1939 From Indy To Miami
Carl Fisher, the founder of both the Indy 500 and Miami Beach, died in Miami at age 65. Born in Greensburg, Indiana, Fisher grew up racing cars and bicycles and aspired to be a successful inventor. He turned out to be a better businessman than an inventor, and left his first imprint on the business world when he partnered with Fred Avery, who held the patent for pressing carbide gas into tanks. Together, they manufactured car headlamps as the Presto-O-Lite Corporation.
By 1910, six years after starting the business, Fisher was a multimillionaire. He bought land and built a track in Indianapolis, paving the track with local brick. By offering the largest single day purse in sport, Fisher guaranteed interest in his epic 500-mile race, and in less than five years "Indy" had become one of the premier car races in the world. In 1915, Fisher led the development effort for the Lincoln Highway, the nation's first continuous cross-continental highway from New York to California.
Later, in the 1920s, Fisher developed the Dixie Highway, a road that ran from Michigan to Miami. Fisher fell in love with Miami, and in 1910 he bought a house there. It became his project to develop Miami Beach into a city. Fisher gave $50,000 of his own money to complete the longest wooden bridge in the state, stretching between Miami and Miami Beach. At that time Miami Beach was wild, and Fisher set about cleaning up the beach. He built lavish facilities near the water and invited the rich and famous to check out his creation. The Florida land bust of 1926 and the subsequent stock market crash of 1929 left Fisher penniless, and he lived in a small home on Miami Beach until his death.