How a desperate struggle over two square miles of prime oceanfront real estate gave birth to one of America’s most iconic destinations for tourism, art, fashion, and nightlife.
“Stofik reports with wit and insight on the personalities that gave rise to the new South Beach, a place that has surpassed what the city’s founders, dreamers, and schemers strove for: America’s playground.”--Gary Monroe, author of The Highwaymen: Florida’s African-American Landscape Painters (UPF) and Romer’s Miami
“An important—and highly readable—window into the historic preservation movement in Miami Beach. . . . Stofik makes a solid contribution to the history of Florida and its growing impact on the nation’s sense of place.” --Gregory Bush, professor of history, University of Miami, and coauthor of Miami: An American Crossroad
Only 30 years ago the southern end of Miami Beach was a dingy warren of deteriorating hotels, retiree apartments, and high crime rates. Saving South Beach is the compelling story of the fight to preserve a decaying neighborhood, only to see it transform into one of the world’s most glamorous hotspots--“SoBe.”
In Saving South Beach, historic preservation clashes with development as each side vies for control of South Beach. A spectrum of characters are present, from Barbara Baer Capitman, the ailing middle-aged widow who became an evangelist for the Miami Beach Art Deco district, to Abe Resnick, the millionaire Holocaust survivor determined to stop her. From pioneers to volunteers, from Jewish retirees to Cuban exiles, from residents and business owners to developers and city leaders, each adds another piece to the puzzle, another view of the intense conflict that ensued.
Although a number of the area’s iconic buildings were demolished, the Miami Design Preservation League succeeded in entering almost half of the neighborhood into the National Register of Historic Places, kicking off a revitalization effort that spread throughout South Beach.
Preservationist M. Barron Stofik lived in Miami during this turmoil-ridden period and, through hundreds of interviews and extensive investigation, weaves together dramatic themes of civic heroism, preservation, and cultural change in the passionate human story behind the pastel facades and neon lights.