At the memorial service of Tony Goldman on Friday, September 14th, the program read the eloquently simple phrase “Tony Was Here.” These three humble words relayed this influential man’s mission: to create a better environment out of places that had seen better days – better but not forgotten, not in his mind. Among the infamous “Tonyisms” was “vision is daydreaming with your feet on the ground”. His feet weren’t just on the ground; they were on the buildings, in the neighborhoods, and beside the people who inspired him to pursue his ‘daydreams’. Often called a visionary, he had the ability to not only see how to develop a neighborhood, but also how to preserve its history while allowing it to surpass its former glory.
Monuments to his work stand Ocean Drive, SoHo, Philly’s City Center, and Wynwood. Each not only redeveloped real estate, but also created neighborhoods with heart and personality, charm and uniqueness. The holistic approach about the quality of life for each person taking part in the experience was his trademark.“Tony’s passing is very sad for those of us who worked closely with him,” said Miami Beach Mayor Matti Herrera Bower. “In his own unique way, Tony Goldman was a leader and activist in the same caliber as Barbara Capitman. Tony beautified Miami Beach and brought businesses to Ocean Drive, making it the most elegant and inviting street in the world. Tony invested his money here when no one believed in Miami Beach. He made preservation happen in our City and for this, Tony’s unique vision and creativity will be greatly missed.” Tony’s creativity expanded well beyond architectural redevelopment. An accomplished musician, he took the same approach of preserving classics and crafting his own voice for a new interpretation, sharing his vision for a collaborative musical effort.
Architecture is based in art, so it is no surprise that Tony was inspired by art and inspired art in return. Offering the Wynwood Walls to graffiti artists demonstrated his reverence and appreciation for the origins of a community, celebrating talent instead of painting over it and muffling its heart.
The most notable part of Tony Goldman’s life was his intense love and care for his family. Upon receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce this past June, he shared the spotlight and experience with his children. While taking photos, he asked me if he could get a picture of himself with his first and then his second wife – both Janet. It was obvious that his love for her was so complete, as he married her twice.
The video documentary of his recording times, entitled “A Life Long Love Affair,” gave a glimpse into his creative process which he applied to his many walks of life. It was shared at the memorial service as a personal message from Tony himself. And just as with everything Tony did, it emanated an air of intimacy. Certainly, this man was part of a renaissance which drew together kindred spirits and sparked a synergy, bringing magic to Miami Beach. Today a city mourns the loss of its passionate caretaker who forever leaves his mark painted across the skyline, much like the graffiti artists he celebrated “Tony Was Here.”
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