The Year? 1925. Art Deco design took Paris by storm at the Paris Exposition Internationale des Artes Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. After a hurricane in 1926 practically wiped out Miami Beach, architects in the U.S. decided to rebuild the city anew, adopting the chic, European style, which, in its aesthetic, would complement the beachside locale.
Geometric architectural building designs were meant to imitate the look of luxury cruise ships, with porthole windows, and painted in pastel colors such as coral and blue to emulate the sea. The design helped to lure curious tourists to the city's oceanfront resorts.
The Tropical Deco Tour led by Dragonfly Expeditions, which departs from The Biltmore Miami Coral Gables, takes guests step-by-step through the district, with insider's details on what makes each stop along the way distinct.
The Tropical Deco Tour reveals insider's details on what makes each stop along the way distinct.
Beyond The Buildings
Among the sights is Beach Patrol Headquarters on famous Ocean Drive, a prime example of Art Deco's Streamline Moderne style. Your tour guide will point out the nautical influences on the building's design by architect Robert A. Taylor, which opened in 1934, including the iron rails on the second-floor outdoor deck that are meant to resemble a captain's bridge on a ship.
The tour continues on its delightful Deco path, taking in sights with historical merit. The city's United States Post Office was designed in the aptly named Deco Federal Style in 1937. Inside, murals depict "Episodes from the History of Florida." Artist Charles Russell Hardman painted each by hand as part of a public works art project in 1940, funded by the U.S. government.
No stop in South Beach is complete without a walk along the shoreline. This is where you'll find the modern tributes to Art Deco fanciful lifeguard stands by architect William Lane — dreamed up in 1992 after Hurricane Andrew swept through the area, destroying the standard stations. Then it's off to the lively thoroughfare Española Way. Though it's located in the Art Deco district, the two-block corridor was modeled after the Mediterranean artist villages of Spain and France, when it was conceived in 1925.
Talk about the sights over lunch at Tapas Y Tintos on Española Way, the final stop, where small plates and sangria round out the day's tropical vibe.
To learn more about The Biltmore Miami Coral Gables, or the Tropical Deco tour, please contact the concierge upon making a reservation.