A Pictorial History
SEPTEMBER 18, 1926
THE TYLER PUBLISHING CO.
316 Townley Building
77 East Flagler Street
By L. L. TYLER
OW often, in the greatest sorrow the great-
est courage is born, the greatest triumph
achieved! So it has been with Miami and
southern Florida, the playground of the
world, in its disaster. Out of the West Indies, before
dawn of September 18, 1926, a hurricane never'before
equalled on the continent in violence, swept inland and
across the peninsular state as if to destroy all that man
had wrought. Before the storm had ceased, man again
was fighting back, caring for his own and all who
suffered, building again the homes that unleashed ele-
ments had left a shambles. Much has been written,
but unfortunately, exaggeration and conflicting re-
ports have prevented those outside the storm area from
obtaining a clear picture of the hurricane and its ef-
fects. The sole purpose of this booklet is to give the
actual facts, concisely, with illustrations that form a
permanent record of the greatest disaster in recent
years. We are indebted to the American Red Cross,
city officials and leaders in citizens' relief organiza-
tions for the facts here presented, as we have drawn
on only the most reliable sources of information for
The Effects of the Storm
RIGINATING off the coast of Porto Rico, the tropical storm
now known as the Florida hurricane, first attracted atten-
tion when it swept over Turk's Island, on the southeastern
fringe of the Bahamas. There was little warning, however,
that the most destructive gales in history were to strike the
With gathering force, the storm suddenly spanned hundreds of
miles of open sea, to blast the lower east coast of Florida with winds
that mounted steadily in strength until official observers estimated
their speed at 130 miles an hour. In its fury, the sea was lashed into a
towering, crashing torrent under blinding sheets of rain that dashed
incessantly without seeming to fall.
From Key Largo almost to Palm Beach, 100 miles of America's
Riviera received the full force of the storm. Veering slightly north-
ward, it crossed the state, then turned to the upper Gulf of Mexico,
skirting Pensacola and Mobile, finally dying out in southern Louisiana.
The following report, compiled from records of the American
Red Cross, city and county officials and citizens' relief organizations,
gives in statistical form some conception of Florida's total loss in this
Dead ------------ -------------.. ------------------... 372
Injured ...-----.-.. ---..--............ -------------------.. .... 6,381
Homeless persons --------. ------ ------------------....... ...... 43,000
Families needing aid ...----.-------- ------.. --. -...... 17,884
Homes wrecked .....-----..------- -------------------........ 8,600
Property damage ----.... ------------------..................... $159,000,000
Fatalities in Miami alone numbered 110 and were later increased
to 115 when five succumbed to injuries from the storm. The greatest
loss of life, however, was in the town of Moore Haven, on the south-
western shore of Lake Okeechobee, where flood waters brought the
toll up to 126 in a community that had but few more than 600 residents
at the last official census.
Fifteen lost their lives on Miami Beach, while 22 bodies were
recovered from Hialeah, northwest of Miami. Approximately half
of those killed by the hurricane in the Miami district were trapped
on boats in the bay, more than 500 craft having been wrecked or
sunk in these waters during the storm.
To add to the tragedy, those who had the least suffered most,
The small, lightly constructed buildings of outlying sections housing
thousands of Miami's wage earners, were ripped from their founda-
tions, unroofed and in many cases leveled to a mass of debris. It
was in these and in houseboats that the greatest number of fatalities
occurred. Few of these were insured.
Mayor E. C. Romfh of Miami estimated that 75 per cent. of the
150 hotels in Miami, Miami Beach and Coral Gables were not damaged
seriously, while 70 per cent. of the 1,200 apartment buildings in this
area suffered but slightly. All of these, he believes, will be completely
repaired and in first class condition within 60 days.
At Hollywood, with 3,000 homeless, and Fort Lauderdale, with
4,800 in need of shelter, the same conditions were found, although,
proportionately, the number of buildings damaged was, perhaps, the
largest on the east coast. The Hollywood Beach hotel stood the full
force of the storm, waves breaking against its foundations, but did not
weaken. Water reached a depth of three feet as far back as the
Hollywood Golf & Country club before beginning to recede, equalling
in area and depth the temporary inundation of Miami Beach.
All public utilities were out of operation for about 24 hours. By
Monday, however, electric power had been supplied to a few of the
most important points in the downtown Miami district, limited trans-
portation was provided and the water supply was rapidly being placed
in order. Drawing workmen from all parts of the south, this service
was extended from day to day in one of the most remarkable "come-
backs" of the disaster.
Emergency hospitals in hotels, churches and office buildings, with
volunteer staffs, cared for the injured so efficiently that few suffered
for lack of prompt medical attention. Vigorous enforcement of sani-
tary measures averted the ravages of disease that so often have fol-
lowed such catastrophes. Fire departments of the various cities also
performed heroic work in preventing an outbreak of fire in the debris.
Relief organizations formed by leading citizens of the community
gave aid promptly to all who were destitute until the American Red
Cross could assemble its forces in the storm area and take over the
work. Experienced disaster workers asserted that never in their experi-
ence had they found such effective service in any emergency as that
of the Miami citizens' relief committee, headed by James H. Gilman.
The Red Cross relief force was the largest ever formed by this
organization. Following the national appeal issued by President Cool-
edge designating the Red Cross as the official relief agency, Henry M.
Baker, national director of Red Cross disaster relief, took charge in the
state. Five million dollars was set as the minimum needed for re-
Within two weeks, all suffering had been alleviated by emergency
measures. Then began the greater task of making possible the perma-
nent recovery of this district. The national director estimates that this
work will not be completed in much less than one year, because of
the extensive nature of the project.
In less than one month, however, most of the marks of the storm
were gone and south Florida was back at work, harder than ever,
ready to resume its place as "the playground of the world."
Map of Florida
Path of the Storm
Complete course of the most devasting hurricane that ever struck the mainland of the United
States is shown on the above map, prepared from government charts. Originating in the West Indies,
it swept from the lower islands of the Bahamas straight toward the lower east coast of Florida, across
the peninsula and veering northward in the Gulf of Mexico to a point near Pensacola, finally spent its
force and disappeared in Louisiana. The wind velocity reached 130 miles an hour and the barometer
fell to 27.64, the lowest on record.
The Meyer-Kiser Building
The only large down-town building seriously damaged.
View of the County Causeway
Showing the largest electric dredge in the world. Street car rails belong in the center of the roadway.
Flagler Street Bridge
All of the bridges over the Miami River withstood the storm.
Showing new Ingraham Building
Royal Palm Park
under construction and McAllister Hotel at extreme right.
Another View of Royal Palm Park
Showing boats high and dry on the horse shoe courts.
_ __ ~~~_1 ---_-- ------ -- iL~-- iiii~i
West Flagler Street at Twelfth Avenue
Sunday morning September 19, 1926. Officer in boots on duty.
Looking West on Flagler Street
Traffic heavy as usual.
The Modern Schooner Rose Mahoney
Biscayne Boulevard hotels and News Tower in the background.
Wreck of Steam Yacht Nohab
Formerly the property of Kaiser Wilhelm.
O'Brien's Grocery Store, N. E. Second Avenue
Now open for business.
Another Miami Grocery
Note the customers.
The Tug Escort
Parked on Biscayne Boulevard at a red curb.
Ku Klux Klan Building
One of the few Miami buildings that is condemned.
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Remains of a Miami Residence
This is what happened to the hastily built homes.
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A Scene in Buena Vista
Business is good here.
A Miami River Canal Scene
Many house boats were demolished.
A Miami Apartment House
This apartment house is now reconstructed and occupied.
A Miami Drug Store
No curb service here.
Foundation Pit for Athletic Club
Autos were swept into this pit.
A Scene in Little River
was done in the outskirts of greater Miami.
Scene on Tamiami Trail
McFarland's Awning Company badly damaged.
Miami Beach Views
Collins Home on North Beach
Many beautiful homes were damaged by the hurricane.
One of Miami Beach's beautiful hotels.
Miami Beach Views
Quigg's Miami Beach Store
Open for business Saturday noon.
Miami Beach Views
Roney Plaza Hotel in the background.
A Scene on South Beach
Miami's Coney Island.
Miami Beach Views
The stars and stripes still wave.
Another Ocean Drive View
Casinos shown in picture will be open for winter visitors.
Miami Beach Views
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Million Dollar Pier
Expected to be finished this year.
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Sand is two feet deep.
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Miami Beach Views
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Venetian Way Viaduct
Open for traffic.
Miami Beach Apartment
Slightly damaged, but now reconstructed.
Hollywood Post Office
Hollywood Beach Scene
Soon will be back to normal.
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Looking North on the Dixie
Road is passable now.
Venice has nothing on us.
Dania Nigh School
Kids are glad.
M. E. Church at Hollywood
Four refugees from storm perished here.
Miami Spirit Wins
NGAGED in his 101st disaster relief task, T. R. Buchanan,
director of the Miami area for the American Red Cross,
remarked that never in his experience had he witnessed such
rapid recovery from a catastrophe.
This tribute applies not only to Miami, but to prac-
tically the entire district that was devastated by the Florida hurri-
cane. With the exception of Moore Haven, where waters overflowing
from Lake Okeechobee remained at flood stage, food, clothing, medical
aid and temporary shelter was provided for the destitute within two
weeks and permanent rebuilding was under way.
Reconstruction of homes for some 18,000 families who were unable
financially to assume this burden was a task sufficient to stagger even
the most courageous, but the job was undertaken without flinching.
When generous donations from other parts of the nation were checked
by conflicting reports as to the true situation, those who knew condi-
tions increased their efforts instead of becoming discouraged.
The thousands who suffered, but were able to restore their own
homes, contributed to aid less fortunate neighbors. Day and night,
with little sleep, all worked until they had not only relieved the suffer-
ing but to an amazing extent had effaced the traces of the storm.
Within one week, repairs had been started on all of the large hotels
in Miami Beach. All will be ready as usual for the throngs of winter
Few large buildings were seriously damaged. The 17-story Meyer-
Kiser bank building, the only completed structure of skyscraper pro-
portions in Miami that was structurally unequal to the test, is being
rebuilt to withstand even stronger gales than the 130-mile an hour
Organized labor gave much free service to destitute families during
the emergency period. The Miami Contractors' association performed
all rebuilding work at cost in such cases. Volunteer crews rapidly
patched roofs and made habitable hundreds of dwellings. In Hialeah,
a force of 300 carpenters, 150 mechanics and 150 laborers made a
record of completing 112 wrecked homes in one day, working from
14 to 16 hours. Free transportation was given by the Florida East
Coast railway in bringing to the hurricane area 1,900 negro workmen.
The city of Miami spent $500,000 in clearing up hurricane debris.
Within one week, telephone service had been restored to 3,000
subscribers and 1,000 men were at work completing repairs. Tele-
graph service was opened, subject to delay in transmission, within a
few days, and was restored to normal by temporary repairs within a
week. Twenty crews of linemen were kept busy extending electric
power to all parts of the city until full service could be offered.
As rebuilding got under way, the movement for a bigger and
better city took definite form. Fifty tourist camps, representing the
poorest type of construction in the district and previously tolerated
because of the rapid growth of the city, were condemned and higher
standards of building enforced.
Although such a hurricane was never known before and there
was slight probability of a recurrence, the determination to build better
than before was apparent throughout the storm area. Beauty is not
forgotten. Landscaping, with the palms and brilliant shrubbery of the
semi-tropics, is being restored, more than 75 per cent. surviving. Soon
the land of flowers will have covered the last trace of its tragedy.
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Putting up homes for workers.
Typhoid Vaccination Station
One of many stations for disease prevention.
Relief Station at Gesu Cathedral
One of first to dispense free coffee and food.
Uprighting Box Cars
Florida East Coast Railroad didn't lose any time putting their equipment in order.
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Reconstruction Scene at Miami
It doesn't take long when everyone works.
One of the many relief stations.
Everyone hard at it.
Fleetwood Hdtel Red Cross Station
Trucks rolling where Rolls-Royce rolled.
"I want to give positive assurance that our
friends will find Miami this winter the same
enjoyable, hospitable, comfortable vacation
city it has always been.
"I predict that Miami will make a world
record come-back. The people here have the
enthusiasm, the will to do, an unshaken faith
in the future of this great city. It is the same
people who have created the fastest growing
city in America who are now turning their en-
ergies and enthusiasm to the work of recon-
struction in Miami."
So wrote Mayor E. C. Romfh, of Miami,
six days after the hurricane that had ap-
palled the world.
Already his promises have been, in a
large measure, fulfilled. One month suf-
ficed for this prodigious city of the South-
land to resume its normal, which is to say,
rushing business. Storm sufferers were be-
ing rehabilitated as rapidly as possible and
new enterprises were being launched.
Through its chambers of commerce and
other civic agencies South Florida was tell-
ing the world that it not only was coming
back, but was ready once more to prove its
claims of being the fairest land on the con-
tinent and the playground of the world.