Miami Beach was developed as a luxury tourist resort in the early 20th century and the heyday of building was in the late 1920s and early 1930s during which the dominant design was arte moderne, or art deco, as it came to be known. Unlike in most of the USA, the buildings from that era have largely been preserved. They are concentrated in an area of South Miami Beach which is now known as the Miami Beach Architectural District – the area is in fact characterised by several architectural styles
However, the predominant syle is art deco
The fact that so many of the original buildings have survived is mainly due to the efforts of the late Barbara Capitman who was instrumental in forming the Miami Design Preservation League in 1976. They led the fight against plans to demolish the historic buildings which made South Miami Beach so unique
The stylish design and seductive colour of these buldings, especially the hotels, makes for a stunning sight as you stroll along Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue and beyond.
We stayed at the Hotel of South Beach, formerly known as Tiffany, which is illustrated in the above poster. The Tiffany tower still beams out at night
Here is a sample of some of the hotels we encountered whilst strolling through the district
Apart from the hotels and houses, the style even extended to the post office with its beautiful interior
Close by is what used to be Hoffman’s Cafeteria but is now Senor Frogs, a Mexican restaurant
To add to the period charm of the area, a few classic American cars from the 1950s can be found at various locations
Along the beach itself are a stream of lifeguard towers that were introduced following Hurricane Andrew in 1992 which had destroyed all the existing towers. These have an appealing quirky design which adds a vibrant colour to the beach scene
Facing east across the Atlantic Ocean, Miami Beach is the perfect place from which to view the sunrise
At which point it is time to take breakfast at the News Cafe, where to the backdrop of classical music, you can read the morning paper and enjoy Ocean Drive coming to life.
Sadly, this was the last place visited by Gianni Versace, who after collecting his morning papers, was gunned down on the steps of his nearby mansion in July 1997.
About the author BJD
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