - the site chosed for their officer training. 
February19A German U-boat sank the the tanker Pan Massachusetts twenty miles south of Cape Canaveral. The ship was carrying one hundred thousand barrels of gasoline, and its sinking illustrated to South Floridians that the war in Europe had crossed the Atlanic. 
February24A German U-boat sank the Republic off West Palm Beach. This came only five days after the sinking of another ship off Cape Canaveral. 
March03The Dade County Commission voted to change the name of the County Causeway to the MacArthur Causeway in honor of the general whose troops were then fighting in the Philippines. 
April15Formerly called Municipal Pier, the Serviceman's Pier opened to recreation-seeking soldiers. The Miami Beach Pier Association's first president, Kay Pancoast, worked tirelessly to raise funds for the project, and within one year, over 200,000 servicemen visited the pier. 
April20Construction began on the Richmond Naval Air Station. It was on the site of today's Metroozoo. 
May14The Portero del Llano, attacked by a German U-boat close to the shores of Miami Beach, burned and sunk within sight of the city. 
1943May27The Dade County public health system was created. 
June14The Greater Miami Port Authority was created. 
August The United States government had appropriated at least 188 Miami Beach hotels, 109 apartment houses, and 18 private homes. 
1944  The City of Miami hired its first black police officers. They were only assigned to patrol in areas where blacks lived. 
  Six blacks were allowed to vote on the Democratic ticket at a precinct in Tallahassee. This was the first step in greater political participation for all Florida blacks, including those in Miami. 
November Only 68 Miami Beach hotels and 11 apartment houses remained as appropriated property of the United States government. 
1945  The Mayor of Miami, Leonard K. Thompson, began pushing to consolodate Dade County into a singular entity. Voters rejected his plan, but many services, including sewage, education, and transportation, were already consolidating on their own. 
June11The Dade County Port Authority was created. It replaced the Greater Miami Port Authority, which had been created two years earlier. 
August01The first ferry traveled to Virginia Key. 
August08Dade County established Virginia Beach as a black-only beach. The Virginia Key beach remained as such for years.display
September15A major hurricane hit southern Dade County. Many structures were destroyed. Several buildings on the Richmond Naval Air Station were among those destroyed, including the base's blimp hangars in a large fires. 
December01The Serviceman's Pier in Miami Beach closed. 
1946  The Sherry Frontenac opened in Miami Beach. The construction of this hotel, designed by Henry Hohauser, marked a shift in the epicenter of tourist activity from the Lincoln Road area of Miami Beach to an area just north where hotels such as the Sherry Frontenac, the Delano, and the Fontainebleau were being built. There were certain aspects of the hotel's design, such as its smokestacks and "gangplank" bridge, that were quintessentially Art Deco.display
January01The Dade County Port Authority bought the airport on NW Thirty-Sixth Street. They purchased it from Pan American Airways for $2.5 million.display
January06The Miami Herald began offering "the Clipper edition." It was a smaller version of the Herald that they sent by air to the countries of Latin America. 
January13Grattan Ellesmere ("G.E.") Graves Jr. arrived in Miami to practice law. He worked to rally all of the city's blacks to fight for equal rights, often times inserting himself at the forefront of the battle. He was a crucial part of the battle for civil rights in Miami. 
January22The Democratic Party of Florida eliminated the color barrier for voting in the party's primaries. There had been a color restriction on voting rights in the state since 1904. 
April Developers broke ground for what would be the extremely exclusive residential community of Bal Harbour. Robert Cabel Graham, a wealthy Detroit truck manufacturer and farmer, hired the firm of Harland and Bartholomew and Associates to design the community. Its exclusivity lay in the original agreement that required no lot be "sold, conveyed, or leased to anyone not a member of the Caucasian race, not to anyone having more than one-quarter Hebrew or Syrian blood." 
April The Florida Supreme Court ruled that Dade County's segregation of black residential districts was illegal. They were largely following the lead of other courts around the nation that had already banned such practices. 
May The Miami Housing Authority used a 24-acre tract of land in Coconut Grove to provide low-rent housing for blacks. When white residents of the community began to protest, a deal was struck. A seventy-four-foot buffer strip and a wall - parts of which still stand today - were constucted to divide the two populations. 
May07Voters approved the transfer of Jackson Memorial Hospital from the City of Miami to Dade County.display
1947  The Delano Hotel opened on Miami Beach next door to the National Hotel. The hotel was designed in the Art Deco style by Robert M. Swarthburg. 
  The Everglades National Park was dedicated. President Harry Truman was there for the dedication. 
  Marjory Stoneman Douglas released The Everglades: River of Grass. It was a landmark book in educating people on the significance of preserving and protecting the Everglades ecosystem.display
April17Miami Beach enacted an ordinance banning signs containing discriminatory phrases such as "Gentiles Only" or "Restricted Clientele." The act came at a time when the city was undergoing an increase in its Jewish population. 
July21Miami and Miami Beach adopted a tourist tax. It was a tax of 5% on hotel and apartment bills. 
August01The City of Miami evicted a number of black residents from their homes. Their homes were destroyed to make way for Allapattah Junior and Elementary schools. 
October16A major hurricane hit south Florida. After hitting land, it crossed from Homestead to Plantation. Eleven inches of rain were recorded in Broward County and much of the drinking water was polluted. In the end, 80% of Dade and Broward were flooded. 
December06President Truman dedicated Everglades National Park.display
December29Life magazine published a story on Miami Beach containing over twelve pages of color photos and text. The article referred to the city as "the crown jewel of the Miami area." 
1948  The Saxony Hotel opened in Miami Beach. It was designed by Roy France, who also designed the National Hotel of 1940. The Modernist Saxony was part of a new generation of hotels built in Miami and Miami Beach. It and many of the other new buildings lacked the ornamental Art Deco motifs that were to be seen for the last times in the designs of the Sherry Frontenac and the Delano hotels.display
March31The Greater Miami Crime Commission was established. 
1949  Florida's first television station, WTVJ, began broadcasting in Miami. 
  The Cosmopolitan Golf Club tried to break the color barrier on the city's links. The group of fourteen black individuals showed up to play golf at a course near Miami Springs. They were allowed to play that day, but thereafter the city tried to force its black residents to play on the single day each week that the course was closed for maintenance. Led by attorney and civil rights activist G.E. Graves, blacks sued the city for equal use of public golf facilities. 
  The Casablanca Hotel opened. Roy France designed the hotel, which was named after the famous film staring Humphrey Bogart. The hotel can be described as Modernist in its design, but it also incorporated elements of the International Style and Hollywood-themed kitsch. The latter of these came to influence the way developers in Las Vegas, Nevada designed their resorts decades later.display
October29The town of Hacienda Village was incorporated. It was to serve as a casino town. 
December The Sans Souci Hotel opened at 3101 Collins Avenue in Miami Beach. The hotel's partners had hired architect Roy France to design the structure. When they became disappointed with his work, however, they brought in someone else. The Sans Souci would become the first hotel in the Miami area designed by the architect Morris Lapidus. While the exterior was left much as France had originally intended, the interior was infused with the style of Lapidus.display
1950  After World War II, Miami remained a segregated city. In this year, an all-black municipal court appointed L.E. Thomas, a black attorney, judge. It was also the first year that blacks were allowed in the Orange Bowl Stadium. 
October The United States Supreme Court ruled that the City of Miami's segregated public golf courses were unconstitutional. The ruling overturned a Florida Supreme Court decision that stated the opposite. 
October17Hurricane King struck south Florida. Six people were killed. 
December29Dade County bought the Venetian Causeway. They purchased it from the Miami Bridge Company. 
1951  The Bombay Hotel opened. The hotel's name was later changed to the Golden Sands Hotel. It was the first hotel in Miami Beach to offer its guests a parking garage. Norman M. Giller designed the building. On why his was the first hotel to have a garage, Giller said that, "in the Art Deco days we were in a Depression, so nobody was thinking about cars, because not too many people had them." 
September23A group of racist Miamians bombed a black apartment house in the community known as Carver Village. A Catholic Church and Jewish Centers were also targeted, but the bombing of the apartment house stood out as it came just as a number of blacks were ready to move into the all-white community. Authorities believed that the Ku Klux Klan was to blame for the attacks.display
1952  The Dade County Auditorium was integrated. The change followed world-renowned contralto Marian Anderson's refusal to sing for segregated audiences. 
1953  The Lido Spa opened on Belle Isle along the Venetian Causeway. 
April30The town of Plantation was incorporated. 
July16The Miami City Commission voted to establish a temporary City Hall. The old Pan American Airways terminal on Dinner Key was chosen as the site. 
December07Miami's municipal pier collapsed. 
1954December20The Fontainebleau Hotel opened for business on Miami Beach at 4441 Collins Avenue. It was one of the Miami Beach hotels designed by architect Morris Lapidus.display
1955May26The town of Miramar was incorporated. 
May30The town of Margate was incorporated. 
1956  The Hotel Americana opened in Bal Harbour. It was designed by Morris Lapidus, architect of several already significant Miami Beach hotels.display
January03George Engle unveils the Coconut Grove Playhouse. It was a renovated movie theater, yet resembled a Broadway playhouse with its lavish quarters for star actors and actresses, gold plumbing fixtures, and top-notch dining rooms and bars. It opened with the American premier of "Waiting for Godot." 
June07Miami's chapter of the NAACP threatened a boycott of the Miami Transit Company if the city's buses did not desegregate. Whites had always been entitled to seats at the front of the bus. 
June13The town of Lighthouse Point was incorporated. 
July25Florida's House of Representatives upholds segregation by a vote of 89-1. Miami's Jack Orr is the sole dissenter. 
1957  The Deauville Miami Beach Resort Hotel opened on Miami Beach. It stood on the site of what had been the McFadden Deauville Casino, and hosted acts such as the Beatles, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin. Melvin Grossman, a protege of the renowned Modernist architect Morris Lapidus, designed the hotel. 
  The United States federal court issued a ruling that ended bus segregation in Miami. Bus segregation was declared to be not only unconstitutional, but unenforceable as well. 
January25The Sunshine State Parkway opened. Later to be called the Florida Turnpike, it opened on this day between Miami and Fort Pierce. Leroy Collins, Florida's governor, dedicated the road at the Fort Lauderdale exit. At this time, the speed limit was 60 miles per hour and the cost of traveling its length was $2.40. 
December10Pembroke Park was incorporated. 
1958  CORE (the Congress on Racial Equality) challenged Dade County's exclusion of blacks from the largest of the city's whites-only beaches, Crandon Park. While Father Theodore R. Gibson tried to be heard by the Dade County Commission regarding the matter, a group of blacks took it upon themselves to use the park's facilities. Police arrived, took no action, and thus Crandon Park remained desegregated from that day on. 
January01Pembroke Pines was incorporated. 
December07Pope Pius XII established the Diocese of Miami. The Diocese of Saint Augustine had previously covered the entire state. 
1959  The City of Miami's schools were desegregated. This took place five years after the United States Supreme Court's ruling on school segregation. 
January01Fidel Castro assumed control of the island of Cuba. The exodus of Cubans refugees moving to Miami began. 
January24Miami International Airport was dedicated.display
February01The 20th Street terminal at Miami International Airport opened. 
May21Voters approved a new county government. It was called the Dade County Metro Government. 
June20Cooper City was incorporated. 
June20The town of Lauderhill was incorporated. 
Return to top