Vice City in GTA III Era

Vice City
Official name: City of Vice
Appearance(s): GTA Vice City
GTA Vice City Stories
Country: United States
State: Florida, USA
Established: Unknown
Mayor: Unknown
Population: 1,800,000 (1986)

Vice City is the setting for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City set in 1986 and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories set two years earlier in 1984. Vice City is based on 1980's Miami, which was a major cocaine trans-shipment point for South America at the time. This is further reinforced with its theme of the drug business and crime, as well as the presence of new upper-class businesses and residents in the city, with some of them likely to be funded by the drug business. Vice City is specifically indicated to be located within the State of Florida.

About the city

Vice City consists of two major islands and six smaller islands; both major islands are separated by a large body of water similar to that of Biscayne Bay, which separates Miami Beach with mainland Miami in real-life. Each major island is divided into several districts. The population of Vice City is given at around 1.8 million in 1986[1].

The city has four hospitals (two in each major island) and four police stations (two in each major island) distributed evenly in the city; these facilities serve as respawn points after the player dies or is arrested. The city also has one fire station and an air base known as Fort Baxter Military Base. Unlike Liberty City and the state of San Andreas, however, Vice City has no known railway or rapid transit systems, and all islands are connected by road and bridge.

Map of Vice City in 1986 and 1984.

Vice City Beach

Map of Vice City Beach.

Vice City Beach is the eastern island of Vice City. It is depicted as the more peaceful part of Vice City and is home to many upper class homes and businesses. The island has artificial waterways and is nearby the Leaf Links golf club. The Vice Point Mall is located in the northern area of the island. Vice City Beach is clearly based on Miami Beach. A lot of Vice City Beach's area is made up of beach. Vice City Beach consists of four large districts across the island:

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach, Vice City

Ocean Beach is an upper-class tourist district consisting of a few skyscrapers and many low rises, directly based on South Beach and located in the southeastern most area of Vice City. The area is primarily occupied by seaside and beach side apartments, hotels and upper-class businesses. An Art Deco Historic District-like row of Art Deco and Modernist low rises are also present; the road stretched along the row mimics that of Ocean Drive, bearing much resemblance to their real life counterparts in architecture and layout, and includes a flora partition between the low rises and beach, similar to Lummus Park. The lighthouse located at the southeastern most point mimics the Cape Florida lighthouse, the oldest structure in Miami, located in Key Biscayne, and a popular beach side tourist destination.

Inland towards the west, Ocean Beach contains additional commercial and residential buildings, resembling southwestern Miami Beach, westward from Collins Avenue (in fact, the road in Vice City that separates the two sides of the Ocean Beach in the manner that Collins Avenue does to southern Ocean Beach, and would eventually run along several beach side apartment and condominiums in Vice Point, similar to northern Collins Avenue).

The district boasts a marina, Ocean Bay Marina, mimicking a large marina stretched along Alton Road in Ocean Beach and located at the west end of the district. A hospital is also situated on the northwest end of Ocean Beach, named Ocean View Hospital, it is likely named for its locations affront the city bay. Two additional high-rise buildings located beside the hospital bear signage that claims that the tenants are the "Research and Development Department" of the "Ocean View Medical Foundation", suggesting that the buildings are related to the hospital.

Several other features may be noted in Ocean Beach. A park mimicking South Pointe Park is located on the southern end of Ocean Beach, and includes a seaside building with similar architecture designs, and an additional helipad. An open-air mall, Washington Mall, depicted at the northern end of Ocean Beach, is possibly based on the Bal Harbor Shops mall at Bal Harbor.

Tommy Vercetti's initial hangout in Vice City is in Ocean Beach, at the beachfront Ocean View Hotel. The Pole Position Strip Club is also located near the south end of the district.

Washington Beach

Washington Beach

Washington Beach is a district between Ocean Beach from the south and Vice Point from the north, encompassing the northern end of the Art Deco Historic District-like beachfront district, its inland area, and the southern half of a smaller island to the west containing two construction sites and several additional apartments and housing. The area is based on the section of Miami beach unofficially known as "Mid-Beach".

Washington Beach also contains a police station located at the northern edge of the district, as well as Ken Rosenberg's office at the southwestern edge. Washington Beach is also connected to Starfish Island via a short bridge between the Washington Beach island; the roadway connecting the two districts stretches across the islands and ends at the edge of Little Havana. The district is likely to be named after Washington Avenue, a major road in Miami Beach.

Vice Point

Vice Point

Vice Point is a more middle class and residential area of Vice City Beach, covering the remaining areas of the island at the north, and consisting of larger apartment buildings and hotels aligned along the shore as well as medium sized homes and smaller apartment complexes inland. This set-up resembles the rows of developments along Collins Avenue in Miami Beach, as well as the residential set-up of that city. Vice point is geographically based on North Beach in Miami.

The North Point Mall, located in the north end of Vice Point, is a parody of Miami's Aventura Mall. Its location in the northeastern most point of the east island is similar to Aventura Mall's location in the extreme northeastern most point of the Miami Metro Area. The mall's layout, though much smaller, also resembles that of Aventura Mall.

The Malibu Club is situated on southern Vice Point. A police department is also located further north, as is another hospital.

Leaf Links

Leaf Links Golf Course

Leaf Links is a collection of three islands located just west of Vice Point encompassing the Leaf Links Country Club, each island connected to another island with bridges. A road cuts through the middle of the island cluster, where the clubhouse-cum-entrance is located, requiring a pedestrian bridge to connect both half of the clusters. Much of the eastern island's narrow waterways are formed from the partitions between Leaf Links and Vice Point.

The Leaf Links country club consists primarily of golf courses, as well as tennis courts and the clubhouse. Indeed, golf carts are constantly seen in and around the club as a form of transportation, including on the open road surrounded by the club compound.

The logic of a country club in Vice City may be attributed by the presence of wealthy residents and ideally sunny weather in the city. Leaf Links may also be inspired by the number of country clubs scattered along the eastern coast of Miami, including the Bayshore Country Club and La Gorce Golf Course in Miami Beach, Normandy Shores Golf Course, Indian Creek and Haulover Park.

The name "Leaf Links" is inspired by "Leith Links", a park in Leith near Rockstar North's HQ in Edinburgh, Scotland. Leith Links is where the earliest record of golf is found in the world, and Leith bolsters its claim to be "the home of golf" because the first official rules were formulated there.

Vice City Mainland

Map of Vice City Mainland.

Vice City Mainland is Vice City's western island. The majority of the island is depicted as a less glamorous area of the city but it includes the business district of Downtown located on the north end of the island. The western island houses much of the city's industrial population, as well as seaport and airport facilities at the south. Two sizable districts housing immigrant populations are located in the middle, with one of these districts depicted in a dilapidated state. The western island contains a wide four-lane road at its east side that stretches from the south end, at the seaports, to the north end, at the southern tip of Downtown. Vice City Mainland is the western is based on mainland Miami. Vice City Mainland consists of five districts across the island:


Downtown Vice City buildings

Downtown mirrors Downtown Miami, where the areas sees the highest concentration of skyscrapers, both residential and commercial. Like its real-life counterpart, Downtown is believed to be a more formal, financial district of Vice City, with a number of large office buildings, including the city's tallest building, possibly based on the Wachovia Financial Center and the Bank of America Tower.

The area also boasts the Hyman Memorial Stadium (which may be named after fictional gangster Hyman Roth, from the film The Godfather Part II), west of Downtown, serving as a staging area for events such as stock car races, demolition derbies and dirt bike stunt shows; it is not known, however, if the stadium is used for any other sporting activities, although Vice City does feature at least one sports team (the Vice City Mambas American football team, which featured former tight-end BJ Smith). In addition, Downtown serves as the location for the local heavy metal radio station V-Rock and an enclosed recording studio, where lead singer for rock band Love Fist, Jezz Torrent, was seen recording a song.

Other places of interest include the Electronics District, the Vice City News (VCN) headquarters, the Greasy Chopper bikers' bar, and a venue for a Love Fist concert, just south of the V-Rock radio station. An unnamed beach is also located west of Downtown, but it receives no visitors or attention, a stark contrast to Washington Beach in the Ocean Beach area. A police station, hospital and the city's only fire station is situated in the district.

Little Havana

Little Havana from the sky.

Drawing from the real-life Little Havana in Miami, Vice City's Little Havana consists of a predominantly Spanish-speaking Cuban population. The area is controlled by the Cuban gang, led by Umberto Robina from his father's cafe, located in the southwest end of Little Havana. Due to Little Havana's proximity with Little Haiti, occasional fights and gun battles between Cuban and Haitian gangs erupt in areas bordering the two districts.

A Vice City police department is located at the southeastern tip of Little Havana, as well as a hospital called "West Haven Community Healthcare Centre" at the east side of the district. The Cherry Popper Ice Cream Factory is also located within the vicinity.

Little Haiti

Little Haiti houses

Also inspired by a real-life district in Miami, Little Haiti is predominantly inhabited by Haitians and is home to the Haitian gang, led by Auntie Poulet, from her small wooden shack among other shacks at center of Little Haiti. The gang's solvent factory, located at the west side of Little Haiti, was destroyed in a Cuban ambush, aided by Tommy Vercetti. Little Haiti is noted to be more run-down than Little Havana, with the presence of poorly maintained buildings, and low wealth businesses and smaller homes.

A large printing press, which would be purchased by Tommy Vercetti later in the storyline for a money counterfeiting business, is located at the border between Little Haiti and Little Havana. Phil Cassidy's home and weapons armory is located on the northwest end of Little Haiti. Kaufman Cabs, a local taxi cab company, is also based in Little Haiti, located a block north of Poulet's shack.

Airport and Seaport

Vice City's airport is known as the Escobar International Airport (EIA), a possible pun on Pablo Escobar, an infamous Colombian drug lord. Although mildly similar in location as Miami's international airport, neighboring Little Havana, the airport structures and layout of the compound do not appear to be based on any airports seen in Miami. Also, all airports in Miami are located inland, but the EIA is located on a peninsula.

Escobar International Airport

The EIA consists of two terminals, one at the north which is basically a standard blocky terminal with the addition of below ground entrances, while the other in the south is more distinctive, with its weaved roof and roof-high windows facing the airport's southern airside. Both structures are separated by lawns and a car park, and it is unknown if the terminals are connected in any other way aside roads. Further north in the airport peninsula is the Fort Baxter Air Base, a military installation that houses military equipment and personnel.

Southeast of the EIA compound is Vice Port, the city's seaport, and a possible play of the Dante B. Fascell Port of Miami-Dade (Port of Miami), located on the southern edge of the bay, similar to the Port of Miami's in Biscayne Bay. However, Vice Port is located in the mainland, while the Port of Miami is located on an island, covering much of the southern entrance of Biscayne Bay. In addition, Vice Port does not cater for cruise ships, unlike Miami Port which has operated a cruise ship terminal since 1968, focusing instead on solely cargo shipping.

Smaller Islands

Starfish Island

Starfish Island as seen from the sky
Vercetti Estate.

Starfish Island is the third largest island in Vice City and is based on Miami's exclusive Star Island; or perhaps other island communities such as Belle Isle or other Venetian Islands along the Venetian Causeway, and adjoining the MacAuthur Causeway.

Starfish Island is a community of upper-wealth residents, most of whom live in large houses and mansions, some with their own jetty. The area is also supplied with their own security guards, who patrol the island and open fire upon any troublemakers; this gives the residents of the area a feeling of safety, and not at least because of the island's proximity to the gang-riddled townships of Little Havana and Little Haiti. but these sercuity are actually pigs the security gang based through out vice city.

There are eleven mansions in Starfish Island including Diaz's Mansion.

The largest residence on Starfish Island is the Diaz Mansion, previously owned by drug baron Ricardo Diaz and acquired by the player part-way through the game (and renamed Vercetti Estate), which comes complete with a rooftop helipad. The main interior of the mansion strongly resembles the home of fictional drug lord Tony Montana in the 1983 film, "Scarface", only missing the "The World Is Yours" globe and the lavish master bedroom.

Prawn Island

Prawn Island as seen from the sky.

Prawn Island is a small northern ghetto island linking Downtown Vice City in the west and Vice Point in the east. Like Starfish Island, Prawn Island consists of several mansions, in addition to several adjoining businesses and a film studio. Most of these premises and homes, however, have long been abandoned, and the mansions are now occupied by the Streetwannabes street gang.

InterGlobal Studios or InterGlobal Films, the sole film studio in the island and in Vice City, presently serves as a pornography film studio for pornography film director Steve Scott and was bought off by Tommy Vercetti later in the storyline. The name "Prawn" may be a play on "pron" or "pr0n", informal terms for pornography that are used frequently on the Internet. Whether or not the studio was previously used for filming of more mainstream movies remains unknown, although several movie sets that seem relatively unrelated to pornography were seen in the studio, including a movie set for a moon landing. Prawn Island may be based off Fisher Island, Florida.


Vice City is located in a tropical climate, most likely in the Florida Keys. The city has sunshine year round with occasional thunderstorms and rain. The city is also exposed to hurricanes like Miami or any other city in South Florida. An example of hurricanes was Hurricane Hermione, who in 1986 approached the shores of Vice City slowly, separating to Vice City Mainland from the rest of the city by closing the bridges.

In GTA Vice City, the weather gives off a more cold feel than in GTA Vice City Stories - hinting towards that game being set in the middle of the rainy season, whilst its prequel seems to be set in the sunnier summertime.


The film industry in Vice City, is mainly released since 1984 by the movie studio and television InterGlobal Films located in Prawn Island, which has since pornographic movies (mainly) to action movies. Previously the studio was under the direction of Reni Wassulmaier, which used the studio to film commercials and "edgy" pop music videos. But later in 1986 is when the studio starts making pornographic movies, because now by Steve Scott, who produced pornographic movies since as: Bite, Closer Encounters, Fun Bags, among others ... But there are also other movies like Badfellas, Evacuator Trilogy, Push-Up - The Movie and Chick's 'N' Guns. Pornographic movies have been recorded in the study, while the other is not known if they were recorded both in Vice City or elsewhere.

Sports Teams

There is only one known sports team in Vice City in 1986, the Vice City Mambas. They have one known player in 1986, BJ Smith. In Grand Theft Auto Advance, which takes place in 2000 another player is mentioned; Jose Pimsoll, who is the quarterback of the Mambas in 2000. The Mambas are assumed to play in Hyman Memorial Stadium, in Downtown Vice City. The Mambas are likely based off real life Miami football team, the Miami Dolphins.

Differences between GTA Vice City and GTA Vice City Stories

The Vice City featured in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories is based on the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City version of the city, but set two years earlier in 1984. The majority of the city remained the same but contains several noticeable differences in its landscape from its "future" depiction.

Landmark Differences

Chunder Wheel, a ferris wheel in GTA Vice City Stories that was demolished before the events of GTA Vice City
The Ocean Front Hotel one of the many structures that are adorned with more neon light in the GTA Vice City Stories rendition.
  • Sunshine Autos itself has also been known to be operating from an older establishment in a slightly different location (down the road towards the north), with its newer showroom under construction further south.
  • All of the empire sites that are still standing in the events of GTA Vice City are vacant and are put up for lease or for sale.
  • Rockstar logo shaped-pool in Starfish Island is absent in GTA Vice City Stories.
  • Both the entire trailer park and the old Sunshine Autos yard are absent in 1986, replaced by an empty field. It is assumed that the disbandment of the Trailer Park Mafia (with Marty's death in the hand of Victor) and the relocation of Sunshine Autos led to the demolition of both locations.
  • The Moist Palms Hotel, in the southern Downtown district, is under construction. The location is featured in one mission where Victor has to kill Biker members in order to save his brother Lance.
  • In 1984, Phil Cassidy's residence is in Vice Port along with his own shooting range. "Phil's Place" in Little Haiti, which would serve as Phil's residence in 1986, is owned by Victor.
  • The Clymenus Suite, a single Streamline Modern-styled building (which features a jetty, garage and helipad) exists in the immediate north of the Washington Beach fairground, on what would be the site of low-rise apartments in 1986.
  • The right wing of Ricardo Diaz's mansion (towards the west) in Starfish Island is either under construction or undergoing an expansion in 1984. The hedge mazes that adorn both sides of the Diaz compound in 1986 do not exist in 1984; instead, only a pond is featured in place on the west wing of the mansion.
  • The Washington Mall doesn't exist, in 1984 it's an empty lot with a small construction site.
  • A small cafe in Little Haiti, dubbed Le Singe d'Arbre (French for "the monkey of the tree") exists in 1984. In 1986, a cafe dubbed "Cafe Under The Tree" exists in its place.
  • The Fort Baxter Air Base military base has a significantly different layout to the one featured in 1986.
  • A few of the rare interiors have changed. The North Point Mall, for example, has, for the most part, completely different stores in 1984 than the ones in 1986. A few stores, though, are the same in the events of Vice City. These include such stores as Ammu-Nation and the Vinyl Countdown record store.
  • In addition to all the changes within the two years, the buildings in GTA Vice City Stories rendition feature more neon-lights.
  • Travelling to the Escobar International/Fort Baxter area is much easier, there a street between Sunshine Autos and the terminal, and another bridge is added between the street Fort Baxter is on, and The Big Package Storage Co. warehouse area. The bridge and extra street are gone in 1986.

Gang Control

The distribution of gangs in Vice City circa 1984 is significantly different due largely to activities surrounding the Vance Crime Family, which rose to prominence that year. Their subsequent dominance has devastated a number of existing gangs which previously had a significant stake in the city. In the beginning of GTA Vice City Stories, a number of previously unheard of gangs in Vice City are also present before they disbanded or were wiped out by Victor Vance and his organization.

Trailer Park Mafia, a redneck gang led by Marty Jay Williams, operates from the trailer park near Sunshine Autos and controls much of Vice City's poorer communities, and operates several small businesses. The gang engages in a brief war with the Cholos, seizing more businesses in Little Haiti. With the death of Marty at the hands of Victor Vance, the gang is disbanded as the Vance Crime Family takes control of all his operations. The Cholos, a Hispanic gang, are known to be in control of Little Havana and Little Haiti in 1984. The Cubans, led by Umberto Robina, would wage a fierce and violent gang war on the Cholos. The war concluded with the destruction of the Cholo's large illegal arms storage warehouse in Little Haiti by Los Cabrones and Victor Vance, forcing surviving Cholo members to surrender and consolidate with Los Cabrones. With the defeat of the Cholos, the Cubans/Los Cabrones control Little Havana by 1986, while the Haitians are also presumed to move into Little Haiti after the Cholos disappear.

The Sharks control the Washington Beach and Ocean Beach areas of the city, dominating in smuggling, robbery, and drug trafficking. After their businesses are seized by the Vance Crime Family, the gang is suggested to have become the Streetwannabes street gang by 1986.

The Sharks in GTA Vice City Stories.

As Victor Vance is dishonorably discharged from the military, the Mendez Cartel, headed by brothers Armando and Diego Mendez, set up shop in Vice City and become the most powerful criminal organization in the city, basing their operations at Prawn Island and becoming rivals of Diaz's Gang. Originally allied with the Vance Crime Family, they eventually betrayed Victor, leading to their own deaths (with the help of Ricardo Diaz) and the collapse of their organization.

With the defeat of the Mendez Cartel, the Streetwannabes control the northern half of the now dilapidated Prawn Island, specifically, the former residences of the Mendez Cartel and the Diaz's gang become the most powerful criminal organization in Vice City.

In addition, the Biker gang, which is featured in GTA Vice City, is stronger and more influential in 1984 than they are in 1986, controlling many businesses in Downtown and Vice Point. It is assumed that the rise of the Vance Crime Family has resulted in the Biker Gang losing control of their businesses, leaving them with only the Greasy Chopper Bar by 1986. An offshoot of the Biker Gang, the Stallionz, is featured in Vice City Stories, consisting of homosexual white supremacists. The White Stallionz are wiped out in 1984 by Victor in a bar dubbed "Stallionz," named after the gang.

As a result of the shift of power in Vice City, it is assumed the Vance Crime Family controls a fair share of the city, and both Victor and Lance agree to leave Vice City for several years to lay low and live off of their drug money in the Dominican Republic after Victor kills the Mendez Brothers. In 1986, the Vance Brothers are active in Vice City, although their organization's current size and stake in the city is unknown. Victor is killed at the beginning of Vice City, and with Lance being killed by Tommy Vercetti, the Vance Crime Family's activities are ended. The Vercetti Gang would then become the most powerful organization in Vice City, with virtually all districts under complete control of Tommy Vercetti.


  • Vice City was the only setting in the GTA III Era not to feature a Chinatown district and not to feature a transit system.
  • Vice City is the smallest city in the GTA III era.
  • "Vice" in the English language has 2 definitions, the first is a bad habit, the second is prostitution. As the city's name implies, the city is "bad habit city" or "prostitution city".
  • Vice City is the only city in the Grand Theft Auto series situated in a real state: the State of Florida.

See also


  1. Page 5 of the Tourist Guide, GTA Vice City's game manual