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Do You Suffer From New York Envy?

May 13, 2009 By Carlos Miller in Miami: Local News  | 24 Comments


Above: New York may have the famous Brooklyn Bridge, which is one of oldest bridges in the country, but Miami has one of the most colorful bridges, which is posted below.

My Miami Beach 411 colleague Matt Meltzer recently penned a column stating how people in Miami really don’t care if you are from New York.

He described New Yorkers as being “obnoxious tourist(s)” with condescending cut downs and arrogant attitudes.

He stated that they do nothing but proclaim how everything is better in “The City”.

But what he doesn’t mention is that Miami has always had New York envy.

Take it from this Miami native: If there is one city that Miami has always tried to emulate, it is the Big Apple.  It is the only American city that Miami has any respect for. The rest might as well be Mayberry for all we care.

This is not to say that Miami is on equal footing with New York. As far as population and history goes, New York will always overshadow Miami. Like a big brother over his kid brother.

But that has never stopped Miami from believing it is New York South. In fact, Miami has long been known as the Sixth Borough because of all the New Yorkers that transplanted here over the decades.

Although we are the southernmost city in the continental United States, our southern hospitality has long been overshadowed by our northern temperament.

As the old saying goes in Miami, “the further north you drive, the deeper south you get. “


In the beginning

It all started in the late 1800s with a New York tycoon named Henry Flagler who extended his railroad to the southern tip of Florida, which at the time was nothing but a mosquito-infested swampland. That led to the incorporation of Miami in 1896. And the development of streets, buildings and infrastructure.

By the early 1900s, Miami had been nicknamed “The Magic City” because it seemingly became a city overnight without ever being a town. And it was already a favorite vacation getaway for rich New Yorkers, including Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, who would spend their winters at Flagler’s Royal Palm Hotel on the mouth of the Miami River.

By the 1920s, a man named Carl Fisher built what he called “the Fifth Avenue of the South”, which today is known as Lincoln Road. And a man named John Collins built what he called the “Atlantic City of the South”, which were the hotels and casinos he built along Ocean Drive in the area of today’s Art Deco District.
And thus Miami Beach became a prime winter getaway for New Yorkers with entertainment acts from all over the world, with many deciding to buy property in Miami to relocate permanently.

By the 1930s, Miami’s historic black neighborhood, Overtown, became known as “Little Broadway” because even though Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Count Blasie and Ella Fitzgerald were allowed to perform on Miami Beach, they were not allowed to sleep in its hotels. So they stayed in Overtown and gave after-hour performances that lasted until daylight.

The New York influence continued during the post-World War II years when a New York developer named Morris Lapidus built the Fontainebleau Hotel in 1954 and the Eden Roc Hotel in 1955, which continued to attract New York tourists, many which became permanent residents.
It was around this time that New York gangster Meyer Lanksky made his home in Miami, where he operated one of the largest gambling empires in the United States.

By 1964, Brooklyn-born comedian Jackie Gleason moved his television show from New York City to Miami Beach where it was aired for another six years. It was around this time that hundreds of thousands of Cubans began emigrating to Miami to be processed inside the Freedom Tower in downtown Miami, which is known today as Miami’s Ellis Island. And through it all, New Yorkers continued to move down to Miami by the thousands, especially the Jews. By the late 1960s, more than 100,000 Jews had relocated from New York to Miami Beach.

Coming of age

By the 1970s, which is when I was growing up in Miami, we all knew somebody who had just moved down from New York. Whether it was the Puerto Rican kid from the corner or the Jewish kid down the street.

Or in many cases, it was the Cuban kid who wore t-shirts to school on those rare nippy days when the rest of us wore jackets.

The New York kids were streetwise, fast-talking and tough-acting.  They always had our respect. But we also earned their respect by showing them we were no slouches either.

In 1981, during the height of the Cuban crime wave in Miami, my social studies teacher announced that Miami’s crime rate had surpassed New York City’s crime rate.

We all cheered. It was as if we had finally come of age as a city. We were proud to no longer be viewed as a tourist/retirement haven but as an urban metropolis of our own. 

It was around this time that the famous New York Jets-Miami Dolphins football rivalry began to intensify. And that rivalry later extended to the basketball court between the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks. And today, to the Florida Marlins and New York Mets on the baseball field.

Not to mention the Marlins victory over the New York Yankees in the 2003 World Series.

The rivalry also spilled into the newsrooms in 1987 after the New York Times published a scathing piece titled “Can Miami Save Itself; A city beset by drugs and violence,” which prompted the Miami Herald to send Dave Barry to New York to write an article titled “Can New York save itself.”


Above: New York has subways and street musicians.


Above: Miami has street musicians on Lincoln Road, which was originally dubbed “the Fifth Avenue of the South.”

The rivalry has also extended into the nightclub scene after South Beach emerged as one of the world’s hottest clubbing destinations in the 1990s – after emulating, of course, the New York style of velvet ropes, discriminating doormen and long afterhours. And when New York nightclubs started promoting bottle service in the 1990s, South Beach’s nightclubs followed suit a few years later.

Our turn

Today, the New York-Miami connection is not much different than a sibling rivalry between an older and younger brother. Only that the younger brother is no longer a kid. And he can now hold his own.

While the older brother will always have the advantage of age and experience and wisdom, the younger brother will always be cocky and feisty and stubborn.

That’s not to say we don’t care how you do it up north. We already know.

It’s just that now we’re old enough to show you how it’s done.

Related Categories: Miami: Local News,

Carlos Miller is a featured writer at Miami Beach 411. He also operates Photography is Not a Crime, a blog about photographer rights, New Media and First Amendment issues.

See more articles by Carlos Miller.

See more articles by Carlos Miller

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24 Comments on

"Do You Suffer From New York Envy?"

pod says:

Miami “invented” European-style bottle service in the early 1990s in it’s nightclubs. New York followed suit in this case.

Posted on 05/14/2009 at 9:00 AM

Carlos Miller says:


I read in the NY Times that the opposite is true. And the early 1990s was when I used to party my ass off on the Beach and I don’t remember bottle service, not that I could have afforded it.

Posted on 05/14/2009 at 9:11 AM

Sungal says:


Is Matt recruiting people???
Are u going to be like him too and not read stuff I write?

I just read the title, but i can tell he recruited you!

Posted on 05/14/2009 at 12:38 PM

drunk sungal says:

Just began reading and EVERYPLACE says they’re the 6th bourough!

Posted on 05/14/2009 at 12:41 PM

Gus says:

Sober Sungal, I don’t understand your comment? To me, it seems like Carlos is voicing an opposing view of New York from what Matt said.

And please don’t blame Carlos for the salacious title… that was my idea. Sorry if I confused you.

Posted on 05/14/2009 at 12:47 PM

Carlos Miller says:

I’m confused as well. But there’s nothing wrong with the headline.

Posted on 05/14/2009 at 12:52 PM

Maria de los Angeles says:

Great article, Carlos.  I am so glad you gave us a historical review! I think it was only natural to compare Miami to NY in the early days to give people a sense of what to expect during the tourism and development booms (ie, “Shenandoah”, “America’s Riviera” etc;)  Flagler would not have brought the railroad down here if he didn’t think he could get wealthy northerners down to his hotel.

I grew up here in the 70s and never felt that NYC was something we had to live up to or compare ourselves to.

I have since visited NYC many times and still feel the same way.  So the answer is no, I don’t have NYC envy.

Posted on 05/14/2009 at 1:18 PM

Sungal says:

I’m just wondering why everyone seems to be so obsessed with NY these days, that’s all.

Posted on 05/14/2009 at 1:33 PM

Carlos Miller says:


Sometimes news sites allow their writers to respond to other writers by offering a different view on a subject that was recently written about.

Posted on 05/14/2009 at 1:35 PM

Sungal says:


I don’t suffer from NY envy, but I do envy everyone who is able to get on the forums and chat. I notice things have changed around there..and I don’t see the reply option.

What’s going on? ANd I can’t PM either..
I miss everyone on the forums..I read everything on my blackberry, but I have very little private time away from the boyfriend, so can’t write..

Miss everyone! And Santana, I really want to reply to your hair question!!

Posted on 05/17/2009 at 2:13 PM

Carlos Miller says:

What do you mean things have changed?

Posted on 05/17/2009 at 2:16 PM

Maria de los Angeles says:

Sungal, it sounds like you might have logged out somehow and that your browser did not log you back in automatically.  You can only reply and do PMs if you are logged in.

Posted on 05/17/2009 at 2:27 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

Carlos, I’m not even close to a native, but if I were I"d call you a disgrace to natives. Every time I hear the word “Sixth Borough” my civic pride wants to break someone’s nose. Miami is 100 times better than New York in sooooo many ways, I hate being associated with it. New York is a fun place to go and whatnot, but in my opinion, this city is way better. Show some Civic Pride, Carlos, and stop stroking New York off. I honestly expected more out of a Miami lifer.

Posted on 05/19/2009 at 6:45 PM

Carlos Miller says:


I’m just reporting the truth. I personally don’t call it the Sixth Borough but it’s been called that for years by transplanted NYers.

And there’s no denying that NYers have left a mark on this city.

You don’t see that effect as much now because Havana has since left a bigger mark on this city.

But when I was growing up, that influence was very notable.

And really, just because I show respect to a city doesn’t mean I stroking it off.

Posted on 05/19/2009 at 7:22 PM

Sungal says:

Matt, how is Miami better than NY 100 times, in soo many ways?? You’re always bashing it. The article on why you do love Miami discussed how you don’t get hassled by the cops, as well as your ability to score tickets to sporting events, and the weather. Those are some really strange reasons to love a city.

Anyway, I do love Miami..but I also love NY.

My old NJ town is right across the river from we were called the 6th borough too.

New York is the global capital of the world. Miami is the beach and party city of the world. Both great and a 2.5 hr plane ride away!

Posted on 05/19/2009 at 8:33 PM

Gus says:

“New York is the global capital of the world. Miami is the beach and party city of the world.”

Miami is also…

- The cruise capital of the world
- The sun and fun capital of the world
- The cocaine capital of the world
- The gateway to Latin American

However, NYC still “trumps” the Magic City with…

- The Great White Way
- Ground zero of 9/11

Posted on 05/20/2009 at 7:17 AM

Jessy says:

wow it so sad to hear people bashing both cities, I’m from New york, and wish to live in miami,,Simply because I’m sick of the cold. But really I think we should stop Enving both cities so much. and Just Admire them both.

Posted on 05/20/2009 at 7:08 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

Well what fun would that be Jessy? Really….

I told you, I like New York. It’s fine. What I don’t like is people from New York who think it’s the capital of the world. Not even close. Fact is, most Americans do not give two shits what’s going on there, but the national media still shove it down our throats. Just tired of hearing about it.

Other reasons Miami is better?
You can take your car door to coor pretty much whereever you want to go without depending on a bus or train or walking

You rarely have to schedule anythign around weather

The streets don’t smell like a sewer in the summer

The trains aren’t crowded

There’s less people

People are generally more interesting here as their lives are not consumed by work

It is much more scenic

I could go on and on and on. Like I said, New York is fine. It’s just that Miami is a lot better.

Posted on 05/20/2009 at 7:53 PM

Mario says:

Miami or New York would be a hard pick, but I’m a Miamian.

In a debate over livability, nightlife, culture, things to see and do, New York and Miami would duke it out for the top spot on the East Coast. New York has been a major metropolis for a time, Miami’s ascent is recent.

I think Miami would fare pretty well aginst other cities like Baltimore, Cleveland, Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston, Dallas, Cincinatti, considering it’s youth as a city.  We need more comparison articles like the ones Doug wrote about San Diego and Austin.

Posted on 05/23/2009 at 1:14 PM

Doug says:

Ha ha, thanks, Mario! I’d be willing to make the sacrifice and compare a few more, like Santa Cruz, the Russian River, Big Sur, and Carmel.  I’ll just need a motorscooter, a map, and a Miami Tour Company sponsorship!

Posted on 05/23/2009 at 3:48 PM

AJ says:

Seems like penis envy to me. NYC never compares itself to any other city in the World. Every city in the World aspire to be New York City. Period. End of discussion.
Having said that, I live in both Cities (6 months in NYC, 4 months in Miami)and I love both NYC and Miami dearly, each for its own reasons and I hate both cities, also each for its own reasons too. But one thing I will say, most Miamians I met are fake, shallow and self absorbed compared to New Yorkers.

Posted on 05/26/2009 at 4:41 AM

Duran says:

Carlos, pod is right, European bottle-service first came through Miami first, mostly due to Miami’s being THE destination of choice for European models and jetsetters back in the day. New York, even if it doesn’t want to admit it, adopted this from Miami. Definitely, it was not the other way around.

Posted on 05/26/2009 at 4:51 PM

Devon says:

Well here my post ... I am from Brooklyn, NY and I have lived .. in Raleigh, Richmond, Cleveland, Tampa, DC, Maryland,  Now Miami ... say what you want I love Miami but as Brooklyn born person Miami dont get this from other people when you walk in the door ... Oh WOW !! You must be from New York ... we have a style of our own ... Have you ever heard someone who says that you are from Miami ... So come on call it what you like ... I love Miami because it has that New York Flavor mix with the South ...

But NY is still my Home ...

Posted on 05/17/2013 at 4:35 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

People tell me I must be from Sacramento all the time.

Posted on 05/17/2013 at 10:05 PM

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