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WASHINGTON
AVENUE

WASHINGTON AVENUE HISTORY

5th - 17th washington avenue miami beach

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12th & Washington

Old City Hall

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11th & Washington

Washington Avenue

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World Famous Cameo

Clubs of the Past

Clubs of the Past

List of the legendary clubs on Washington Avenue from the past.

ledgends on washington avenue

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Creator: Tim Chapman | Credit: Miami Herald

Copyright: © The Miami Herald 1985

PRINCE

12th & Washington

GLAM SLAM - 1235 WASHINGTON AVENUE

Glam Slam, whose name was taken from the second single on Prince's 1988 album, Lovesexy was everything you'd expect, and so much more. Think huge purple dance floors, heavy gold mesh fabric, Egyptian-style faces peering down from multicolored walls, and a "jewel-strewn bed cradled in a sculpted hand" that came directly from Prince's "Erotic City" concert tour. Celebrities, club kids, and Carmen Electra all mingled. "On the dance floor, supermodel types [strutted] in platform shoes and bell-bottoms beside the urban-clad B-boys," while go-go dancers took the stage, according to the Times

They blacked out the windows and implemented tight security policies to keep the club's decor under wraps. And once the club opened, "the P-word [was] avoided by staffers, who were required to sign confidentiality agreements before embarking on the venture," according to the Times.

The club was "one of the top hip-hop spots in town, attracting a diverse mix of partygoers as well as the music industry's who's who," Ebony reported in 1995.

Prince did more than just create the club's aesthetic, he also provided much of the soundtrack. As the Times wrote in their review of opening night, "approximately every third 

Prince Live Glam Slam Club Show on Washington Avenue Miami Beach, Florida June 10, 1994

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Jackie Gleason.jpeg

JACKIE GLEASON THEATRE 
17TH AVENUE

The story of The Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater began in 1950, when Golden Era Legends graced the stage of The Miami Beach Municipal Auditorium. Guests came from around the world to watch such shows as song and dance performances, comedy or even the occasional boxing match. Sometimes, the real performances were in the seats - Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Jack Benny were regular visitors to the auditorium and often caused quite a stirring.

With the television boom in the 1960s, shows such as The Dick Clark Show, The Ed Sullivan Show and the Miss USA and Miss Universe Pageants were often filmed in the auditorium. In 1964, the city of Miami Beach offered Jackie Gleason the opportunity to film his show here. Mr. Gleason agreed to move his show to sunny Miami Beach.

In 1966, the show was shot in color on videotape at the Miami Beach Auditorium and Gleason never tired of promoting the "sun and fun capital of the world" on camera. Hordes of vacationers took Gleason's advice, boosting Florida's economy. Later specials were taped at the Olympia Theatre's Gusman Center in downtown Miami.

The shows began with the television camera in front of a boat speeding toward the shore of Miami Beach, and ended with Gleason bellowing, "Miami Beach audiences are the greatest audiences in the world!"

During this period, The Jackie Gleason Show earned three more Emmy nominations and won two Emmys. At the end of the 1968–1969 season, The Jackie Gleason Show still garnered decent ratings in the Nielsens and CBS renewed it for an eighth season. Gleason took up permanent residence in south.

In 1987, the City of Miami Beach recognized Jackie Gleason's contributions to our community by renaming the theater, The Jackie Gleason Theater of the Performing Arts.

 

Kyle W. Farley

Digital Filmmaker and Educator

In 1964, Washington Avenue Jackie Gleason Show

Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.  
Muhammad Ali

5th  & 17th Washington

We like to say the greatest trained at the 5th Street Gym on Washington Ave. and won the championship on 17th & Washington Ave.

Muhammad Ali born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. was an American professional boxer, activist, entertainer and philanthropist. Nicknamed The Greatest, he is widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated figures of the 20th century and as one of the greatest boxers of all time.

After winning a Gold Medal for the United States, Muhammad Ali called Angelo Dundee to be his trainer. The 15-year old showed up at Dundee’s hotel but at first, it appeared Dundee was uninterested. However, as fate would have it Dundee escaped his boredom with television and gave Clay a few minutes.  Clay remembered not allowing Dundee to say many words until he finished asking all of his questions.  By the end of his barrage, Dundee agreed to help Clay. Dundee had Cay train with former Light Heavyweight World Champion Archie Moore.
an altercation with boxer convinced Clay to fly back to Miami instead to work out at the 5th Street gym on Washington Avenue Miami Beach, so here he was in Overtown.

Cassius Clay won the Boxing World heavyweight championship by defeating the most intimidating fighter of his day Sonny Liston at the Miami Beach Convention Center.  He was not allowed to spend the night in Miami Beach because of Jim Crow’s segregation laws, instead he celebrated with Malcolm X, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and friends, over a bowl of ice cream at the Hampton House. 



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Championship Fight. Muhammad Ali vs Sonny Liston February 25th 1964 - Washington Avenue

Gianni Versace 

8th & Washington

Gianni Versace - Operated a retail store on 8th and Washington. Gianni was an Italian fashion designer and founder of Versace, an international fashion house that produces accessories, fragrances, make-up, home furnishings, and clothes. He also designed costumes for theatre and films.

 

As a friend of Eric ClaptonDiana, Princess of WalesNaomi CampbellKate MossMadonnaElton JohnTupac Shakur and many other celebrities, he was one of the first designers to link fashion to the music world He and his partner Antonio D'Amico were regulars on the international party scene.[5]On 15 July 1997, Versace was shot and killed outside his Miami Beach mansion, Casa Casuarina, at the age of 50. 

After opening his Milan boutique in 1978, Versace quickly became a sensation on the international fashion scene. His designs employed vivid colors, bold prints, and sexy cuts, which were a refreshing contrast to the prevailing taste for muted colors and simplicity. His aesthetic "combined luxurious classicism with overt sexuality," attracted much criticism in addition to praise. He is quoted as saying, "I don't believe in good taste," which was reflected in his "brazen defiance of the rules of fashion."

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About Gianni Versace

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DeANNE CONNOLY GRAHAM

LEADER

DeAnne Connolly Graham was a member of the Miami Beach Black Advisory Committee, Academy of Hospitality and Tourism, an active member of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce for decades and an inspiration for growth on Washington Avenue. She was involved in the advancement of women in business, especially women of color. She discusses the challenges of dealing with racism and the differences in perspective of mixed race people, especially those from the Caribbean, whose racial experiences are quite different from American Blacks.

 

She tells about “passing” as White as a child up north and being kicked out of her close friend’s home when her father discovered she was “Black.” She talks about her involvement in helping victims of domestic abuse. 

Filmed in April 2022, this oral history interview was produced for the Miami Beach Visual Memoirs project under a grant from the Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority.

historic locations

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Cinema-Theatre- 1235.png

1235

1235 & Washington

In April 1935, The French Casino at 1235 Washington Avenue was designed by architect Thomas Hunter Henderson and built as a supper and vaudeville club, featuring cabaret acts and showgirls. By 1937, the interior was converted to a motion picture house by adding 1,000 seats. It was re-designed by noted architect Thomas Lamb, at a staggering cost of $3 million for that era. Renamed the Cinema Casino Theatre, it was constructed entirely of native keystone. Upon entering the theatre, guests would see a sweeping staircase and etched decorative mirrors.

 

The lobby had a Thonet mother-of pearl bar, with a giant chrome and glass chandelier surrounded by a large artistic mural and comfortable sofas for guests while waiting for the show to begin. Much of the 1,150 seat auditorium was decorated in reds with a Seminole Indian theme on both sides. 

During the 1950s and 60s, Miami Beach’s Jewish population grew to more than 140,000, up from just 16,000 before World War II. Yiddish culture grew in popularity in South Florida when South Beach suddenly became a refuge for Holocaust survivors and their disappearing language.

 

Yiddish theatre was declining in other parts of the country, however Miami Beach had six operating Yiddish theatres. The Cinema Theatre would be Miami Beach’s longest running American Vaudeville Yiddish theatre and at the same time would show many double feature MGM classic movies.

When Club Z opened it was all there – especially the chandelier and the Paul Thonet “mother of pearl” back bar. I know as I was there at the opening of Club Z. The “original” auditorium sidewall MURALS were either removed, destroyed, or painted over. When Club Z opened, the “new” murals installed where the originals used to be, were wholly new artwork commissioned by club owners and painted by our own MDPL talented poster artist Woody Vondracek.”

 

After a $2.5 million restoration of the Art Deco Cinema Theatre done by Ira Giller of Norman Giller & Associates, it was transformed into Club “Z” and had its grand opening on March 27, 1984. This new club would be patronized by thousands of young visitors and locals every weekend. Grace Jones, Chaka Khan, Tina Turner, and Miami Sound Machine were just some of the entertainers that performed there. Price operated Glam Slam Club.

In 2004, the space was reopened by The Opium Group and renamed Mansion

Special thank to  Miami Design Preservation League

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PARIS

5th & Washington

The Variety Theater was designed by Miami Beach architect Henry Hohauser and opened as a revival house on June 20, 1946 with Cary Grant in “Suspicion” & Joan Fontaine in “Bedtime Story”. It was run by a small Florida chain named Claughton Theaters. I believe they had about a half dozen theatres in the greater Miami area. It was located in the South Beach district of Miami Beach (Washington Avenue and 5th Street). I remember the theatre in the 1950’s. They booked mostly RKO and Republic films.

I was only in that house once as a child, so I don’t remember much about it other than it having a big lobby area and a clock (oddly enough) to the right of the screen which I found to be annoying. Eventually Claughton Theaters dropped this theatre as well as the rest of their chain of theatres.

On October 13, 1961 it was renamed New Paris Theatre reopening with a triple-bill adult program:“Eve and the Handyman”, “Naked Camera” & “Why Must I Die”. It later became the Paris Theatre, first playing nudist films, then switching to porn. After sitting empty for a decade, purportedly it became a video/film production studio.

Contributed by Bob

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FIU-cameo1.jpeg

CAMEO

5th & Washington

The Cameo Theater at 1445 Washington Avenue opened its doors on November 4th, 1938. It is located in the Española Way Historic District, which in 1986 became the first historic district to ever be designated in Miami Beach.

 

The theater was built in 1938 by New York theater magnate Herman Weingarten, as part of a $1,250,000 chain of 12 theaters in Miami and Miami Beach. Weingarten recognized the immense potential of the blooming area, proclaiming “This section is still in its infancy and I believe it to be the coming section of the country.” 

The Art Deco style building was designed by architect Robert E. Collins and had a seating capacity of 1,160 with a balcony, a smoking loge, and an orchestra. It also showcased state-of-the-art sound and projection equipment and air conditioning, making it a highly modern and top quality movie theater. It featured two films on its opening night: “To the Victor” and “The Lie of Nina Petrovna”. Over the coming years, the Cameo would undergo several stages of evolution in its use, adapting with the times to entertain the changing community and always remaining valuable to the city of Miami Beach.

In the early 1940s, the Cameo theater would see its first partial evolution now under the ownership of Wometco Theaters. WWII had transformed Miami Beach into an important military hub as many U.S. soldiers were stationed there. During this time, the Cameo was used to provide Sunday morning service for the soldiers who occupied many of the neighboring hotels and apartments. Up to 350 sailors and soldiers would participate in the service each week. A 7 P.M. fellowship hour would also be held with singing and refreshments. After the conclusion of WWII, the theater returned to its regular use as a motion picture theater, but it would now hold new meaning for the local Jewish community. Post-war Miami Beach saw a vast boom in their Jewish population.

 

By the 1960s, the area had become a haven for Holocaust survivors, Jewish veterans who returned after WWII, and older Jewish retirees. This cultural growth was reflected in the Cameo Theater’s inclusion of Yiddish vaudeville shows, as well as their exclusive year-long screening of “The Diary of Anne Frank” in honor of the Jewish community.

Although Miami Beach saw a period of great decline throughout the 1970s, it experienced a vibrant resurgence in the 1980s. It would become a newly revamped magnet for tourism, nightlife, and the arts. Once again, the Cameo Theater would adapt to its new environment and reflect the new and improved Art Deco district. It would now become a music venue, catering mainly to rock and punk rock performers. It became known for hosting some of today’s most iconic punk rock bands and Washington Avenue BID events. The theater would continue to expand the types of music genres that they featured, becoming increasingly popular as a concert  and dining venue.

Pearl Jam on Washington Avenue - Cameo Theatre 1992

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POST OFFICE

13th & Washington

The Miami Beach Post Office is a historic 1937 Art Moderne U.S. Post Office building in Miami BeachFlorida, designed by Howard Lovewell Cheney and built under the patronage of the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression.

Cheney designed the post office with a tall circular lobby with a cone-shaped roof and a thin tall cupola; a small round fountain directly beneath it and murals by Charles Hardman depicting Ponce de Leon's invasion of Florida on the wall above gold-colored post office boxes. 

 

Miami Beach Post Office - Washington Avenue 13th Street South Beach. The building features a noteworthy main entrance with double doors topped by a ten-foot high wall of glass blocks that allow natural light to fill the lobby. Just above the doorway a large stone eagle dominates the entrance. From the main lobby, the post office branches off to the rear service area and the side lobby where customers are received.

Charles Hardman, a native Floridian, was commissioned to paint a mural in 1940 by the Section of Fine Arts of the Works Progress Administration.[2] He created a three-section mural that adorns the lobby wall. The sections are entitled Discovery, which shows Ponce de Leon’s arrival in Florida in 1513; de Soto and the Indians, showing Hernando de Soto and his men engaged in battle with Native Americans in 1539; and Conference, which shows General Thomas Jesup negotiating with Native Americans after the Second Seminole War in 1837. Hardman also painted a mural entitled Indians Receiving Gifts for the post office in Guntersville, Alabama

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Mac's Club Duce

Oldest bar in Miami Est 1926

Washington & Collins

Opened in 1933 as Club Deuce because of its address at 222 14th Street, the bar was eventually purchased in 1964 by a regular named Mac Klein who had been shot in World War II and moved to South Beach to recover in warm weather. He added “Mac” to the bar’s name but changed little else. At the time, the bar was popular place for working class people who had trickled down to Florida, because it reminded them of the spartan, no-nonsense watering holes from the small towns they’d come from. When Miami Vice used Mac’s as a location in the 80s, they lined the inside with pink and green neon, which amounts to what is possibly the greatest bar decor anywhere in the world.

 

That decade saw—besides Don Johnson, who was known to step behind the bar at wrap parties—a Deuce clientele that consisted largely of drag queens, club kids, and off-duty cops. On any given day in Mac's you may run into "a poet, an accountant, a cremation urn salesman, a carpenter, a nuclear physicist, a janitor, a yacht captain, and a bus driver" reported a Miami Herald story from June 1989 aptly headlined "All Kinds Make a Merry Mix At Mac’s Club Deuce." It was then that the most legendary stories about the bar originated. 

Two blocks east of Mac’s is Ocean Drive—a posh beachfront stretch dotted with overpriced, mediocre restaurants selling Windex-colored fishbowl cocktails for two. It’s hard to imagine that all you’d have to do to find a slice of Old Florida is take a five-minute walk and step inside a dingy little bar next to a tattoo shop. Sitting on those stools is where you’ll find the tried-and-true denizens of the beach—the proud remaining degenerates—shooting pool, chain smoking, and keeping the reverse hours of a banker. The stories they’ll be telling are still very much Miami, albeit a bit tamer than they were in decades past.

The most popular place for stars late at night is Macs Club Duce. Just don't bother them, they are there because its the Duce. a cool, chill, dive bar where everyone is friends.

 “Laid-back ambiance, rustic decor, pool table & jukebox make this South Beach institution a local hangout.”