Architecture & Design

The Eight Oldest and Most Iconic Buildings in Miami

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4. Miami River Inn
A cluster of pastel wood-frame houses built in 1908 is considered to be Miami's longest continuously operated hotel. Situated in one of the city's oldest neighborhoods, the structures have stood in East Little Havana for more than a century. Originally built as a Victorian boarding house, the property has recently been restored and is now occupied by Roam, a co-living space.
3. The Freedom Tower
Walk through downtown Miami any given day, and the Freedom Tower is hard to miss. The 17-story vintage yellow building, which is illuminated in various colors at night, was built in 1925 during a real-estate bubble. In the 1960s, it served as a safe haven for Cuban refugees to seek assistance. The building was named the Freedom Tower because of the many Cubans who shuffled through the it in a span of about ten years. Now the space is known for hosting local arts and culture because it houses Miami Dade College's Museum of Art + Design and offices for the Miami International Film Festival.
2. The Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center
The Olympia Theater celebrated its 90th birthday this year. The space looks to have many more years ahead of it. The theater was built in 1926 by Paramount, giving the Olympia an immediate connection to the film industry. "John Eberson, who designed it, built the theater to accommodate vaudeville as well as film — so live entertainment has been with us since the beginning as well,” Robert Geitner, executive director of the Olympia Theater, told New Times in February. Throughout the year, the downtown Miami space offers specialty screenings, premieres, and its Recent Cinema From Spain film series; it's also one of the hosts of the Miami International Film Festival. There are concerts and live entertainment as well, with musicians such as Kraftwerk, Jesus & Mary Chain, Sufjan Stevens, and Damien Rice having performed on its stage in the past year.
1. The Biltmore Hotel 
In the early '20s and '30s, the Biltmore Hotel was frequented by celebrities, socialites, royalty, and even President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Glitz and glamour aside, the Coral Gables building has a spooky past thanks to the murder of gangster Thomas "Fatty" Walsh and the temporary repurposing of the Biltmore as a military hospital during World War II. Despite its rumored ghosts, the hotel is still one of the most sought-after destinations in South Florida. Every Sunday, the hotel's lavish courtyard hosts one of the finest brunch soirees in town. But if creepy stories are your thing, the Biltmore offers walking tours that touch on its mysterious past. 
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Clarissa Buch Zilberman is a writer and editor, with her work appearing in print and digital titles worldwide.
Contact: Clarissa Buch