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High Times for High Buildings

It was the summer of 1929 and Miami was buzzing with the extravagance of the Roaring ’20s economy. New innovators and business types had freshly relocated to the city after the Florida land boom, and the heat of July in Miami was in full swing. It was the same type of warm weather system that brought the devastating Great Miami Hurricane into town just three summers prior. The Category 4 storm wreaked havoc, but also created a new landscape for the city: plots of land that needed to be rebuilt.

These were the key ingredients that led to Miami’s first notable skyline. Civic spaces, hotels, banks and commercial development projects emerged across the city center during the second half of the 1920s. Although these buildings may not size up to the current projects along Brickell Avenue, they were architectural marvels of their time.

The 13-story, multipurpose Bank of Bay Biscayne Tower featured the headquarters of Western Union Telegraph, penthouse executive lounges and even a basement (a structural wonder, considering it was 4.5 feet below sea level). Developers spared no expense. The bank building came to a grand total of $2 million – or $27 million, adjusting for inflation.

Buildings such as the Venetian Hotel, the Ingraham Building and the county courthouse all sprung up in this period of big entrepreneurs with bigger dreams. While 1920s development brought a skyline to South Florida, extravagant design continues to evolve as Miami’s love affair with the grandiose reaches new heights. ¿ 

Information for this feature is courtesy of the HistoryMiami Archives & Research Center, which is open to the public and contains more than 1.1 million images of Southeast Florida, the entire state and the Caribbean from 1883 to the present. For more information or to visit HistoryMiami, visit historymiami.org.

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky

Editor-in-Chief

BIOGRAPHY

Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.