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Stiltsville

Biscayne Bay, Miami, Florida USA

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“7 huts in the ocean”

Sit down, Fontainebleau, the coolest place to stay in Miami is...a shack located in the middle of the ocean? A mile off the coast of Florida, near Miami, stands an abandoned village of historic stilt houses in the process of being restored. But how did they get there? And why are they even there in the first place? How are they still standing? Sit back and relax for what’s actually a pretty cool story… Stiltsville got its start in the early 1930s when “Crawfish” Eddie Walker built a stilt shack that he could use to run a gambling operation, since gambling then was only legal one mile offshore. He served beer and chilau, which is a crawfish chowder made from very fresh crawfish (that he caught under his house). The place started to get pretty popular, and more stilt houses began to pop up. In the late 30′s, the first Stiltsville club, the Calvert Club, was built. It was followed by Commodore Edward Turner’s exclusive and expensive Quarterdeck Club in the 40's. By the 1950′s, Stiltsville had become the hotspot for Miami nightlife- even the governor of Florida. Pretty soon, people were grounding old yachts and barges in the mud and turning them into clubs- including the notorious Bikini Club yacht, which had topless sunbathing on the deck, staterooms for rent, and plenty of booze, including free drinks for any woman in a bikini. The glory days of Stiltsville were brought to a sudden halt when many of the stilt buildings and boats were damaged by Hurricane Betsy in 1965-- other stilt houses were washed away by storms even before Betsy blew in. Throughout the 70's and into the 90's, the fate of the remaining stilt houses was in jeopardy, until a petition in 2000 saved Stiltsville. The last few structures were incorporated into Biscayne National Park and the houses are co-cared for by the NPS and the Stiltsville Trust. The most stable of the buildings were reinforced and restored, and the ones not deemed viable were taken down. You can actually rent some of the stilt buildings out for yourself-- it'll cost a pretty penny and you'll need a boat to get there, but if you're rolling as deep as Miami's elite back in the 1960's were, then it'll be worth it. -Roadtrippers Stiltsville is a group of wood stilt houses located one mile south of Cape Florida on sand banks of the Safety Valve on the edge of Biscayne Bay in Miami-Dade County, Florida. The structures stand on wood or reinforced concrete pilings, generally ten feet above the shallow water which varies from one to three feet deep at low tide. Stiltsville got its start in the early 1930s when “Crawfish” Eddie Walker built a stilt shack that he could use run a gambling operation, since gambling then was only legal one mile offshore. He served beer and crawfish chowder made from very fresh crawfish (that he caught under his house). The place started to get pretty popular, and more stilt houses began to pop up. The glory days of Stiltsville were brought to a sudden halt when many of the stilt buildings and boats were damaged by Hurricane Betsy in 1965. Throughout the 70s and into the 90s, the fate of the remaining stilt houses was in jeopardy, until a petition in 2000 saved Stiltsville. The last few structures were incorporated into Biscayne National Park, and although they’re not sure what they want to do with the houses, they have reinforced them against any future hurricanes and do routine maintenance, although the downside to having them controlled by the NPS is that you now need to get permission from the park superintendent to visit- or you could just ponder the strange history safely from the shore! "No one who chances upon the phenomenon of Stiltsville for the first time will ever forget the sight of homes that hover above the waters, miles from any shore, like structures from a dream."

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Stiltsville

Biscayne Bay
Miami, Florida
USA

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    • 3pm
  • Check-Out
    • 11am

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