Art Deco in Miami
Miami’s Art Deco influenced architecture is widely viewed in many small, pastel, brightly colored or plain white hotels as well as a few larger hotels. Another defining factor is design elements that exist in groups of three such as three circles, triangles or lines among many other elements but three is key. In Miami, there is a whole area known as the Art Deco Historic District. With more than 800 buildings built between 1923 and 1943, most of which are located in South Beach (SOBE), the area thoroughly reflects the Art Deco design style.
Recognizing Art Deco buildings
Spotting Art Deco elements is easy once you know what to look for. Pastel colors, curves and eyebrows, zig zags, round porthole windows like those present in cruise ships, chrome, symmetry, ziggurat features such as those found in step pyramids and interior and exterior neon lighting are a few details to look for.
The art deco style of the 20th century was influenced by other foreign design styles such as the French Art Deco, Egyptian and Asian art, cubism and German Bauhaus among others.
The Birth of Art Deco
There are two time periods of Art Deco style, which spans from around 1920 to 1945: Classic and Streamline Moderne. Classic Art Deco style was popular in Paris in the early 1900’s before World War I. The International Exposition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts held in Paris in 1925 spread the concept of this unique architectural design style internationally. Expensive and luxurious materials such as silk, ebony and ivory were used during this period. After the Great Depression, Streamline Moderne’s sleek style appeared. Designs became subtler and cheaper materials such as stainless steel and plastic were used. Another sub-style in this era, Depression Moderne, was used mostly in the architecture of governmental buildings.
Art Deco as a design style was further incorporated into consumer items such as jewelry, radios and furniture. Trains and ocean liners reflected this style, too. Sculptures, paintings, graphic design, movie theaters and public spaces such as building lobbies embraced Art Deco design. Also, skyscrapers such as the Chrysler Building in New York City reflect this style well in its spire, gargoyle decorations and lobby.
Art Deco Finds a Home in Miami
Miami was devastated by the “Great Miami Hurricane” in 1926, and when the city was being rebuilt, Art Deco found a home. Mr. Collins, a land developer, and Mr. Fisher, an automotive parts inventor, sought to make Miami an attractive and popular destination and not just a southern city known for its mangrove swamps.
From around 1945 and for the next 20 years, Miami Modern (MiMo) style came onto the scene. MiMo style was a fusion of Latin and tropical influences with a hint of futurism and can be best seen now on Biscayne Boulevard from 50th to 77th Streets. Tropical Art Deco refers to the white and bright and pastel colored buildings that are further decorated with the seaside, palm trees and exotic bird designs.
Since 1976, the Miami Design Preservation League has been hugely active in their efforts to protect, preserve and restore these buildings and the buildings in the Miami Beach Architectural District. The area is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Finding Art Deco in Miami
- Park Central Hotel, between 6th Street and 7th Street and Ocean Drive
- Beacon Hotel, 7th Street and Ocean Drive
- Tides Hotel, 12th Street and 13th Street and Ocean Drive
- The Carlyle Hotel, 1250 Ocean Drive
- The McAlpin, 1424 Ocean Drive
- Jerry’s Famous Deli, 1450 Collins Avenue
- Lincoln Theater
- Marlin Hotel
- U.S. Post Office in Miami Beach reflects the Depression Moderne style
- The Delano Hotel, 1685 Collins Avenue, represents a fusion of MiMo and Art Deco style
Further sources of Art Deco
- Art Deco Museum & Welcome Center
- 1001 Ocean Drive (10th Street and Ocean Drive)
The museum is open from Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and until 7 p.m. on Thursdays and closed on Monday. Admission is $5.00. The adjacent gift shop sells all things Art Deco.
Great food and an even better views, could Miami get any better? Well, they do have beaches and good weather too! WOW air offers cheap flights to Miami from around Europe. Our aircraft might not be very Art Deco but we promise to get you there in style.
Text: Caron R. Luteran
Photos: Caron R. Luteran & iStock