Advertisement circa 1980s courtesy of Nate Beyea

The stretch of Biscayne Boulevard where the Howard Johnson's had been located was once a vibrant commercial strip, referred to locally as gasoline alley. Service stations and other businesses catering to motorists once lined the busy boulevard's curbs. By the time Howard Johnson's opened its Motor Lodge, the Port of Miami was still located across the street. Later, the Port moved, and its site became the 30 acre Bicentennial Park. The Park has served as a venue for a variety of functions. At one point Florida Marlin's owner John Henry, attempted to have the park turned into a major-league baseball stadium for his team.

Remarkably through several ownership changes, 1100 Biscayne Blvd. was the site of a Howard Johnson's from 1938 until 2003.

From the Internet circa 2002--showing Bicentennial Park and HoJo's (circled)
From the Internet circa 2002

Photographs 2003: Courtesy of Bob Venditti

Bob Venditti's photographs show the once sleek and modern Motor Lodge in its last days as a Howard Johnson. Even as the Restaurant had lost the Howard Johnson name, it managed to keep its trademark Orange Roof. Having become The Port of Miami Hotel by my February, 2004 visit, I did not know at the time that the site was doomed.

In December of 2003, Shaya Boymelgreen, a big-time Brooklyn, New York based real estate/developer tycoon, had visited Miami and met the city's mayor at a menorah lighting ceremony. The two apparently "hit it off," and before anyone could wish his neighbor a Happy Hanukkah, a $1.5 billion Miami redevelopment deal had been penned. The Tel-Aviv, Israel based Africa-Isreal Investment and Development Group and Boymelgreen partnered to build six mega-projects in the downtown Miami area. The Howard Johnson's at 1100 Biscayne Boulevard would be their first victim.

Although upscale for its time, the Howard Johnson's was marketed to average income Americans--it purpose was to serve middle America. Imploded August 14, 2005, the site will become a place for the wealthy. Called the Marquis, it will be a 60+ story luxury condominium tower slated to include 334 residential units starting at $750,000 and a 40 unit boutique hotel. Perversely, the Restaurant had been remodeled into the project's sales center back in February of 2005. With gross excess, the place was renovated at a cost of more than $1 million--zebra wood, and a $60,000 marble floor were highlights of its conspicuous consumption. The Restaurant building, having had its million-dollar makeover, was demolished along with the Motor Lodge.

Photographs February 2004