Darcy Pup Leads the Art Deco Tour in Miami

January 19, 2011

After spending this New Year’s Eve in Nashville with my good friends, Mr. MuseumChick and I pondered, “well, we are half way to somewhere warm. Should our next stop be L.A. or Miami?” Our decision was based solely on weather predictions, “It’s going to be warmer in Miami- solved, so Miami it is”.  That was easy. Plus, South Beach has fun and very unique art deco architecture that I always love to see.

I know what you’re thinking,”Going to South Beach to check out architecture!” Please don’t think I’m that much of a stick in the mud.  I do like to party, go to the beach and relax at the pool but I can only do that for so long. Plus, I need to make Darcy a cultured puppy.

After a little fun in the sun at the Fontainebleau, my little family (me, Mr. MuseumChick and Darcy) headed to South Beach to do the self guided art deco walking tour. It was one of the few activities that didn’t alienate poor Darcy.

This is the Art Deco Welcome Center on Ocean Drive. It’s a modern building. Not to be picky but wouldn’t it be more suited in an art deco building?

For $15 a person (puppies are free), they set us up with an iPod Nano and a numbered map of the architectural highlights.

Darcy found the narrator’s voice soothing but looked confused as to why we weren’t stopping for the Cuban cooking smell coming from the restaurants on the row.

I read at National Geographic that Miami Beach’s Art Deco District is the first 20th-century neighborhood to be recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. There are 800 historical structures built between 1923 and 1943. One of my first stops on the walking tour was the now vacant Leslie Hotel, originally built in 1937.

One of the distinguishing features of the Leslie is its pale lemon-colored eyebrows that wrap around the building. Eyebrows are one of the identifying characteristics of art deco. They often look like shelves over the windows and were originally designed for shade.

Close by on Ocean Blvd. is the buzzing Cardozo. It was built in 1939 and is now owned by Gloria and Emilio Estefan. It features another popular art deco characteristic- rounded corners. New construction technology along with new designs in planes, trains and automobiles influenced this design. The rounded corners are made for the building to appear aerodynamic and sleek.

The elegant Carlyle also features two of the previously mentioned design features in one building- sleek rounded corners and eyebrows that wrap around the building.

The iPod lead us up Ocean until we crossed to Collins and began to head south. So, basically we did a big loop. On Collins Ave. is the famous Tiffany Hotel (now called the Hotel of South Beach because Tiffany and Co. barred the use of the name). It was built in 1939 by architect L. Murray Dixon, who designed it to look like a rocket from the front because of new American trends in popular movies.

The famous icon spire is fragile but managed to survive hurricanes and is still the original. The Tiffany Hotel also has a membership in Historic Hotels of America’s historic preservation.

Looping back around on Ocean Ave, one of the last stops was the Park Central Hotel, complete with a 50s style car waiting out front. The colors of the hotel were designed to resemble the ocean, sky and waves, and with the three portholes above the door, this hotel embraces the idea of Nautical Art Deco or sometimes called Tropical Deco style seen a lot in South Beach.

Darcy loved the tour, mostly for the people-watching and all the women that run up to pet and kiss him (he’s like walking around with a celebrity). But Darcy was ready for the beach. His mission- to dig in the sand all the way to China.

©2011 Danee Gilmartin All rights reserved

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  1. ListsMania 04.25.2014

    Now that’s one lucky dog :)
    ListsMania recently posted…Top 10 Most Devastating Natural Disasters EverMy Profile

  2. Suzy 03.31.2011

    Sounds like a great tour to take while in Miami. I like how you could stop and linger over certain buildings and not have to go with a group or a guide. Love the last photo too! So cute!

    • MuseumChick 03.31.2011

      It was! The art deco in Miami is so particular and interesting. I’m going next week with Darcy to get out of this still Arctic NYC weather. I’m going to do some other cool self guided tours and I’ll share them.

  3. analouge kate 03.2.2011

    Loved your post and photos – going to Miami this weekend and will check out the nano tour. Thanks for posting.

    oh yeah and …. Darcy is adorable!

    • MuseumChick 03.3.2011

      Lucky you-going to Miami tomorrow! Have fun and if you have time try the tour. It was really great and since it’s self guided you can stop along the way to eat some great Cuban food or walk in on the beach!

  4. Camels & Chocola 01.19.2011

    Darcy looks like he's digging the architecture–guess he follows in his mom's footsteps after all! I love the picture of him in his headphones. Precious. Ella IS in need of a boyfriend… ;-)

  5. Andi 01.19.2011

    What an awesome day! And that last pic is beyond precious!!!