North Miami Beach Magical History Tour engages residents

Citizens of North Miami Beach had the opportunity to learn about historic places and artifacts in their city on the Magical History Tour, a free bus outing on Sunday, April 8.   

By Nicholas Rodriguez
South Florida News Service
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The tour, which ran from 1 to 4:30 p.m., used a school bus and two of North Miami Beach’s Parks and Recreational vans to depart from and return to the North Miami Beach Public Library at 1601 NE 164th St. It was the sixth time the city held the event since its inception.   

Local historian Alan Sokol talks about the history of Greynolds Park. (Photo credit: Nicholas Rodriguez)

Local historian Alan Sokol talks about the history of Greynolds Park. (Photo credit: Nicholas Rodriguez)

Local historian Alan Sokol, North Miami Beach Commissioner Barbara Kramer and Ancient Spanish Monastery archivist and historian Sandra Washington conducted the tour.  

A total of 60 citizens and staff members participated. 

“Wow,” Sokol said of the attending crowd. “This is a big group and I’m very pleased with the turnout.” 

Sokol said that one of the most interesting things about North Miami Beach is what the Fulford By-The-Sea Monument, one of the largest fountains in South Florida, reminds him of. 

The monument, built at the main entrance to the city, is now the prominent feature of the city’s logo today. 

“Before being North Miami Beach, as we know it today, the city was called Fulford By-The-Sea because of Captain William H. Fulford,” he said. “They changed the name in 1931 to North Miami Beach for marketing and advertising reasons. They wanted the city to be associated with the Miami Beach area.” 

Sandra Washington hosted an hour-long tour at the Ancient Spanish Monastery, one of the tour’s stops, at 16711 Dixie Hwy. 

Sandra Washington tells tourgoers about history of the Ancient Spanish Monastery. (Photo credit: Nicholas Rodriguez)

Sandra Washington tells tourgoers about history of the Ancient Spanish Monastery. (Photo credit: Nicholas Rodriguez)

“This is a great thing the city did,” said Sandra Washington, who hosted an hour-long tour at the Ancient Spanish Monastery at 16711 Dixie Hwy.  

The monastery, according to Washington, was built in Spain in 1411. It was purchased by William Randolph Hearst in 1925 and reassembled at its current location in the in the early 1950s. Today, she said it’s a popular site for weddings and photographing special occasions.  

Washington said tourgoers expressed enthusiastic interest in learning about the storied artifact.  

“This group was very engaged, interacted with one another, and I really hope to see people from this group come again very soon to learn more about this beautiful place,” she said.  

Alyssa Johnson, a North Miami Beach citizen who was not part of the tour, joined the group when they arrived at the monastery.   

“I was just walking around the garden when I saw a huge group come in,” she said. “I asked a man if this tour was free and he said, ‘yes,’ so I just decided to tag along because I knew I would learn a lot more by joining.” 

Upon learning that the city was conducting a tour that day and saw the group getting on the bus to leave, Johnson said that if the city does another tour next year, she would definitely participate. 

“I was only with the group for 30 minutes, but I really enjoyed it,” she said. “I had no idea they did this. That’s super cool.”  

The Fulford By-The-Sea Monument, one of the largest fountains in South Florida. (Photo credit: Nicholas Rodriguez)

The Fulford By-The-Sea Monument, one of the largest fountains in South Florida. (Photo credit: Nicholas Rodriguez)