San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge. St. Louis has the Arch. Las Vegas has its retro welcome sign. It seems like every city has an iconic structure to represent itself to the rest of the world. Every city but Miami, that is. The Magic City is full of architectural gems, and maybe that's why no one building has come to define it. But that's left this town without a symbol of its own. In our Miami Icons series, we're aiming to fix that. Today, writer Travis Cohen argues that the Colony Hotel's Art Deco history and Ocean Drive location have earned it icon status.
For better or worse, when most people think Miami Beach, they don't think about Normandy Isle and seven-one or Surfside or Sunny Isles They think about South Beach. They think about half-naked women with perfectly sculpted bodies coated in deep summer tans. They think of candy colored super cars. They imagine SoBe as a scattershot settlement of clubs overflowing with beautiful people who meander towards the shoreline at 4 a.m., bedecked in barely buttoned Armani shirts and short Valentino dresses that have crawled up a long length of thigh, as they search for a palm tree to vomit on beneath the neon moonlight. And what is the backdrop for this glamorous scene? None but the Historic Art Deco District of Miami Beach and all those lovely pastel palaces along Ocean Drive.
And even if the ideas and attitudes towards South Beach that locals and tourists hold don't exactly match up, nobody can contend that the Art Deco architecture is an intrinsic part of the Beach's personality as a city. Most of that style was designed by a man named Henry Hohauser, who was responsible for a great many of the buildings that still stand on Ocean Drive and the surrounding sections of the Deco District. And out of all his classic creations, there's hardly a one that can be said to be more of a well-known staple in the recollections and postcards of South Beach than the Colony Hotel.More »