History of Bay Harbor Islands

History of Bay Harbor Islands

One might be surprised at the origin of the Bay Harbor Islands. Did you know that the beautiful island was once a sand-bar in Biscayne Bay? Shepard Broad was the mastermind of the Town of Bay Harbor Islands. He came here in 1920 from Russia at the tender age of 14. Broad bought two swamp islands in 1945 that were located in the middle of the beach’s barrier island and North Miami. At the time, no one could imagine what these swamp lands would become. But, Shepard Broad had an idea and a mission for the islands. He would not let the idea go because he knew how wonderful the islands could be if just a little time and effort would be given to them.

Broad used his own money to fill in the islands. He also used down payments from the sale of the lots to help bring Bay Harbor to life. Later he joined with Benjamin Kane as a joint venture to continue growing the area. The main street through town is named after Benjamin Kane. It’s interesting that Broad does not have a street named after him even though it was his original idea to form the islands.

Two years later, Bay Harbor Island was incorporated as a town and the rest is history. Broad knew that he could do so much more with the sand-bar that he purchased for a small amount. Little did he know that it would turn into the beautiful town that we see today. The first building permit was approved until 1947. Four years later the town had 550 citizens and 46 homes. Most of the people who moved there were looking to find something new. They didn’t mind taking the chance on a new opportunity and got a good price along the way.

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Today that number is a staggering 5,100. The west portion of the island continues to be only single family homes. East Island contains multiple family dwellings and a small business district. The business district houses most of the items needed for the residents, but there became a need to have a connection to Miami that wasn’t via boat. The island is now joined to the northern part of Dade County by the Broad Causeway that began in 1951.

Shepard Broad continued to live in his home on Bay Harbor Islands until his death in 2001. He was 95 years of age.