South Beach: Espanola Way.

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Old fashioned with a touch of contemporary, pleasingly charming yet down to its core very artistic right to the paints of peach, Espanola Way Miami Beach is where culture meets history. Espanola Way is filled with buildings built ala the tasteful European style which had not yet been contaminated with the touch of the modern world, is placed nicely right above 14th Street in the middle of Pennsylvania and Washington Avenues. All the way back then to the 1920, Espanola Way was a place where the rich met, a place of party all night long where it is taken to the streets, and a place where everyone all over Miami would come to sit together and watch the sun set and rise as it is one of the most beautiful place to watch it.

With scary stories of mobsters running rampant with gambling dens and right out to the streets in the 80’s, Espanola Way is also the set of popular Hollywood production like Miami Vice. Not to forget the colorful culture of the Art Deco architecture which made the art popular all around the world.

Espanola Way was birthed under the wing of N.B.T Roney from Roney Palace and the father of Stanley Whitman, William Whitman who owns the Bal Harbour Shops, it is also known as the Historic Spanish Village as the buildings are inspired by exotic villages of Spain and Paris. Back in the 1920’s, it was a place fit for only the rich, however historic gangster figure, Al Capone brought ‘low-lives’ to this side of town as he made gambling famous at the Clay Hotel.

After the fall of the mobstersEspanola Way fell back to its normal ways as the place became more and more popular with the rumba. After three decades, the party jive and feel all faded as a different era came through. An Era of downfall as the streets were no longer all party and happy, and it even saw its downfall of the Art Deco era as well. It all became dissimilar.

A decade after, in the 1980s, Espanola Way made its way back up with the help of the visionary Linda Polansky who did plenty to ensure its upbringing. Together with Barbara Capitman, the both of them restored the old and decaying buildings. After renovating and restoration of certain key areas, not only did they bring attention back to Espanola Way, but also to Miami Beach as well.

Polansky, knowing it was a risk, but still believed in the potential, bought over the whole South side of Espanola Way, all the way from Drexel Avenue to Washington Avenue. Having the Clay Hotel in mind as the center of the South District, she transformed the once popular hotel to a semi-hostel where visitors would be able to stay, but most of the building were kept for viewing pleasure of the beauty of its art. She brought back vibrant colors to the buildings instead of the trend of brown or beige at that time.

Polansky wanted to color the Clay Hotel into the hue of peach, and at the same time Mel Bourne arrived at Miami Beach. Bourne, who was in the production of Miami Vice, he had a deep attraction towards Espanola Way. Together with Michael Mann and Don Johnson, after reconnaissance of the beautiful area, they requested a meet with Polansky, and together, they sat down to discuss the development of their idea.

Bourne, the set designer of hit series Miami Vice told Polansky about his idea, and how he wants Miami Vice to be. It was known that Bourne gave Polansky a book of over a thousand different hues of peach for her to choose from. The group became very close with each other, and after years of working together, viewers see Espanola Way in the first episode, the final episode as well as 10 episodes in between of the Miami Vice Series.

This ultimately was a huge help for the development of Espanola Way.

With the creative forces working together to bring up Espanola Way, it soon got an advantage of upbringing. This is due to the fact that the show brought interest of other Hollywood producers where it soon made its appearance in films like The Birdcage and the famous Chains of Gold starring John Travolta. Many other production like Dunhill’s advertisement and Elton John music video used Espanola Way as well. Polansky was delighted that people are starting to realize the beauty of the place.

Today, Espanola Way still remains a charm for passersby day in and day out. There is a lively marketplace that people love to crowd on the weekends, and you will see plenty of people taking a stroll down the classy roads of Espanola Way. Plenty of hawkers sell all sorts of stuff from dresses to precious stones, from souvenirs to flowers, there are plenty to be seen there.

The crowd loves the artistic eateries like A La Folie where you would be able to see groups chatting while eating pastry. Olivier Corre, the owner of A La Folie opened up the café only three years back, came all the way from Paris. The reason he chose Espanola Way is because it suits the mood, character and feel of his café. He insists that his place is more of a café then it is a restaurant, therefore he wants a place where people could just come down, sit, enjoy coffee while having a chat or reading magazines.

Corre also promotes how he has the most affordable French cuisine in Espanola Way.

Artistic and Bohemian eateries like A La Folie makes Espanola Way much more beautiful as it enhances the rich culture and look. Other restaurant that adds in the flavor of the place are the likes of Tapas and Tintos from Spainthe Mexican Oh! Mexico and the Italian Hosteria Romana.

Art is also brought to the streets of Espanola Way from the establishment of art galleries like Marcel Gallery and the Espanola Way Art Center. As for Marcel gallery, it has been in the same very spot for 19 years and still counting, and it had gone through the test of times in Espanola Way. Pierre Marcel, an artist who inspired the Marcel Gallery traveled all the way to Espanola Way to paint murals on the walls of a café in Lincoln Road.

After a while in the faux finish and renovation scene, Marcel soon became successful and which he dived into fine arts. Ever since, his gallery was the only one on Espanola Way. The owner, Howard Levine says that he chose Espanola Way due to its historic qualities, which is also rich with color, character and elegance.

Unlike the Marcel Gallery, Espanola Way has a rich history due to its opening and closing of establishments. The artist who was popular back then by the name of Kenny Scharf once had a studio which resided at now where Synergy Yoga Center is at. Seven years before he opened the studio, it was a place of private residence from the 1930s to the 1940s.

Synergy Yoga only took over in 1996, where they offer a variety of yoga classes from ashtanga to power yoga and vinyasa, owned by October Rose and Gaia Budhai, which said that the reason they chose the spot was the intriguing atmosphere.

This is the reason why despite a lot of establishments came and gone, this made Espanola Way the way that it is. Like the Contesta Rock Hair, it is a place where people now go to see doo inspired by the style of rock and roll.

Fans of fine films could enjoy films sponsored by the Miami Beach Film Society by catching it at the Miami Beach Cinematheque and Gallery. This gives the opportunity for independent film makers to show their work. While the crowd flocks to Debbie Katz to try out its latest garment collections, most do not know the history on how the owner, Debbie Katz herself started out at Espanola Way.

Six years ago, she did not own the establishment like it is today.

She was making and selling them at the outdoor weekend market. She only was able to open up her own space after years and years where she slowly gained popularity and fans of her designs. Even though the price to open up her establishment was pricey, she still wanted to open up there because she insisted that her designs were born in Espanola Way. She also claims that Espanola Way is the perfect place to open boutique style outlets due to its beautiful history of vibrant colors and fashion.

Perhaps the best spot to open in all of Miami Beach.

It’s not just as Debbie Katz, but for other shops as well, it just oozes the feeling of calmness, relaxation and fun-filled atmosphere. There are people from all around the world in all walks of life at this place. Linda Polansky had once mentioned how architecture plays an important role to pulling people from all around the world. This is due to the fact that people appreciate the foundation of how the building is made, its rich history and its culture.

Espanola Way symbolizes the rich culture and history of Miami Beach. It was one of the first areas to be set up in Miami Beach, and it saw many changes and withstood the test of time. People like to experience history, and it could most definitely be experienced through the architectures of Espanola Way.

Many preservationists of Espanola Way agrees with Linda Polansky, and often do their best to keep the historic architectures and constantly getting them repaired and maintained. They are saddened by the fact that there are many more Florida’s history had gone away in either storms or bulldozed down by developers. However, they tend to be overprotective of Espanola Way as they don’t want that to happen to what they believe to be the ‘sacred grounds’ of Miami Beach.

The past is the past, however Espanola Way is still in the midst of upbringing. With a budget of $900,000, developers plan to connect Lincoln Road with Espanola Way by Drexel Avenue, producing a 10 foot walkway for pedestrians. The Plaza the Espana would soon be garnished with a fountain, which is given as a endowment from the South of Spain.

There is still so much more to be done to promote and make Espanola Way the biggest attraction of Miami Beach.

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