Miami Beach in Florida claims to have the largest concentration of 1920′s and 1930′s Art Deco buildings in the world, with some 960 historic buildings dating from the time the beach area was developed as a popular resort, including what is now The Bass which was then built as a public library.
It is astonishing to think now that the Art Deco architecture was in threat of disappearing after the Second World War when the small hotels which are characteristic of the area were gradually falling into decline as they became uneconomic in comparison to the larger hotels being elsewhere. Slow decay, and potential demolition and replacement with tall anonymous blocks in the 1970′s seemed to be the area’s future when it was saved by Barbara Baer Capitman and a group of activists who set up the Miami Design Preservation League in 1976, which resulted in the historic designation 3 years later, which has since been extended. Alterations and additions could be made, but within strict guidelines to maintain South Beach’s unique character, which remains a great magnet today, while buildings still undergo changes with refurbishments and change of owners.
The one downside of Miami Beach is the traffic, although many of the restaurants have valet parking. It would be good if something imaginative could be done, perhaps with trams or trolley buses, something that goes back to the era of the 1920′s and 30′s, connecting to car parks at the end. There are some shuttle buses, but they get bogged down in the amount of traffic in the streets.