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White Sand Black BeachCivil Rights, Public Space, and Miami's Virginia Key$
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Gregory W. Bush

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062648

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062648.001.0001

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Public Land by the Sea

Public Land by the Sea

Developing Virginia Key, 1945–1976

Chapter:
(p.148) 5 Public Land by the Sea
Source:
White Sand Black Beach
Author(s):

Gregory W. Bush

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813062648.003.0006

By the end of World War II, though Miami’s business leaders saw Virginia Key as largely unused land and sought developments including airport and seaport facilities connected to the mainland by a causeway, the multi-jurisdictional nature of Virginia Key and conflicting political interests between the County and City of Miami, Miami Beach, and Key Biscayne led to failure in creating any coherent plan for the island. Eventual developments included a County wastewater treatment plant, the University of Miami’s marine science school and other research facilities, Seaquarium (a marine theme park), and a marine stadium, all on leased county land. Privatization of public waterfront land also increased alongside the popularity of air conditioning, television, and the modern culture of tourism and mobility, speed and spectacle, coming to reflect a weak sense of place in the region. In the 1960s, environmentalists organized to thwart the development of an oil refinery, eventually establishing Biscayne National Park. By the mid 1970s, after African Americans had gained full access to beaches, Virginia Key beach lost its popularity and became a forlorn park, set up to be closed, as memories of early struggles for access dimmed and funding for operations declined.

Keywords:   Virginia Key, Miami, Biscayne National Park, Public land

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