Miami, a city known for its vibrant culture and stunning architecture, boasts a treasure trove of art deco district buildings that transport visitors to a bygone era. In this exploration of Miami’s architectural gems, we uncover the stories behind some of the city’s most iconic art deco district structures.
Henry Hohauser’s 1938 Essex House Hotel is a masterpiece of Nautical Moderne, resembling a land-locked ocean liner with porthole windows and a smokestack-like neon tower. Its curved façade, seemingly docked at the junction of Collins and 10th Street, is a testament to the city’s rich maritime-inspired architecture.
2. The Carlyle
Location: 1250 Ocean Dr at 13th St
A classic example of Miami Beach Deco, The Carlyle is a dazzling ensemble of vertical piers, horizontal lines, visor-like sunshades, and curvaceous corners. Recognizable from films like Scarface and Bad Boys II, it stands as a testament to the city’s flamboyant architectural heritage.
3. Collins Ave and Española Way (Hoffman’s Cafeteria Building)
Location: 1450 Collins Ave at 14th St
Once home to the legendary Warsaw, the Hoffman’s Cafeteria Building is a Deco gem designed by Hohauser in 1939. Its central turret and sweeping “angel wings” were the backdrop for the Birdcage’s drag queens. Despite its varied transformations, plans to redevelop the space ensure its architectural legacy endures.
4. Miami Beach U.S. Post Office
Location: 1300 Washington Ave at 13th St
Designed by Howard Lovewell Cheney in 1937, the Miami Beach Post Office embodies “deco Federal” style. Beyond its minimalist façade lies a bustling interior adorned with a cowboys-and-Indians frieze, a starburst ceiling, and shiny brass detailing.
5. The Celino Hotel
Location: 630 Ocean Drive (formerly Park Central Hotel)
Originally known as the Park Central Hotel, The Celino Hotel, designed by Henry Hohauser in 1937, features bold vertical bands and window “eyebrows.” Its association with Brian De Palma’s Scarface and Miami Vice adds a layer of intrigue to its Deco past.
6. The Marlin Hotel
Location: 1200 Collins Ave
Designed by L. Murray Dixon in 1939, The Marlin Hotel on Collins Avenue evokes the sci-fi serials of its era, with iconic “eyebrows” over windows and pastel-colored walls. Beyond its art deco district charm, the hotel houses one of the city’s top recording studios.
7. Cardozo South Beach
Location: 1300 Ocean Dr, South Beach
Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s Cardozo South Beach, reopened in May 2019 after a $15 million renovation, showcases modernized interiors while preserving its 80-year-old charm. Its film cameos, including appearances in The Birdcage and There’s Something About Mary, contribute to its timeless allure.
8. The Breakwater
Location: 940 Ocean Dr
Opened in 1936, Th remains a focal point of art deco district Miami commentary. Emphasizing symmetry with a central tower and neon accents, it stands as a testament to the enduring popularity of Deco hotels in South Beach.
9. The Webster
Location: 1220 Collins Ave at 12th St
Originally a hotel designed by Hohauser in 1939, The Webster now houses a luxury boutique. While its Parisian-designed fashion collection pays homage to its art deco district roots, the building’s original terrazzo flooring and geometric façade with neon accents solidify its Deco designation.
10. The Tides
Location: 1220 Ocean Dr between 12th and 13th Sts
Designed by L. Murray Dixon, The Tides stands tall at 12 stories, featuring nautical porthole windows that tower over its neighbors. A testament to Dixon’s prolific contribution to the city’s art deco district era, The Tides remains a towering figure on Ocean Drive.
11. Cameo Night Club
Location: 1445 Washington Ave at 14th St
Originally a 1938 Art Deco movie theater designed by Robert E. Collins, the Cameo Night Club illuminated Collins Avenue with its neon marquee, showcasing famous DJs. While the space is currently closed, its vivid presence at night remains an unforgettable part of Miami’s Deco nightlife.
12. The Clevelander
Location: 1020 Ocean Dr at 10th St
Built in 1938 by Albert Anis, The Clevelander goes beyond austere architecture, embracing full glam with ornate central bays and distinctive “eyebrows.” Today, its outdoor pool and bar area, added during renovations, attract Ocean Drive’s most colorful characters.
13. Art Deco Beach Patrol Headquarters
Location: 1001 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach
Designed by Robert Taylor and opened in 1934, the Art Deco Beach Patrol Headquarters exudes nautical-themed elegance with long rows of porthole windows and railings on its oblong second floor. The circular tower proudly flies the flags of the United States and Miami Beach.
As the sun sets on Miami, the neon lights of these art deco district marvels come to life, casting a timeless glow on the city’s rich architectural heritage. Whether strolling along Ocean Drive or exploring the historic streets of Miami Beach, each building tells a unique story, weaving together the past and present in a tapestry of art deco district elegance.