“If you look at the photos, you see how the physical structures of the buildings in South Beach haven’t really changed. They’re renovated but, because of historic preservation, they’re basically the same. But the people are completely different. You know, this was primarily a Jewish community at that time. And a lot of them were Holocaust survivors, and they banded together in this little tight-knit community and really supported each other.” ~Edward Christin, Archivist
In the late 1970s, Miami native Andy Sweet began photographing the elderly Jewish population of South Beach. Sweet was in his early 20s and was drawn to this group that was familiar to him from his youth. These celebratory images capture the eccentricity, fun, glamor, and kitsch of this brief moment in history. Couples in matching bathing suits or friends dancing in crowded rooms and taking sidewalk strolls “show not only a thriving world, but one whose live-and-let-live ethos served as a beacon for the rest of Miami.”
The images are part of a deeper story as well. As Miami rapidly changed, the vibrant retirement community lost its place in South Beach, but thanks to Sweet’s insight and passion for documenting the people there, this memorable moment in Miami’s cultural heritage lives on in his photographs.
Quote by Brett Sokol, editor of Shtetl in the Sun, from a 2019 article by Ayla Angelos in It’s Nice That.
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