13 February 2016

Winter Escape: South Florida, 24 January - 1 February 2016

MoMI is pleased to present a photographic tour of a wintertime visit to Fort Lauderdale, the Florida Keys, and Miami in late January 2016: 

24 January 2016: Fort Lauderdale, Florida

After a late morning arrival at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (, we proceeded to the rental car facility located next to Terminal 1, where we picked up the black Hyundai Santa Fe from the good people at Hertz. Next stop was our accommodation for that evening, the Hampton Inn & Suites Fort Lauderdale Airport.

The Hampton Inn & Suites Fort Lauderdale Airport, 2500 Stirling Road in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Amenities include flat screen TVs with HD channels, free WiFi, outdoor heated pool and patio, fitness room, and Hampton's classic free hot breakfast.
The hotel's free airport shuttle bus makes getting to and from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport a breeze.  The bus departs the hotel at the top of every hour and takes between 10 and 15 minutes to reach the airport's Departures Level.
The hotel's check-in desk.  Luggage carts are conveniently parked by the sliding doors leading out to the front of the hotel, while a podium next to the check-in desk is manned during selected hours by a sales representative of the shuttle company that provides transport services between the hotel and Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades cruise terminal.  A one-way shuttle ticket to the cruise terminal costs US$10 per person. 
The comfortable lobby includes a pleasant sitting area where guests may relax while waiting for the airport or cruise terminal shuttles, or before departing for an exciting day of sightseeing in the Fort Lauderdale area. 
A large, comfortable, and well-lighted breakfast room leads outside to the patio and heated pool.  Hampton's celebrated free hot breakfast includes a wide variety of items to suit any tastes, including make-your-own waffles, scrambled eggs, hashbrowned potatoes, sausage or bacon, oatmeal, toast, muffins and danishes, cold cereal, fresh fruit, yogurt, fruit juices, and tea and coffee.  A small alcove off the breakfast room houses two internet-enabled computers and a printer for guest use. 
The patio and outdoor pool, located just off the breakfast room and lobby.
The corridor on the third floor of the Hampton Inn & Suites Fort Lauderdale Airport.  On the left, large windows permit natural light, while providing views overlooking the patio and pool below.
An overhead view of the pool and patio of the next-door Quality Inn, as seen from the fifth floor corridor in the Hampton Inn & Suites.
A selection of Hampton Inn & Suites electronic room keycards, featuring a variety of eclectic photos set to humorous slogans and puns.  Why not collect the whole set?  
Room 501, located on the hotel's top floor, featuring two Queen-sized beds. Along with the 32-inch flat screen TV, the room also contains a mini-fridge and microwave, ironing board and iron, clothes hangers, and writing desk and desk chair. 
The clean and bright bathroom in Room 501.
Another view of Room 501's bathroom.

Dinner on the evening of 24 January was at a Fort Lauderdale institution, the Rustic Inn Crabhouse, established as a roadhouse saloon in 1955 and serving its famous steamed garlic crabs, seafood, and linguini dishes ever since.  Located at 4331 Anglers Avenue, alongside one of the many canals that criss-cross Fort Lauderdale, the Rustic Inn features an interior dining room, outdoor patio dining area, and a cocktail bar.    
The Rustic Inn's large illuminated sign.
An exterior view of the main entrance to the Rustic Inn Crabhouse. 
The main dining room of the Rustic Inn Crabhouse.  With decor little changed in decades, diners sit at long rows of tables covered in butcher's paper and furnished with wooden mallets, an essential tool for smashing open the hard shells of the steamed crabs for which this restaurant is world famous.
A quieter moment in the Rustic Inn Crabhouse.  The assortment of framed photos, awards, and mementos adorning the walls attest to the restaurant's longevity and popularity with locals and tourists alike.  Note the overhead lamp shades fashioned out of inverted bushel baskets.
The start of a long and messy meal of steamed garlic crabs.  Brought to the table in wooden bowls, diners don plastic lobster bibs and work their way through pounds of crab legs.  Birthday announcements seemingly every few minutes are met with the furious banging of tabletops using the wooden crab mallets.  

25 January 2016: En Route to the Florida Keys

The terracotta-tiled towers of the Florida Keys Outlet Center located at 250 East Palm Drive, just off U.S. Highway 1, in Homestead, Florida.  A Prime Outlets-owned mall, shoppers can browse merchandise in over 50 retailers.    
Manicured gardens and towering palm trees located between the covered porticos front the dozens of outlet stores, including Tommy Hilfiger, Nike, Guess, Nautica, Calvin Klein, Coach, Bass, Famous Footwear, Skechers, Gap, Samsonite, Dress Barn, Levi's, and Van Heusen.
Lunch was taken at the Cracker Barrel Restaurant and Old Country Store across the street from the Florida Keys Outlet Center.

25-28 January 2016: The Florida Keys

The Florida Keys comprise the exposed portions of an ancient coral archipelago stretching southwest and west from the southeastern tip of Florida.  They represent the southernmost extent of the continental United States, lying between 23.5 and 25.5 degrees North latitude.  Of note, the Florida Keys are the only place in the continental United States that has never experienced a winter frost or freeze, with temperatures never having dipped below 5 degrees Celsius.  The westernmost inhabited island in the chain is Key West, accommodating over 30% of the total 77,000+ residents of the Florida Keys and serving as the county seat of Monroe County.  The Keys are sited in the Straits of Florida, which separate the Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Mexico, and the southernmost point of Key West is only 90 miles from Cuba.  Enjoying a tropical climate year-round, the Keys are home to a wide variety of plant and animal life not found elsewhere in the United States.  Deepwater sport fishing, sailing, and snorkelling through the largest coral reef chain in the U.S. are popular recreational activities, with the waters around the Florida Keys teeming with aquatic life, from sharks and dolphins to tropical fish and various crustaceans.     

Originally inhabited by Calusa and Tequesta Indians, the Keys were discovered and charted by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León in 1513.  The founding of a U.S. naval base at Key West in 1823 began the development of the island into the most prosperous city per capita in the United States by the mid-1800s, with many residents earning fortunes in the wrecking industry (salvaging cargo from ships sunk on the many nearby reefs), fishing, sea sponge harvesting, cigar manufacturing and, later, tourism.  Proximity to the Bahamas, Cuba, and the Caribbean, as well as their location astride shipping routes to the Panama Canal and New Orleans also boosted the economy of the Keys.  The early 1900s saw the construction of Henry Flagler's Overseas Railroad from the mainland to Key West, allowing for greater trade and tourism in the Keys.  Though the railroad was destroyed by a major hurricane in 1935 and never rebuilt, a new highway, U.S. Route 1, was subsequently completed using the railroad bridges and still provides the sole road access between Miami and Key West.


Islamorada, from the Spanish islas moradas ('purple isles') today comprises 7.2 square miles spread out over the islands of Tea Table Key, Lower Matecumbe Key, Upper Matecumbe Key, Windley Key, and Plantation Key.  It is thought that the name derives from either the species of purple-shelled snail that once lived on the islands, or from the orchid trees and bougainvillea flowers that thrive in the tropical climate.  Islamorada is located in the Middle Keys, about a 90 minute drive south from Miami and a two hour drive northeast from Key West. The islands were badly devastated by the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, which caused the death of 423 local residents, over 300 of whose ashes are contained in a memorial at Mile Marker 82 on U.S. Route 1/Overseas Highway. Islamorada is known as the 'Sport Fishing Capital of the World' and offers many deep sea and backwater fishing opportunities for anglers.  Other attractions include Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park, containing remnants of the coral formations on which the Florida Keys formed 100,000 years ago; and San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Preserve State Park, home to one of the 21 Spanish galleons that foundered in a hurricane in 1733.  Notably, Lignumvitae State Botanical Site is the highest point in the Florida Keys, at 18 feet above sea level.  

Below: Map of Islamorada.

Exterior view of the Amara Cay Resort, 80001 Overseas Highway, Islamorada, Florida. The hotel was formerly a Hampton Inn & Suites.
Hanging basket chairs and tropical-themed decor in grace the lobby of the Amara Cay Resort in Islamorada.
A view of Oltremare Ristorante, located on the ground floor of the Amara Cay Resort. Oltremare brings together Italian inspired flavours with Florida's fresh seafood and locally-sourced produce, offering a wide range of menu items, including tuna tartare, grilled scallops, antipasto, flatbread pizza, various pasta dishes, veal saltimbocca, braised short ribs, seared duck breast,  tiramisu, and panacotta.  
The dining area and bar of Oltremare Ristorante, located off the hotel lobby.  The restaurant features a number of themed events, such as its Sinful Sunday Brunch, Martinis & Meatballs Mondays, and Wine Down Wednesdays.  A large, back-lit image of a grouper features prominently on the back wall of of the bar.      
Oltremare Ristorante's dining room overlooks the hotel's pool deck.  The restaurant serves breakfast between 06:30 and 10:30 and dinner between 17:00 and 22:00.  The bar is open between 17:00 and midnight.
The third-floor corridor.

The entrance to Room 317 at the Amara Cay Resort.
Left to right: room keycard envelope; envelope insert providing information on the resort's free shuttle bus service between Mile Markers 77 and 84; and the front and reverse sides of the room keycards.
Room 317, a standard Double guest room, featuring hardwood floors, two Queen-size beds, 32" flatscreen television, coffee machine, large wardrobe, furnished balcony, mini-fridge, and electronic safe.
The clean and comfortable, triple-sheeted Queen-size beds.
The expansive bathroom sink and counter.
The toilet and shower arrangement.
The balcony overlooks the pool and, off to the left, the Atlantic Ocean.  
Views of the Atlantic Ocean and the hotel's lush landscaping, as seen from Room 317's balcony.  The large thatched tiki hut in the centre houses a four-person hot tub.
The pool deck and poolside tiki bar.
The pool reaches a depth of 8 feet 6 inches at its deepest end, and is open between 09:00 and 22:00 daily.  Staff arrange the lounge chairs and clean the pool each morning. A few tables provide an al fresco dining option for patrons of the hotel's Oltremare Ristorante. 
A view of the pool deck and the hotel.  Palms and other tropical plants provide a lush feel to the hotel's grounds.
Poolside view, looking toward the tiki bar and the Atlantic Ocean beyond.
The interior of the tiki hut housing the hot tub.  The inviting hot water and powerful jets offer a reprieve from cool night breezes and the chilly January waters of the Atlantic.
The fenced-in deck of the Amara Cay's tiki bar, with stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.
The sand 'beach' of the Amara Cay Resort.  Given the threat of erosion to the Florida Keys, the hotel is actually fronted by a concrete retaining wall, with a set of steps permitting swimmers to access the Atlantic.  The hotel has created a beach behind the retaining wall, using white sand.
The beach, with lounge chairs for sunbathers, tiki huts, and a couple of hammocks strung between accommodating coconut palms.  The stairs leading down into the Atlantic Ocean can be seen on the far left.
Even this close to the hotel's beachfront retaining wall, guests can observe the diversity of marine life in the Atlantic.  Here, two houndfish (tylosurus crocodilus) swim within a few feet of the wall.  A gamefish, houndfish are considered somewhat dangerous to humans, as they have a tendency to leap out of the water when attracted to artificial light or when frightened.  Their long, sharp beaks can cause serious injuries from puncture wounds.  The houndfish, also called the crocodile needlefish, can grow up to five feet in length and up to 10 pounds in weight. 
The waning moon is still visible in the western sky as sunrise approaches over the Atlantic from the east. 
Pre-dawn quiet reigns on the Amara Cay's beach.
The sun rises over the Atlantic, silhouetting the lounge chairs carefully arranged on the beach by resort staff.
Beams of brilliant orange light illuminate the eastern skies over the Atlantic, 26 January 2016.
Bud n' Mary's Fishing Marina, established at the southern end of Islamorada in 1944 and home to the oldest and largest fishing fleet in the Florida Keys.  A long-standing institution on this island known as the 'Sportfishing Capital of the World', Bud n' Mary's offers charter fishing and party boat fishing packages, transient dockage, boat rentals, fuel, ice, and bait, a tackle shop, hotel accommodation, and an outdoor cafe.      
Brown pelicans enjoy the Florida sunshine, perched on the docks of Bud n' Mary's Fishing Marina.

The interior of the World Wide Sportsman, a Bass Pro Shops outlet on Upper Matecumbe Key, Islamorada, that opened in 1997.  This massive, two-level store sells clothing, hunting and fishing gear, gifts, angling books, and various gifts.  The intimate Zane Grey Long Key Lounge on the second floor features a classic marble and mahogany bar, an antique humidor, a fireplace, and decor themed around angling and hunting.        
The centrepiece of the store is Pilar, a sistership of Ernest Hemingway's 38-foot fishing boat, also named Pilar, which Hemingway acquired in April 1934 and used to fish off Key West, the Marquesas Keys, the Gulf Stream off Cuba, and Bimini in the Bahamas.   
A history of the Pilar, a free handout available in the World Wide Sportsman store in Islamorada. 
Steps leading up to the Pilar, which visitors to World Wide Sportsman may climb aboard.
The interior cabin of Pilar, featuring photos and artefacts from Ernest Hemingway's life. 
A large tank inside World Wide Sportsman is home to various species of fish found in the Florida Keys and popular with the thousands of anglers that flock to Islamorada each year. 

Long Key State Park

Long Key State Park is situated at Mile Marker 67.5 of the Overseas Highway on the island that once accommodated railroad magnate Henry Flagler's Long Key Fishing Camp in the early 1900s. Flagler's fishing camp was a popular luxury destination on the route of his Overseas Railroad to Key West and, between 1907 and 1935, a miniature railroad took visitors to the fishing camp from the docks on the Gulf of Mexico side of Long Key to the bungalows and luxury hotel on the Atlantic side of the island.  The great 1935 Labor Day Hurricane destroyed the fishing camp and it was never rebuilt.  

Today, Long Key State Park offers both day-use recreational space and 60 oceanfront campsites, and visitors can enjoy quiet beaches, hiking trails, and picnic areas.  The 1.1 mile long Golden Orb Trail takes visitors through five different environments, including a mangrove swamp, coastal berm, salt pan, and rockland hammock,  Rare birds, including the white-crowned pigeon and the Key West Quail Dove have been spotted at the park.    

The sign marking the entrance to Long Key State Park, which opened in 1969.

Below: The front and reverse sides of the photocopied pamphlet handed out to visitors by park rangers at the gatehouse of Long Key State Park.

An American white ibis wades under mangrove trees along the shoreline of Long Key State Park.
Originally identified on early Spanish charts as Cayo Vivora (Viper Key), Long Key acquired its current name when Henry Flagler's Overseas Railroad reached it in the early 1900s, since the Overseas Railroad bridge leading southwest to Conch Key was the longest yet constructed.
An observation deck offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean on a bright sunny day at Long Key State Park.

Below: A photocopied pamphlet on the Golden Orb Trail, available to hikers at the trailhead.

The start of the Golden Orb Trail, named after the golden orb weaver spider that is resident in the park.
An elevated wooden boardwalk leads hikers through the mangrove swamp, the first of five separate environments found along the Golden Orb Trail.
Two of the pavilions available to visitors for 'primitive camping', located off the Golden Orb Trail.
A view of the brackish, brown waters of the mangrove swamp along the Golden Orb Trail.
A closeup view of the tendril-like roots of the mangrove trees.
A secluded, sandy beach in Long Key State Park along the coastal berm.
A temporarily flooded part of the salt pan, a low-lying, flat area behind the coastal berm that periodically floods with extremely high tidal water.  The evaporation of the water leaves behind high concentrations of salt in the soil, stunting the growth of trees.
Indian Key State Historic Site, as seen from the Overseas Highway, heading northeast on 26 January 2016.
The Midway Café & Coffee Bar, located on Islamorada at Mile Marker 80.5 of the Overseas Highway. The small, colourful, family-run restaurant offers an all-day breakfast and a varied lunch menu, as well as self-serve urns of iced citrus water.

Key West

Named Cayo Hueso by the Spanish who first discovered it in 1521, Key West became an early stopping point for mariners due to its advantageous location on the 90-mile wide Straits of Florida between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, its natural deepwater harbour (Key West Bight), and the availability of drinking water ashore. The abundant natural resources also proved useful to mariners, and a small community of fishermen and salvage workers, as well as a Spanish garrison, was established. British occupation of Florida from 1763 to 1783 resulted in the small settlement of Spanish and Native American residents being moved to Havana, Cuba. No official settlement was re-established after Florida was returned to Spain in 1783, and the United States subsequently acquired Florida in 1821. United States settlement of Key West commenced in early 1822, aided by the establishment of a U.S. Navy base the next year for the purposes of combatting the rampant piracy in the area. 

Key West's early economy was based on fishing for sea turtles, commercial fish species, and shrimp, as well as harvesting sea sponges. The turtle fishery focused on the green turtle, a species well-liked for turtle soup and that grows up to 300 pounds in weight; green turtles were kept alive in shallow seawater pens until being butchered or, on long sea trips, could be flipped over on their backs to immobilise them. The turtle fishery was closed down in 1971 following the near-decimation of green turtle stocks and the enactment of protective legislation. The sea sponge fishery began around 1850 and, at its peak in the late-19th century, employed at least 119 vessels and nearly 1,000 people; however, with local waters depleted by the early 1900s, the sponge fishery declined and shifted north, to Tarpon Springs, Florida. In 1949, huge stocks of Tortugas pink shrimp were found in the waters around Key West, prompting a massive influx of trawlers which hauled in such huge quantities of the valuable seafood that it was called the Pink Gold Rush. Although the Pink Gold Rush led to major improvements to Key West's harbour, dwindling shrimp stocks in the 1980s led to the end of the fishery and the departure of the last Key West shrimp dealer by 1989. Other lucrative economic drivers in Key West over the years included salvaging cargo from ships wrecked on local reefs, cigar and salt manufacturing, and tourism, the latter now the principal source of revenue. 

On 23 April 1982, Key West made headlines when its city council declared the city's independence from the United States following unaddressed complaints about a U.S. Border Patrol roadblock established along U.S. Route 1 on the mainland in order to search northbound cars for illegal drugs and immigrants coming from the Keys. The roadblock was damaging the Keys' tourist industry and inconveniencing Keys residents. Calling the city the 'Conch Republic' and himself as the 'Prime Minister', Key West's mayor surrendered himself to an officer at Naval Air Station Key West, requesting one billion dollars in foreign aid. The stunt had its intended effect, generating publicity and leading to the removal of the Border Patrol roadblock. The 'Conch Republic' is today a popular advertising hook for the Keys and features prominently on many souvenirs sold in Key West.

The bright turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico are seen stretching off to the horizon during the drive to Key West via the Overseas Highway/U.S. Route 1.
The Old Seven Mile Bridge running parallel with the current Seven Mile Bridge on the Overseas Highway, en route to Key West.  The Old Seven Mile Bridge (also known as the Knights Key-Pigeon Key-Moser Channel-Pacet Channel Bridge), was built between 1909 and 1912 to carry Henry Flagler's Overseas Railroad.  Damaged by the Labour Day Hurricane of 1935, the bridge was sold to the United States government and converted/widened for use by road vehicles.  With the construction of the new Seven Mile Bridge, the older bridge was converted for pedestrian and cyclist use, and as a fishing pier for anglers.              
The current Seven Mile Bridge carrying U.S. Route 1 (the Overseas Highway) was built between 1978 and 1982 parallel with the Old Seven Mile Bridge, opening on 24 May 1982. 

Below: A tourist map of Key West.

Below The pamphlet provided to passengers on the Conch Tour Train which takes visitors through the most scenic neighbourhoods of Old Key West.

The Key West Sponge Market and Old Town Trolley Depot on Wall Street, across from Key West's Mallory Square.  The Sponge Market sells a variety of tourist souvenirs, most notably locally-harvested sea sponges used for bathing and other domestic purposes. Sponging was once the second most important industry after cigar-making in Key West, employing thousands of men and hundreds of fishing vessels.  Florida Keys sea sponges were exported worldwide as a much sought-after luxury item.  Many of the buildings along Wall Street were originally built in the 1800s as warehouses to store salvaged cargo from shipwrecks before being auctioned off. 
Shops and kiosks located at the entrance to Mallory Square sell souvenirs, ice cream, sea shells and sponges, and tickets to local attractions and trolley tours.  Mallory Square is named after Stephen R. Mallory, who left the United States Senate to become Secretary of the Navy for the Confederate States.  The square was the centre of Key West's wrecking industry and still retains many of the original buildings, including warehouses, company offices, cisterns, and undersea cable houses, now re-purposed.      
A replica of the sloop Mary, owned by Key West resident and shipwreck salvager Charles Tift in 1863.  Boats like these were numerous in the Key West of the 1800s, when frequent shipwrecks in the reef-strewn waters of the Florida Keys provided ample opportunities for 'wreckers' to make a living salvaging cargo and fittings from the stranded vessels. The wrecking industry and the salvage fees it generated brought wealth to the large number of people involved, from the captains and crews of the wrecking boats to the businessmen, lawyers, clerks, packers, dock hands, and insurance agents working ashore.    
The Key West Shipwreck Museum, located at the intersection of Wall Street and David Wolkowsky Street.  The museum uses costumed actors, films, and artefacts recovered from the ship Isaac Allerton (partially salvaged in 1856 and re-discovered in 1985) to transport visitors back to the era of the wrecking industry in the Florida Keys.  The 65-foot observation tower offers visitors a bird's eye view of Key West.  With an average of one ship being wrecked on the reefs every week during the 19th century, the salvaging and sale of cargoes made Key West the wealthiest city per capita in the United States at one point. With railroads diverting more cargo from merchant ships and improved navigational skills and resources reducing the number of shipwrecks occurring, the wrecking industry in Key West finally ended in the early 1920s.   
The Key West Museum of Art and History, at the intersection of Front and Greene Streets.  Built in 1891 as the Custom House, housing the customs service, post office, and district courts, this four-storey building was designed in the then-popular Richardsonian Romanesque style, reflecting the increasing population and wealth of Key West.  The inquiry into the sinking of the cruiser USS Maine in Havana harbour was held in the Custom House in 1898, and in 1932 the building was transferred to the United States Navy and became the headquarters for naval operations in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.  Abandoned by the Navy and left derelict for 20 years, the State of Florida's Land Acquisition Advisory Council purchased the Custom House in 1991 and subsequently leased it to the Key West Art & Historical Society for use as a museum. The building has been fully restored.      
The Clinton Square Market, located on Front Street, next to the Custom House.  It is the oldest brick building in Key West, dating from 1850, and today houses a variety of vendors selling coffee, confectionery, clothing, souvenirs, jewelry, arts and crafts, cigars, sunglasses, perfume, and wine. 
The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, located across the street from the Clinton Square Market and Custom House, showcases artefacts and treasure salvaged by treasure hunter Mel Fisher (1922-1998), as well as displays on the slave trade and Caribbean piracy. Fisher became famous in 1985 for discovering the wreck of the Nuestra Señora de Atocha, a Spanish galleon that sank in the Florida Keys in 1622 while carrying a cargo of gold, silver, and emeralds from South America.  Despite Fisher being unable to locate that part of the ship carrying the largest concentration of treasure, the quantity he did recover was valued at $450 million.  Fisher and his salvage team also found the wrecks of the Spanish galleon Santa Margarita (1622) and the British slave ship Henrietta Marie (1700) in the Florida Keys, artefacts from which are also on display in the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum.      
'The Wreckers', a bronze sculpture by Miami-based sculptor James Mastin, depicting men working in the wrecking trade, saving lives and salvaging cargo from ships sunk on the reefs off the Florida Keys.  The sculpture is 18 feet long and 25 feet high and occupies a prominent place in the Key West Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden.  According to the plaque in front of the sculpture, it 'captures the spirit of Key West as a bold, boisterous and bustling sea town out on the frontier of a young America.'  
The Key West Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden, which contains numerous stone plinths atop which sit bronze busts of the men and women who made important contributions to the founding or growth of Key West.
The bronze bust of railroad magnate Henry Flagler (1830-1913).  Flagler initially made his fortune in the oil industry, joining with John D. Rockefeller to found Standard Oil, but later went on to establish the Florida East Coast Railroad in 1884 following his first visit to the state in the winter of 1876-77.  Adding hotels, a land company, and the P&O Steamship Company to his holdings, Flager extended the railroad south through Florida, reaching Miami in 1896.  With the growing volume of trade between the U.S. and a newly-independent Cuba after 1898, and with the Panama Canal then under construction, Flagler ordered the railroad extended to Key West, where his trains would be able to haul the cargo carried by ships heading north from the canal. Notwithstanding three major hurricanes which delayed progress, the Key West extension of the Florida East Coast Railroad was completed on 22 January 1912, a marvel of contemporary engineering.     
The bust of Key West's most famous resident, author Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961). Hemingway first visited Key West in April 1928 during his steamship passage home from Europe, where he had lived since the end of the First World War. Although he had planned to depart Key West in a new Ford automobile, the car was not ready upon his arrival and Hemingway was forced to wait for its delivery to the dealership. The comfortable climate and excellent fishing led Hemingway to return to Key West on a permanent basis, purchasing a historic home on Whitehead Street in 1931. While living in Key West, Hemingway wrote several of his best known books. Although he left Key West for Cuba only eight years later, in 1939, he retained ownership of his Key West residence until committing suicide (shotgun blast to the head) on 2 July 1961 in Ketchum, Idaho. His family subsequently sold the Key West house, which opened as a museum in 1964 and today ranks as the most popular tourist attraction on the island.
The bust of Stephen R. Mallory (1812-1873), who arrived in Key West with his parents in 1820 and subsequently studied law and became a county judge between 1840 and 1845. After a stint as Collector of Customs after 1845, Mallory was elected to the United States Senate in 1850, from which he resigned in January 1861 to take up the appointment as Secretary of the Confederate States' Navy. A 10-month incarceration in Fort Lafayette by Union Forces followed the end of the Civil War, and Mallory subsequently moved to Pensacola, Florida to practice law until his death.   
The bust of Missouri native Harry S. Truman (1884-1972), 33rd President of the United States. Truman first came to Key West in the winter of 1946, seeking relief from a bad cold. He stayed at the vacant Key West naval base Commandant's quarters and so enjoyed his recuperation that he returned to Key West for working vacations a further 11 times while in office, and numerous times after leaving the Presidency. His frequent stays in Key West raised the profile of the city and jump-started the modern tourist economy. Truman's last visit was in the spring of 1969.  The Truman Little White House where the President stayed during his trips is now preserved as a museum.
The bust of Commodore David W. Porter (1780-1843), U.S. naval officer and hero of the War of 1812. In 1822, Commodore Porter was given command of the U.S. Navy's West Indies Squadron and, on 23 April 1823, he arrived in Key West to establish a naval station, the first permanent settlement on the island. Under his command, Porter's squadron hunted West Indian pirates operating off Cuba and Puerto Rico, though Porter's brusque style offended many and he was court marshalled after an unauthorised conflict with the Spanish government in Puerto Rico. In 1830, Porter was recalled by the U.S. government and appointed Consul General to Algiers and, later, Minister to Turkey, a post he held until his death. Porter is today recognised as one of the founding fathers of Key West.         
Docked at Mallory Square pier is the Silver Wind, a 17,400-ton cruise ship owned by luxury line Silversea Cruises.  The ship carries 296 passengers and 222 crew and was launched on 16 October 1995.  Mallory Square pier is famously host to the nightly sunset celebrations, offering unparalleled views of the sunset over the western horizon, though the presence of view-blocking cruise ships do require the celebrations to be moved further down the harbour on occasion.  
The Key West Aquarium, constructed in 1933-34 under the Works Progress Administration Program, opened on 18 February 1935 but fell on tough times after the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 destroyed the rail link to Key West.  After being leased to the U.S. Government as a rifle range for military and coast guard personnel during the Second World War, the aquarium was restored and re-opened in June 1946.  Today, the aquarium works to conserve the ecosystem of the Florida Keys, allowing visitors to see sharks, turtles, stingrays, jellyfish, and tropical fish native to the waters around Key West.   
A salvaged gun sight for the forward 10-inch gun turret on the armoured cruiser USS Maine, which blew up in Havana Harbour on the night of 15 February 1898.  The ship had been sent to Havana in January 1898 to safeguard American interests in the country during the Cuban revolt against Spanish colonial authorities, and the explosion three weeks later killed over 260 of her crew. Although the subsequent U.S. government inquiry held in Key West could not conclusively determine the cause of the explosion, American newspapers fanned public outrage by suggesting that the Spanish colonial authorities had been responsible. The sinking of the Maine and the deteriorating relations between the United States and Spain that it caused contributed to the outbreak of the Spanish-American War later in April 1898.  The bodies of 19 sailors from the USS Maine are buried in Key West Cemetery.    
Genteel private residences surrounded by white picket fences and banyan trees on Caroline Street in the Truman Annex neighbourhood in Old Town Key West. Development of this gated community was made possible after the disestablishment of the Key West Naval Station on 31 March 1974, after nearly 151 years of operation.  Visitors are allowed to freely pass through the neighbourhood to access the Truman Little White House museum located down the road and other parts of Old Key West.
The Audubon House and Tropical Gardens, located on Whitehead Street in Old Town Key West. The property comprises a restored historic house and lush grounds, in which it is believed that renowned American ornithologist John James Audubon conceived of the drawings for 18 new bird species for his Birds of America folio.  Audubon came to the Florida Keys in 1832 to document the exotic avian wildlife on the islands.  The house was saved from demolition in 1958, the first such restoration project in Key West, and subsequently opened as a museum and gallery in 1960.  Today, the Audubon House exhibits 28 first edition works by Audubon, as well as numerous antiques from estate sales and auctions in Europe.         
Kelly's Caribbean Bar, Grill and Brewery at the corner of Caroline and Whitehead Streets.  Although this building is today part-owned by actress Kelly McGillis, it was the birthplace of Pan American World Airways, founded on 14 March 1927 in Key West.  This building was the airline's first offices, and Pan American Flight No. 1 took off from Key West, bound for Havana, Cuba, on  28 October 1927, representing the first United States scheduled international air service.    
A typical upscale Old Town Key West private residence, with an open veranda on the front of both floors, pastel colours, and surrounded by lush tropical vegetation.
A towering banyan tree draped in vines obscures the view of a Key West house on Whitehead Street.
One of the eight houses comprising the Banyan Resort on Whitehead Street.  This luxury timeshare resort features two heated pools and a hot tub, full kitchens in every room, air conditioning, free WiFi, cable TV, and verandas overlooking the resort's lush tropical gardens. 
The bunting-draped Truman Little White House, located on Front Street in Old Town Key West.  During his time in office, President Harry Truman spent 175 days here during 11 wintertime visits. The wooden building was built in 1890 as the first officers' quarters on the Key West naval station, being converted into a single family dwelling in 1911 for the Commandant.  Although located on the waterfront when built, backfill and subsequent development of the naval base blocked its direct access to the water.  When in residence, President Truman was often visited by Cabinet members, government officials, and foreign dignitaries.  The so-called Key West Agreement establishing the outline of the Department of Defense was negotiated in the Little White House in 1948-49, and President Dwight Eisenhower recuperated from a heart attack here in December 1955-January 1956.  President John F. Kennedy held a one-day summit with British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in the Little White House in March 1961, and visited again shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.  The Little White House served as the Commandant's quarters until March 1974, when the naval base was closed following the conversion to an all-nuclear U.S. Navy submarine fleet with bases elsewhere.  Added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1974, the building was deeded to the State of Florida in 1987 and restored to its appearance in 1949.  It opened as a museum in 1991.
The Conch House bed and breakfast at 625 Truman Avenue.  The house was purchased in 1895 by Cuban immigrant and entrepreneur Carlos Recio, whose descendants still own it and operate the bed and breakfast.  Accommodations include guest rooms in the original house, Caribbean-style wicker rooms in the garden poolside cottage, and a poolside cabana, all with private bathrooms, air-conditioning, free WiFi, and complimentary breakfast.
Bagatelle Key West, a restaurant at 115 Duval Street.  Built in 1884 and occupied as a private residence for a century, today Bagatelle features three bars, including the open-air rooftop Moon Lounge.  Open for brunch (9am-4pm) and dinner.  
Three bars in one, this building at the intersection of Caroline and Duval Streets contains the Bull on the ground floor, the Whistle Bar on the second floor, and the clothing optional Garden of Eden bar on the rooftop.  The Bull is dimly lit and open-air, with murals of Key West painted on its walls, while the Whistle Bar is quieter and breezier, with doors and windows that open onto the wraparound balcony and pool tables.   
Originally built in the early 1920s as an 800-seat cinema, the old Strand Theatre closed and became the Ripley's Believe It Or Not Odditorium in 1993.  Purchased in December 2001 and closed in April 2002, the building was restored and reopened as a Walgreen's pharmacy, retaining many elements of the theatre's original design, including the facade, marquee, marble stairs, and wood floors, and lobby tiles.      
Looking southeast down Duval Street, near Southard Street in the heart of Key West's lively entertainment and shopping district.
Pedestrians and window shoppers stroll along a leafy section of Duval Street, between Angela and Southard Streets.
Diners enjoy lunch at Jimmy Buffet's original Margaritaville restaurant on Duval Street, opened in 1985.  Today, this chain of casual dining restaurants and themed merchandise shops inspired by singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffet's 1977 hit 'Margaritaville' has 25 locations around the world, as well as four airport locations, and a ship-based location aboard the Norwegian Cruise Lines vessel Escape.     
Marrero's Guest Mansion on Fleming Street, near Whitehead Street.  A nice example of Victorian-era Key West manor homes, this bed and breakfast preserves the house's original architectural style.  The house was built in 1889 by prominent cigar manufacturer Francisco Marrero in order to lure his fiance to Key West. 
Fogarty's, a casual restaurant located in the heart of Old Town Key West, at the intersection of Duval and Caroline Streets.  Fogarty's is known for its Flying Monkey Saloon frozen drinks, as well as a diverse menu, serving American cuisine, Key West specialties, barbecue, fresh burgers, seafood, and Asian- and Italian-inspired entrees. Fogarty's occupies a manor home built in 1887 by Charles Curry and purchased in 1900 by Curry's daughter's fiance, Dr. Joseph Norman Fogarty, as a wedding present.  Fogarty was a prominent physician and philanthropist in Key West who served as mayor between 1907 and 1915.  Although it was used as a hippie flophouse in the 1960s and was nearly bulldozed in 1970, it was restored and re-opened as a restaurant in 1971, becoming Fogarty's in 2003.      
One of the more modest private homes in Old Town Key West, located at 1024 Southard Street.  This three-bedroom, two-bathroom house, built in 1932 and measuring 1,530 square feet, is listed (as of February 2016) for $1,199,000. 
Located next door, at 1020 Southard Street, this private home shows off the wooden gingerbread style decoration common to many older Key West residences.
A starboard bow view of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham (WHEC-35), one of only two preserved Secretary-class cutters.  The Ingham was constructed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and commissioned on 12 September 1936.  During the Second World War, Ingham served as a convoy escort in the Atlantic, sinking the German submarine U-626 on 15 December 1942.  From 1944, the ship acted as an amphibious flagship and participated in three campaigns in the Pacific theatre of operations.  During the Vietnam War, Ingham was awarded two Presidential Unit Citations for two operations during a deployment between August 1968 and February 1969.  USCGC Ingham returned to Coast Guard duties for the remainder of her career, notably taking part in a massive search and rescue effort between April and July 1980 to rescue Cuban refugees who had fled the Communist country following Cuban dictator Fidel Castro's opening of the port of Mariel.  When she decommissioned in 1988, Ingham was the second oldest commissioned U.S. warship after the USS Constitution in Boston.  Ingham holds the record as the most decorated vessel in the Coast Guard fleet and the only Coast Guard vessel to ever be awarded two Presidential Unit Citations.  
A starboard quarter view of the USCGC Ingham.  While part of the Patriot's Point naval museum in Charleston, South Carolina from 1989 until 2009, Ingham was moved to Key West after a drydocking period and is now part of the Key West Maritime Memorial Museum.  The ship was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1992 and has been designated by the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard as the National Memorial to Coast Guardsmen Killed in Action in WWII and the Vietnam War.  A plaque on Ingham's quarterdeck lists the names of the 912 coast guardsmen killed in these two conflicts.
The British Royal Navy River-class offshore patrol vessel HMS Mersey (P283), docked at the mole in Key West Harbor.  When this photo was taken, Mersey was in Key West preparing to depart on counter-narcotics operations in Caribbean and Central American waters as part of the U.S. Coast Guard-led multinational Joint Inter Agency Task Force (South), which is headquartered in Key West.  The 1,700 tonne HMS Mersey was commissioned on 28 November 2003, carries a crew of 30, and is armed with one 20mm Oerlikon cannon and two general purpose machine guns.  The ship's home port is Her Majesty's Naval Base Portsmouth, UK.
The Southernmost Point monument at the foot of Whitehead Street.  This concrete marker, built in 1983 and designed to look like a buoy, claims to mark the southernmost point in the continental United States; however, there are several other locations in Key West, as well as a privately-owned island (Ballast Key), that are actually more southerly than Southernmost Point.  Nevertheless, the '90 miles to Cuba' painted on the marker is approximately correct, with Cuba's closest point having actually been measured as 94 statute miles (151 kilometres) from Key West.  This monument is one of the most visited and photographed spots in Key West, and is usually thronged with photo-takers.    
The upscale and elegant Southernmost House inn at the intersection of Duval and South Streets.  This colourful Victorian-era manor home was built in 1896 features 18 luxurious guest rooms with ocean or courtyard views, private bathrooms, air conditioning, free WiFi, complimentary continental breakfast, a concierge service, a tiki bar, and a zero entry pool fronting onto the Atlantic Ocean. 
The Lopez House, part of the Southernmost House inn and located directly across the street, is the only five-room historic house in Key West and can be rented as a single vacation rental.  
Since 1987, the Southernmost Point Guest House bed and breakfast on the northwest corner of Duval and South Streets has occupied the Queen Anne-style mansion built by Eduardo H. Gato Sr. in 1894. Originally located across the street, Gato was dissatisfied with the orientation and sun exposure on the house and he thus had it moved to its present location, using log rollers and mules; since the house retained its original address, 1327 Duval Street, it is the only house on this side of Duval with an odd-numbered address.  Gato was the scion of a prominent Key West family, immigrating from Cuba in 1874 and playing a major role in the development of the cigar manufacturing industry in the city.  His cigar factory rolled and boxed millions of cigars made from imported Cuban tobacco, exporting worldwide.  In addition to being president of the E.H. Gato Cigar Company, Eduardo H. Gato Sr. was vice-president of the Key West Bank, and proprietor of the horse-drawn Key West Street Car system.  His son, Eduardo H. Gato Jr. succeeded his father at the cigar company and managed the family's extensive real estate holdings.  Three generations of the Gato family lived in Key West until 1951.    
Atlantic waves wash ashore at South Beach, located at the southern end of Duval Street. The palm-fringed guest suites of the Southernmost Beach Resort can be seen in the background. 
A golf-ball shaped Doppler radar antennae, receiver dishes, and a radio tower on the grounds of an annex of Naval Air Station Key West are reminders of the continued military presence in the city.  With ideal weather conditions year-round and easy access to extensive offshore test ranges, Naval Air Station Key West is used for air-to-air combat training of fighter aircraft, as well as supporting the national defence and homeland security missions of the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and Army and Air National Guard units.   

29-31 January 2016: Miami, Florida

An exterior view of the Homewood Suites Miami-Airport/Blue Lagoon.
The dining room of the Homewood Suites Miami-Airport/Blue Lagoon, located off the main lobby and featuring a flat screen television and large panoramic windows with views of the lagoon outside the hotel.
The self-serve buffet room, located off the dining room.  A free hot breakfast is served daily for guests, with dinners (including free wine and beer) offered Mondays through Thursdays.
A sachet containing a teabag of Royal Cup Tea, available at the self-serve refreshments counter in the lobby of the Homewood Suites Miami-Airport/Blue Lagoon.  Along with various teas, coffee and hot chocolate are also available to guests 24 hours a day.
The third floor corridor of the Homewood Suites Miami-Airport/Blue Lagoon.  Despite being a large hotel with 159 rooms, the two, rather slow elevators led to some congestion and delays, especially at breakfast time. 
The door of Room 323, a two bedroom suite located at the western end of the building.
The keycard for Room 323 at the Homewood Suites Miami-Airport/Blue Lagoon.
The living room in Room 323, featuring a pull-out couch.
Homewood Suites rooms feature kitchenettes, outfitted with utensils and dishes, a dishwasher, microwave and cooktop, sink, and refrigerator.
The second bedroom in Rom 323.
The master bedroom in Room 323.

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Miami

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park occupies the southern third of Key Biscayne, a barrier island located at the northern extremity of the reef-studded waters of the Florida Straits.  The park is named after Bill Baggs, editor of the Miami News between 1957 and 1969, a noted civil rights activist and influential force behind the preservation of Cape Florida as a state park.  The park opened to the public on 1 January 1967.   

Key Biscayne was the home of the Tequesta Indians, coastal fishermen who paddled dugout canoes between the island and the mainland and who were labelled Vizcaynos by Spanish explorers and missionaries.  During his 1513 voyage from Puerto Rico seeking the fabled cities of gold, Juan Ponce de Leon landed on Key Biscayne due to its prominent location and supply of fresh water and firewood.  Subsequently, Key Biscayne became a well-known landmark for navigators and the waters around it were charted by the British, who ruled Key Biscayne between 1763 and 1783 before ceding the island back to Spain.  In 1821, Spain ceded Florida to the United States, and Florida attained statehood in 1845.          

Cape Florida was a point of departure in the early 1820s for escaped African slaves, runaways, and 'Black Seminoles' fleeing from slave catchers and plantation masters.  It was off Cape Florida that these fugitives could rendezvous with sloops from the British Bahamas to barter for passage to freedom in the Bahamas, Cuba, Haiti and other islands in the Caribbean, or make the perilous journey in Seminole Indian dugout canoes.  The 1825 construction of the Cape Florida Lighthouse by the U.S. government effectively blocked this escape route.       

Since 1985, archaeologists have uncovered hundreds of artefacts on Key Biscayne, documenting human habitation on the island from the Tequesta Indians to the mid-nineteenth century; six of the ten recorded archaeological sites are contained within the state park. 

Below: The brochure provided to park visitors.  

A view of the sea wall running along the western side of Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.  Numerous fishermen stake out spots along the wall and spend the day casting their lines into the blue waters of Biscayne Bay.
A sign warns boaters of the gentle but vulnerable manatees that live close inshore in Biscayne Bay.
A view of Stiltsville, the group of wooden houses sitting in Biscayne Bay. Built atop wooden or concrete pilings anchored on the offshore sandbanks, the first structures comprising Stiltsville were built sometime after 1922 and were used by boating and fishing clubs, and as individual residences.  Today, the U.S. National Park Service owns the structures and they are part of Biscayne National Park.   
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is home to the Cape Florida Lighthouse, constructed in 1825 and today open to the public as a historic site.
Elements of the Cape Florida Lighthouse are here displayed on the pathway leading to the restored lighthouse.  Featured items include the 1960s-era steel replica of the lantern room, the cast iron spider column that supported the circular staircase and lantern room floor, bracket beams, and five of the original 110 circular stairs that ascended through the tapered brick lighthouse interior. 
The Bahama Dinghy Eileen on display in the lighthouse grounds.  The 12-16 foot long Bahama Dinghy was crucial for island and coastal residents in the years before roads and bridges were constructed. These small craft were used for trade with nearby settlements, for transport of passengers to sailing ships anchored offshore, and for sponging, salvaging, and fishing.  These versatile boats were built from local timber using basic hand tools, with a single sail, steering tiller, a heart-shaped transom, and a shallow keel for navigating through the shallow waters, studded with coral reefs and sand banks.    
The lighthouse keeper's cottage.  The original two-story, four-room brick cottage was constructed in 1825, and was subsequently improved by keeper John Dubose and his sons.  This structure was damaged in a major hurricane in 1835 and then burned down by Seminole Indians in 1836.  The second cottage was completed in 1846 and occupied by six lighthouse keepers until the lighthouse's closure in 1878.  Shoreline erosion by the 1920s had washed away the cottage, but in 1969 this replica was constructed by the State of Florida.  The circular structure into which the drain spout leads is a replica of the brick cistern built in 1856 and designed to store precious rainwater for the domestic needs of the keepers and their families.    
The Cape Florida Lighthouse, originally completed in December 1825, was designed to warn ships of the dangerous reefs off the Florida Keys.  By 1853, the lighthouse used a Second Order Fresnel lens, which projected its light much further than earlier lenses. The lighthouse was attacked by Seminole Indians in 1836 during the Second Seminole War, which broke out after the Seminoles resisted forced relocation by the U.S. government to reservations west of the Mississippi River; lighthouse keeper John Thompson was severely wounded and his assistant killed.  After being shuttered in 1878, the lighthouse fell into disrepair until the site was purchased by the State of Florida in 1966.  In 1996, the Cape Florida Lighthouse completed a $1.5 million restoration, returning it to its 1855 appearance, with more than 30,000 new bricks being cast in Tennessee in order to match the density of the lighthouse's original bricks. 
Looking down the cast iron circular staircase which spirals its way up 95 feet to the lantern room via 110 steps.
The current electric light installed in the lantern room at the top of the lighthouse.
Looking south from the narrow cast iron observation deck that rings the lighthouse and provides stunning views of the park and the azure waters of the Florida Straits and Biscayne Bay.  The lighthouse keeper's cottage can be seen the bottom of the frame.
Looking north from the top of the Cape Florida Lighthouse, providing a stunning view of the Atlantic Ocean and the golden sands of the park's beach, which extends for more than a mile.  
A carefully marked path leads through the fragile dunes to the Atlantic Ocean beaches which are a highlight of any visit to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.
The Cape Florida Lighthouse, as seen from the dunes.
The clear but chilly waters of Key Biscayne's Atlantic Ocean shoreline on a sunny, warm January day.  This beach was rated by Forbes Magazine as the #7 best beach in America in 2013.
Visitors to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park enjoy the sun and sand, watched over by the Cape Florida Lighthouse in the distance.  While the water was too chilly for all but the boldest swimmers, the warm breeze and sunny day was ideal for relaxing on the beach or digging in the golden sand.
The Cape Florida Lighthouse recedes in the distance as one proceeds further north, along the Atlantic shoreline.
The high-rise condo towers of Key Biscayne can be seen in the distance.  The southern portion of Key Biscayne escaped the same kind of high-end residential development due to the forward thinking of local activists in the 1960s, who convinced the State of Florida to purchase the land that today comprises Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. 
For those who can't just sit on a beach, the park offers a number of hiking trails with opportunities to spot native flora and fauna.  Mangrove trees, palmettos, small terrestrial crabs, and iguanas are common sights along the trails.  Though not seen on this day, the park also is home to manatees and crocodiles. 
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park also welcomes boaters to moor in its quiet lagoon, 'No Name Harbor'.
Pleasure craft moored in No Name Harbor.
Boaters and visitors who arrived by automobile, bicycle, or on foot are all welcome to enjoy a cool drink or a filling lunch at the Boater's Grill, located on the edge of No Name Harbor.  The casual eatery has a surprisingly extensive wine list and a wide variety of seafood dishes, several of them shockingly expensive for a venue of this calibre.
Downtown Miami as seen from the Rickenbacker Causeway en route from Key Biscayne.

Miami Beach

Located on natural and man-made coastal barrier islands east of the city of Miami, Miami Beach is a popular resort city with a thriving nightlife and cultural scene, easily accessible from Miami by a number of causeways that cross Biscayne Bay. The city is best known as the home of the Miami Beach Architectural District, comprising over 900 historic buildings designed in the Mediterranean Revival, Art Deco, Streamline Moderne, and Miami Modern styles. The prolific number of buildings in these architectural styles was the consequence of the September 1926 hurricane which devastated Miami Beach, destroying most of the existing buildings. The reconstruction effort which lasted nearly 20 years, capitalised on the then-popular Art Deco movement which had made its debut at the 1925 Paris Exposition Internationale des Artes Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes

Today, Miami Beach has the largest concentration of Art Deco architecture in the world and was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on 14 May 1979. Despite the prestige accorded by a national historic designation, it is through local designations that buildings are actually protected in the United States. As such, the historic designations made by the City of Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board under the Miami Beach Historic Preservation Ordinance impose strict design guidelines for all restoration and new construction work and zoning rules to maintain roofline continuity in the district. The Ordinance also covers public interiors, such as hotel lobbies. 

Having been renovated and restored since the 1980s, the district's chic and historic hotels built in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s now offer upscale accommodation to hundreds of thousands of annual visitors who come to bask on the sandy, Atlantic-facing South Beach during the day and revel in the vibrant, neon-illuminated bars, clubs, and restaurants by night. Of note, while south of 15th Street the hotels are generally low-rise structures of 3-5 storeys, north of 15th Street palatial, high-rise hotels dominate, the result of large oceanfront mansion properties of the 1920s being redeveloped for hotels in the 1930s. 

As a primer for the photo collection below, here is a brief summary of the key characteristics of each of the four design styles seen in the Miami Beach Architectural District:

Mediterranean Revival: Evoking the old architecture of Spain, Italy, and the south of France, the Mediterranean Revival style made use of decorative columns, archways and arched windows, awnings, rough stucco walls, carved stonework, porches, bell towers, clay tile roofs, and wrought iron and spindle gates surrounding courtyards. As a whimsical interpretation of various Mediterranean styles, Mediterranean Revival was a fantasy architecture adopted in the early 1920s by developers in Miami Beach, elsewhere in Florida, and in California. 

Art Deco: Classic Art Deco was used in the skyscrapers that began to dominate the skylines of major cities in the 1920s, making use of expensive materials, angular ornamentation with elaborate motifs featuring fountains, nude human figures, and flora. Key characteristics included overall symmetry, stepped rooflines, the use of glass blocks, decorative sculptural panels, eyebrows over windows, round porthole windows, terrazzo mosaic floors, curved edges and corners, elements in groups of three, and neon lighting. 

Streamline Moderne: The second phase of Art Deco began with the 1929 Stock Market Crash and lasted until approximately the outbreak of the Second World War. Less decorative than Art Deco, reflecting the restrained era of the Great Depression, Streamline Moderne did demonstrate a belief in an optimistic future and the ideals of American industrial design as showcased at world's fairs, such as that held in New York in 1939. Miami Beach's building boom came during this second wave of Art Deco, and the city's architects made use of local imagery to create the Tropical Deco look, including such elements as relief ornamentation featuring plants, animals, and ocean-liner motifs to emphasise Miami Beach's oceanside resort character. 

Miami Modern (MiMo): A post-Second World War style of design popular from the 1950s and heavily influenced by the International Style then fashionable. Common features of the Miami Modern style include open balconies and catwalks, tiled mosaic walls, sun shades, with buildings employing asymmetry and rakish angles, cheese hole cutouts, kidney and amoeba shapes, futuristic space age forms, and anodised aluminum in gold and copper colours.


Below: A map showing Miami Beach in relation to the City of Miami, as well as a more detailed view of the layout of the South Beach and Art Deco District.

An Art Deco styled clock shows a comfortable 75 degree Fahrenheit (23.9 degrees Celcius) temperature on the morning of 31 January 2016.
Loews Miami Beach Hotel sits at 1601 Collins Avenue.  Built in 1998 with Art Deco influences, the 18-storey hotel features 790 guest rooms, including 65 suites.  The hotel is accessed via a grand circular driveway off of Collins Avenue and 16th Street.  While most of the rooms are contained in the main building (with circular, tiered tower), 100 rooms are housed in the adjacent refurbished St. Moritz Hotel (visible behind the palm trees, centre-right).  Guests can dine at Preston's - featuring oceanfront seating and American/New World cuisine - the Hemisphere Lounge, and the poolside Nautilus grill. 
The St. Moritz Hotel, designed by architect Roy F. France, and completed in 1939. The Art Deco building, which sits at 1565 Collins Avenue, is ten storeys tall, with exterior walls of coral stone and stucco, with pink coral-stoned veneered wall panels framing the primary entryway.
The 164-room, three-storey Haddon Hall Hotel, designed by architect L. Murray Dixon and completed in 1940 at 1500 Collins Avenue.  Today's hotel incorporates an adjacent apartment complex and includes a restaurant, bar, courtyard, library, pool, and beer garden.
The Commodore Hotel, designed by architect Henry Hohauser and built in 1939 at 1360 Collins Avenue, at 14th Street.  The three-storey building features a number of ornamental elements, including eyebrows, curved corners, and four round emblems descending along the exterior wall.  Built in the Art Deco style, the building also embodies Streamlined Moderne influences.
The Royal Palm Hotel comprises four buildings at 1545 Collins Avenue (at 15th Street). The complex incorporates parts of the original Art Deco-styled Royal Palm Hotel (1939) and Shorecrest Hotel (1940), along with two high-rise towers (Royal Palm Tower and Shorecrest Tower) erected between 1998 and 2002.  With over 400 rooms, including 133 luxury suites, today's Royal Palm features two swimming pools, an expanse of prime beach, a 130-seat oceanfront restaurant, and the Deco Lounge.  The hotel's Presidential Beach Suite has a 2,000 square foot oceanfront terrace and can accommodate up to 60 guests, with a full bar, hot tub, outdoor showers, and daybeds.          
The Hotel Drake at 1460 Ocean Drive, designed by architect David T. Ellis and completed in 1937.  The three-storey building is clad in stucco.  
The Betsy Hotel South Beach (originally the Betsy Ross Hotel), was designed by architect L. Murray Dixon with Colonial Revivial influences, and completed in 1940.  Located at 1440 Ocean Drive, the three-storey hotel features 63 beachfront guest rooms with marble baths and hardwood floors, a courtyard pool, rooftop spa and wellness garden, the BLT Steak dining room overseen by award-winning chef Laurent Tourondel, a Lobby Bar, and the speakeasy B Bar. 
The Crescent Hotel, at 1420 Ocean Drive.  Designed in the Art Deco style by architect Henry Hohauser and completed in 1938, the three-storey Crescent Hotel features one- and two-bedroom suites with full kitchens King-sized beds, separate living rooms with sleeper sofas, and spa-style bathrooms.
Looking south on Ocean Drive from the street's northern end.  While the western side of Ocean Drive is generally reserved for valet parking or service vehicles, metered car and motorcycle parking is available along the length of the eastern side.
The former Clyde Hotel, at 1430 Ocean Drive.  Now a Hilton Grand Vacations Suites hotel called the Ocean Plaza, the Clyde was designed by architect L. Murray Dixon and completed in 1941.  The three-storey Art Deco building features exterior walls of coral stone and stucco.  Today, guests can enjoy one- and two-bedroom suites equipped with stove tops, microwaves, refrigerators, and dishwashers, as well as roof-top whirlpool spas, a fitness centre, and complimentary high-speed internet access.  
The McAlpin Hotel, currently an apartment building at 1424 Ocean Drive.  Designed by architect L. Murray Dixon and built in 1940, this colourful, three-storey Art Deco building is said to be 'arguably the purest distillation of Miami's Art Deco style'.  It features a perfectly symmetrical design, with horizontal and vertical facade lines in pink and turquoise.  The rooftop features a covered terrace. 
The Winter Haven Hotel at 1400 Ocean Drive, built in 1939 to a design by architect Albert Anis.  This six-storey Art Deco hotel features 71 updated guest rooms; a double-height lobby with glass staircase, Chinese mirrors, replicas of the original chandeliers, sconces, and the maple-and-mirrored check-in desk; terrazzo floors; a lobby lounge with black marble countertop and stainless steel railings; a rooftop sun deck; and a seaside terrace.  When it first opened in 1939, rooms at the self-described 'ultra modern' hotel cost the tidy sum of $1 per night.      
The Cavalier Hotel at 1320 Ocean Drive was designed by architect Roy F. France and built in 1936.  The three-storey hotel features 45 small but functional guest rooms and a lobby with black-and-gold furniture, nautical decorations, terrazzo floors, and a faux fireplace surrounded by candles and art.
The Leslie Hotel at 1244 Ocean Drive, built in 1937 to a design by architect Albert Anis. The three-storey, stucco-clad Art Deco hotel features 35 guest rooms, eyebrows above the windows, and strong vertical lines on the front facade. The hotel was renovated in 2014, and is home to Café Cala restaurant, accommodating diners on the front terrace and sidewalk underneath the bright yellow canvas shades and umbrellas.
Hotel Ocean, designed by architect L. Murray Dixon and completed in 1934.  Located at 1230 Ocean Drive, the three-storey hotel is built in the Mediterranean Revival style, with terracotta tile shingles and a central courtyard, off of which are located entrances into both buildings.  
The Tides Hotel, designed by architect L. Murray Dixon and completed in 1936.  When it opened, the 11-storey Tides was the tallest hotel on South Beach.  Sited at 1220 Ocean Drive, the Tides Hotel originally accommodated 115 guest rooms, though it now features 45 larger suites which are twice as big as typical South Beach hotel rooms, and all featuring ocean views; double-paned windows help to keep out the noise of South Beach's busy atmosphere.  The Goldeneye Suite features a hot tub in the middle of the room, a private deck, and a variety of high-tech toys.  Free beach chairs and umbrellas are available to guests, who may also choose to swim in the 50-foot long mezzanine pool.  The hotel's signature restaurant Twelve Twenty, features Japanese, American, and Mediterranean cuisine.    
The Hotel Victor, designed by architect L. Murray Dixon and completed in 1937. Located at 1144 Ocean Drive, the eight-storey, 91-room hotel was completely renovated in 2013, with interior architect and designer Yabu Pushelberg ensuring that the new Hotel Victor maintains the elegance of Dixon's original design.  The Art Deco hotel features influences of International Style, such as the straight, vertical bands of windows.  The hotel's lobby has retained its original terrazzo flooring, decorative logo panelled walls, and a mural depicting the Florida Everglades, a popular motif of South Beach hotels of the 1930s.    
The five-storey L-shaped addition on the south side of the Hotel Victor features additional guest rooms overlooking a pool deck, with retail space located underneath. 
The Amsterdam Palace, also known as Casa Casuarina, located at 1116 Ocean Drive. Designed by architect Henry La Pointe and built in 1930, the building is currently named The Villa by Barton G.  This three-storey Mediterranean Revival style building with Gothic/Neo-Gothic influences was the former home of Italian-born fashion designer Gianni Versace.  Versace purchased and restored the building in 1992, later buying and demolishing the adjacent Revere Hotel to permit the construction of a pool and garage. On 15 July 1997, Versace was shot to death by serial killer Andrew Cunanan on the steps of his home after returning from a morning stroll.  Eight days later, Cunanan committed suicide on a Miami houseboat, providing no explanation for why he had targeted Versace for assassination.     
The former Bon Air Hotel, later renamed the Edsinger Hotel, and now Building 5/5 of the Congress Hotel.  Designed by architect Henry Maloney and opened in 1934, the three-storey Bon Air Hotel was designed in the Mediterranean Revival style, with stucco exterior walls and a terracotta tiled roof.  The ground floor windows are not glassed and serve as arches into a patio area. 
Another of the buildings comprising today's Congress Hotel, this one located at 1052B Ocean Drive.  The four-storey building borrows heavily from ocean liner styling, with curved balconies and white metal railings and wall-mounted sconces. 
The Congress Hotel at 1036 Ocean Drive, built in 1936 to an Art Deco design by architect Henry Hohauser. Today, this three-storey building is Building 2/5 of the Congress Hotel, which comprises five adjacent buildings between 10th and 11th Streets that were formerly independent hotels.  With 69 guest suites ranging from 300 to 550 square feet, the Congress Hotel's rooms are designed in Deco, Tropical, Contemporary, and Retro styles, while guests can enjoy the pool deck on the roof or the Atlantic Bar and Grill and Café Medi in the lobby.
The Edison Hotel at 960 Ocean Drive.  This five-storey, 60-room hotel was designed in the Mediterranean Revival style by architect Henry Hohauser and completed in 1935. The building is notable for its five-bay arcaded terrace which extends into the building to create an open restaurant.  The recently refurbished rooms feature refrigerators, coffee makers, safes, irons/ironing boards, hair dryers, individual air conditioners, cable TV, clock radios, and telephones.  Many rooms have partial ocean views, and 12 rooms are oceanfront, directly overlooking Ocean Drive. 
The Breakwater Hotel at 940 Ocean Drive, near the intersection with 10th Street.  This iconic and much-photographed hotel was designed by Yugoslavian architect Anton Skislewicz and completed in 1939.  After years of neglect, the Breakwater was purchased by the owners of Jordache Jeans and underwent major renovation and restoration before re-opening in mid-2011.    
The three-storey Breakwater Hotel was designed in the Art Deco style, but with Moderne influences also evident. The hotel's most prominent feature is the large vertical 'Breakwater' neon sign. There are 99 guest rooms, an aquarium-style plunge pool, rooftop lounge, two restaurants, and a fitness centre.
The Waldorf Towers Hotel at 860 Ocean Drive, designed by architect Albert Anis and completed in 1937.  The three-storey hotel features a pink, yellow, and cream facade, a terraced porch, and terrazzo floors. 
The Pelican Hotel, located at 826 Ocean Drive.  Designed by architect Henry Hohauser and completed in 1948, the three-storey hotel reflects the Miami Modern style, with International influences.  The Pelican Hotel features a ground floor bar through which guests must pass to access the reception desk, which is decorated with 'an almost cartoonish Western motif and a blazing neon fire'.  Each guest room has been individually themed by Swedish designer Magnus Ehrland, and the hotel has accommodated a number of famous personalities, from Grace Jones and Cindy Crawford to Yoko Ono, John F. Kennedy Jr., and Saudi Arabia's Prince Faisal.  The three-bedroom penthouse suite features a rooftop deck and hot tub, six-foot round tropical fish tank, full kitchen, and a living room with a nine-screen video wall. 
The Shore Park Hotel at 820 Ocean Drive.  Designed in 1930 by architect E.A. Ehrmann, the three-storey Mediterranean Revival style hotel features a prominent three-bay archway on the ground floor facade and a clay barrel tile roof.  The Shore Park Hotel is home to Larios on the Beach, the restaurant owned by Cuban-American pop star Gloria Estefan and her husband.       
A snapshot of some of South Beach's colourful hotels.  On the right is the four-storey Starlite Hotel, designed by architect Gilbert M. Fein and completed in 1952 in the Miami Modern style with International influences.  In the centre is the green, three-storey Boulevard Hotel (formerly Hotel Bolivar), designed by architect August Swarz and completed in 1950 in the Miami Modern style.  The next building to the left is the Colony Hotel.
The Colony Hotel, designed by architect Henry Hohauser in the Tropical Art Deco style and completed in 1935. Located at 736 Ocean Drive, the three-storey Colony Hotel features 50 guest rooms and the Colony Bistro, a lounge and sushi bar with live nightly entertainment. The hotel's lobby retains its original reception desk with mint green Vitrolite countertop and the Deco-style fireplace mural.
The Beacon Hotel, designed by architect Harry O. Nelson and completed in 1937.  This five-storey hotel at 720 Ocean Drive features exterior walls clad in stucco and pre-cast concrete, while wooden double-doors lead into a lobby highlighted by a grand, multi-coloured terrazzo mosaic floor. 
The Avalon Hotel at 700 Ocean Drive, designed by architect Albert Anis and completed in 1941.  This 52-room, three-storey Art Deco hotel features a wrap-around covered porch and a lobby which transforms each night into A Fish Called Avalon Restaurant, with candlelit tables, live music, and fresh seafood. 
The Majestic Hotel at 660 Ocean Drive, at the intersection of 7th Street.  Designed by architect Albert Anis and completed in 1941, the three-storey Majestic Hotel borrows from the pre-Art Deco Vienna Succession style, with rectolinear windows and arched cornices.   
The Beach Park Hotel at 600 Ocean Drive was designed by architect William F. Brown and built in 1933.  The three-storey building is rendered in the Mediterranean Revival style and features 54 guest rooms.  
The Fritz Hotel at 524 Ocean Drive, built in 1993 and designed to blend in with the Art Deco buildings of South Beach.  The four-storey, 22-room hotel features a mix of suites, studios, and lofts, some with balconies with sea views and kitchenettes.  Guests have access to a rooftop pool and sundeck, as well as 24-hour front desk service.
The three-storey Barbizon Hotel at 530 Ocean Drive, designed by architects John and Coulton Skinner and completed in 1937.
The former Surf Hotel (c.1936) at 444 Ocean Drive is now a Pappa & Ciccia Wine Bar & Restaurant.
The Bentley Hotel South Beach, a three-storey Art Deco hotel at 510 Ocean Drive, near the southern end of Lummus Park.  The 58-room hotel was designed by architects John and Coulton Skinner and completed in 1939.  A multicoloured limestone veneer at ground level and bordering the primary entrance at the corner of Ocean Drive and 5th Street is a notable architectural feature of the Bentley Hotel.
The three-storey Essex House Hotel & Suites at 1001 Collins Avenue.  Designed by architect Henry Hohauser in the Art Deco style with Moderne influences, the Essex House was completed in 1938.  The hotel's lobby features an impressively-restored original, hand-painted polychrome mural of Seminole Indians and the early, wild Florida Everglades.  All of the hotel's suites overlook an enclosed garden and courtyard ornamented by a fountain and bougainvilleas, while guests may swim in the pool located on the south patio amongst lush greenery.  Suites feature solid-oak furnishings, in-room refrigerators and wet bars, King-sized beds, and large bathrooms with hot tubs.  
Lummus Park is a 74-acre park that occupies the eastern side of Ocean Drive from 5th Street in the south to 15th Street in the north.  It sits between the bustle of Ocean Drive's Art Deco hotel strip and the wide, sandy expanse of South Beach's Atlantic shoreline.       
Lummus Park was redeveloped in the mid-1980s as part of the project to rehabilitate what became known as the Miami Beach Architectural District.  It now features grassy areas and palm trees, along with a meandering Promenade pedestrian pathway.   
Today, Lummus Park is a popular place for joggers, dog walkers, roller-bladers, cyclists, and volleyball players, as well as users of the park's open-air gyms. 
A number of sandy beach volleyball courts attract players and spectators to Lummus Park every day.  The Nautica South Beach Triathlon is held at the park annually, comprising a 1.5 kilometre ocean swim, 40 kilometre bike course, and a 10 kilometre run.  
South Beach, a surprisingly wide expanse of Atlantic shoreline, is popular with locals and visitors staying in the nearby hotels.  Lifeguards are on duty and visitors may rent beach chairs and umbrellas from local entrepreneurs. 
Beachgoers enjoy the sun and warm weather on South Beach, while some of the taller hotels along Ocean Drive and high-rise condominiums further away can be seen in the background.
South Beach by night I: The Hotel Victor is bathed in yellow and white light as night falls on Miami Beach.
South Beach by night II: The Claremont Hotel at 1700 Collins Avenue, originally built in 1947 and recently renovated as a Hampton Inn & Suites with 69 rooms.
South Beach by night III: Looking south on Ocean Drive at 11th Street.
South Beach by night IV: The brightly illuminated Tides hotel on a warm Miami evening.

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