La Gorce Island, just north of 63rd Street, is the only private neighborhood in Miami Beach. Security is tight; guards at the entrance gate and a private marine patrol ensure that only residents and their invited guests enter the exclusive enclave. La Gorce Circle encompasses the island with large lots, (some starting at 20,000 square feet) for waterfront mansions. Five interior streets, called “Lanes” have smaller lots of around 13,000 to 15,000 square feet. The island’s 94 residences feature every architectural style, many designed by distinguished architects of the1930s and 40s. Some modem mega mansions have also gone up in the past few years.
La Gorce Island also commemorates John Oliver La Gorce, an editor with National Geographic Magazine in the early 1920s who played a significant role in promoting the west side of Miami Beach to the rich and famous. He described the would-be prestigious area as “a place for pleasure-bent and health-seeking folk.”
Carl Fisher, co-founder of Miami Beach, rewarded his friend by naming La Gorce Drive, La Gorce Country Club, and LaGorce Island after him.
Fisher dredged more than two million cubic yards of sand from Biscayne Bay to build the La Gorce Country Club and named holes on the golf course after prominent people such as William Vanderbilt and humorist Will Rogers. The Country Club, totally restricted in the fashion of the time, became the social center for the old -guard captains of industry, guests at Fisher’s hotels and residents such as John Jacob Astor and the Firestone, Hertz and Maytag families who moved into grand homes in the neighborhood.