Al Capone's Florida Connection
By Jodi Mailander Farrell
He may have been born in New York and become notorious in Chicago, but Al Capone and Florida go way back.
One of the most famous American gangsters of the 20th century made the Sunshine State his getaway from cold Chicago winters and assassination attempts.
Capone first visited Miami in 1926. Despite the best efforts by law enforcement, the governor and local newspapers to run him out of the state, Scarface returned again and again, and eventually took his last breath here.
Miami wasn’t his only hangout. Thanks to a land boom at the time and his penchant for road trips,Capone traveled throughout Florida in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
Here are some of the places where Al Capone's Florida connection are memorialized, along with an event that rekindles his bygone era.
93 Palm Isle
This was the 14-room Miami Beach retreat that Capone bought in his wife’s name for $40,000 in 1928. (He kicked in another $100,000 for renovations that included a swimming pool, boathouse and dock.) Originally built in 1922 by Clarence Busch of the Anheuser-Busch dynasty, the 36,000-square-foot oceanfront island property is where the mobster is said to have plotted the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. It’s also where he lived after his release from Alcatraz a decade later, his brain riddled by late-stage syphilis, and where he died in 1947. The house, listed for sale for $8.45 million in early 2014, is not open to the public, but you can check out the latest real estate photos of it here.
Deerfield Island is a 53.3-acre, nature-oriented park in Deerfield Beach accessible only by boat. In the early 1930s, Capone planned to build a quarter-million-dollar home on the peninsula, but he ended up in federal prison in 1932 before he could do it. A free boat shuttle transports park visitors from the dock at Sullivan Park to the island on the hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends.
Many of the area's top hotels, including the Don CeSar and The Vinoy, claimed Capone as one of their guests. Legend has it that Capone bought several parcels of land as part of a joint venture called Manro Corp. The largest parcel was a 28-acre tract in South St. Pete/Gulfport that is now Twin Brooks Golf Course, 3800 22nd Ave. South. Capone’s men often stayed at the Jungle Prada Hotel, now Admiral Farragut Academy, a private college prep military school at 501 Park St. North.
Knock three times at the turn-of-the-century ice cream parlor, say a secret password and enter Gangland Chicago 1931 at this Kissimmee dinner club, The family-friendly dinner show delivers laughs, gangster action, audience interaction and musical productions.