Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Dinner Key in Miami

Dinner Key Marina is where we are at the moment, an easy 15 minutes to work in the morning, and in the heart of historic Coconut Grove. Since we have been here living on the boat here twice now, I thought it would be interesting to delve into the history of the area, and then let you all know about it too. The area had it's start way back in the early 1800's, and this area around Biscayne Bay was so isolated, that visitors would have to sail or steam right past the area all the way to Key West, and then board much smaller vessles for the return trip. The very thought of Key West being more accesible than Miami is a real laugh, but that is how it was back then. There were no roads or railroads to this area, so if you wanted to come here, you had to do it the hard way. Many of these smaller ships wrecked, and were lost. It seemed that only the very well off could afford the best ships and the best crews to ensure a safe passage. And so, Coconut Grove became and area known for wealthy Northerners looking to "Get away from it all". Our previous post on the Barnacle house is a glimpse into this era, opulence on a grand scale in an age of simplicity and substinence living for the common folks. The first hotel here was built in 1883, and now is Peacock park, named after it's founder. The area just north of the Grove is known as Brickell, and it is the place to live and play in Miami. Right now there are at least 15 tower cranes busy making new skyscrapers in this one area. The Brickell area is named after William Brickell, who met Ralph Monroe, owner and builder of the Barnacle house, when Monroe saved his schooner off the coast of New York.

Another prominent resident early on was James Deering, bigwig with the International Harvester company. He wanted a house like no other, someplace that would be from another time and place. His house, Viscaya, is now a museum and gardens, and is open to the public. Deering accomplished his goal, and the house is a Mediterranean masterpiece, filled with European artworks and sculptures. The grounds are a showpiece for tropical plants, and Miami is the perfect place for that. If you get the chance to see the home and gardens, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Dinner Key Marina was once home to the Clipper Ships, which are not really ships at all. This term was used by Pan American Airlines to describe their aircraft, which early on in the company were all seaplanes. Later, Pan Am used this term for all their airplanes, even though they were no longer seaplanes.

The city hall is still here, and is in fact still Miami City Hall. The building in the center of this photo is the city hall, and the marina piers now attach to the same seawall in the photo. The drive up to city hall is still the same. If you look at the "Where Are We" section of this blog, (on the right side), you will see a current view of the exact same spot!
Pan Am actually got it's start down in Key West, and if you are there, you might accidentally walk right past a small, insignificant building that has a sign out front, declaring it the original home of Pan Am Airlines.
They airlines first route was one carrying mail from the mainland United States, to Cuba. The airline quickly grew, and much larger clipper ships flew right out of Dinner Key Marina. Biscayne Bay is perfect for landing these planes, it is large and calm, and the location here in Miami is a perfect jump-off location for points South, East and West.


  1. Hi,
    nice writr up! We were there this past December, very nice area! in fact i am currently looking at a boat in the marina now. We should be there next weekend, if things workout (boat sale) i may hit you up for info on boat work, marina's ect...

  2. Hi John,
    Thank you for your comments, welcome to Miami!
    What boat are you interested in? There are a few for sale on our dock. You might want to wait until the following weekend, hurricane Erika might be a game changer. We are watching it too, hoping it fizzes out, like Danny last week.