Wednesday July 25, 2007

Miami Beach lifeguard stands: last two standing

These are photos of the last two standing of the original Art Deco lifeguard stands. I took these photos in February, but both of these are still there; all the others have been replaced by the new boxy monstrosities (comprehensive photoset coming soon).

Last of the OGs

10th Street (you can click these and get geotags at flickr).

Last of the OGs

12th Street.

Last of the OGs

Scrapyard behind the Convention Center, where these two were temporarily stored on their way to the scrap yard. I also dug up this photo, of one of the original, but non-deco-ed stands. This one stood at South Pointe, and was photographed in 2003.

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  1. circuitmouse    Thu Jul 26, 05:22 PM #  

    The scrapyard?!? If memory serves me right, didn’t it take at least a couple of years of dickering to come up with the idea for those & get local artists lined up to design them? They may not be kosher under current safety regulations to be placed on a local schoolyard, but there ought to be SOME way that they could be saved. If they were so timeworn that they posed a hazard in their current state, I might understand if they couldn’t be saved. They were a heck of a lot more original than most of the derivative architecture thrown up all long the ocean front. After the clock in front of the auditorium, they served as among the most popular backdrops for tourists’ photographs that were immediately identifiable with The Beach. They served as a model to design & architecture schools worldwide that functional architecture could be “fun” and help give a city an identity. Another reason why the unofficial city motto is a wistful, “Ah, but you should have been here back when…”

  2. swampthing    Thu Jul 26, 10:09 PM #  

    Dear Bill the architect had the idea to replace old stands with artist designed originals. Sobe has about twelve stands. He needed a name like kennyscharf to get his foot in the door, to find a sympathetic ear at city hall. Also convenient was a need to be PC, so an open call was made for artists designs, the whole thing made for a nice show. Back then we had the studio on EspaƱola Way, and went for daily swims at 14 st. Kenny’stand was the first to be built. Today it is certainly the most photographed ever. The parks guys built it at flamingo park saying the thing was weird ugly. When it was finally placed on the beach we painted it pink n yellow with black line top to bottom. Soon after there were certain complaints about “demonic symbol” but most notably it was a success. The next stand to be built was understandably Bill’s. But then the third was also bills and fourth and so on. Some thought, what the hay? Anyway that was 1995. Kenny’s awesome drawings are long gone as is most of what was really great about South Beach. I had many friends in sobe but today it’s mostly client types. Interestingly the city still has money to burn.

  3. circuitmouse    Thu Jul 26, 10:21 PM #  

    There’s some great Miami Beach history there. Thanks.

  4. swampthing    Thu Jul 26, 11:00 PM #  

    circuit, history shows we are too soon old, too late smart.

  5. JC    Thu Jul 26, 11:30 PM #  

    Another example of the continuing destruction of what made South Beach fun, quirky, charming and bizarre. Too bad…

  6. Curious    Fri Jul 27, 07:10 AM #  

    Is there any chance someone (me) could buy one of the decomissioned ones?

    It could make a great tool shed in my Miami Beach back yard!

  7. circuitmouse    Fri Jul 27, 06:00 PM #  

    Not by accident did the US Government sell the barracks that housed the Japanese-Americans in the internment camps during WW II in an attempt to erase the history. Fortunately, some of them were saved.

    The history of what made Florida what is it has so many unwritten chapters, so many blank pages.

  8. porkchop    Fri Jul 27, 10:54 PM #  

    I spent many hours working on three of the original stands. After hurricane Andrew, the City of Miami Beach was in dire need of replacement stands. Initially, I have to admit, I was apprehensive with the designs that came forward. In retrospect,these projects are the most memorable accomplishments I have as a carpenter. Many man hours were involved on the hot, abandoned basketball courts at the park on Michigan Ave., which was the base camp for the Property Management Department.We were presented with rough but somewhat detailed drawings. The evolution of these stands rested solely on the men that actually had to transform the drawings into a structurally sound, functional tool for our lifegaurds.The first stand was the toughest, due to round design. All components were built on site , short of the round aluminum railing. We even incorporated a system of cables that allowed all of the window shutters to be raised and lowered simultaneously with one central crank.
    Enough of that. I’m sorry to see any these retired, so for the three stands that I worked long and hard to produce; “The Jetsons”,“The Duck”, and “The Wave”, I’m proud that these structures of wood, bolts, nails and paint have stirred such emotional debate.

  9. alesh    Sat Jul 28, 01:11 PM #  

    Wow, this thread really is bringing out some fascinating history. Thanks porkchop and swampthing.