January 14, 2019
Here’s the lovely sunrise we see from the ship.
We had two relaxing sea days on our way from New York to Miami. We encountered slightly rolling seas and some rain, but the weather gradually got warmer on our way.
Today in Miami, we booked an Art Deco tour in Miami Beach. Our tour guide was James and to our surprise we were the only people on the tour! James was really terrific. We met him on the front porch of the Essex Hotel and he first shared the very interesting history of Miami Beach (which is not part of Miami, but a totally separate city). James is an author and very well informed about the city.
From the early days of the wealthy people coming to Miami Beach to the evolution to today’s restored historic district, there were many times when the city was in disrepair and also during the war, many of the buildings were used for barracks for soldiers.
The first 20th-century neighborhood to be recognized by the National Register of Historic Places, Miami Beach’s Art Deco Historic District is made up of 800+ buildings and structures built between 1923 and 1943.
When decades of neglect nearly caused Miami’s Art Deco scene to be demolished, a named Barbara Baer Capitman founded a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving, protecting and promoting the appearance and integrity of the Miami Beach Architectural Historic District.
It was through her hard work and perseverance that Art Deco in Miami gained national protection, motivating designers and developers to bring out the area’s Art Deco elements and restore its pastel-hued boutique hotels to their original style.
We really didn’t know anything about the elements of Art Deco style. What we learned was that there are several elements that define the style. Sleek geometric forms, metallic objects, groups of 3, decorative glass blocks, geometric shapes such as chevrons and ziggurats, and “eyebrows” that protrude out over the external windows.
The Whopper Bar is one of only 6 Burger Kings that serve alcohol!
We walked down Ocean Drive which has the Atlantic Ocean on one side and many beautiful buildings on the other. Marble was too expensive to use in most of these buildings (except the Mafia owned ones!) so they used coral which they colored with paints to make it look like marble. Fascinating.
The floors are beautiful, and whenever you see a diamond in the floor design, it is an indication that one of the illegal casinos was operating in that building. They are all gone now but the diamond designs remain.
We also had the chance to see the Versace mansion. It is now an exclusive hotel so only guests can go in, but even from the outside it was impressive. He was shot right outside the mansion.
It was a great day, and now we know to look for the art deco design in other cities that we will visit. Shanghai has a lot of architecture for us to explore, for example.
Oh, and we found out that those beautiful flowers were a birthday gift from our friends, Pam and Tom, who boarded today and will travel with us to Los Angeles. We never did get the card. Thank you, Pam and Tom!
And so it begins! I great way to kick off your adventure!