Ocean Drives Me Crazy

When I think of a great street in Miami, I think of Old Cutler Road with its endless sprawling canopies. Or Eighth Street, which stretches down into the depths of the Everglades and in 1988 offered the backdrop for world’s longest conga line. Yet, never would I ever consider the eternal parking lot that is South Beach’s Ocean Drive, as one of our city’s finest.

The American Planning Association disagrees. On Tuesday it named Ocean Drive, along with Bull Street in Savannah, GA and Monument Avenue in Richmond, VA, as one of the 10 Great Streets for 2007 through APA’s Great Places in America program. According to the APA what qualifies a street as a great place in American is that it’s “enjoyable, safe, and desirable…where people want to be - not only to visit, but to live and work there everyday.”

Before I drain all of the silicone out of this beautifully superficial 36-C cup statement,

I’ll throw the APA a bone - architecturally, Ocean Drive’s got it going on. With its Art Deco façade originally built in the 1920s and 30s, doomed for demolition after World War II, and then restored by the Miami Design Preservation League in 1976, it’s a nice looking street with significant historic value.

But safe? Wasn’t Gianni Versace shot outside his home on Ocean Drive? And in regards to the claim that it’s a place “where people want to be - not only to visit, but to live and work there everyday”, I’ve got to ask, what people? People who get their kicks from sitting in a car for endless hours enjoying the eternal vibrations provided to their crotch by the crunk blaring from the car in front and behind them? Flabby, hairy foreigners with predilections for Speedos? And who wants to live on this Eurotrash sticky-trap of a street? Ignorant out-of-towners who enjoy cliches? Aspiring models who think coyly flashing their Brazilian waxes at their day job at Mangos will get them their next gig?

Although Ocean Drive has perks – like Wet Willies insanely close proximity to the sandy beach -- it’s certainly not a street where a large portion of Miami’s community is involved, especially since most dwell on Collins, Washington, and Lincoln. Yet, the newly acquired title as one of the 10 Great Streets for 2007 seems appropriate, being that the APA’s headquarters are located in Washington, D.C. and Ocean Drive is a street that often seems to be beloved by people far removed from the actual city of Miami.

Elyse Wanshel

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