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Living Like Carl Fisher, Miami Beach's First Whale

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[Images courtesy Wolfsonian-FIU]

Carl Fisher, the real estate speculator and automobile man, could easily claim the title of Miami Beach's first whale. After starting the Indy 500 and building the Lincoln Highway, which was the United States' first paved transcontinental highway, he came down to Miami Beach, built the Dixie Highway to get people there, and speculated the hell out of Miami Beach real estate. He had a pet elephant named Rosie, a chain of luxury hotels scattered across Miami Beach, golf courses, a main street (Lincoln Road) and lots of amenities for his buyers. By 1927 he decided to replace his first Miami Beach house, on the ocean, with an even larger one on Biscayne Bay designed by August Geiger. These photos are from the Wolfsonian Museum. The house, called Shadows, was a great big rambling affair, with a tall observation tower from which he could show people land for purchase, a double grand staircase, a four car garage with maintenance rooms, a pool, and a boat house. His fortune, at one point breaking the $100 million mark, was dwindling by 1929, and he eventually lost it all in the Great Depression.

Fisher's financial problems became so serious that soon after building Shadows he had to sell it. The photos above are from a sales album. Carl Fisher would eventually die near broke in a small house on Miami Beach.


· Carl Fisher's Shadows [Wolfsonian Museum]
· Whale Week 2013 coverage [Curbed Miami]