In the mid-1960s, the skyline of Panama City Beach underwent a significant transformation with the introduction of the Top O’ the Strip, later referred to as the Miracle Strip Tower. This 200-foot-tall observation tower became an iconic structure on the “World’s Most Beautiful Beaches,” offering visitors a panoramic view of the Gulf of Mexico and the surrounding landscape. Designed by Vincent Valentine Jr., the same visionary behind lots of popular attractions at Miracle Strip Amusement Park.
Opening its doors to the public in April 1966, Top O’ the Strip featured an elevator that took visitors to two observation decks – one enclosed and one open to the sky. The tower’s base housed a glass-enclosed gift shop and restaurant, providing a unique experience for guests. The construction cost of this architectural marvel was $300,000, a considerable investment at the time.
Architect William L. Christian and structural engineer Henry Wright brought Valentine’s vision to life, creating the first steel-framed tower in the U.S. to be welded rather than riveted, with a foundation engineered to withstand wind velocities up to 190 miles per hour.
Throughout its existence, the Miracle Strip Tower played a pivotal role in shaping the identity of Panama City Beach. As the area’s first high-rise structure, it became a popular vantage point for sightseeing and a gathering spot for high schoolers. Even a radio station, the Great 108, WPFM, temporarily broadcasted from the tower, solidifying its place as a community landmark.
The flags on top of the tower represent al of the entities that have governed Florida. There were two examples of the Stars and Stripes because Florida has been in the United States twice. The upper portion of the tower was painted in a variety of styles. At one point in a checkerboard pattern because the tower was the terminus of an international air race.
However, after nearly three decades of standing tall, the once-beloved Miracle Strip Tower faced its demise. On December 9, 1995, explosives were employed to bring down the structure, signaling the end of an era. The decision to demolish the tower was influenced by its deteriorating condition, including rusted steel supports, an out-of-service elevator, and damage from Hurricane Opal. Despite its significance, the tower’s removal paved the way for progress, making room for the seven-story Beach Tower Motel.
As the dust settled on the sandy beach, the Miracle Strip Tower left behind memories of a bygone era. Its rise and fall symbolize the evolving nature of the coastline. While the tower may be gone, its legacy endures in the hearts of those who cherished the breathtaking views from the Top O’ the Strip.
We offer three t-shirt designs that feature the Miracle Strip Tower. Wear a piece of nostalgia and reminisce about the breathtaking views from the Top O’ the Strip wherever you go.