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Evocative Suite of Miami Beach Photographs

The Florida Land Boom of the 1920s

Aviation Interest: Early International Flights from Miami to Havana and the Bahamas

A collection of 18 original photograph prints showcasing the palm trees, beaches and other landscape views of Miami Beach, during the 1920s land boom. Although the photographs are unsigned, they bear a remarkable resemblance to Miami photographs by William A. Fishbaugh (1873-1950), a prolific commercial photographer who relocated from Tampa to Miami around 1920. Fishbaugh specialized in promotional images of Miami during the 1920s real estate boom. He was noted for his outstanding photographs of palm trees with backgrounds of clouds (which describes several of the present images) - according to the photographer himself such images were intended to "literally wow them up north."

The images were clearly issued during the Florida Land Boom of the 1920s as promotional images intended to lure potential clients or investors from northern climes. Standout photographs include a view of two early biplanes docked at the Miami waterfront - with a sign offering air service to Bimini, Nassau, Key West, and Havana; a view of three (one hiding!) Seminole "Indian boys" standing among towering palm trees; and a scene of docked houseboats with 1920s automobiles in view. 

Aeromarine Airways

The view of airplanes shows what appears to be a pair of Aeromarine 39s (or similar model with pontoon landing gear). This single-engine biplane, inaugurated in 1917, was designed so its pontoons could be easily detached and replaced with a wheeled undercarriage for shore landings. In fact the image clearly shows part of the detached wheeled undercarriage next to one of the planes. The planes in the photograph were likely part of the pioneering Aeromarine Airways - one of the first airlines to offer international flights. In 1920, Inglis Uppercu, an erstwhile Cadillac dealer, began to offer international passenger flights from Florida, to Havana, Cuba on his fleet of "Flying Boats." A few years after establishing the airline Uppercu added flights from Miami to the Bahamas.

Several of the photographs include captions in the negative:

  • Waterfront. Miami, Fla. Shows two early Aeromarine airplanes on the water.  
  • Indian Boys, Miami, Fla. Three Seminole boys in indigenous clothing (a la Jack Tigertail) among towering palm trees.
  • Traveller's Tree, Miami, Fla.
  • Beautiful Florida (2 different images)
  • Royal Palms, Miami, Fla. (2 different images)
  • Miami, Fla. (5 different images)
  • Miami Beach, Fla.
  • Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, Fla.

A delightful and evocative group of views of Miami Beach during the boom years of the 1920s, including an image of two early biplanes, representing some of the earliest international flights between Miami and Havana, Cuba and the Bahamas. 

Condition Description
18 original silver gelatin photographs, of uniform size: 7 x 11 inches. Two of the uncaptioned photographs with minor defects: one with a small chip to upper right corner, slightly affecting extreme corner or tip of image; another with a small (half dime-sized) puncture hole to center right-hand margin, also slightly affecting image. Some other minor edge nicks or tiny marginal tears. Overall the images are clean and nice.