In Conversation: A Decade of Jewish South Beach

Through dozens of black-and-white images, photographer Gary Monroe takes readers on a time-traveling journey to an oft-forgotten moment in Miami Beach history: when it was a retirement haven for American […]


In Conversation: A Decade of Jewish South Beach

Authors:Mitchell Kaplan, Gary Monroe


Through dozens of black-and-white images, photographer Gary Monroe takes readers on a time-traveling journey to an oft-forgotten moment in Miami Beach history: when it was a retirement haven for American Jews. The Last Resort: Jewish South Beach, 1977-1986 scratches at Miami’s present-day persona as a cosmopolitan global destination to reveal an earlier iteration, fondly recalling a people, place, and community that’s now faded from view. He’s speaking with Miami Beach native Mitchell Kaplan, Miami Book Fair co-founder and owner of iconic local independent bookstore Books & Books.

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Mitchell Kaplan

Mitchell Kaplan is a co-founder of Miami Book Fair and serves as the Chairperson of its Board of Directors. He also serves on the steering committee of the Florida Center for the Literary Arts, Miami-Dade College’s literary center. A Miami Beach native, Mitchell founded the independent bookstore Books & Books in 1982. It has since expanded to several locations. Mitchell recently served a two-year term as President of the American Booksellers Association (ABA) and continues an active involvement with the organization. He also serves on the Board of ABFFE, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression.

Gary Monroe

Gary Monroe, retired professor of fine arts and photography at Daytona State College, is the author of numerous books, including The Highwaymen: Florida’s African-American Landscape Painters; Mary Ann Carroll: First Lady of the Highwaymen; The Highwaymen Murals: Al Black’s Concrete Dreams; and Harold Newton: The Original Highwayman. His photographs have been published in Cassadaga: The South’s Oldest Spiritualist Community (UPF, 2000), which he coedited; Life in South Beach (1989); and Florida Dreams (1993). In dozens of black and white photographs, Gary Monroe offers in The Last Resort: Jewish South Beach, 1977–1986 (University Press of Florida) an intimate view of South Beach before the high rises, the nightlife, and the fashion scene, back when it was a retirement haven for American Jews. After World War II, Jewish retirees from the Northeast found comfort, camaraderie, and culture in the island city of Miami Beach. By the late 1950s, the population was 80% Jewish. Monroe, who grew up in a Jewish household during this time, chronicles the day-to-day activities of the community from sunrise to sunset. Jorge Zamanillo, executive director, History Miami Museum, noted that Monroe “documented an extraordinary moment in South Florida’s history […]We are fortunate that Gary had the vision and the eye to capture this vibrant Jewish community before the neighborhood transformed into today’s world-famous tourist and nightlife destination.”

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