Art Deco District in Miami Beach
Miami Beach’s Art Deco District is a historic area that concisely represents the architecture of the Art Deco period. In the 1920s, the wealthy class made their homes by the beach, and Ocean Drive filled with swanky hotels designed in the eclectic Art Deco style. From 1923 through 1943, elaborate homes and apartments were constructed in Miami Beach. By the 50s, the Mafia had moved into the area, and by the late 70s, all that remained was the impoverished and the elderly. Many of the hotels were transformed into nursing homes and some buildings began to deteriorate.
In 1976, Barbara Baer Capitman, a former interior designer, founded the Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL). The group worked to preserve and restore Miami Beach’s Art Deco architecture before developers entered the scene to tear down the run-down buildings and replace them with featureless high rises. The MDPL is centered in the Art Deco Welcome Center on Ocean Drive and provide locals and tourists alike with a variety of information on Art Deco and Miami Beach.
In 1979, the National Register of Historic Places listed Miami Beach as a historic district. By the 1980s, the area was almost completely revitalized, and it became the backdrop to “Miami Vice,” a popular television series. Today, Miami Beach’s Art Deco District has the largest number of Art Deco’s ornamentally-designed structures.
The Art Deco style has an eclectic approach that features a symmetrical-heavy design. It is most recognizable in buildings such as the Empire State Building or the top of the Chrysler Building in New York; however it can be found all over the world in many different countries and cultures. Yet when it comes down to it, Miami Beach is Art Deco.
The Historic District spans from the Atlantic Ocean to Lenox Court and from Dade Boulevard at the Collins Canal in the north down to Sixth Street. You can expect to see a variety of apartments, hotels, and other establishments all featuring the geometrical, varied design that is typical of the architectural design. From Lummus Park at night, you get a wonderful view of the glowing neon signs along Ocean Drive. Miami Beach’s Art Deco District is truly a spectacular area. A visit to South Florida would not be complete without a tour of the Historic District.