Site Selection 2004 

Miami-Dade County  |  Miami and the Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau

          As the worlds favorite playground on the vanguard of pop culture, global commerce, fashion and entertainment, Greater Miami and the Beaches offers the cutting edge of urban chic and international commerce -- combined with the beauty and splendor of a tropical paradise.
          For decades, visitors have been drawn to the area. But in recent years, that gravitational pull has become a vortex, attracting throngs of international celebrities and dignitaries, trendsetters, literati and glitterati who are quickly beguiled by the area's colorful, diverse character and warm-hearted ways.   Convention and business travelers have joined in the fun, enthralled by the virtually unlimited activities to play after their work is done.
          A mélange of big city sophistication, quaint Caribbean charms and hot Latin tempos, Greater Miami has a unique sense of place.  Its blend of tropical and cosmopolitan characteristics set it apart from other warm-weather destinations. With its world-renowned restaurants, international commerce, vibrant nightlife, stunning architecture, symphonic orchestras, avant-garde ballet, romantic getaways, great attractions, year-round recreation and championship sports, Greater Miami and the Beaches truly has it all. 
          Sitting inside of Miami-Dade County, Greater Miami and the Beaches is a sprawling territory with 30 municipalities and a population of more than two million, nearly half of who speak Spanish as their native language.  A true polyglot community, it is common to hear conversations in Portuguese, French, Creole, Italian, Patois, Yiddish, Russian, German, Italian, Dutch and Hebrew. 
           As the hemispheric crossroads, access to the area is one of the most simple and convenient in the Americas.  Miami International Airport, among the top 10 in the world for passengers, is just a 20-minute drive to most major destinations.  By land, Greater Miami is accessible via the Florida Turnpike, I-95, U.S.1 and Amtrak's rail system, with a comprehensive and often scenic road network leading efficiently to major neighborhoods and attractions. The Port of Miami, the world's largest cruise port, is the nautical link that connects Miami to the Caribbean and Latin America.
          Miami-Dade County is the largest government in the southeastern United States, consisting of a diverse Executive Mayor, Board of County Commissioners and a County Manager.  The Commission, the legislative branch, serves as the governing body for the 1.1 million people residing in unincorporated Miami-Dade County.    They oversee police and fire protection, zoning, garbage and trash collection, neighborhood parks and building code enforcement. 
          The transition to an executive mayor form of government took place in October 1996 with the election of the current Mayor Alex Penelas.  He exercises authority over a $4.2 billion budget and is responsible for 27,000 employees who work in 47 departments.
          Miami-Dades diversified economy includes manufacturing, service, trade, financial, agriculture, real estate, hospitality and construction companies.  Many companies provide their services to residents and visitors while others focus on domestic and international markets.  There are more than 66,000 firms in the metropolitan area, and the three largest business sectors are services, trade and manufacturing.
           Along with being one of the most vibrant sun-belt metropolises in the United States, Greater Miami is one of the leading capitals in the Americas, and a major crossroads for the entire world.  Located a few degrees above the Tropic of Cancer, which slides across to the Sahara Desert, Greater Miami is an intricate network of barrier islands, coral rock, mangrove swamps, 100-year-old banyan trees, broad causeways and scenic bridges, picturesque highways -- and, of course, its world-famous miles and miles of fine white sand and breathtaking ocean surf. 
          To the east is the Atlantic Ocean; to the west, Everglades National Park. A few miles south lies Biscayne National Park, the only living coral reef in North America.

Deco Delights
           Way back in the 1930s and 40s, more than 800 Art Deco structures were built on the southern tip of Miami Beach. Today, the historically designated Art Deco District represents the largest collection of Art Deco architecture in the world, and an urban renaissance that just won't quit.
           With its confetti-like colors, electrifying neon lights, and sleek aerodynamic lines, the Art Deco District now serves as the backdrop for one of the world's most eccentric and in-vogue neighborhoods.
           Here, first-class hotels share palm-lined streets with hip youth hostels where back-packers share budget travel tips. Cafe society gathers to discuss literature, politics and the arts. Long-legged models and muscular men pose for fashion magazines in the middle of Ocean Drive.  Some of the finest chefs in America today dish out Miami New World, Latin and Caribbean cuisines at trendy eateries that are a must for visitors.
          At Lincoln Road Mall -- once called the Fifth Avenue of the South--the South Florida Arts Center, New World Symphony and Colony Theater form a nucleus of cultural activities.   Not far away, the 1.1 million-square-foot Miami Beach Convention Center ranks as one of America's 10 largest and most desirable convention sites.
 While South Beach is the "happening" new kid on the block, the northern extremities of Miami Beach have a character and history all their own. 
          The mellow and unpretentious atmosphere of Surfside is perfect for family-style vacations. The setting for the 1960s TV show "Surfside 6," it is where the late Nobel Prize-winning author Isaac Bashevis Singer took long morning walks and wrote stories based on the lives of local people.
          Surfside's neighbor, Bal Harbour, is known locally as the birthplace of sophisticated shopping. The Bal Harbour Shops, an airy 15-acre promenade, has been catering to an elite clientele since 1965. Among its roster of designer boutiques are Gucci, Fendi, Tiffany's, Bulgari and Cartier.
          Another family-oriented community is Sunny Isles, where seagrape-studded beaches are the main draw. Children play in the surf as their relaxed parents recline in the sun. Comfortable and casual, Sunny Isles offers watersports galore and affordable accommodations. 
Downtown -- Where The Lights Are Bright
         From a distance, downtown Miami at night looks like a neon rainbow. Skyscrapers twinkle and glow, sending a signal that says the area is booming with growth and activity.  The most recent addition is the $165 million AmericanAirlines arena (home of the Miami Heat).
         Construction in progress includes the new $223 million Performing Arts Center, the Mandarin Oriental, and J.W. Marriott Hotels, plus several condominium and office towers.
         Already bustling is downtown's Bayside Marketplace, a 16-acre extravaganza of shops, restaurants and attractions such as the Hard Rock Cafe Miami.  From Bayside, visitors can take a romantic gondola ride while watching the laser-light shows that beam from the adjacent 28-acre Bayfront Park, or take an exciting dinner cruise through Biscayne Bay.
         Downtown's Gusman Cultural Center, an ornate 1920s theater, is home base for the Miami Film Festival. And the Wolfson Campus of Miami-Dade Community College is where millions of literature lovers congregate for the Miami International Book Fair in the Fall. 
         Not far from downtown is the Miami Design District. A focal point of the local interior design industry, its "One Square Mile of Style" features dozens of art, antiques and furniture shops. Also nearby is Overtown, one of Miami's oldest African-American neighborhoods, where legendary Jazz greats played in the 30s and 40s. 
In The Grove
        One of the area's oldest and most diverse neighborhoods, Coconut Grove has long been a bohemian hangout and the breeding ground for Greater Miami's Tropicool character. 
        Ever since the early 1900s, the Grove has attracted artists, writers and non-conformists, and remains today an important player in Greater Miami's cultural renaissance. Under a dense canopy of lush trees, the Grove is noted for its whimsical homes, busy marinas, year-round festivals and the many cafes, art galleries, restaurants and shops that line its streets. 
        It was at the intimate Coconut Grove Playhouse recently that Jimmy Buffett, a one-time Grove coffeehouse singer, premiered his musical Dont Stop The Carnival.
 Streets of Mayfair, a luxury hotel, shopping and entertainment complex, has recently been spruced up and energized with hot spots like The Improv, Iguana Cantina, and The Chili Pepper.
        CocoWalk, a Mediterranean-style open-air mall, bustles both day and night. People young and old gather here for live flamenco music, comedy shows and superb dining that ranges from hamburger casual to gourmet elegance.   Soon to arrive in the Grove is the new Ritz Carlton hotel.
         Another must-see attraction is Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, a 70-room Italian Renaissance mansion surrounded by 10 acres of formal gardens and furnished with European antiques, site of the 1994 Summit of the Americas.  Just across the street, step into the future and explore the wonders of the universe at the Miami Museum of Science and Space Transit Planetarium.
Around the Town
        Above and beyond the much-celebrated spots, Greater Miami has a rich assortment of neighborhoods that offer charming nooks and crannies and off-the-beaten-path excursions. 
         Built in the roaring 20s, Coral Gables is a prosperous and dramatically beautiful city, marked by Spanish-style mansions, huge ficus trees, coral rock pools, lush golf courses and a commercial area that's jam-packed with specialty shops and restaurants.
         Like most ethnic enclaves, Little Havana and Little Haiti are brimming with immigrant optimism. Saturated with Cuban culture, music and food, Little Havana is one of the few places in North America where artisans still practice the fine art of hand-rolling cigars. Little Haiti is perhaps Miami's most Caribbean of neighborhoods. Like the vivid scenes in a Haitian painting, 
women wearing colorful dresses gather at markets where heaping piles of exotic fruits and spices spill from the shelves.
          The Moorish architecture of Opa-Locka, inspired by the Arabian Nights stories, is a stunning inner-city collection of minerets, domes and horseshoe arches. Concertgoers and fans of the Miami Dolphins and the Florida Marlins revel at Pro Player Stadium to the north.
          South Dade offers a more rural ambiance and features must-see spots such as Everglades and Biscayne National Parks, Miami MetroZoo, Parrot Jungle and Monkey Jungle, the Homestead Motorsports Complex and more. 
          The waterfront city of Key Biscayne can only be described as an island paradise. Attached to the mainland by the Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne is a peaceful, well-preserved community crowned by the bucolic Bill Baggs State and Crandon Park, two of the most beautiful beaches in the United States.
          From the neon lights of the sizzling nightlife, to the tranquil stretches of inviting white sand, Greater Miami and the Beaches is indeed the epitome of urban chic and tropical magnificence, with a dynamic commercial infrastructure that lures business travelers from all over the globe.   Whether experiencing it for the very first time -- or taking advantage of the areas latest wave of re-invention and renaissance to rediscover its marvels all over again -- Greater Miami and the Beaches has taken its rightful place among the worlds leading  business and leisure destinations.

--Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau

April 12, 2002--Bill Talbert, President & CEO of the GMCVB, DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe, and Chris Korge during the presentation of Miami's convention proposal.

-Site Advisory Committee visit, July 15-17, 2002 

Observations.  The choice of Miami would send a strong symbolic message: Democrats will not flinch from returning to the scene of the post-election battle that followed the 2000 election.  On the other hand, a Florida convention might lend itself to a re-hashing of that election, something Democrats may wish to avoid.  Either way, Florida's 27 electoral votes are certain to be closely contested, and a Florida convention could provide a bit of a boost here as well as in the broader South.  Miami Beach hosted the 1972 Democratic convention as well as the 1968 and 1972 Republican conventions.  Miami was one of nine cities that sought to host the 2000 Democratic convention, so it has the benefit of that experience.  According to the 2000 Census, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale consolidated metropolitan area has a population of 3.9 million (12th biggest metropolitan area), and the primary Miami area is home to 2.3 million people.  Alex Penelas (D) was elected Executive Mayor of Miami-Dade County in October 1996 and re-elected in September 2000.

Copyright © 2002 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.