Mizner eventually went bust. But down in Miami Beach an improbable boom was taking off just as the Depression was digging in its heels. As Jean-François Lejeune and Allan T. Schulman point out in The Making of Miami Beach: 1933-1942, the architect Lawrence Murray Dixon used the streamlined forms of Art Deco to create the iconic hotels that still lure sun seekers to the former site of mangroves and avocado orchards. In the nineteen-sixties, Florida continued to attract big dreamers, notably Walt Disney. Married to the Mouse, by political scientist Richard E. Foglesong, shows how Disney, for better and worse, turned sleepy Orlando into the world's most popular tourist destination. Echoing Mizner's hopes for a modern Dream City, Disney World's Epcot Center was originally planned as a glistening urban utopia. But, in keeping with the whimsical ways of the Sunshine State, it mutated into a theme park. (Mark Rozzo)
The Making of Miami Beach: 1933-1942: The Architecture of Lawrence Murray Dixonby Allan Shulman
Lawrence Murray Dixon (1901-1949) was a native Floridian whose career started in New York where he worked for Schultze and Weaver, the firm famous for designing the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Like most of the architects practicing in the boomtown that was post-depression Miami Beach, Dixon was outside the American architectural establishment-he did not receive a complete architectural education, nor did he complete anything like a grand tour. He was nevertheless the most prolific architect practicing in Miami Beach in the late 1930s and early 1940s, building all types of commercial and residential buildings from the smallest house to the most lavish oceanfront hotels. Perhaps most importantly, Lawrence Murray Dixon was one of the first architects to build large-scale hotels in the Art Deco-style in Miami Beach, bringing in the jazz age style of machine-age optimism and prosperity. Yet, what makes Miami Beach remarkable is not only the way in which Dixon and his colleagues used Art Deco to meet the local need for lower cost resort architecture, but the way in which they adapted the style to incorporate local motifs and historical styles. The result is the unique architecture of South Beach, as it is now known, the largely restored international vacation hotspot, and the country's first twentieth-century architectural district to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Dixon's archive, one of the eras most complete, is now in the collection of Miami Beach's Bass Museum of Art. Its drawings and marvelous duo-tone photographs (mostly from New York photographers Gottscho & Schleisner) form the backbone of this book and show these landmark buildings in their original, pristine state.
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