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Discovering the Rich History of Fisher Island: Vanderbilt Mansion and Beyond

By The James Ruff Group Realtors

Table of Contents


Welcome to the secret world of Fisher Island, where opulence meets exclusivity. Located just off the coast of Miami, this barrier island is a sanctuary for the world’s elite. Why, you ask? With its enchanting history, unparalleled lifestyle, and jaw-dropping real estate, Fisher Island offers a level of luxury unmatched by any other location. Curious about what makes Fisher Island so unique? How about its very own private observatory for stargazing? Intrigued yet? Let The James Ruff Group Realtors be your guide to the wonders of Fisher Island.Schedule a call with James Ruff to learn more! Fisher Island, located just off the coast of Miami, is widely recognized as one of the wealthiest and most exclusive communities in the United States. This idyllic paradise is home to a select few who relish in the island’s unparalleled beauty, privacy, and luxurious amenities. With its rich history, exclusive lifestyle, and stunning real estate offerings, Fisher Island is the epitome of luxury living. But did you know that Fisher Island also harbors a secret attraction? A private observatory that offers residents an unparalleled stargazing experience. Read on to learn more about the captivating history and unique features of this one-of-a-kind island paradise.


Fisher Island’s history begins as a barrier island off the coast of Miami. The island was initially part of the land owned by the Miami Beach Improvement Company, founded by Carl G. Fisher in the early 20th century. Fisher, an entrepreneur and real estate developer, had a vision to transform the island into a luxurious playground for the wealthy. Throughout its existence, Fisher Island has been owned by notable figures such as William Kissam Vanderbilt II, Edward Moore, Gar Wood, and Richard Nixon. Each owner has left their mark on the island, shaping its development and contributing to its unique history. Legal battles and changes in ownership have played a significant role in Fisher Island’s history. These events have helped shape the island’s development and led to the luxurious and exclusive community that exists today. One of the most intriguing aspects of Fisher Island’s history is the story behind the E. Wilbur Rice Jr. Observatory. Established in 1961, this private observatory houses a rare Rice 10 1/2-inch refracting telescope, allowing residents to gaze upon the wonders of the night sky. The observatory’s construction and design reflect the island’s commitment to preserving its rich history while offering residents exclusive access to unique amenities. Fisher Island’s history is further enriched by the three families that owned and developed the island: the Winthrops, Foxes, and Fergusons. Each family has played a vital role in the island’s development, and their influence can still be seen in the island’s architecture, landscaping, and overall atmosphere.

Astronomy and Stargazing on Fisher Island

One of the unique features of Fisher Island is its prime location for stargazing. The island’s geographical position, coupled with its low light pollution levels, makes it an ideal setting for amateur astronomers and stargazers alike. Located far from the bright lights of the city, Fisher Island offers the perfect location for stargazing. The night sky is a canvas painted with celestial wonders, providing residents with an unparalleled view of the cosmos. From unique celestial sightings to the thrill of amateur astronomy, Fisher Island brings the heavens within reach. Night sky visibility on Fisher Island is exceptional, allowing residents to witness stunning celestial events and enjoy the beauty of the cosmos from the comfort of their private community. The E. Wilbur Rice Jr. Observatory provides residents with exclusive access to one of the finest telescopes available, allowing them to observe celestial phenomena with incredible detail. Amateur stargazing and astronomy have become increasingly popular hobbies among Fisher Island’s residents. The observatory’s presence on the island adds a unique, educational, and recreational aspect to the already luxurious and exclusive lifestyle available to those who call Fisher Island home.


With its limited accessibility and private setting, Fisher Island offers an exclusive lifestyle that is unmatched by other communities in Miami. Accessible only by private yacht, helicopter, or the island’s ferry service, residents of Fisher Island enjoy unparalleled privacy and security. Fisher Island boasts a range of luxurious private mansions, apartments, and a hotel, all designed to meet the highest standards of elegance and sophistication. A number of high-profile residents, including celebrities such as Boris Becker, Oprah Winfrey, and Mel Brooks, have chosen Fisher Island as their personal retreat. In addition to its opulent real estate offerings, Fisher Island is home to a vibrant community that actively participates in charitable activities and supports arts organizations in the Miami-Dade area. This commitment to giving back and supporting local causes contributes to Fisher Island’s reputation as a socially conscious and community-minded haven for the affluent.

Real Estate

Recent trends and developments in Fisher Island’s real estate market have solidified its position as one of the most desirable luxury real estate markets in Miami and around the world. The island’s architecture and design draw inspiration from the original 1920s Spanish-style mansions, adding a touch of historical charm to its modern allure. When comparing Fisher Island’s real estate market to other luxury markets, it’s clear that this island paradise offers an unmatched investment opportunity. The future of Fisher Island’s real estate market continues to shine bright, making it the perfect time to stake your claim in this exclusive community. The real estate market on Fisher Island is as exclusive and luxurious as the island’s lifestyle. With a limited number of properties available, Fisher Island real estate is highly sought after and commands some of the highest prices in the Miami area. Recent trends and developments in the market have only served to bolster Fisher Island’s desirability among discerning buyers. Fisher Island’s architecture and design are heavily influenced by the original 1920s Spanish-style mansions, with many of the island’s newer properties adhering to this aesthetic. This architectural consistency adds to the island’s charm and allure, setting it apart from other luxury real estate markets in Miami and around the world. As Fisher Island continues to attract high-profile residents and maintain its status as an exclusive enclave, the future of its real estate market remains promising. With its unmatched privacy, luxurious amenities, and rich history, Fisher Island stands out as a truly unique and highly desirable destination for those seeking the ultimate in luxury living.


From its fascinating history to its exclusive lifestyle and breathtaking real estate offerings, Fisher Island offers a truly unique experience for those fortunate enough to call it home. With its private observatory and commitment to preserving its storied past, Fisher Island is a testament to the power of vision and the allure of luxury. Are you ready to discover the enchanting world of Fisher Island for yourself? Trust The James Ruff Group Realtors to help you find your dream home on this remarkable island. Schedule a call with James Ruff today and take the first step toward a life of unparalleled luxury and exclusivity. Don’t forget to explore our testimonials, registration page, home valuation tool, and Why List With Me page for more information on how we can assist you in your Fisher Island real estate journey. Whether you’re seeking a luxurious vacation home, a permanent residence, or an investment property, Fisher Island offers a rare and extraordinary opportunity for discerning buyers. With its rich history, unparalleled privacy, and exceptional amenities, this exclusive island community is truly a world apart from the rest. Experience the ultimate in luxury living on Fisher Island and create lasting memories in your own private paradise. Embrace the enchanting allure of Fisher Island and start your journey towards a life of unparalleled luxury and exclusivity today. With The James Ruff Group Realtors by your side, you can trust our expertise and commitment to delivering exceptional service to help you find your dream home on this remarkable island. Your personal sanctuary awaits on the idyllic shores of Fisher Island – let us guide you there.

If you don't see enough properties for sale, or properties that you would like to purchase we may have off market properties for you! We are an off-market specialist and will find you whatever you are looking for whether it is for sale on the market, or not. Call us to find out more.

James Ruff Principal Broker Owner The James Ruff Group Realtors
James R. Ruff Principal Broker, Owner of The James Ruff Group Realtors

James Ruff 5 star reviews


The James Ruff Group LLC Privacy Policy


We are committed to respecting your right to privacy and protecting your information when you visit or use our services.

This privacy policy also describes the choices available to you regarding our use of your personal information and how you can access and update this information.

We want you to understand what information we gather about you, how we use it and the safeguards we have in place to protect it. This Privacy Policy applies to information collected through this website and otherwise. Your use of this website and our services, and any disputes arising from it, is subject to this Privacy Policy as well as the Terms of Use and all its dispute resolution provisions, including arbitration, limitation on damages and choice of law.

This website is a general audience site and we do not knowingly collect personal information from children under the age of 13.

If you have questions or concerns regarding this policy, you should first contact us at

Email and Email Addresses
We collect your email address when you provide it to us through our website or when you sign up for our blog. We will never sell your email address. We will only use your address to communicate with you regarding the servicing of your accounts or to make you aware of products and services that may be of interest to you.

When you send The James Ruff Group an email, we may retain your message and our response for quality assurance purposes. It is important to remember that regular (non-encrypted) email is not secure.

Online Forms
We collect information from you when you fill out an online form. All online forms are subject to the same policy we have on email.

Planning Tools and Calculators
Information that you input on the web site while using any of our planning tools and calculators is not captured, stored or used in any way other than to provide you with the information you’re looking for at the time you use the tool or calculator. These calculators were built only for the purpose of helping you understand your financial options, enabling you to explore various scenarios and “what if” calculations for items like loan payments, retirement and education planning.

We may use cookies and other online tracking devices. Cookies are small text files that a website’s server places on your computer. The cookies provide a means for websites that you visit to track browsing activities conducted with your computer. This includes information such as pages and content viewed, the time and duration of visits, search queries entered into search engines, and whether a computer user clicked on an advertisement. Cookies make the personalization of your web experiences possible and can also be used to retain data related to a particular browser such as items in online shopping carts.

There are other devices for tracking online activity including web beacons. A web beacon is a small string of software code that represents a graphic image on a website or in email. Web beacons can be used for many purposes – including website traffic reporting, unique visitor counts, advertising/auditing/reporting, and personalization of a website.

Working with Other Companies
From time to time, our partners may establish a relationship with other partners on the Internet to provide you with additional value and new products we may not offer ourselves. In these circumstances, we will treat information you provide us in the same manner described in our Privacy Policy. Our partner website may offer access to other sites either through the use of hyperlinks. In some cases, the other site will also collect information from you. Please review the privacy policies of these third parties prior to providing any information to them when you link to their web site.


  1. Collection and Use of Your Personal Information

We collect Personal Information from you only when you voluntarily submit it in order to obtain certain information, including without limitation (A) requests to find out more about our programs; (B) requests to contact us; and (C) requests to forward your information to one of our affiliates.

We honor all “do not track” requests and settings. If you use any signal(s) or other mechanism(s) that provides you the ability to exercise choice regarding the collection of personally identifiable information about your online activities over time and across third-party websites or online services, we will not attempt to override such signals or mechanisms, nor will we track your use of any such signal or mechanism. When you use our website, no other parties can collect personally identifiable information about your online activities over time and across different websites. Your choice is indicated by your settings in your web browser. A “do not track” indication sent from your web browser will result in any tracking activity (i.e., tracking cookies) within the website to be programmatically disabled.

We collect the following personal information from you:

  • Contact Information such as name, email address, mailing address, and phone number

We use this information to:

  • Send you requested product or service information
  • Respond to customer service requests
  • Administer your account
  • Send you a newsletter
  • Send you marketing communications
  • Improve our Web site and marketing efforts
  • Conduct research and analysis
  • Display content based upon your interests

By clicking the Submit button, you agree to have your information shared with us and for us to contact you via telephone, mobile phone (including through automated dialing, text SMS/MMS, or pre-recorded messaging) and/or email, even if your telephone number is on a corporate, state, or the National Do Not Call Registry, and you agree to our Privacy Policy.

Special Notice to California Residents. If you are a resident of California, in addition to the rights set forth in this Privacy Policy:

  1. We will not share any personal information about you to the extent prohibited by applicable California law or to the extent your prior consent to share is required by applicable California law; and
  2. You have the right to request information from us regarding the manner in which we share certain categories of information with third parties for their direct marketing purposes. California law gives you the right to send us a request at a designated address to receive the following information
  • 1.1. the categories of information we disclosed to third parties for their direct marketing purposes during the preceding calendar year
  • 1.2. the names and addresses of the third parties that received that information; and
  • 1.3. if the nature of the third party’s business cannot be determined from their name, examples of the products or services marketed.

The rights of Users

We adopt this Notice to comply with the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA). Any terms defined in the CCPA have the same meaning when used in this Notice.

Users may exercise certain rights regarding their Data processed by the Owner.

In particular, Users have the right to do the following:

  • Withdraw their consent at any time. Users have the right to withdraw consent where they have previously given their consent to the processing of their Personal Data.
  • Object to processing of their Data. Users have the right to object to the processing of their Data if the processing is carried out on a legal basis other than consent. Further details are provided in the dedicated section below.
  • Access their Data. Users have the right to learn if Data is being processed by the Owner, obtain disclosure regarding certain aspects of the processing and obtain a copy of the Data undergoing processing.
  • Verify and seek rectification. Users have the right to verify the accuracy of their Data and ask for it to be updated or corrected.
  • Restrict the processing of their Data. Restrict the processing of their Data. Users have the right, under certain circumstances, to restrict the processing of their Data. In this case, the Owner will not process their Data for any purpose other than storing it.
  • Have their Personal Data deleted or otherwise removed. Users have the right, under certain circumstances, to obtain the erasure of their Data from the Owner.
  • Receive their Data and have it transferred to another controller. Users have the right to receive their Data in a structured, commonly used and machine readable format and, if technically feasible, to have it transmitted to another controller without any hindrance. This provision is applicable provided that the Data is processed by automated means and that the processing is based on the User’s consent, on a contract which the User is part of or on pre-contractual obligations thereof.
  • Lodge a complaint. Users have the right to bring a claim before their competent data protection authority.

Details about the right to object to processing

Where Personal Data is processed for a public interest, in the exercise of an official authority vested in the Owner or for the purposes of the legitimate interests pursued by the Owner, Users may object to such processing by providing a ground related to their particular situation to justify the objection.

Users must know that, however, should their Personal Data be processed for direct marketing purposes, they can object to that processing at any time without providing any justification. To learn, whether the Owner is processing Personal Data for direct marketing purposes, Users may refer to the relevant sections of this document.

How to exercise these rights

Any requests to exercise User rights can be directed to the Owner through the contact details provided in this document. These requests can be exercised free of charge and will be addressed by the Owner as early as possible and always within one month.

We may provide this information in a standardized format that is not specific to you. The designated email address for these requests is

Consent to Receiving Emails, Auto-Dialing & Auto-Texting:

By registering, you are giving us and our professional real estate clients and advertisers permission to contact you via text message, email, or telephone using the email address and/or telephone number that you have provided during the registration process. Such contact may, from time to time, include attempts to contact you via auto-dialing or auto-texting technology. You may opt out of receiving these forms of communication by unsubscribing from any email communication or texting STOP as a reply to one of our text communications. There is no fee charged by us or its advertisers to receive text messages, however, your mobile service provider may charge you for sending and/or receiving text messages and air-time, as well as any other standard applicable rates charged by your mobile service provider.

Information Sharing

We will share your personal information with third parties, including with one of the participating lenders associated with this site, only in the ways that are described in this Privacy Statement. We may provide your personal information to companies that provide services to help us with our business activities such as offering customer service. These companies are authorized to use your personal information as is necessary to provide these services to you.

We may also disclose your personal information:

  • As required by law such as to comply with a subpoena, or similar legal process.
  • When we believe in good faith that disclosure is necessary to protect our rights, protect your safety or the safety of others, investigate fraud or respond to a government request,
  • To any other third party with your prior consent to do so.
  • We may share your personal information with other companies so that they can market their products or services to you. If you do not want us to share your personal information with these companies, contact our website vendor and advertising provider at

Cookies and Other Tracking Technologies

We may use cookies, for example, to keep track of your preferences and profile information. Cookies are also used to collect general usage and volume statistical information that does not include personal information.

We may use another company to place cookies on your computer to collect non-personally identifiable information to compile aggregated statistics for us about visitors to our site.

Links to Other Web Sites

Our Site includes links to other Websites whose privacy practices may differ from ours. If you submit personal information to any of those sites, your information is governed by their privacy policy statements. We encourage you to carefully read the privacy statement of any Web site you visit.


The security of your personal information is important to us. We follow generally accepted industry standards to protect the personal information submitted to us, both during transmission and once we receive it. No method of transmission over the internet, or method of electronic storage is 100% secure, however. Therefore, we cannot guarantee its absolute security. If you have any questions about the security of our Web site, you can contact our website and advertising provider

Additional Policy Information

Our Web site includes Widgets, which are interactive mini-programs that run on our site to provide specific services from another company (e.g. displaying the news, opinions, music, etc.). Personal information, such as your email address, may be collected through the Widget. Cookies may also be set by the Widget to enable it to function properly. Information collected by this Widget is governed by the privacy policy of the company that created it.

Our Web site offers publicly accessible blogs, social media, or community forums such as Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus. You should be aware that any information you provide in these areas may be read, collected, and used by others who access them.

Visiting our Websites From Outside the United States.

This Privacy Policy is intended to cover collection of information on our websites from residents of the United States. If you are visiting our websites from outside the United States, please be aware that your information may be transferred to, stored and processed in the United States where our servers are located and our central database is operated. The data protection and other laws of the United States and other countries might not be as comprehensive as those in your country. By using our services, you understand that your information may be transferred to our facilities and those third parties with whom we share it as described in this Privacy Policy.

No Rights of Third Parties.

This Privacy Policy does not create rights enforceable by third parties or require disclosure of any personal information relating to users of our websites.

Notification of Privacy Policy Statement Changes

We may update this privacy statement to reflect changes to our information practices or changes in regulations governing privacy. If we make any material changes we will notify you by email (sent to the email address specified in your account) or by means of a notice on this Site prior to the change becoming effective. We encourage you to periodically review this page for the latest information on our privacy practices.

This Privacy Policy was last revised on October 1, 2022. We reserve the right to modify or amend this policy at any time by posting the revised Privacy Policy on the website.

At The James Ruff Group, we respect your privacy.

If you have questions regarding our Privacy Policy, please email us at We hope you enjoy our site!