Visions of Vibrancy: South Beach
The vibrancy of cities comes in all shapes and sizes. Many believe that what works in internationally known comsopolitan settings may not be applicable for cities such as Jacksonville, that have struggled with embracing walkability. If we look hard enough, we may realize that this type of view should be challenged. Despite the diversity around the globe, all lively cities, downtowns and urban cores have something in common: being pedestrian friendly.
Published January 13, 2014 in Cities - MetroJacksonville.com
About South Beach
South Beach is an internationally known South Florida neighborhood. Dating back to 1915, South Beach is the oldest section of the City of Miami Beach (2010 pop. 87,779), home to the largest collection of Art Deco architecture in the world and has been one of Athe country's preeminent beach resorts for nearly a century.
Thirty years ago, the South Beach we know today did not exist.
During the era of Miami's "cocaine cowboys," South Beach was a blighted high crime district that served as the background for feature film Scarface and the TV show Miami Vice. During the early 1990s, the LGBT community kicked off Miami Beach's revitalization process by purchasing and restoring blighted buildings, opening new businesses and building political power in the city.
As the years have passed, the City of Miami Beach has become an international tourist destination. While many consider it an urban resort, at 12,540 residents per square mile, the coastal city is about as dense as they come in the South.
Due to its density and urban nature, getting around by bicycle is a viable mobility option. So viable, in fact, that South Beach was the location of one of the country's first bike sharing systems, Decobike, in 2011. Once one gets past South Beach's cosmopolitan flair and acclaim, they will find several best practices in place that are essential and applicable for any community looking to establish vibrancy in a walkable setting.
These best practices include limited building setbacks, minimal surface parking lots, human scaled lighting, awnings, sidewalk cafe dining, shade trees, well-maintained public spaces, multimodal streets and more. Focus on getting the little things right in your community and you'll be well on your way to becoming a place that people desire to spend time in.
They say a picture speaks a thousands words. Instead of filling your head with statistical data, we'll visually stimulate the urbanist in you by illustrating settings where these best practices are in place. As a part of our new Visions of Vibrancy series, Metro Jacksonville presents South Beach.
1111 Lincoln Road is a parking garage that was designed by the internationally known Swiss architectural firm of Herzog & de Meuron. South Beach's Miami Art Deco District contains 960 historic buildings. The district is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Sixth Street to the south, Alton Road to the west, the Collins Canal and Dade Boulevard to the north. Despite being a historical district, the architectural envelope is still pushed when it comes to fitting new construction into the neighborhood.
Lincoln Road is the social and retail center of Miami Beach. Shortly, after 1960, the road was closed to traffic, becoming one of the nation's first pedestrian malls. On May 6, 2011, Lincoln Road Mall was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Collins Avenue is home to many historic Art Deco hotels.
Ocean Drive is the South Beach scene most people across the country recognize. The easternmost street in South Beach, the north/south thoroughfare is a popular tourist corridor that is lined with several prominent restaurants and Art Deco hotels.
The 74-acre Lummus Park stretches for ten blocks between Ocean Drive and the Atlantic Ocean. A popular pedestrian walk, known as the Promenade, runs through the park.
Awnings and canopies are an excellent way to enhance the pedestrian experience in a tropical climate known for high humidity, afternoon thunderstorms and blazing heat.
Large parking lots are hard to find in South Beach. This is because the City of Miami Beach is one of the densest cities in the Southeastern United States with 12,539.8 residents per square mile. This built environment makes it a place where the pedestrian experience becomes a major priority.
Miami-Dade County attracts nearly 14 million visitors annually with South Beach being a major destination in the region. The region is the second top destination in the country for international tourists and has consistently ranked among the top five preferred destinations in the country for international travelers since 1990. To accommodate heavy pedestrian movement, South Beach's sidewalks and streets are lined with pedestrian oriented signage.
Washington Avenue is known for having some of the world's largest and most popular nightclubs. Despite the area's built density, landscaping is used to separate pedestrians from vehicular traffic.
The neighborhood of South Beach is home to one of the country's first public bike sharing systems. Decobike was launced in March 2011 as a partnership between Decobike, LLC. and the City of Miami Beach. Once fully implemented, the system will have 1,000 bikes accessible from 100 stations.
Española Way dates back to 1925. It was originally developed as "The Historic Spanish Village," modeled after Mediterranean villages found in France and Spain. Today it is home to many restaurants, bars, galleries and boutiques.
Article and Images by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at email@example.com
This article can be found at: https://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2014-jan-visions-of-vibrancy-south-beach