When you think of Miami, you might think of high-rise buildings, luxurious yachts, and upscale nightlife. What may not come to mind is the Venetian Islands — a man-made island chain in Biscayne Bay. The Venetians are made up of Biscayne Island, San Marco Island, San Marino Island, Di Lido Island, and Rivo Alto Island are all connected to the mainland via the Venetian Causeway, but they manage to provide a respite from Miami’s hustle and bustle.
However, most people don’t know when these islands were built, and what the purpose behind them was. Keep reading to learn all the historical facts you need to know about the Venetian Islands.
The Venetian Islands were Meant to be Bigger, and Remnants of Old Designs Still Exist Today
The Venetian Islands were originally intended to be much larger than they are today. In addition to the Venetian Causeway, there was supposed to be a second causeway, called “The Drive of the Campanile.” It was intended to continue north all the way to Indian Creek Village and to connect five additional islands. However, the islands’ architects, John S. Collins and Carl G. Fisher never completed the project, due to environmental restrictions.
While many of the intended islands ended up not being built, remnants of one — Isola di Lolando — still exist. If you look in the Central Biscayne Bay, between Di Lido Island and the Julia Tuttle Causeway, you’ll see the old foundation pilings. They now serve as sanctuaries to Miami’s tropical birds like pelicans, egrets, and even the occasional flamingo!
The Islands were Elite and Still are Today
The Venetian Islands were also intended to serve as homes-away-from-home for the American elite. The 1940s saw the development of several home lots, which attracted the wealthy. After all, who wouldn’t want a home on an island, surrounded by glistening azure water and plenty of waterfront space to dock your boat? While today’s islands are certainly all still desirable, the southwest tip of Di Lido Island - due to the magical sunset framing the Miami skyline - is the premier location to relax and unwind with a sunset cocktail in your backyard.
Many celebrities have lived on the Venetian Islands, and continue to flock to the area. Past residents of note include J.C. Penney, Daniela Urzi (model), Paulina Rubio (singer), and Eddie Irvine (race car driver). The second season of MTV’s The Real World Miami was filmed in a waterfront mansion on Di Lido island!
The Causeway was Made of Wood
The Venetian Causeway wasn’t always the grand overpass it is today. It originated as a 2.5-mile wooden bridge, called the Collins Bridge. At the time, it was the longest wooden bridge in the world! Future residents were sold on the idea that the bridge would eventually become a railway. Instead, it became the Venetian Causeway. When you walk or drive across the causeway today in between the islands, you’ll notice that the decorative siding has remained as one of the elements of the original bridge.
Biscayne Bay is Unique
Unlike other estuaries, Biscayne Bay is unique in that it does not receive sediment from other river systems. Local biota creates most of the sediment. The Bay also isn’t a drowned river valley; instead, it’s a limestone depression that was filled centuries ago by rising sea levels.
The Bay was the main source of survival for Florida’s very few residents in the early 1900s — many of which were members of the Seminole Native American tribe. They would often travel to the Bay’s banks to camp out and search for sustenance.
In 1974, Florida finally passed a law making Biscayne Bay an aquatic preserve. While further building in the Bay isn’t permitted, research is still allowed.
Today, residents of the Venetian Islands and all of Miami love to engage in water sports in Biscayne Bay, which surrounds the Islands. Having a waterfront home on any of these islands, one is able to enjoy a plethora of water activities right from their backyard! You’ll see me on the weekends paddle boarding or water skiing, or taking my family boating, cruising around Biscayne Bay.
The original vision for the Venetian Islands was to provide a site for homes of grand proportions, and even a century later, Carl G. Fisher and John S. Collins were successful in having achieved their goal. Today, these Islands are renowned worldwide as a sought-after destination for the world’s elite seeking a modern waterfront Miami Beach home.
Interested in exploring real estate on the Venetian Islands and moving to Florida’s man-made paradise? Contact me today! We would be happy to help you find the home of your dreams.