South Beach, also known as SoBe, is a neighborhood within the city of Miami Beach. It is the area south of Indian Creek and encompasses roughly the southernmost 23 blocks of the main barrier island that separates the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay. This area was the first section of Miami Beach to be developed, starting in the 1910′s, due to the development efforts of Carl G. Fisher, the Lummus Brothers, and John S. Collins.
During the 1960′s, South Beach became even more famous when Jackie Gleason brought his weekly variety series, The Jackie Gleason Show to the area. Beginning in the late 1970′s and continuing through the 1980′s, South Beach was used as a retirement community with most of its ocean-front hotels and apartment buildings filled with elderly people living on small, fixed incomes. This period also saw the introduction of the “cocaine cowboys,” drug dealers who used the area as a base for their illicit drug activities. The movie “Scarface“, released in 1983, typifies this activity. In addition, the television show Miami Vice used South Beach as a backdrop for much of its filming because of the area’s raw and unique visual beauty.
The area has gone through numerous artificial and natural changes over the years, including a booming regional economy, increased tourism, and the 1926 hurricane, which destroyed much of the area. The South Beach section of Miami Beach is a major entertainment destination with hundreds of nightclubs, restaurants, boutiques and hotels. The area is popular with both American and international tourists, with many having permanent or second homes.