Business: Ebb Tide at Miami Beach

From prosperity to torpor in two decades

Hyperbolic drumbeaters still proclaim Miami Beach as "the sun and fun capital of the world" to big spenders from the North. The reality, as first-time visitors will speedily discover during the tourist season that opens this week, is startlingly different. The sun is still there (temperatures last week were in the 80s), but not the fun. So rapidly has the seven-mile-long island degenerated that it can be fairly described as a seedy backwater of debt-ridden hotels, gaudy condominiums and decaying apartments. It has a permanent population so...

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