The romantic Espanola Way

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 in all the tasteful European style which had not yet been contaminated with the touch of the modern world, and is placed nicely right above 14th Street in the middle of Pennsylvania and Washington Avenues. Back in the 1920s, 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 sunset and rise as it is one of the most beautiful place to watch it.

Walking Under Espanola’s Enchanting Lights
Walking Under Espanola’s Enchanting Lights

With scary stories of mobsters running rampant in gambling dens and right out to the streets in the 80s, Espanola Way is also the set of popular Hollywood productions 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.

The Rise, Fall, and Renaissance

After the fall of the mobsters, Espanola 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 emerged. 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.

Linda Polansky’s Vision and Restoration Efforts

A decade later, 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, 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 into a semi-hostel where visitors would be able to stay, but most of the buildings 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, had a deep attraction towards Espanola Way. After a reconnaissance of the beautiful area, Michael Mann and Don Johnson requested a meeting with Polansky, and together, they sat down to discuss the development of their idea. Bourne, the set designer of the hit series Miami Vice told Polansky about his idea, and how he wanted 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.

Christmas lights on Espanola Way
Christmas lights on Espanola Way
Spotlight on Arts and Entertainment

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

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

The Contemporary Cultural Landscape

Today, Espanola Way in Miami Beach 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 Correthe owner of A La Folie opened up the café only three years back and came 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 than it is a restaurant, therefore he wants a place where people could just come down, sit, and 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 Foliemake Espanola Way are much more beautiful as they enhance the rich culture and look. Other restaurant that adds to 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 spot for 19 years and still counting, and it has gone through the test of times in Espanola Way. Pierre Marcel, an artist who inspired the Marcel Gallery traveled to Espanola Way to paint murals on the walls of a café in Lincoln Road.

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After a while in the faux finish and renovation scene, Marcel soon became successful and 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 are 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. 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 coming 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 them at the Miami Beach Cinematheque and Gallery. This allows independent filmmakers to show their work. While the crowd flocks to Debbie Katz to try out its latest garment collections, most do not know the history of how the owner, Debbie Katz herself started 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 when 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 for Debbie Katz, but for other shops as well, it just oozes the feeling of calmness, relaxation, and a fun-filled atmosphere. There are people from all around the world in all walks of life at this place. Linda Polansky once mentioned how architecture plays an important role in pulling people from all around the world. This is because people appreciate the foundation of how the building is made, its rich history, and its culture.

Dinner under Espanola's pastel lights
Dinner under Espanola’s pastel lights
Preservation and Future Developments

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 architecture of Espanola Way.

Many preservationists of Espanola Way agree with Linda Polansky and often do their best to keep the historic architecture and constantly get it repaired and maintained. They are saddened by the fact that many more of Florida’s history has gone away in either storms or bulldozed down by developers. Howeverthey 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 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 an 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.

Stay Near Espanola Way? Why not!

Nestled in the bustling heart of Miami Beach, the area around Espanola Way offers more than just a place to stay—it promises an experience. Here, every hotel tells a story, every corner hides a historical secret, and every moment is steeped in culture. Choosing to stay near Espanola Way means immersing yourself in a neighborhood that pulsates with the rhythms of past and present.

Unmatched Charm: The streets around Espanola Way are lined with architectural gems that echo the lavish spirit of the 1920s, offering a picturesque backdrop to your Miami adventure. Culinary Delights: With an array of restaurants serving everything from authentic Spanish tapas to avant-garde cuisine, your taste buds will embark on a journey as exciting as your explorations.

Art and Culture at Your Doorstep: From street art to galleries, and live performances, the area is a living canvas showcasing the best of Miami’s vibrant art scene. Walkability: Staying here means you’re steps away from not just Espanola Way, but also other iconic spots like Lincoln Road Mall and the pristine beaches Miami is famed for.

El Salón: Where Miami's retro beats meet speakeasy chic.
El Salón: Where Miami’s retro beats meet speakeasy chic.
Esmé: Miami’s Vintage Chic Retreat

Right off the vibrant Espanola Way, Esmé Hotel is where Miami’s past and swank collide. Born in 1927, this spot has seen it all: from Al Capone’s secret gambling sessions to Desi Arnaz’s jam sessions, it’s a slice of Miami’s wild history. Cool Vibes Only at El Salón: Duck into El Salón at Esmé and you’re in for a retro treat. Think hidden speakeasy meets vinyl DJ nights, spinning old-school soul and funk. It’s the go-to for night owls craving a dose of nostalgia with their cocktails.

Espanola Way: Boho Street’s Comeback Kid. Espanola Way’s been the heartthrob of Miami’s boho scene, a crash pad for creatives, and a hideout for the notorious. Fast forward to now, and it’s buzzing again, thanks to spots like Esmé. This hotel’s not just a stay; it’s a time travel ticket to the glitzy, gritty Miami of yore. Why Esmé? Because History’s Hot: Staying at Esmé is like living a page of Miami’s juiciest tales. With Espanola Way’s revival, it’s all about upscale eats and that laid-back, artsy vibe. Esmé’s the spot if you’re after the soul of Miami, wrapped in luxe sheets with a side of history.

See the Esme Hotel.

Our unbiased rating

Showing Off 8
Glamour 9
Restaurants 9
Shopping 8
Nightlife 8
Scene 9
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