Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Miami, FL: The Glamorous Art Deco District

My favorite part of Miami is South Beach. Fuzzy sentiments aside, I love it for its architectural richness (and by richness I mean sparkling glamor!) Miami Beach has the largest concentration of Art Deco architecture in world. The pastel buildings (including my semi-glamorous/mostly wannabe Ian Schrager Hotel Clinton) were erected during the height of the Deco period - in the 1920s through the Second World War - and retain their original splendor today.

The area had always been home and second home to Jewish retirees and snowbirds from the north. It was in a state of disrepair for many years until cocaine money started pumping into the city in the 1970s. Developers kicked our the poor and renovated the dusty blocks. It was revitalized into a trendy area for nightlife and tourism, popular among European, Latin American, and Long Islander visitors alike.

The population is mostly Latino now but elements of Jewish culture remain: I passed a handful of Kosher restaurants, several shuls, as well as the Jewish Museum of Florida. Currents of seediness and poverty that once blighted the area are still easy to spot too. It is impossible to miss drug dealers and other n'er do wells lurking in the alleys between blocks. I can't help but love Miami Beach anyway - the backdrop makes even makes the trashy girls in platform flip-flops sparkle!

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