Bal Harbour is a village in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States. The population was 3,305 at the 2000 census.
The beachside Village of Bel Harbour has a rather fascinating history. It began life as an undeveloped swamp land that, in the 1920s, was owned by the Miami Beach Heights Corporation. By the 1930s, Robert C. Graham, one of the heads of the corporation, decided to finally develop the area, but his plans had to be temporarily shelved in 1940, when World War II started. During this period, Graham allowed the US Air Corps to rent the land for one dollar a year, and they used it to train soldiers and set up barracks and a POW camp there.
At the end of the war, the barracks building remained, and Graham soon after converted them into apartment buildings and moved in 25 families, in order to qualify for incorporation as a Village. Only after that was the swampland filled, and sea walls and a yacht basin built. Soon after that came the sewer systems, utilities, and water pumping stations were added. In 1947, the Village of Bay Harbour was reincorporated.
The name “Bal Harbour” has just as interesting origin as the place itself. Its original name was going to be Bay Harbour, but since the city is located on the beach rather than the bay, the planning committee nixed the idea and instead invented a name to describe this city that spanned from bay to ocean, the Atlantic. The “B” in “bay” was merged with two letters from Atlantic (“a” and “i”) to form the new word, “Bal.”
Bal Harbour’s beach, in fact, continues to attract residents and tourists today with its gorgeous landscaping and its jogging path, the only beachfront one of its kind in all of South Florida. Bal Harbour also happens to be known for its shopping. Bal Harbor Shops—which boasts such stores as Valentino, Armani, Fendi, Cavalli, Diane von Furstenberg, De Beers, Carolina Herrera, Miu Miu, and Feragami—has, in fact, ranked as the country’s best shopping center.
Bay Harbour also has a wide variety of fine dining at such establishments as Carpaccio, Lea’s Tea Room, Zodiac Café, and La Goulue. Its popular local bars, taverns, and lounges include 1 Blue, The View Bar, Aqua Soleil, and Emerald Lounge.
Besides the chain hotels available in the area, Bay Harbour also offers tourists such elegant options as the Sea View Hotel on the Ocean, Bal Harbour Quarzo, Fairfield Manor, and St. Regis Resort & Residences Bal Harbour (opening in 2011).