Miami’s Art Deco District: sun, pastel shades and neon lights

Discovering Art Deco architecture in Miami

Miami is a young city whose history doesn’t stretch back far in time. It wasn’t its monuments but its relaxed atmosphere, climate and beaches that put this city on the map and in the guidebooks. However, in South Beach, Miami has an architectural treasure trove: the Art Deco District. A neighbourhood with its own personality that retains all the beautiful charm of the city’s golden age.

Art Deco District Miami

What is Art Deco?

Let’s start at the beginning. Art Deco is an art movement that arose in early 20th-century Europe but soon jumped across the Atlantic. Two of the best-known examples in the United States are the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building in New York.

The main characteristics of these buildings are their elementary geometric forms, where cubes, spheres and straight lines are the star of the show. Art Deco features lots of plaster mouldings, symmetry, jagged roofs and bas-reliefs. In Miami, Art Deco also took on tropical and maritime influences by incorporating nautical motifs, portholes, pastel colours and neon lights.

History of Miami’s Art Deco District

Art Deco’s peak coincided with the Great Depression and it proclaimed a sense of optimism during this economic crisis. Miami promoted its image as a sunny holiday destination where people could forget about their worries by building Art Deco hotels and other buildings. Most of the city’s Art Deco buildings date from the 1930s and 1940s and are still hotels today.

What makes Miami’s Art Deco District really interesting is the high concentration of lots of striking buildings in a small area that you can easily explore on foot. Since the South Beach Art Deco District was declared a historic district in 1979, its buildings have been carefully studied and restored to protect every last detail. Its official name is the Miami Beach Architectural District, but everyone calls it the Art Deco District.

Art Deco Miami

Tour of Miami’s Art Deco District

Miami’s Art Deco District is bounded by three main avenues: Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue and Washington Avenue.

The Art Deco District Welcome Center provides information on the neighbourhood and you can sign up for a 90-minute guided tour of the main sights.

If you’d rather discover the area on your own, we recommend you start on Ocean Drive, by the beach, where you should soak up the atmosphere as well as the architecture. As you stroll around, you find one fascinating restaurant, café, hotel, etc. after another. Some of the most famous buildings include Waldorf Towers, Colony, Breakwater, Crescent, Essex House, Miami Beach Main Post Office, Bentley, Avalon, Pelican Hotel and Marlin, among many others.

Laura - Marketing Team

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