September 2016

The History of Ocean Drive

The skyline of Ocean Drive in South Beach is iconic – it’s been featured on television and in print photography thousands of times. This street is the heart of South Beach’s Art Deco district; this area gives visitors a chance to see this beautiful, historical architecture from a past era, which was saved and preserved by preservationists over the years.

Basic Facts About Ocean Drive

Ocean Drives stretches from South Point (just south of 1st street) and continues north to 15th street. This street is at the epicenter of the Miami Art Deco District; this district houses 900 historically preserved buildings. The Art Deco buildings this street is known for is the hotels. Some popular hotels include; the Colony Hotel, Clevelander Hotel, and the Cavalier Hotel.

A Brief History of Ocean Drive

In the 1910s, Miami pioneer Carl Fisher was a crucial role in the evolution of South Beach becoming a resort destination. In 1913, Fisher completed the area’s first luxury hotel, and soon thereafter created the Lincoln Road shopping district. By 1920, a South Beach land boom began and hotels and mansions began popping up left and right. In the two decades to follow, the South Beach Art Deco era began, which is when many of the area’s hotels were built with this style of architecture; many of these hotels were on Ocean Drive. The Cavalier was one of these hotels and was designed by architect Roy F. France in 1936; it is still considered a masterpiece of the Art Deco movement.

From the 1930s until now, the architecture on Ocean Drive is a combination of different styles from different architects; this area is considered to be an “Art Deco capital” and is home to the largest concentration of 1920s and 1930s resort-style architecture. The Art Deco we see today is influenced by the 1924 Paris Exposition des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes, which was Paris design fair that celebrated the decorative arts’ relationship with technology. A lot of Mayan and Egyptian motifs were used at this time with clean lines and geometric patterns, but in South Beach the themes were also nautical and tropical in nature. By the 1930s and 1940s, a style referred to as the Steamline Moderne evolved; this was an industrial design with smooth edges and horizontal striping and vertical embellishments. This style’s unique features set it apart from anything else is can be seen all over Miami Beach with neon lights and brightly colored buildings.

Over the years, the buildings began to look run down on Ocean Drive due to age and the saltwater air; they were in much need of repairs and renovations. In the 1980s, South Beach began to go through a “renaissance” as the community realized these buildings with the Art Deco architecture were priceless, and restoration began.

Stay On Ocean Drive

People travel from all over to have a glimpse of South Beach’s famous Art Deco district. The Cavalier is a newly renovated Art Deco hotel, and it sits right on Ocean Drive. By staying in the Cavalier, you will not only get to enjoy this hotel’s personal Art Deco accents, but you will be in close proximity to other notable South Beach Art Deco architecture. To book your stay at the Cavalier, call 305-671-1199 or click here.

The Cavalier and the Art Deco Movement

South Beach is home to the largest concentration of 1920s and 1930s architecture in the world in its Art Deco District. The Art Deco movement was about decorative arts/architecture that began in the 1920s that soon turned into a major style in both Europe and the United States in the 1930s. In the 1930s, the style came to South Beach in Miami, and the Art Deco Historic District soon came to be. Built in 1936, The Cavalier was one of the buildings designed using this unique style of sleek, streamlined shapes and forms.

Art Deco developed from the “Exposition des Arts Decoratifs et Industrials,” which was an exhibition held in Paris in 1925 that first formally introduced the style. Art Deco’s style is considered bold, refined, modern, simple, and crisp. With Art Deco architecture, buildings were designed to have clean lines and have an uncluttered look to them. After World War I, Art Deco architecture began popping up in major European cities, like Paris. After several American architects attended the exposition and saw the Art Deco Style on the buildings across western Europe, they were eager to bring this style back home and use it.

The South Beach buildings famous for their Art Deco architecture were created later in the Art Deco era, which was during the mid-to-late 1930s; this late type of Art Deco architecture was referred to as “Streamline Moderne.”  This later Art Deco style is known for its curving forms, long horizontal lines, and nautical and tropical elements. Streamline Moderne was at its peak in the late 1930s when South Beach was going through a housing and hotel building boom.

During this boom, the Cavalier was built by Roy F. France. In its 80 years in existence, this boutique hotel still has the original architecture on its outside façade of bright pastel colors. In 2015, the Cavalier went through extensive restorations that give the hotel an updated twist to its original Art Deco beauty.

You can experience the wonder of this masterful architecture up-close-and-personal by staying at the Cavalier, located on Ocean Drive in South Beach’s Art Deco District. To book your stay at the Cavalier, call 305-673-1199 or click here.

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