from the Archives

Espanola Way

Front and back of 1929 postcard of Espanola Way and 1920’s vintage photographs of a tea room, the “Pirate’s Den” and a street scene. Espanola Way Village, which is so popular with tourists and locals now, was the brainchild of William Whitman and N.Roney. Originally named The Spanish Village, it was designed to copy a Mediterranean Village. When built, it was considered an ideal location for the wealthy to enjoy a secluded holiday, such as Harvey Firestone and J.C. Penney. In the late 1920’s the area became famous for gamblers like Al Capone, who developed a casino in rooms 128-138 of the Clay Hotel. In the 1930’s, the area went back to being popular for its street parties and entertainment. By the 1970’s the area had sunk to dilapidated buildings. Miami pioneers Linda Polansky and Barbara Capitman had a vision in the 80s of restoring the area to its original state. Polansky bought a large portion of the area, determined to restore it to its former splendor. The Polansky Restoration Group was able to accomplish this feat by 1986. In addition, the Hollywood producers of Miami Vice gave the area the extra boost it needed to restore it to its original beauty. Other films made on Espanola Way included The Specialist, Burn Notice and The Birdcage. A notable event also occurred when Desi Arnaz played at the Village tavern where he wrote and played the song “The Miami Beach Rumba”. Espanola Way was recently restored in 2019 and made more beautiful than ever.

Back of postcard for the Spanish Village; writer says he is “making a flying trip” date stamped 1929
1920’s vintage photograph of a tea room, called the “Pirate’s Den”
1920’s vintage photograph of Espanola Way
Espanola Way during the 1970s; photograph donated by Nancy Liebman
Front of 1929 postcard Court Scene, The Spanish Village

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