It’s hard to imagine a more symbolic end to a financial bubble—in real estate, no less—than a hurricane. It almost seems scripted. But there it was in the fall of 1926, the Great Miami Hurricane with winds up to 150 miles per hour, shredding the newly built resorts of Florida’s coastline and raining debris on its undeveloped lots. Rarely has a speculative mania landed with such a . . . crash.

Developers tried to rebuild, but they were already overextended. They’d borrowed more than they could ever repay to bet on a future that would never come. The hurricane didn’t cause the bubble to end. That would have happened regardless. But it did reveal the feeble stilts on which the speculators had built their castles in the sky.