Easter 1927, Praying for Recovery After the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926
These images are not just another set of pictures of people at the beach in the Roaring 20s...they are so much more... they are about the spirit of Miamians who refuse to give up after the devastating 1926 Great Miami Hurricane.
You see...these pictures were taken on April 17th, 1927 on Miami Beach where approximately 25,000 people gathered today to pray for the recovery of the City of Miami. They gave thanks for surviving the Category 4 Hurricane and they said prayers to remember those who died and they prayed for strength rebuilding again after the storm.
These are the people who made Miami what it is today... the ones who remained and rebuilt the city from the Hurricane that slammed into Miami just 7 months earlier on September 18, 1926. Newspapers called it a "death knell" to Miami... but it was more a rallying point for those early Miamians who do what Miamians always do after a hurricane...they clean up, they rebuild and they give thanks for living in a tropical paradise. I'm a Miamian. born and raised... I know how the story goes.
Just 7 months earlier Miami Beach looked like this:
Homes were washed away as well as people clinging to debris as the young city dealt with the strongest hurricane that ever made landfall directly upon the City of Miami. Andrew hit Homestead and spared the downtown areas of Miami and Miami Beach. We've been lucky... luck doesn't always hold out.
On the morning of September 18th, 1926 Miami's Magic Luck ran out...
Many left. The railroads sent coffins in on trains....and offered free rides to anyone who wanted to leave town and head north. Some left, many stayed. FPL offered men jobs who hopped on the back of their trucks to help work and put back together the power lines that were down....all over town.
Here's a picture of a couple posing for a picture as they sat on a downed electric pole on Collins Avenue in front of the once iconic Roney Plaza Hotel.
The Roney Plaza was to Miami in it's day as the Waldorf Astoria was to New York City once upon a time... the Ambassador in L.A. in the Roaring 20s... the Fountainblue in the 1960s.. or La Concha to Key West as it still is today.
You can read more on that beautiful hotel that suffered tremendous damage in the 1926 Hurricane and... kept on going.. much like the rest of Miami did.
The 1926 Miami Hurricane was a big blow... a punch into the gut of the young city, but far from a death knell. The truth is the boom had busted the early winter of 1926 and it was easier to blame the hurricane months later in September than to blame bad press on the true value of swamp land, new federal rules regulating real estate transactions in shady places like Miami beneath a palm tree not to mention a railroad strike, a capsized ship blocking the harbor. I have to tell you. 1925 in Miami was the absolute bomb... the party to end all parties... the height of the boom.
1926 was a mess in more ways than just tropically, however it was a bad year for South Florida, the Bahamas and much of Cuba. After the hurricane it looked like a bomb hit. The Venetian Causeway and most causeways took a bad hit, the debris slamming into it today would be much worse as the city has grown exponentially larger than any Miamian in 1926 could ever imagine.
And, in 1927 the people who stood around months earlier trying to get water, food or anything they could get their hands on to rebuild... went down to the end of Lincoln Road and held Easter Services praying for Miami's continued recovery. People from Miami traveled across the causeway to join friends in one of the most historic Easter Sunday ceremonies ever held.
This is a picture from the archives of the Community Church on Lincoln Road of some of it's early parishioners getting water from the nearby Spanish Village area now known as Espanola Way. Note the trees in the background stripped of all vegetation by the hurricane.
Seven months later the families of the Community Church on Miami Beach were joined by families from other churches to celebrate Easter and life... and rebirth. Today, 87 years after that service they are still meeting on the beach for Sunrise Services. Pretty amazing considering all the obituaries written for Miami and Miami Beach after the 1926 Hurricane.
Rooms were cheap in the summer of 1926 at the Spanish Village just off of Washington Avenue.. it's still there today known as Espanola Way used in many a Burn Notice episode ... as almost every country in the Caribbean.