Thursday, August 13, 2015

'Swamp Turned Into Swanky Lincoln Road By Carl Fisher'

Land being cleared for the construction of Lincoln Road - ca. 1915.

The Miami News, March 21, 1937.

The Miami News, March 21, 1937.

Looking down Lincoln Road from Alton Road. - 1933 (Photograph
by W.A. Fishbaugh)

LIFE Magazine, Feb. 24, 1941.
LIFE Magazine, Feb. 24, 1941.

Miami Herald Tropic Magazine - Sunday, April 27, 1986

In the past four or five years, Lincoln Road Mall has become a period piece -- a reenactment of the Great Depression, with some of the original cast, the poorest and feeblest of the elderly, the very oldest of the old. They are stranded by physical and financial immobility. They have watched the wealthier members of their generation flee to the suburbs, and then they watched their favorite stores flee as well. More than a fourth of the shops -- 46 to be exact -- are now vacant, for rent.

"It's no more Lincoln Road . It's Cemetery Road ," says Alice Davidson, 83, a Miami Beach native who walks the mall daily when her crooked hip doesn't hurt. "I know when people came here from Palm Beach in their Rolls-Royces," she adds, steadying herself with a hand cart.

"There's nothing here," says Lee Saul, born in the Bronx, retired in Miami Beach. "I have to go up to 163rd Street or Aventura. There's nothing here. Really dead. You won't find one person after 5 o'clock. Nobody's walking around except characters."

A few steps away, Walter Hinkle, 41, of Miami, is in a rage: "Guy down there throwing up. There's all these mental cases walking around. This is the manifestation of Hell as Dante imagined it."

Things don't work right on the mall. The power goes out at the Barnett Bank, darkness at noon, locked-out pensioners pounding on the glass. Seeing-eye doors don't see. Police surveillance cameras, would-be deterrents to crime, tilt in strange directions, some skyward as though looking for incoming rockets. A newspaper box sells The Miami Beach Sun Reporter -- but the edition is three months old, the last yellowed copies of a proud paper that didn't make it. At night, the streetlights sometimes blink dark. At the Lincoln Theatre, maybe a dozen people watch a first-run movie in a room the size of a blimp hangar. No one is at the door or behind the concession stand; in from the street slips a decrepit woman in a heavy coat, seeking refuge.

The best stores left. Saks Fifth Avenue is gone. Bonwit Teller is gone. Adrian Thal Furs is gone. Peck & Peck is gone. Leighton's is gone. Nettleton's is gone. Lane Bryant is gone. Pierre Vacca is gone. Elizabeth Arden is gone. Milgrims is gone. Greenleaf & Crosby is gone. F.A.O. Schwartz is gone. Florsheim's, one of the last "name" stores, is still around, but it will close down when its lease expires in August. The 30s Cafe, a valiant effort at resuscitating the glamour of the mall, is foundering.


Feb. 1940 - LIFE Magazine photo of Saks Fifth Avenue on Lincoln Road

The Miami News, Aug. 17, 1958 - Full page ad for Lincoln Road

The Miami News, November 26, 1960 - The Curtain Rises on 'New' Lincoln Road

The Miami News, April 25, 1981 - Tourist calls Lincoln Road a 'ghost town'

The Miami News, May 23, 1983 - What Lincoln Road needs is a shot of life

Carl Fisher, Mr. Miami Beach.

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