I’ve lived in Miami since the early 80’s and never really considered it an architecturally relevant city, let’s face it, it was developed in the early 1900’s and mostly as a “getaway” place with some kind of “Mediterranean Revival” theme of sorts. When I think of cities with great architecture in the US, New York, Chicago and San Francisco come to mind. A few weeks ago an architecture professor from Indiana contacted me to recommend sites in Miami to show his students.
Once I started thinking about landmarks and sites to recommend, I realized that there is a ton of great architecture in Miami. So with the suggestion from architecture professor George Elvin, from Indiana, I will start a series of articles identifying architecturally relevant places to visit in Miami. My hope is not only to create a library of sorts for people visiting or relocation to Miami, but also to open your eyes if you already live here and next time you pass by one of these buildings, you’ll look with a little more interest.
So let’s start with South Beach –
Miami Beach Art Deco District
Yes South Beach Real Estate is HOT, but it all started with and is known for its Art Deco District. According to the National Register of Historic Places:
The Miami Beach Architectural District (sometimes called the Art Deco District) contains the largest concentration of 1920s and 1930s resort architecture in the United States. These vibrantly colored buildings represent an era when Miami Beach was heavily promoted and developed as a “tropical playground.” The district was one of the earliest National Register listings to recognize the importance of the architecture of this period. The area was laid out and developed rapidly, resulting in an extraordinary architectural consistency. The buildings constructed in the 1920s were designed almost exclusively in the Mediterranean Revival style, while those built in the 1930s are in the Art Deco, International, or Moderne styles. The district can be divided into three neighborhood types based on function and use –the seasonal hotel area (along Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue) with such notable hotels as the Amsterdam, reputed to be a replica of Christopher Columbus’ home in Santo Domingo; the commercial area (along Washington Avenue and Lincoln Road); and the residential area (concentrated in the eighty square blocks surrounding Flamingo Park) with one of the largest concentrations of Mediterranean style residences in the United States.
Here are some examples of Art Deco Architecture from Flickr – please make sure you click on each photo to be re-routed to each photographer’s information.
Please note: All of these photos are under a creative commons license – click on each photo to get information on each photographer
Other interesting links related to the Miami Beach Art Deco District:
- Miami Design Preservation League
- Preservation Directory
- Identifying Architectural Styles in Miami – Art Deco
**This post was originally written on October 14th, 2009 and realized I didn’t really run with this project. This makes me happy and sad at the same time – makes me realize I need to write about architecture more often….so bear with me, or just whack me in the head next time you see me**