One of the more interesting portions of the South Florida megalopolis
. Bal Harbour is one of the most upscale communities in the region, on par with Palm Beach
. It is sandwiched between Biscayne Bay
and the Atlantic Ocean
on the narrow island created by the Intracoastal Waterway
. Three of the world's 100 wealthiest people live there: the average
income is $126,000 a year.
The city was used as a barracks and POW camp during World War II: after the war, many of the military buildings in the city were either demolished or converted into apartments. Through the 1950's, the area started up as a middle-class community: the rich people moved in in the sixties, and drove many of the less wealthy people out with restrictive zoning regulations, forcing them to migrate to the neigboring city of Bay Harbor.
Since then, Bal Harbour has been a power base for South Florida. Bob Dole lives there, and Janet Reno was partying there on the night of the primary election for governor (right before losing to Bill McBride). Most of the city's residents got there with old money: the new money resides in Weston, Aventura, and Coral Gables.
Bal Harbour is also known for its shopping: it has the largest Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue in the state, as well as Cartier, Hermes, Versace, and other shops that only the jet set are allowed to step into. The Bal Harbour Shops, where all these stores are located, is valet parking only, and from what I hear, the food court there will feed your French poodle under the table as you eat. There has to be a law against that.