If you're into fantasy architecture (and Florida is known for it), the historic Opa-locka City Hall is a must-see! The city of Opa-locka was developed in 1926 by aviation mogul Glenn Curtiss, in the middle of the Florida land boom. To distinguish it from other competing new communities, Curtiss and his architect Bernard Mueller chose Moorish Revival. Streets are named for various characters from the Arabian Nights (Sinbad, Sharazad, Ali Baba, etc.). City Hall began as the developer's main administration building, the showcase for buyers. Its confectionery decorations, balconies, domes and minarets are fantasy at its best. The walled garden is magical.
City Hall was in service until 2009, when the municipal offices moved a few blocks away. It is slated for restoration beginning in 2013, as part of an arts and culture initiative.
Though one can't enter the building, a walk around the grounds and garden is worth the few minutes it takes to get there from Miami or Ft Lauderdale. Opa-locka's historic town center includes some 100 Moorish buildings, most of them small houses in a neighborhood a few blocks from City Hall. The Hurt Building, corner of Opa-locka Blvd and Ali Baba Blvd, was the old hotel. Just across Ali Baba is the restored railroad station. Neither is open to the public, but hey, if you're a fantasy architecture buff, you have to add these to your collection!
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