A Miami Beach resident proudly shows off her velour suit in Lummus Park. (Andy Sweet)

A happy bather showers away the salt after a swim. (Andy Sweet)

On the heels of the official first day of summer, here’s a look at one of the places most identified with iconic beach culture: Miami Beach.

Throughout the 1970s, a young photographer named Andy Sweet documented the personalities of Miami in vivid color. In 1977, Sweet returned to the area after completing his studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder and set out to document South Beach’s vivid old-world culture. His subjects–predominantly the quirky, stylish, eclectic elderly residents, many of them Jewish–either grew up in the Miami area or were the snow birds who flocked there and found a nest for life.

Sweet died in 1982 at the age of just 29, but his vivid archive continues to epitomize South Beach (SOBE) culture and aesthetics. The Andy Sweet Photo Legacy was established in his memory and continues to display his work with hopes of  publish a book of Sweet’s work in the future.


A big grin from a nautical character in the park. (Andy Sweet)

Two beachgoers get ready to enjoy the water in matching bathing suits. Zinc cream protects the husband’s lips in those pre-sunscreen days. (Andy Sweet)

An Orthodox Jewish man takes a good stretch with some help from a screw pine tree. (Andy Sweet)

Andy was fascinated by the all the Art Deco-style buildings in South Beach and the surrounding neighborhoods. (Andy Sweet)

A stylist gentleman inside a hotel cabana used to store bathing suits and an extra beach chair. (Andy Sweet)

A couple in matching outfits take a turn on the floor at one of the dances sponsored by the city. (Andy Sweet)

Taking some time out from the party in the empty TV room. (Andy Sweet)

A man takes a moment to enjoy the sun before taking his chair over to the park to enjoy the shade. (Andy Sweet)

Residents and vacationers enjoy the afternoon sun and the cameraderie in Lummus Park. (Andy Sweet)

A well-dressed man crosses a deserted Ocean Drive. In the background, Andy’s well-used old car. (Andy Sweet)

A neighborhood icon, Friedman’s Bakery was the place to go for all manner of kosher baked goods. (Andy Sweet)

In the pre-sunscreen 1970s, avoiding sunburn sometimes required you to improvise. (Andy Sweet)

Not all of South Beach’s hotels were Art Deco palaces; here Andy catches two guests of the Dorothy Hotel in South Florida’s bright late-afternoon sun. (Andy Sweet)

Up on the hotel roof, a man works on his “Florida tan.” (Andy Sweet)

A resident enjoys the beach on a blustery day. (Andy Sweet)

Four friends enjoy a game of cards just before sundown. (Andy Sweet)