A history of Miami and Miami Beach

Art Deco buildings are a symbol of Miami and Miami Beach's place as a center of architectural design.
CBS News

(CBS News) They're a sun-seekers paradise on the Florida coast . . . the cities of Miami and Miami Beach lure millions to their hedonistic attractions, not to mention their unique contributions to the world of design.

A metropolis today, the City of Miami wasn't incorporated until 1896, with a population of a few hundred. Across Biscayne Bay, an island known simply as "the beach" was a tangle of mangroves and palmettos --an unlikely place to build.

But automobile pioneer Carl Fisher had a vision (along with the determination and the money) to bring it to life.

By the 1920s, Miami Beach had become America's most fashionable destination. Even the Great Depression couldn't slow its growth, with hotels and homes sprouting up in the style of the day: Art Deco.

Still, trends come and go, and with the opening of Miami Beach's Fontainebleau Hotel in 1954, the Art Deco District seemed hopelessly dated, sliding into disrepair and decay.

That is, until a 1980s television show made a virtue of the city's predilection for vice . . . "Miami Vice," that is.

Even the opening credits celebrated a new era of Miami: remember the building with the hole in it? It's still there.

Infused with energy and style from South America and the Caribbean, the region is today considered "the Capital of the Americas."

And these days, a capital of design.

Among the sites visited by "Sunday Morning" during this week's show:

Miami's Bacardi Building. CBS News

Ocean Drive, where Art Deco buildings from the 1930s are again a point of pride.

Miami's Bacardi Building, designed by Enrique Gutierrez for the rum distilling firm. The building with its distinctive blue and white ceramic tiles is now a part of the National Young Arts Foundation.

The Bacardi's lobby has been described as "Miami Meets 'Madmen'" . . . the sort of 1960s vintage office that could easily accommodate the stars of the popular cable TV series.

The Vizcaya Mansion, built for the International Harvester magnate James Deering in the early 1900s. The building and grounds were inspired by Italian design, and now serve as a museum. The eastern garden at Vizcaya offers a view of Biscayne Bay and a small stone island in the form of an ancient stone barge.

The modernistic parking garage at 1111 Lincoln Road, which offers a bird's eye view of Miami Beach.

The Fountainbleau Hotel, with its curving facade and view of the beach, was designed in the 1950s by architect Morris Lapidus -- with a grand staircase that was designed to be "a stairway to nowhere."

The Lincoln Road Mall is a Miami Beach landmark, designed in the 1960s by Morris Lapidus of Fontainbleau fame. He planned it for pedestrians only, on the theory that "a car never bought anything." In the years since, Lincoln Road had declined, and bounced back again.

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