The South Beach community in Miami Beach, Florida is in many ways a fantasy world of it’s own. It is much well-known for it’s richness in historical Art Deco architecture as it is renown for it’s fabulous restaurants, high-energy night life, as it is celebrated for it’s luxurious ocean-front hotels and beaches populated with the wealthy, the famous, and the beautiful. The area first developed as a winter-resort destination spot when millionaires such as Harvey Firestone,J.C. Penney, Harvey Stutz, Albert Champion, Frank Seiberling, and Rockwell LaGorce built their mansions between 1920-1929 on the three-mile stretch of Collins Avenue know as “Millionaire’s Row”. Fascination with Art Deco struck the area with a vengeance in the 1930’s and the area continued to flourish and it’s population explode through the 1940’s and ’50’s. But after Fidel Castro came to power over Cuba (less than 200 miles from Miami) in 1959 and permitted the Soviet Union to position missiles aimed at the United States in 1962, a decided chill set over South Florida and the former hotspots fell out of favor and began to rapidly decay out of neglect and social upheaval.
At the end of the 1970’s, South Beach was declared a Historic Landmark, a designation intended to protect the Art Deco character of the neighborhood by setting strict architectural guidelines for any renovations or new construction. The influx of of over 140,000 refugees from Cuba as a result of the Mariel boatlift enriched the community through these new residents who brought with them a multitude of artistic talents, dedicated work ethics, loving families, and strong determination to achieve the American Dream.
Over the last 30 years, Movies and Television shows filmed in and about the area such as “Scarface”, “Miami Vice”, “CSI Miami” and, of course, the evening news following live the bizarre murder and hunt for the killer of fashion designer Gianni Versace in front of his South Beach mansion, exposed both the glamorous as well as the seedy side of of South Beach life and added to the new interest and myths.
It is the spirit of the area, the people, the landscape, sunshine and fun that served as inspiration for my “South Beach Icons” series. Enjoy!
Free Icons of the Day
Series to be continued…