87 years ago today, an advertisement ran in the Miami Daily News promoting the sale of property in the Biltmore and Country Club VI Sections of Coral Gables. This ad offers a unique view of Miami’s first planned community, Coral Gables, designed by George Merrick during the 1920’s land boom. Coral Gables was developed entirely upon the City Beautiful movement, featuring grand civic spaces, public monuments, and prominent architectural symbols such as the Biltmore Hotel.
While at the time of publishing the Coral Gables Trolley line already linked the suburb with Downtown Miami via Flagler Street, Merrick had grander transit visions:
“These two fine sections will be linked inseperably with the center of Miami, and with the Riviera Section of Coral Gables, by the proposed Coral Gables Rapid Transit Electric Line which will run through the center of both sections.”
The Rapid Transit Electric Line was eventually built, and offered a faster route, along Coral Way, into Central Miami. Perhaps what is most interesting about this advertisement is to read Merrick’s vision for Biltmore Way:
“The outstanding feature of the Biltmore Section is Biltmore Way - an impressive 100 foot Boulevard leading off from Coral Way, at its Northeast corner and running into DeSoto Boulevard, the main drive to the Miami-Biltmore Hotel and Country Club on the West.”
“Biltmore Way from Coral Way to Segovia Street is traversed by the rapid transit rail line. It is one-half mile in length and is planned as the Fifth Avenue Business Street of Coral Gables.”
“Biltmore Way is planned as the shopping center for the discriminating women buyer or Coral Gables and Greater Miami. No stores in the Metropolitan district of Miami will excel in beauty or display the stores to be established on this boulevard. …such a thoroughfare could well be a composite reproduction of Fifth Avenue of New York, Michigan Avenue of Chicago, Rue de la Paix of Paris, and Old Bond Street of London.”
Merrick’s Vision is brimming with optimism. Influenced by grand boulevards across the world. Its no wonder that property in Coral Gables today remains one of the more sought after in the region. While Biltmore Way never achieved its full potential, he laid the foundation for a community that could grow and adapt to future growth, which is more than can be said for the current development ailing our urban fringes.
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