Recently, the Miami Beach Design Preservation League (MDPL) selected “SOUTH BEACH: Stories of a Renaissance” as its feature book for MDPL Reads, a community reading program. The “coffee table” souvenir book was also featured during Art Deco Weekend, an annual event organized by MDPL that brings hundreds of thousands of visitors to Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue, Lincoln Road and the other storied streets of South Beach.
“The book is a treasure trove of stories, photos and original artwork that brings South Beach to life,” says Goldstein, noting it took more than two years of interviews and research to create the book. “We have featured the people who transformed the empty, mosquito infested island of the early 1900s into the most recognized international resort in the world.” For “SOUTH BEACH: Stories of a Renaissance,” Kropke interviewed nearly 50 influential leaders of South Beach, and their stories fill the 244-page hardcover book. South Florida painter Joe Davis created a beautiful teal and yellow cover that represents the Art Deco spirit of South Beach, as well as four fold-out original illustrations of key South Beach locales.
The book’s 150-full-color photos were taken by Davis and local photographer Petra Mason. For example, one chapter tells the history of Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant, an iconic landmark for the past 80 years. In fact, for eight years in the early 1900s, it was the only restaurant on Miami Beach – a far cry from today’s sparkling array of dining choices. Joe’s is in its fourth generation of family ownership, serving 2,000 pounds of stone crabs every day during the peak of the season. A few blocks away, Browns Hotel, the first hotel on South Beach, is still open nearly 100 years after it was built from solid Dade County pine. A modest building on west side of Ocean Drive, Browns Hotel now features the upscale Prime 112 restaurant and Prime Hotel.
On the cultural side, “SOUTH BEACH: Stories of a Renaissance” features local landmarks like the Holocaust Memorial, the Colony Theater, the Jewish Museum of Florida, and Books & Books, an independent bookseller on the city’s famous Lincoln Road. “One of the reasons our book has taken off is that visitors appreciate the intriguing stories that bring South Beach to life,” adds Kropke. “We’ve gotten many comments from our Facebook page that ‘I didn’t know that,’ or ‘Now I want to go to South Beach.’ We feel passionate about South Beach and appreciate the opportunity to pass that enthusiasm to our readers around the world.”
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