What is the crime rate in Miami?
Hairdryers, blazers in pastel colors, white slippers without socks and always a brisk saying on the lips - 35 years ago, “Miami Vice” flickered across the screen for the first time. The cult series was not only a huge success, it was also the initial spark to reinvent the city of Miami in southern Florida.
Miami's reputation hasn't always been good
When the cops James "Sonny" Crocket (Don Johnson) and Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs (Philip Michael Thomas) first investigated gangsters around South Beach in 1984, Miami was a drug metropolis. Huge amounts of cocaine flowed from South America to Florida at that time.
Pimps, gun dealers and gangs were in charge at the time, and the murder rate in Miami was the highest in the United States. “Miami Beach was a slum, a very bad part of town. Hardly anyone wanted to come here, not even the locals, ”recalls Gina Natoli from Miami Culinary Tours.
Only the old people would have endured here. The ones that settled around Ocean Drive in the 1960s. Mostly Jews from New York City who escaped the cold winters to enjoy the warmth and life of the south.
“I was here for the first time in 1982. When I was walking through South Beach, I saw the old people with big sunglasses sitting on rocking chairs everywhere, ”reports Tanja Morariu, Marketing Director of the Palms Hotel and Spa. Gina adds that they would have called God’s waiting room at the time, Miami Beach. "A bit hard, but that's exactly how it was."
The cult series "Miami Vice" made Miami Beach hip
Then came “Vice”, as the Americans call the series. “At that time there were, you wouldn't believe it, only three or four TV channels. On Friday evening everyone ran home to watch the series with girls in tight bikinis, fancy cars, linen jackets. And suddenly Miami Beach was hip ”, the guide is still amazed at the effect of the series.
The New York fashion scene flew in, nightclub owners and people who like to surround themselves with models. New restaurants and hotels quickly sprang up. "Everyone suddenly wanted to enjoy this sexy life with cars, the beach and a tropical lifestyle," recalls Gina. Miami has been a popular vacation destination again since the 1990s.
Gina Natoli, Miami Culinary Tours employee
And suddenly Miami Beach was hip.
Miami Beach - it's a story with ups and downs. In 1915, just 30 people lived on the offshore island, which is connected to the city of Miami by several bridges. Today there are 90,000 residents and five to seven million visitors a year. Most guests spend their vacation around Ocean Drive.
"Beach, bikini, party - Miami can do a lot more than that," Tanja Morariu is convinced. The native German has lived in Florida's metropolis for ten years. “Miami has got a soul. In the past, everything was rather superficial, people only hibernated here and didn't really live. ”That is now completely different. The people wanted to stay, to create a community.
The marketing director is particularly fascinated by the cultural offerings. “For example, we have the new concert hall for the New World Symphony, which the world-class architect Frank Gehry built. Once a week, top-class concerts are broadcast outside on an oversized screen free of charge. People bring their picnic blankets and wine, sit outside and enjoy classical music. Who would think Miami would offer something like that? "
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Jazz gigs and grassroots nights - the music scene offers variety
In general, a lot has happened in terms of music. “There used to be only salsa clubs. Today we have a real music scene. Cool jazz gigs, grassroots nights and lots of small bands that play in hidden clubs. "
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What happened in Wynwood is nothing short of astonishing either. Fifteen years ago, the neighborhood was a shabby area, a no-go area. Dilapidated warehouses, abandoned factories, high crime rates. Then came Tony Goldman, the same man who developed South Beach. He bought land and gave the walls to street performers.
“For him it was gigantic canvases,” says Ryan Wheelbarrow, who is a sprayer himself and leads through the district as a tour guide. "Today the area is the largest street art gallery the world has ever seen," says Ryan. The most important graffiti artists were allowed to immortalize themselves on the Wynwood Walls.
Walking the streets is a fantastic experience. Hundreds of large, brightly colored Pop Art paintings, comic characters and ornaments adorn the facades. Art enjoyment in a class of its own. In addition, numerous cafes, restaurants and shops have settled.
Little Haiti and Little River are the next trendy neighborhoods
However, Ryan fears this is all getting too commercial. The rents have become very expensive, so many creative people have already migrated. After Little Haiti or Little River, which are the next trendy districts. “Traditionally, many Cubans and Haitians live there. The younger generation now has these neighborhoods on their radar, ”Tanja Morariu also knows.
In Little River and Little Haiti you will find many bizarre locations, great nightclubs and excellent restaurants. "Miami has so many facets, it's just fascinating."
A good half an hour's drive, but in truth, Coral Gables is a world away. A district of Miami that was created in the 1920s by the millionaire visionary George Merrick. The entire district is a green oasis with chirping birds and Mediterranean-style villas.
Merrick also built the Biltmore Hotel, which opened in 1926 and overshadowed pretty much anything that was then. The hotel's tower was the tallest in Florida, guests were taken to the beach in real Venetian gondolas, and the Biltmore had the largest pool in the world.
The swimmer and actress Esther Williams jumped into the turquoise blue water here, and none other than Johnny Weissmüller gave swimming lessons before he went to Hollywood to swing from vine to vine as Tarzan.
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Biltmore Hotel has an eventful history
The history of the Biltmore Hotel is eventful. In the early years, Hollywood's rich and famous were guests - Ginger Rogers, Bing Crosby and of course the demi-world around Al Capone. “In 1929 the Mafioso Thomas, Fatty‘ Walsh was murdered in Capone's suite. You don't know whether Al had something to do with it, ”says hotel manager Philippe Parodi. At least the ball is still in the chimney today.
Then came the Second World War and the luxury hotel turned into a hospital. The University of Miami Medical School moved in later. But after the hospital moved out in 1968, the former hotel stood empty for decades. Neighborhood children were playing in the grounds and it was rumored that Fatty Walsh was haunted by the ruins.
In 1983, the Coral Gables Community invested $ 55 million in the renovation. In 1987 the reopening was celebrated. But after just three years, the Biltmore had to close again - because of the economic crisis. In 1992 Seaway took over the Biltmore. The Hotel Corporation started an extensive renovation program for $ 40 million. The pool, tower, guest room, spa, fitness area and golf course were brought up to a "world class level", as the hotel manager reports.
“Last year we just invested another $ 30 million in renovating the lobby and rooms. We have also expanded the historic 18-hole golf course, ”says Parodi.
The rumors of ghosts persist, however. "Look. For Christmas I took photos in the ballroom. You can see me in the mirror and there's a shadow behind me, ”says a guest from Canada, pointing to a photo on his smartphone. He could swear he was all alone in the room. That's why he came back specially. "I want to take a closer look at the historic hall with the old mirrors."
Concierge Claudine Benavides is already familiar with this. “The guests often tell us that some things seem scary to them. But I've been working here since the 1990s, I've never met a ghost. "
Tips for your trip to Miami
Getting there: Lufthansa offers direct flights from Frankfurt am Main to Miami. There are also connections with British Airways via London or with KLM via Amsterdam to Miami.
Entry: Germans need an electronic passport, which must be valid until the day of departure, as well as a return ticket. In addition to the passport, the electronic entry permit (Esta) is compulsory. Cost: US $ 14 (USD), payable by credit card.
Best travel time: Miami is a year-round destination. The best time to travel is from November to April with moderate temperatures, little rainfall and low humidity. The main season is from March to the end of August with temperatures of up to 33 degrees Celsius. The rainy season is from May to October. The water temperatures are between 22 and 24 degrees all year round.
Accommodation: The Palms Hotel & Spa: Four-star beach resort hotel in the heart of Miami Beach, overnight stays in a double room from 199 USD in the low season (May to November).
The Biltmore: Luxurious five-star hotel in Coral Gables, double rooms from $ 250 in low season. Offers like four nights for the price of three nights.
Grand Beach Hotel Surfside: Beach hotel (four stars) in Miami Beach, overnight stays in a double room from 299 USD.
Tours:Bike and Roll: Discover Miami by bike or Segway. Private and group tours from USD 40 per person.
Miami Culinary Tours: Guided culinary and cultural tours through Little Havana, Wynwood, South Beach, Design District and Coconut Grove. Participation from USD 39 per person.
Miami's Best Graffiti Guide: Through Wynwood With Ryan Wheelbarrow. Tours start from $ 37 per person.
The trip was supported by the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB). The editorial team alone decides on the selection and orientation of the content.
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