In the heat of Miami
It’s only spring but the weather is hot. The days are all the same, 29°C by day, 25 by night. It’s sticky and only livable by the beach with the continuous breeze. But there’s some stuff to see inland.
Coral Gables was one of the first planned communities built in the 20s. Its architecture is Mediterranean revival style. We drive by to see the stunning Biltmore Hotel (1926) and the Venetian pool (1923), the only swimming pool on the National register of historic places.
Wynwood is the former warehouse district of Miami, its been given a new life thanks to the many graffiti artist who painted the whole neighborhood. Wynwood Walls is a collection of amazing creations for all tastes.
In the afternoon we head to Miami Beach to get some fresh air. This is one of the most famous beaches in the world thanks to Ocean Drive, but the beach itself isn’t that well built, the bathrooms are disgusting, there’s no changing rooms and barely any showers to rince off.
At 6.30 pm the sun is lower and we start a guided tour of the Art Deco District. Miami Beach has been built for the rich as a holiday destination. Ocean drive is a strip of hotels only, to the exception of the Casa Casuarina which was built as a single family house. The mansion, in a Mediterranean revival style, has been bought by Versace in 1992 for $3 million. He renovated it all for $32 million but enjoyed it for only five years, he was assassinated right in front of it.
In the 1910s and 1920s the constructions were in Mediterranean revival style to recreate the romantic feel of southern Europe. Architects then shifted to symmetry, geometry and order: the Art Deco. This style originates from France at the “Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes”. Buildings were Art Deco in the 20s, Streamline in the 30s and MiMo from the late 40s to 60s (Check the picture with explanation of the styles below). The design trend is not the only thing that influenced the architecture, there’s also money involved. After the stock market crash of 1929, architects had to work on a budget, rooms were small, there was no balcony, and only one shared bathroom for each level. Miami’s boom slowed in 1941 with the world war when the government requisitioned the hotel to house soldiers stationed there. Later on the city became sort of a retirement village with an average age of 56 before being a dangerous area in the 80s. Then with the locals effort to revive it and preserve the buildings, it slowly became a resort town again. But it was also famous for its dark side and cocaine problem (cf Scareface and Miami Vice).