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Known today as a destination for suntans and hangovers, our city’s history has plenty of unique details. These are five fascinating insights you may not have known about Miami Beach.

Originally Tropical Farmland

Famed developer John S. Collins originally moved to South Florida to start a coconut plantation. After failing to create a sustainable business, Collins and his family decided to get into real estate. They built the Collins Bridge, connecting Miami Beach to Miami, and turned this stretch of sand into a destination.

A Haven for Bootlegging Gangsters

Iconic gangster Al Capone used to spend winters in Miami Beach in the late 1920’s, and fellow bootlegger Meyer Lansky had ties to local hotels and casinos through the 1960’s. The Miami New Times takes a deeper look into their stories, with details on the attempted banishment of Capone, and Lansky’s later years living on Collins Avenue.

Occupied by WWII

Miami Beach was one of the country’s largest soldier training centers and officer candidate schools during WWII. In fact, according to the Miami Herald, servicemen and women occupied about 25% of Miami Beach’s hotel space in the early 1940’s. Even Miami Beach Municipal Golf Course was used as a drill field and headquarters for the Army.

A Breeding Ground for Sunbathing Innovation

Well, you may not be surprised to learn that a resident of a tanning destination came up with the idea for sunscreen. After getting burned one too many times, Miami Beach pharmacist, Benjamin Green, invented sun tan lotion back in 1944. His formula eventually became the recipe for Coppertone.

A Home for Fashion Icons

Gianni Versace was a fashion consultant for a little show called Miami Vice and is responsible for Sonny Crockett’s iconic style. Versace’s profits soared in Miami during the show’s late 1980’s run, and he built a castle of a home on Ocean Drive that was a hot spot for A-list celebs. Miami Beach is still home to many leaders in the fashion industry like Sanford Ziff, founder of Sunglass Hut.