from the Archives

The Biscaya Hotel

The Biscaya Hotel was a Mediterranean ten story structure (built in 1925 originally as The Floridian Hotel, which replaced the Miami Beach Aquarium) located on the north side of MacArthur Causeway. The Spanish touches for the building included a tile roofed tower with cast-stone embellishments and a domed ceiling rotunda decorated with murals in the lobby. As The Floridian Hotel in the 20’s, it was a bustling location for wealthy tourists, celebrities and gangsters such as Al Capone. During WWII, like so many other Miami Beach hotels, the Floridian also served as barracks. After the war, it became a retirement home and in 1959 went into foreclosure. Its new owner re-named it the Biscaya but by 1977 it closed for good, because of the economic downturn and serious crime wave in South Beach. Ten years later, the owner had plans to restore the hotel, however he was blocked by a long moratorium on development of buildings in the south of the 6th Street area. When the City ordered the building razed because of its severe deterioration, preservationists were angered. Barbara Baer Capitman, along with other Miami Design Preservation League supporters, mounted a campaign to save the structure that was the last remaining example of the grand bayside hotels. Sadly, their efforts were not successful and in March 1987, the iconic building was demolished by using 200 lbs. of explosives to implode itself.  Currently the lot is occupied by The Bentley Bay Condominium at 540 West Avenue.

 Shown is an archival photograph of Barbara Capitman and supporters protesting at the Biscaya Hotel, photos of before and during the start of the demolition, and a photograph from Mark Duwel of military servicemen using the hotel for training exercises in the 1940’s. 

Photo of Biscaya from Biscayne Bay before the demolition
Photo of Biscaya during the start of the demolition
Photo from Mark Duwel of military servicemen using the Floridian Hotel for training exercises in the 1940’s
Barbara Baer Capitman with supporters protesting the demolition of the Biscaya Hotel

What would Miami Beach be like without Historic Art Deco, Mediterranean, and MiMo buildings?

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