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The Town of Surfside, Florida is an oceanfront community, incorporated in 1935 with approximately 5,800 current residents.
The origin of the town begins with Henry Levy, a French immigrant who left his native land to escape anti-Semitism. He arrived in Cincinnati in 1900 and met and married Rose Stecker. Eventually they came to Miami, arriving in late 1922.
In 1924, Levy laid out the lower third of the town. The land encompassed what is now the area between 87th Terrace to 90th Street, from the Atlantic Ocean to Biscayne Bay.
Known at the time as Normandy Beach, the town was incorporated as a separate municipality on May 8, 1935 with the signing of incorporation papers by 35 members of the Surf Club, a private club at Collins Avenue and Surfside Boulevard. The co-founder and first mayor was Spearman Lewis. In addition to helping to organize Surfside in 1935, he served as mayor for three terms.
In Mayor Lewis’ obituary published in the Miami Herald on February 5, 1954, it was noted that he preferred to be identified with a journalistic feat he performed before moving to Surfside. “Who’s Who in America” for 1932-33 noted that while Mr. Lewis acted as director of The Chicago Tribune Foreign News Service during World War I peace negotiations in Paris, France, he obtained and sent to the United States a secret copy of the peace treaty which was made public through the United States Senate June 9, 1919. This exploit was frequently referred to as the “world’s greatest scoop.”
Soon after incorporation in 1935, Surfside’s first Town Hall was constructed at 9550 Harding Avenue. Housed in the Town Hall were an eleven-man police department, a three-man fire department, the Commission Chamber, and a jail.
In 1957, the town opened a new government center at 9293 Harding Avenue. The selling price of the old building, which was in the middle of Surfside’s two-block-long and very active business district, nearly covered the cost of the construction of the new complex.
The business district – the two blocks of Harding Avenue between 94th and 96th streets – contain a marvelous variety of shops and stores, as well as excellent dining spots and professional offices. A slice of history and remembrance within the town is captured at a point just on the border of Surfside and Miami Beach. Surfside residents have Henry Levy to thank for Veterans Park (originally called June & Clemence Park after Henri’s two daughters).
Veterans Park is located at Surfside’s entrance at Collins and 88th Street, the first street after leaving Miami Beach.
Surfside has a historic presence within Florida and six different locations have been recognized as archeologically significant and/or historical by the Bureau of Archaeological Research within the Florida Office of Cultural and Historic Preservation.
In 1923, when the Tatum brothers were clearing the land for the subdividing and platting of what would become Surfside, numerous Indian remains and artifacts were found on Bay Drive. A 1933 – 1934 archeological dig uncovered a 372-foot long habitation mound and the remains of at least 50 Tequesta Indians, potsherds, arrowheads, bone tools, and other Tequestan artifacts made of shell and bone.
Event: Incorporation of Surfside
Known at the time as Normandy Beach, the town was incorporated as a separate municipality on May 8, 1935 with the signing of incorporation papers by 35 members of the Surf Club, a private club at Collins Avenue and Surfside Boulevard.