By 1970 no one in a new house was rolling around space heaters; the newer '60s homes had central air AND heat. My parents, tired of the energy inefficiency of fireplaces what with most of the heat escaping up the chimney or drawn upwards by the cathedral ceilings and walls of windows, opted for the latest thing - low ceilings, central a/c, smaller windows and an oil burner in the attached garage that caught fire the first season we used it, smoking up the entire house and blackening its hand plastered ceilings. (They really overbuilt it well beyond even current hurricane code with hand plastering, hand painted Italian bathroom sinks and a then-$300 medicine cabinet, to name just a few upgrades. It reigned supreme in the neighborhood for 30 years until the McMansion boom hit and the mid century ranches wore torn down for the land value with replacement homes built at the cost of millions. Not landmarked or even now considered architecturally significant they'd probably all have been torn down upon resale had the market not gone bust.) Similarly, when they moved into their first house shortly after they married, as a romantic gesture they laid dinner out on a blanket in their empty living room in front of the fireplace and lit it without first opening the flue. We Miamians are clueless about what you Yanks north of Tampa take for granted.
As for the art deco district, I'd visit, play and picnic on South Beach back in the day when Miami Beach's biggest draw was Jackie Gleason and its only gym was a boxing gym on Fifth Street, before my architect cousin was labeled a nut job for suggesting its collection of decrepit art deco eyesores be collectively landmarked and preserved as a historic district. We'd walk the slim, eroded ribbon of sand that was South Beach before the Army Corp. of Engineers widened it with backfill and plied its new dunes with sea grass and pass my favorite building, a Venetian style apartment building out of sync with the surrounding hotels lining Ocean Drive. That baroque pile turned out to be Gianni Versace's favorite building too - it's the house he bought and got killed in front of by aging boy toy Andrew Cunanan.
A decade and a Mariel boatlift earlier, when you'd only find gays at the "gay beach" at 21st Street, and just a few years after someone opined in a Miami Herald op ed piece that finding a blonde on Miami Beach was less likely than finding an emerald in the sand, I overheard whilst strolling down Ocean Boulevard two old ladies from the old country who lived at the Clevelander surprisingly comment "Veddy nice" on the latest sea change - topless Scandinavian girls. Just a few years before the only "topless beach," discreetly tucked away on Key Biscayne's Virginia Key, was literally raided by a SWAT team - this was when Miami's then infamous, now innocuous "See It Like A Native" ad campaign featuring the backside of a topless woman in snorkeling gear created a statewide scandal and a poster ban. A few years after that "Miami Vice" singlehandedly revived art deco Miami after it hit an all-time public relations low with the film "Scarface." I'd take sentimental drives to watch shoots, stalk a preternaturally attractive Don Johnson and marvel at how Penrods had displaced the Atlantic as the threat lapping at the bulwark of my grandparents' swimming pool, which was seeing a very differerent kind of action than I'd experienced growing up.
After Versace got shot I tried to go home again but every time I considered buying there I was late to the party and, as the old song says, either too young (as in the case of investing in property fronting Ocean Front Park, on which there's now, I believe, a low-rise Philippe Starke condo hotel) or too old. As for my grandparent's old apartment building, I revisited it a decade ago at 6am on a Saturday morning and watched the sunrise over the ocean reflect upon a Range Rover in their covered garage spot, a mountain bike on their balcony and a group of underaged kids lined up to get into an unlikely after hours club across the street, bathing them in a glow so pink that I literally saw my lost birthright through rose-colored glasses.
I made it back to South Beach about two winters ago and actually sunbathed for a few hours out at the gay beach (now called..."the beach!") at the behest of a visiting friend from New York, who told me (at almost 50, no less!) that I was physically in the top 5% of the many, many gay men there. Of course this was during a weekday.