Florida’s Opa-locka: A city inspired by the famous work of literature “One Thousand and One Nights“
The city of Opa-locka, located in Miami-Dade County, Florida, USA, was the creation of industrial designer and aviation visionary Glen Curtiss and was designed according to the theme of the Arab Nights that is noticeable throughout the city through its large range of Moorish architecture.
Established in the Western Hemisphere in 1926, it has the largest collection of Moorish Revival architecture
Bernhardt Muller, Mr. Curtiss, and designer designed 105 buildings with a variety of domes, minarets, and exterior escalator structures.
The roads have names such as Sabur Road, Sultan Avenue, Perviz Avenue, Sharazad, Aladdin and Sesame Street.
In addition to the unique buildings, Mr. Curtiss completed his vision for Opa-locka; he had built a self-contained city with a hotel, three parks, golf course, archery club, swimming pool, two lakes, a large general aviation airport, and a railroad station which is currently the tri-rail station.
While the 1926 Miami hurricane badly damaged the city and brought the Florida land boom to a halt, several Moorish-style buildings survived.
Twenty of the original Moorish Revival architecture buildings have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Opa-locka Thematic Resource Area.
Opa-Locka hit a low point in the ’80s and ’90s when the city, plagued by drug-related crimes, was dubbed the murder capital of the country.
Metal barriers were erected in the Triangle, one of the city’s main boulevards, to both block traffic and ideally stem the tide of violence. In 2004 Opa-locka had the highest rate of violent crime of any city in the United States.
Opa-locka is currently in a state of advanced decay as the cash-strapped city faces financial collapse. Many of the Arabian-inspired buildings are falling apart.
And while the city has been fighting to recover from urban decline and high crime rates for decades, many are betting that its anomalous architecture may be the key to its future success.