Miami's First Colored Only Beach

The Golden era of Virginia Beach

Young boys posing with a park attendant

In the early 1950’s, the park underwent some changes to improve the beach for its patrons. Between 1950 and 1953, other than the mini train the park also was able to get a new park entrance, parking lot, boat launch, rental cabins, changing cabanas, park office, first aid station, concession stand, bath house, and a dance pavilion. In order to preserve the beach from the offshore current, wooden groins were installed in order to keep the beach sand on the shoreline.

Article depicting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his family at Virginia Beach. circa 1957 (photo credit Michael Shirley)

Among the beachgoers going to the beach there were notable celebrities that would go there during their stay in Miami. Most notably, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali. As this was the only beach for people of color, this was the only option for them to recreate in Miami.

Families enjoying the seaside carousel. circa 1953

The improvements to the beach were modeled after Crandon Beach (a white only beach) across Bear Cut. The notion that the segregated beach was given the same amenities as the white beach created a monumental feeling of pride for all the beach patrons. The Carousel, Bath House, Mini Train, Historic Dance Floor, Concession Stand and picnic pavilions still remain as a tribute to that era.

All of these structures are on the National Register of Historic Places. To this day, Historic Virginia Key Beach Park does have a replica Mini Train as well as a Carousel in operation.

Families boarding the Biscayne Rickenbacker Central mini train. circa 1953