All of Miami’s constituent neighbourhoods are fast to assert their individuality, though none does it more definitively than CORAL GABLES, southwest of Little Havana. Twelve square miles of broad boulevards, leafy side streets and Spanish and Italian architecture form a cultured setting for a cultured community.

Coral Gables’s creator was a northern transplant born in Pennsylvania, George Merrick, who raided street names from a Spanish dictionary to plan the plazas, fountains and carefully aged stucco-fronted buildings here. Unfortunately, Coral Gables was taking shape just as the Florida property boom ended. Merrick was wiped out, and died in 1942 as Miami’s postmaster. But Coral Gables never lost its good looks, and it remains an impressive place to explore. Merrick wanted people to know they’d arrived somewhere special, and as such, eight grand entrances were planned on the main approach roads (though only four were completed). Three of these stand along the western end of Calle Ocho as you arrive from Little Havana.

The best way into Coral Gables is along SW 22nd Street, known as the Miracle Mile. Note the arcades and balconies here, and the spirals and peaks of the Omni Colonnade Hotel, at 180 Aragon Ave one block north, which were completed in 1926 to accommodate George Merrick’s office.

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