Just south of downtown Miami lies beautiful Coral Gables, or simply "The Gables" as it's known to natives. This planned section of town is an oasis of quiet stately homes and upscale shopping and restaurants in the heart of Miami. If you're tired of South Beach and the downtown scene and are looking for some classy fun, take a trip to the Gables.
Coral Gables is built in the Mediterranean Revival style thanks to the work of James Deering on his estate, Villa Vizcaya. Deering built Vizcaya in 1914 using only authentic materials from Italy and Spain, as well as incorporating large pieces of real European castles that were dissembled, shipped here by boat and reassembled on site. Many of these large murals, ceilings and tapestries from Europe remain at Deering to be seen today. Inspired by Vizcaya, George Merrick wanted to bring the images and architecture of Spain to more of the area. His vast land holdings gave him room to work, but he wanted to be known for more than his wealth; he wanted to create a special suburb of Miami that brought to light the Spanish influence of the area. Along with other master craftsmen, landscape artists and city planners, Coral Gables began to take shape. Within four years of its conception, Coral Gables was incorporated in 1925.
Perhaps the greatest monument to the Mediterranean Revival style stands today- the Biltmore Hotel. Inspired by the Cathedral of Seville in Spain, it's tower today stands as a recognizable symbol to all Miamians. The hotel was erected in 10 short months and has not changed even its exterior color to this day. As a world-class hotel it brings visitors from the world over; natives flock to the Biltmore to enjoy its spa offerings and beautiful coral pool.
As the recession slowed building and real estate development, so The Gables stopped its growth in its prime. Unfortunately, the Mediterranean Style never regained its full strength and beauty. In the 1950s, Miracle Mile sprang up, a brick-paved section of road on Coral Way between LeJeune Road and Douglas Road. With its upscale boutiques and specialty stores it brought heightened commerce to the area and inspired more of the same kinds of shops to open their doors soon after. Today, special incentives are offered to builders and designers who design with the Mediterranean Revival style in mind.