The Last Resort: Jewish South Beach, 1977-1986

Gary Monroe, 2020
The Last Resort

These photographs of South Beach from when it was a community of elderly Jewish people are testimony to lineage that goes back a hundred years, to the Czarist pogroms, through Nazi Germany and into America, and finally to Miami Beach, where Gary Monroe spent a decade photographing this religious-based enclave during it’s final years of vitality through its endings, until the old world ways there vanished. Monroe’s photographs chronicle the day-to-day activities of the community from sunrise to sunset. Full of energy, love, misery, and heartbreak, these images portray a shared vision of richly lived lives. During this time, card rooms became makeshift temples. People enjoyed sunrise swims in the ocean. The streets were active. Neighbors cared for each other. On Friday evenings, women lit Shabbos candles. Through these scenes, Monroe’s work documents the efforts of the aging South Beach residents to maintain their dignity, mores, and lifestyle.