SOUTH BEACH WALK
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Let’s start from the corner of Lincoln Road and Collins Avenue at the green marker. Walk north on Collins Avenue. This street was named for John
S. Collins, the pioneer farmer and developer of Miami Beach, who
in 1907, at 70 years of age, started an avocado plantation, and built
the first bridge to the mainland in 1912.
your right are four classic hotels representative of the third great
building boom from 1945 to 1965.
is the Ritz-Carlton South Beach (ex. DiLido)
(1953), which reflects the Miami
Modern Architecture, or "MiMo," a style that local architect
Morris Lapidus, who also designed the Fontainebleau and Eden Roc Hotels,
pioneered in the 1950's. It has now been completely remodeled and
has become a Ritz Carlton timeshare property.
door is the Sagamore (1948),
also totally refurbished with a lobby reminiscent of a modern art
this comes the National
(1940), which has won admiration for its thoughtful and expert renovation
in 2003. The 205 foot infinity pool shaded by palms is a sight you
should not miss.
in this impressive block is the famed Delano
(1947). Hispanics please note the accent is on the “e”
not the “a”! At the time it was the tallest hotel in Miami
Beach. It has now been completely remodeled by famed interior decorator
Phillipe Starck, whose use of the colour white is predominant throughout
the property. By all means attempt to access the lobby and pool area.
to right: DiLido, Sagamore, National and Delano
Delano's winged tower and National's dome
Turn left on 17th. Street. Note the smart remodeled Cadet
Hotel (1941) on your right.
the north-east corner of 17th. Street and Washington Avenue is the
large domed synagogue Temple
Opposite, on the north-west corner, is The
Fillmore Miami Beach at The Jackie Gleason Theater (1948). Designed
by three of Miami Beach’s most prominent architects, this theatre
now specializes in modern popular music and is owned by the Live Nation
group. The whimsical mermaid
reclining out front is by artist Roy
the theatre you can see the box-like campus of
Michael Tilson Thomas’ New
World Symphony, America’s orchestral academy. Designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry (Bilbao), it was opened in January of 2011. Facing the theatre is a public park. During certain concerts you can sit in the park listening to the music while watching the performance projected on the giant white wall facing you.
left on Washington Avenue. To your left is the little Green
View hotel (1939). At one time it overlooked a golf course, then the area was developed and the "green" view became an ugly parking lot. Now, happily, it's got its "green view" back again.
Fillmore at Jackie Gleason Theatre
right on Lincoln Road.
Developer Carl G.
Fisher was a great admirer of President Abraham Lincoln, so one
of the first ocean to bay streets cut through the mangrove swamp in
the incipient village of Miami Beach was called Lincoln Road. It was
planned as a shopping street to rival 5th. Avenue in New York and
nationally known department stores such as Bonwit Teller and Saks
Fifth Avenue anchored the mall.
Lapidus was commissioned to redesign Lincoln Road. Lapidus' design,
complete with gardens, fountains, shelters and an amphitheater, reflected
"MiMo," style. The road was closed to traffic and became
one of the nation's first pedestrian precincts.
Beach Community Church:
First point of interest to your left is the Miami Beach Community
Church. This was the first house of worship erected in the City. Enter
the church to see the lovely stained glass windows.
Next to your right on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue is the Lincoln
Theatre (1935). Now converted to an H & M store, it is a wonderful example of Streamline Moderne architecture
and the rounded corner juxtapositioned with its neighbour the Sony
Building (1936) across the street make a striking photo.
can continue down Lincoln Road to the end. There are many historical
buildings on the street, most carefully restored is the Sterling Building
(1928), on the 900 block, which was renovated in 1986 and heralded
the most recent renaissance of Lincoln Road. Also the newly renovated
Theatre (1934) on the 1000 block.
Beach Community Church
down Lincoln Road to Collins Avenue, and this time turn right.
On the right is one of the most delightful Art Deco hotels in the
district, the Berkley Shore Hotel (1940). These were probably not
the original colours!
To the left, after a nondescript condominium, is one of the few “new”
hotels of Miami Beach, Loews (1998). This was built after the destruction
of existing Art Deco hotels, but fortunately the finest of them, the
St. Moritz (1939) was preserved as part of the Loews hotel complex.
Palm and Shorecrest:
Right next door is the Royal Palm and Shorecrest Hotels (1939 and
2002), which were condemned and torn down in 1995. The city was able
to oblige the builders to replicate the two hotels within the new
complex, which seems to have worked extremely well.
Warsaw Ballroom (now Señor Frog's):
Continue past more low-rise Deco hotels to the corner of Espanola
Way. Here you will come across the in-famous Warsaw Ballroom (1940),
originally Hoffman’s Cafeteria, and now Señor Frog's. It is well worth stopping off here for some refreshment. The
interior of this remarkable building is stunning. And to top it all,
the prices are quite reasonable.
Turn left here into Espanola Way (1924-5). This is Miami Beach’s
attempt at being Mediterranean. Originally planned to cover 5 blocks,
only two blocks were completed. Stroll down past the romantic Clay
Hotel (1925), art studios and restaurants to Plaza de España, then return to Washington Avenue and turn right.
Warsaw Ballroom (now Señor Frog's)
Return to Washington Avenue and turn right. Set back from the street
on the right is the original Ida. M. Fisher Elementary School (1920).
Named in honour of Carl G. Fisher’s mother, the style is Mediterranean
Revival, popular prior to the Art Deco period.
Beach Post Office:
At the end of the next block, to the right, is the Miami Beach Post
Office (1937). This is built in Depression Moderne style during Franklin
Roosevelt’s New Deal era, and was the first building to be renovated
in the Historical District.
Turn right on 14th. Steet for a short block to Drexel Avenue. Here
turn left to view a lovely block of eclectic styles of construction.
No. 1250 (1939) is Streamline Moderne, 1236 (1930) is Mediterranean
Revival and 1218 (1925), also Mediterranean Revival, but heavily ornamented.
Miami Beach City Hall:
At the end of Drexel you will pass into a small European style plaza.
To the right is the new Miami Beach Police Station. To the left is
the impressive nine-story Old Miami Beach City Hall (1928). In 2008
the city completely renovated this structure. Enter the building and walk through
to Washington Avenue.
Old Miami City Hall
On the corner of 11th. Street is the 50’s style 11th. Street
Diner. This unusual restaurant was built in New Jersey in 1948, and
arrived in Miami Beach in 1992. Stop here for reasonable refreshments.
the right side of Washington Avenue are a series of interesting buildings.
Hotel (1936), Taft
Hotel (1936), Bel
Aire Apartments (1950) and the Davis
Hotel (1941). In between is the Coral
House (1922). This house in a vernacular style is made of local
oolitic limestone, typical of South Florida in the early part of the
On the right hand side of the avenue is the unmistakable fortress-like
building of the Wolfsonian Museum, which was originally a storage
facility. It must be that the word “eclectic” was coined
here. It calls itself “The Museum of Thinkism”, and the
120,000 exhibits cover art and design between the years of 1885 to
1945. Created in1986 from the collection of local entrepreneur and
philanthropist Mitchell Wolfson. The very reasonable entrance fee
makes a visit to this unusual museum highly recommended.
From here, turn left on 10th. Street. On the north-west corner of
Collins Avenue is the lovely Essex House Hotel (1938). A classic in
every way. Don’t miss the glorious lobby (remember, dress the
At the end of 10th. Street is Lummus Park. This 20-acre oceanfront
property was sold to the incipient City of Miami Beach for US$ 40,000
in 1915 by the Lummus Brothers, original developers of Miami Beach
Design Preservation League:
The Miami Design Preservation League headquarters is facing you. MDPL
is a non-profit organization devoted to preserving, protecting, and
promoting the cultural, social, economic, environmental, and architectural
integrity of the Miami Beach Architectural Historic District. MDPL
was originally organized by Barbara Capitman in 1976 and is the oldest
Art Deco Society in the world. There is a small museum exhibit and
Go around behind the building to see the whimsical Beach Patrol Headquarters
(1934), pretty much world famous by now. This is also a good area
to cross over the dunes to see the vast expanse of South Beach.
You are now half way down Ocean Drive. To be honest, it’s almost
too much to absorb. The five-block stroll to the northern extremity
is a wealth of sights and sounds. Lining the left of the street are
attractive and bustling sidewalk cafes, sizzling bars and night clubs
and wonderful 1930s hotel lobbies. On the right are the palms and
greenery of Lummus Park. There can’t be a more fascinating beachfront
than this anywhere in the U.S.A.
Mansion and Victor Hotel
Drive. 14th. block
first building to your left is the Clevelander,
which has undergone renovations and reconstruction of the pool area.
this and 11th. Street, is Congress Suites at The
Strand on Ocean. This development entailed renovating four existing
historic buildings, including the Congress (1936) and Bon Air (1934),
back to their original art-deco facades, as well as building a new,
contemporary structure with an outside courtyard and tropical landscaping.
the corner of 11th. Street is Casa
Casuarina, better known as the Versace Mansion. It was on these
steps on the 15th. July 1997 that Gianni Versace, returning from breakfast
at News Café, was gunned down by assassin Andrew Cunana. The
building is now a private club.
rest of the block has been acquired by Hyatt as the Victor Hotel (1937),
which has been completely renovated.
last hotel on the 12th. block is the Carlyle
(1939), made famous by the 1996 film “The Birdcage” with
Robin Williams and Nathan Lane.
the opposite corner is the Cardozo
(1939), owned by Emilio and Gloria Estefan, it was featured in a 1959
Sinatra film “Hole in the Head” and “Something about
Mary” in 1998.
the 14th. block Hilton has purchased four properties and has set them
up as timeshares. They seem to flow together particularly well. The
(1940), Ocean Plaza (1941) and Penguin (1948).
here, turn right towards the seashore and take the attractive beachwalk,
which will take you past the swimming pools of the Royal Palm and
Loews Hotels, back to Lincoln Road.
Return to top of South Beach Walk