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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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The Erosion of a “World-Class” Urban Paradise

The Erosion of a “World-Class” Urban Paradise

Tourism, the Environmental Movement, and Planning Related to Virginia Key Beach, 1982–1998

Chapter:
(p.176) 6 The Erosion of a “World-Class” Urban Paradise
Source:
White Sand Black Beach
Author(s):

Gregory W. Bush

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813062648.003.0007

Miami exemplifies a powerful urban model neglecting public spaces, largely ignoring public planning mechanisms, and, notably from the 1980s, transferring waterfront parkland to private entrepreneurs. Virginia Key Beach Park was handed over from the county to the city in 1982 and promptly shut down, never to be reopened until after 1999, and the city repeatedly sought to lease out the land for commercial purposes. These years found the tourist industry in Florida developing a new scale of attractions, with Disney as a prime example, and this placeless vision operated in Miami’s booster culture. Neoliberal economic ideas encouraged city of Miami officials seeking revenue sources to lease out waterfront land for shopping malls, arenas, mega yacht marinas, and hotels; a general perception was that the public was interested in sports arenas and air-conditioned shopping malls, not outdoor activities in public parks. On the other hand, the environmental movement expanded in Florida, as seen in the 1985 Growth Management Act: legislators’ increased sensitivity to the Everglades, the struggle over the Homestead Air Base in the 1990s, and, on the local level in Miami, the organization of park advocates in the Urban Environment League.

Keywords:   Public space, Public planning, Waterfront land, Virginia Key Beach Park, Tourist industry, Neoliberal, Environmental movement

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