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Back in its hip heyday, Humphrey Bogart would regularly stay at the neon-tinted Avalon Hotel, usually parking his roadster right out front. Saved from demolition later in the century, the white lodging now sits in the middle of the largest concentration of Art Deco architecture in the United States.
Built on Miami’s iconic palm-laden Ocean Drive, the geometrically shaped hotel was designed by Albert Anis, the man credited with many Art Deco-styled structures in the Magic City. Inside, the Avalon continues the modern aesthetic of its outer shell, with clean and bright communal spaces. Even the lobby’s floor features sleek lines tracing the differing shapes of the walls and curved concierge desk. A part of the historic array of hotels that served glamourous patrons in Miami Beach’s heyday, the Avalon and many of its counterparts almost fell victim to the wrecking ball.
Through the 1930s to early 1940s when the Avalon opened its doors, Miami Beach was a success story—a vacation spot that only years earlier had been devastated by a historically destructive hurricane. Due to the community’s burgeoning popularity at a time when “Streamline Moderne” was also gaining international attention as an architectural style, Ocean Drive and its surrounding streets became laden with Art Deco architecture. By the 1970s however, Miami Beach and it’s symmetrical structures had fallen out of favor with vacationers. As some Art Deco masterpieces began to be taken down by developers, activists, spearheaded by Barbara Baer Capitman, successfully fought for the Deco-filled district to be preserved. Becoming the Miami Beach Architectural District in 1979, buildings, including the Avalon, were spared for future beachgoers to enjoy.
While the brooding Bogart may no longer be sipping scotch on the premises, a vintage 1955 Oldsmobile now sits out front of the hotel in an homage to his parking habit. In the style of the iconic actor, patrons and passersby might just stop in awe of the Avalon’s restored exterior and exclaim, “here’s looking at you, kid.”
Written By: Seamus McMahon
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