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Allapattah's Million Dollar Chicken Coop

Back a half century ago, before widespread television and internet, people that received the daily newspaper would often turn first to the comic section for Ripley's Believe It or Not.  This way they got a tour of many wonders of the world, long before amazing TV videos, emails from friends and YouTube.

One feature in a 1933 strip was based in Allapattah.  The son of the man that created this one-of-a-kind wonder just passed away at 89 years of age, and his and his father's great legacy was featured in a Miami Herald obituary.  Click image to enlarge it.

In Florida's boom years before the Great Depression, NW 27th Ave, which runs along the edge of Allapattah, was a main highway with hotels, motels, a Seminole village, a movie studio and many other tourist attractions.  Moe Harrison brought his family to Miami in 1925 to take advantage of the golden opportunity in construction.  Unfortunately, this was shortly before the crash and the Great Depression.  One project on the edge of Allapattah was a huge luxury hotel, The Fritz.  It was framed and roofed but not finished when everything ground to a financial halt. Since there wasn't enough cash, or hopes of tourists, to finish the hotel, it sat empty until Moe decided to put the huge building to practical use by filling it with chicken coops - eggs and poultry always found a market even in the toughest times.  It remained in use as a chicken coop for quite some years.

Early in WWII, the government took over the Fritz, cleaned it up and used it to house and train troops, a big project for which our climate was perfect.   Afterwards it became the Aviation Building, home of Embry-Riddle School of Aviation.  See Don Boyd's great aerial photo, looking west towards Melrose.

Alas, the famous chicken coop has passed into history.  A few years back it was torn down, and replaced with a huge juvenile court and jail facility.  There's only been a few escapes and scandals, but I'm sure most residents would prefer that the perpetrators were chickens (of which we have plenty running around the area) instead of gang members!

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