Lincoln Road

Between Washington Avenue and Alton Road
Miami Beach, FL

Submitted by: jorge salgado

A pedestrian shopping street: imagine if St. Marks Place in New York City were closed to automobile traffic.

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Why It Works

Formerly a car street, it was closed off to automobile traffic and converted into an outdoor mall. Mall is perhaps a misnomer as this is a street closed to automobile traffic and is not designed as, say, a suburban mall. Imagine if St. Marks Place in New York City were closed to automobile traffic, and you get a better picture of Lincoln Road Mall. Designed by Morris Lapidus as a luxury pedestrian mall (it was lined with designer shops including Saks), it fell into disrepair in the 1970ís. After the amazing economic turnaround of Miami Beach in the late 80ís, by the mid 90ís Lincoln Road Mall became an incredibly lively and successful center for shopping, socializing, and nightlife. The most similar place I can think of is Las Ramblas in Barcelona, but Lincoln Road does not have cars, only at intersections where avenues cross perpendicularly. The lack of interruption created by cars allows for outdoor cafes, festivals, and all other sorts of emergent activities.

What Makes Lincoln Road a Great Place?

Lincoln Road Mall is a single stretch. One simply parks in one of the lots or garages adjacent to it, and walks up and down the street. The only interruptions are the streets that cross it perpendicularly. Along the center it is lined with planters, fountains, and black & white striped floors--all designed by Lapidus. At the very end (Washington entrance) a large sculpture by Carlos Zapata was built, and at the other (Alton Road) is a large movie theater.

An incredibly diverse range of people enjoy the mall. Locals, tourists, families, gays, etc. All enjoy it equally. Even in the sweltering heat of the sub tropics, people prefer to eat outdoors here because the people watching is optimized by the street size and placement of urban features--planters, fountains, seating areas. The main attraction is the people.

People watching is the perhaps the most popular activity on Lincoln Road. Whether eating, having ice cream, or waiting in line for a movie ticket, people watching is the main attraction. It also has shops, movies, art galleries, the Miami Beach Symphony's home is here (Lincoln Road Theater), independent films and small plays are shown at the colony theater; and there is also a church.

Amazingly all types of people coexist peacefully. With Miami Beach being a hub of the American gay population, Lincoln Road Mall is a natural hangout. Similarly, tourists come for the restaurants, people watching, and shopping.

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