By Phin Upham
Built in 1891, the Prinz-Valdemar was a ship named after Prince Valdemar of Denmark. It was built alongside its sister ship the Prinsesse Marie. Together, they were two of the final great ships from the sailing era. Sold to Norway in 1911, it eventually made its way to the US where it was supposed to become a floating hotel.
Miami-Dade County was in need of a revival. A real estate boom had turned into a bubble, and the bubble was in danger of bursting. Speculative purchasing had driven up values, but no one was there to settle down. So Miami tried to fashion itself as a tourist attraction. The Prinz-Valdemar was the center piece of that movement.
On January 10th in 1926, as the boat was pulling into the harbor, it sank into the Miami basin. Soon after, railroads ceased service there. The sea route was blocked, and supplies stopped flowing through the county. Commerce effectively died for almost 11 years.
Miami had the ship towed to the bayfront where it became a structure for business. Grass grew around the vessel, and the structure was solidified and filled in. It started as a series of chain stores and restaurants, but it became a recreation facility for military members stationed there.
The vessel contained an acquarium until nearly 1950, when it was dismantled and removed. At that time, a review by Miami City Engineers led to the structure being declared unsafe. It was dismantled in 1952 and is now a distant memory.