Art Deco in Miami Beach: a guide for you to visit the most emblematic buildings

miami beach is characterized by a unique architectural heritage: the art deco buildings that line Ocean Dr, Collins Ave, and Washington Ave, from 5th St to 23rd St. Many have been seen in movies and on TV: The Carlyle in The Birdcage (and its exteriors, in Scarface), the cardozo in There’s Something About Marythe Park Central Hotel (today The Gabriel Miami South Beach) in Miami Vice, Casuarina House Villa in the news about the murder of Gianni Versace.

Some, like the post office, Miami Beach US Post Officeor the hotel Of the year are as tied to the identity of the city as the Empire State and the chrysler building —two other samples of the Art Deco style— to NY. Today it is hard to believe that in the 1970s many of these jewels were in danger, threatened by the wave of demolitions; many other pieces from this period did not survive the impetus of real estate developments.

In 1976 a group of activists organized the Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL) that stopped the destruction and helped maintain the facades. Today Miami Beach has the highest concentration of Art Deco buildings in the world, and the Art Deco neighborhood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places with some 800 buildings of value, some of which represent other architectural styles.

What is Art Deco architecture

Geometric shapes and games of symmetry define Art Deco in Miami Beach architecture.

Geometry and symmetry —lines, curves, spirals, hexagons, octagons, zig-zags—, a striking color palette, semicircular windows and fountains, symbols of modernity (as conceived by the avant-garde, with its stocky men and mythological animals). ) references to ancient cultures: all of this can be seen with the naked eye in any of these buildings. The style, which flourished between 1920 and 1939, arose from the visions of some French creators inspired by the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900 and determined to renew the decorative and visual arts.

It may interest you: The best day trips from Miami: 5 beautiful, different and close places

From Art Nouveau to the Bauhaus, from constructivism to futurism, different currents fed these designs that began to be known at the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative Arts in 1925 —from there the name would come years later— and had its expressions later in the decade. from 1950. In Miami Beach, most of the buildings are from the thirties and arose from the creativity of two New York architects, Henry Hohauser Y L. Murray Dixon.

This short list allows you to see some samples of this particularity of South Beach.

Park Central Hotel

640 Ocean Dr.

The Park Central Hotel building, an example of Art Deco in Miami Beach
The Park Central Hotel building, an example of Art Deco, nicknamed “the blue jewel of Miami”.

Today it is managed by Hilton under the name The Gabriel Miami South Beach. It was made by Hohauser in 1937. It is called “the blue jewel of Miami” for its remarkable vertical bands in azure (an intensely dark blue); It is also identified by its windows, its sculpture garden, its terrazzo floor and its rooftop. It has seven floors and 135 rooms, to which, in their time, they used to return Clark Gable Y rita hayworth.

The Carlyle

1250 Ocean Dr.

Art Deco Miami Beach
The Carlyle, a 1939 building designed by German-American architect Richard Kiehnel.

Located less than 100 meters from the old mansion of Versace, its white exterior belies its rather striking combination of vertical pillars, horizontal lines, and curvaceous corners. It was built in 1939 by the German-American architect Richard Kiehnel and its façade has hardly changed since then. Its interior, on the other hand, went from having 50 hotel rooms to 19 apartments.

It may interest you: Ocean Drive, the heart of South Beach: 10 restaurants you must visit

The Webster

1220 Collins Ave.

Art Deco Miami Beach
The Webster, the work of Henry Hohauser, is an example of the rule of three that haunted Art Deco.

This work by Hohauser, from 1939, was a hotel and today is a luxury clothing store: Gucci, Chanel, Bottega Veneta; He even has exclusive clothes. It is a perfect example of the rule of three, Egyptian-inspired and highly valued in Art Deco: the building is divided into three thirds both horizontally and vertically, and each of its floors has three windows. Its interior in pastel colors honors the origin of this style, which generally combined white with subtle pastel trims.

The McAlpin

1430 Ocean Dr.

The Mc Alpin building, an example of Art Deco in Miami Beach
The Mc Alpin building, another example of the rule of three and favorite spot for selfies in Miami Beach.

Another example of the rule of three, in this case applied by Dixon: three vertical lines and three horizontal lines define its façade. Today it’s operated by Hilton as The McAlpin Ocean Plaza Miami, and the hotel is still as hot as it was in the 1940s: it’s often fully booked months in advance. It is a classic point to take selfies.

The Colony

736 Ocean Dr.

Art Deco Miami Beach
The inverted T in its name identifies the Colony Hotel, another Miami Beach Art Deco work.

Another of the approximately 300 works that Hohauser did in Miami: a simple but striking design from 1935. It is three stories high and three panels wide, intersected in the exact middle by an inverted T with the name Colony (vertical) Hotel (horizontal ). It was the first hotel with an individual bathroom in all the rooms, as well as a radio and telephone.

It may interest you: Florida is the main destination chosen by Americans looking to move

Hoffman’s Cafeteria Building

Corner of Collins Ave and Espanola Way

Hoffman's Cafeteria, example of Art Deco in Miami Beach
The Hoffman’s Cafeteria, designed by Henry Hohauser, housed the nightclub that inspired “The Birdcage.”

Above the gate, a tower marks the axis of symmetry, and the building unfolds from there into two wings, one on each street. Hohauser designed it in 1939 and added a display of curves that made it stand out from all previous works obsessed with the straight line. The Aeronautics cadets who trained in the area used to gather in the original cafeteria during the WWII, until in 1942 it was converted into a military dining room. Then there was a famous deli, a Chinese nightclub with a shark tank of almost 9,500 liters and perhaps the most famous undertaking: the night club Warsaw, in which it was inspired The Birdcage.

Miami Beach US Post Office

1300 Washington Ave

Art Deco Miami Beach
The Miami Beach Post Office building is so beautiful it’s hard to believe it’s actually a mailing place for letters and packages.

Designed by Howard Lovewell Cheney in 1937, it is the most incredible post office and continues to serve that role. In its sober exterior, which combines a rotunda with the minimalist lines of a federal building, a wall of glass blocks stands out over the entrance door, on which an eagle keeps watch. Inside, the conical ceiling topped by a small dome is overshadowed by a triptych mural of charles hardman with historical scenes such as the arrival of ponce de leon to Florida in 1513 or the disagreement between natives and cowboys.

Other Miami Beach Art Deco Gems

Delano Hotel1685 Collins Ave

Colony Theater1040 Lincoln Rd

Crescent Resort1420 Ocean Dr

Cardozo South Beach1300 Ocean Dr

Cavalier Hotel1320 Ocean Dr

Art Deco Miami Beach
The game of straight vertical lines of the famous Delano hotel make it look like an Art Deco origami.

More content about life in Miami

Leslie Hotel1244 Ocean Dr

The Tides1220 Ocean Dr

The Marlin Hotel1200 Collins Ave

essex house1001 Collins Ave

The Breakwater940 Ocean Dr

Hotel Edison960 Ocean Dr

The Waldorf Towers Hotel860 Ocean Dr

Shelly Hotel844 Collins Avenue,

Jewish Museum of Florida301 Washington Ave

Art Deco Miami Beach
The buildings were white with pastel trim, but 1980s conservation gave them bright colors like the yellow of the Leslie Hotel.

MDPL, through its Art Deco Museum and Welcome Centeroffers guided tours of the Art Deco neighborhood: a one and a half hour walk with stops at the most beautiful buildings and an explanation of their stories.

Where: Exits from 1001 Ocean Dr

When: 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., every day

How much: USD 35 (general admission) and USD 30 (seniors)


Best Day Trips from Miami: 5 Beautiful, Distinct, and Close Places

Ocean Drive, the heart of South Beach: 10 restaurants you must visit

Florida is the top destination of choice for Americans looking to relocate