Image and cultural depictions
South Beach (also known as SoBe, or simply The Beach, the area from 1st street to about 25th street) is one of the more popular areas of Miami Beach. Topless sunbathing is legal on certain designated areas of the beach. Before the TV show Miami Vice helped make the area popular, SoBe was under urban blight, with vacant buildings and a high crime rate. Today, it is considered one of the richest commercial areas on the beach, yet poverty and crime still remain in some places near the area.
Miami Beach, particularly Ocean Drive of what is now the Art Deco District, was also featured prominently in the 1983 feature film Scarface and the 1996 comedy The Birdcage.
The New World Symphony Orchestra is based in Miami Beach, under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas.
Lincoln Road, running east-west between 16th and 17th Streets, is a nationally known spot for outdoor dining, bicycling, rollerblading and shopping and features and galleries of well known designers, artists and photographers such as Romero Britto, Peter Lik, and Jonathan Adler.
Miami Beach is home to a number of Orthodox Jewish communities with a network of well-established synagogues and yeshivas, the first of which being the Landow Yeshiva, a Chabad institution in operation for over 30 years. In addition, there is also a liberal Jewish community containing such famous synagogues as Temple Emanu-El (Miami Beach, Florida) and Cuban Hebrew Congregation. It is also a magnet for Jewish families, retirees, and particularly snowbirds when the cold winter sets in to the north. They range from the Modern Orthodox to the Haredi and Hasidic – including many rebbes who vacation there during the North American winter.
There are a number of kosher restaurants and even kollels for post-graduate Talmudic scholars, such as the Miami Beach Community Kollel. Miami Beach had roughly 60,000 people in Jewish households, 62 percent of the total population, in 1982, but only 16,500, or 19 percent of the population, in 2004, said Ira Sheskin, a demographer at the University of Miami who conducts surveys once a decade.
Miami Beach is home to the Holocaust Memorial on Miami Beach.
After decades of economic and social decline, an influx of gay men and lesbians moving to South Beach in the late-1980s to mid-1990s helped contribute to Miami Beach's revitalization. The newcomers purchased and restored dilapidated Art Deco hotels and clubs, started numerous businesses, and built political power in city and county government. As South Beach became more popular as a national and international tourist destination, there have been occasional clashes between cultures and disputes about whether South Beach is as "gay friendly" as it once was.
Miami Beach is home to numerous gay bars and gay-specific events, and five service and resource organizations. The passage of progressive civil rights laws, election of outspokenly pro-gay Miami Beach Mayor Matti Bower, and the introduction of Miami Beach's Gay Pride Celebration, have reinvigorated the local LGBT community in recent years, which some argued had experienced a decline in the late 2000s. A handful of anti-gay attacks and some instances of Miami Beach Police brutality against gay men have been at odds with Miami Beach's longstanding image as a welcoming place for gay people.
Miami Beach is home to some of the country's largest fundraisers that benefit both local and national LGBT nonprofits. As of 2011, some of the largest LGBT events in Miami Beach are:
The Winter Party
The White Party
The Miami Recognition Dinner
The Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
In 2008, the new Miami Beach Mayor Matti Bower created a Gay Business Development Ad Hoc Committee, with a mission to bring recommendations to the Mayor and City Commission on initiatives to be implemented and supported by the City regarding a variety of issues to ensure the welfare and future of the Miami Beach LGBT community.
While being a gay mecca of the 1980s and 1990s, Miami Beach never had a city sanctioned Gay Pride Parade until April 2009. With strong support from the newly elected mayor Matti Bower., Miami Beach had its first Gay Pride Festival in April 2009. It is now an annual event. The 2010 Pride drew tens of thousands of people.
In 2009, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) began looking into instances of Miami Beach Police Department (MBPD) targeting gay men for harassment. In February 2010, the ACLU announced that it will sue the City of Miami Beach for an ongoing targeting and arrests of gay men in public. According to the ACLU, Miami Beach police have a history of arresting gay men for simply looking “too gay”.
The incidents between gay men and MBPD resulted in negative publicity for the city. At the meeting with the local gay leaders, Miami Beach Police Chief Carlos Noriega claimed that the incidents were isolated, and promised increased diversity training for police officers. He also announced that captain, who is a lesbian, would soon be reassigned to internal affairs to handle complaints about cops accused of harassing gays. Some members of the committee were skeptical of Noriega's assertion that the recent case wasn't indicative of a larger problem in the MBPD, and provided examples of other cases.
In January 2010, Miami Beach passed a revised Human Rights Ordinance that strengthens enforcement of already existing human rights laws and adds protections for transgendered people, making Miami Beach’s human rights laws some of the most progressive in the state. Both residents of, and visitors to, Miami Beach have been able to register as domestic partners since 2004 in 2008 this benefit was extended to all of Miami-Dade County.
In 2010, the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, with support from the City of Miami Beach, opened an LGBT Visitor Center at Miami Beach's Old City Hall.
Each December, the City of Miami Beach hosts Art Basel Miami Beach, one of the largest art shows in the United States. Art Basel Miami Beach, the sister event to the Art Basel event held each June in Basel, Switzerland, combines an international selection of top galleries with a program of special exhibitions, parties and crossover events featuring music, film, architecture and design. Exhibition sites are located in the city's Art Deco District, and ancillary events are scattered throughout the greater Miami metropolitan area.
Miami Beach is home to the New World Symphony, established in 1987 under the artistic direction of Michael Tilson Thomas. In January 2011, the New World Symphony made a highly publicized move into the New World Center building designed by Canadian American Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry. Gehry is famous for his design of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California. The new Gehry building offers Live Wallcasts™, which allow visitors to experience select events throughout the season at the half-acre, outdoor Miami Beach SoundScape through the use of visual and audio technology on a 7,000-square-foot (650 m2) projection wall.
The Miami City Ballet, a ballet company founded in 1985, which is housed in a 63,000-square-foot (5,900 m2) building near Miami Beach's Bass Museum of Art.
The Miami Beach Festival of the Arts is an annual outdoor art festival that was begun in 1974.
In November 2007 and 2009, a multi-media art festival ("Sleepless Night") was held based on Nuit Blanche. The festival returns on November 5, 2011.
Miami Beach is located at 25°48′47″N 80°08′03″W (25.813025, −80.134065).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.7 square miles (48.5 km2), of which 7.0 square miles (18.2 km2) is land and 11.7 square miles (30.2 km2) (62.37%) is water.
It has a Tropical monsoon climate (Köppen Am), with hot humid summers and warm winters. There is a marked wet season during the summer months, with dry winters that feature much lower humidity. Miami Beach is one of only a handful of U.S. locales that has never recorded snow or snow flurries in its weather history.
Miami Beach's location on the Atlantic Ocean, near its confluence with the Gulf of Mexico, make it extraordinarily vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms. It has experienced two direct hits from major hurricanes in recorded weather history; the 1926 Miami hurricane and Hurricane Cleo in 1964. The area has seen indirect contact from hurricanes Betsy (1965), Andrew (1992), Irene (1999), Michelle (2001), Katrina (2005), and Wilma (2005).