Komila Kholmatova: Miami as Text

Photo taken of Komila Kholmatova in 2020. Photo by Violetta Rudenski/ CC BY 4.0

Hello everyone! My name is Komila Kholmatova. I was born in “the pearl of Central Asia” Ferghana, Uzbekistan. The city gained the title for its beauty, picturesque view and for being completely surrounded by mountains. I spent half of my childhood in Moscow, Russia and lived there for 6 years. I came to US 2 years ago to study and chase my dreams. I am junior at Honors College at Florida International University. I am pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in International business with a focus on a certificate in Social Media and E-Marketing Analytics. In the future I hope to run my own business and create my brand. I really love traveling, getting to know new people, trying new food, painting and listening to music. My passion for travelling and discovering new places contributed to my decision to take Miami in Miami class and learn more about this beautiful and diverse city.

Deering as Text

Miami in Miami of FIU in Deering Estate. Photo by Komila Kholmatova/ CC BY 4.0


By Komila Kholmatova of Florida International University at Deering Estate, 2 September 2020.

Standing on the ground of the Deering Estate, one of the most historic places in South Florida, I remembered the words of the French philosopher Voltaire, “Those who do not know the past know neither the present, nor the future, nor themselves.” Yes, maybe I am alien to this land but there is something that unites us all, and this is the very land, the rich history of our ancestors, and their lived lives that lie in this land.

Arriving from a distant country of Uzbekistan, I was able to find something native on this land, which not only surprised me but pleased me – Islamic details on the architecture of the buildings. At that moment I felt some kind of warmth inside as if the place smiled and warmly greeted me. I think each of us felt this but in our own way because the land on which we stood, the land of the Deering Estate, the land of Miami, is so diverse, rich in history, rich in resources, unique nature, and most importantly warm in an atmosphere that everyone can feel and find it like a home. I felt connected and I tried to live through history as Professor JW Bailly told us.

We were imbued with history through ancient tools that once helped our ancestors to survive, we crossed and hiked through 5 landmarks: Endangered Pine Rock land, Mangroves, Tequesta Midden, Tropical Forest, and River. We walked on the water and were lucky enough to find the pieces of an unmarked crashed plane. Even though we faced some difficulties during the hiking, like angry mosquitoes or hot burning weather, the Deering Estate and its mesmerizing atmosphere, and irresistible beauty did not make me regret a second but on the other hand made me to definitely come back again!

South Beach as Text

Miami in Miami of FIU in South Beach. Photo by Komila Kholmatova/
CC BY 4.0


By Komila Kholmatova of Florida International University at South Beach, 16 September 2020.

On March 26, 1915, one hundred and five years ago, Miami Beach was officially incorporated as a new city by 33 registered voters. Today, when one thinks of Miami, they primarily imagine the city not as a financial or cultural center but as a tourist resort of South Beach. They picture an incredible number of hotels, restaurants, and other infrastructure in Art Deco Architecture Style that now is a state-protected monument. However, it is not the only good picture that has shaped the Beach’s history. In addition to good times, there were hard times that built the character of the place.

Miami Beach has a vivid history of crime, racism, corruption and economic fall. Back in 1870, Miami Beach was a mangrove ridge and sandbar that was not inhabitable. 

One can say that John S.Collins and Karl Fisher were the founding fathers of Miami Beach. It was these businessmen from the northeastern United States who saw the potential in the small southern agricultural town to make it a world-class resort. They came to the city around the end of the 19th century to buy a coconut plantation from Henry Lum and son Charles, and start looking for fresh water. The plans were to assess the scale of work and possible profits from this adventure.

Collins was an experienced business man and began selling plots of land on a completely unsettled island. He invested his earnings in bringing sand and reclaiming the island, resulting in more land for sale. The unexpected fact for me was that much of South Florida was built on a swampland and that laborers had to clear out the mangroves and fill it with soil to create land. While one founding father was in the business of selling the island, the other, Karl Fischer, organized a major hotel building. Hotels and restaurants for wealthy people began to appear, and all this required human resources. In the period from 1923 to 1943, the southern part of Miami Beach experienced a real construction boom, the Art Deco architectural style appeared, that made the entire South Beach was built. Laborers were cheaply exploited,  and subjected to high heat and mosquitoes. It wasn’t only laborers who suffered there were Blacks who could not buy any land during this developing time and there was social discrimination against Jewish. 

In 1930, the city became the winter residence of many mobsters from New York and Chicago, including the famous Al Capone. During Prohibition, Miami Beach was the center for the production and sale of alcohol. Nice cars drove through the streets, men smoked cigars, women danced in cabarets. It was the golden age of Miami Beach that we see in black and white gangster movies. Gradually, due to the emerging importance of Miami as an emerging cargo port, it became necessary to deepen the bay. The soil, which was raised from the seabed, was used to dump artificial islands on which higher construction. This is how the Venetian Islands, Star Island, Palm and Hibiscus Islands, Fisher Island and other islands in the northern part of Miami Beach appeared. Now the houses located on these islands are among the most expensive properties in the city.

The situation began to change in the 90s, and not only in South Beach, but in Miami itself. The money made by selling drugs had to be legalized and gradually they began to be invested again in construction. For 20 years, downtown Miami has experienced a real construction boom, while Miami Beach has experienced a renovation boom.

 Now there are almost no unreconstructed hotels in Miami Beach, both in the southern part of it and in the north. It was during this time that Collins ave, Ocean Drive and Flamingo Park were rebuilt, Lummus and South Point parks, pedestrian zones on Lincoln Road and Espanola Way were built. But earlier these were ordinary streets, with small cheap eateries and second-hand clothing stores. However, a large-scale construction unfolded in the northern part of Miami Beach, in the areas of Bal Harbor and Sunny Isles. Here, in just a few years, whole streets of residential skyscrapers with magnificent ocean views have grown. Who would have thought that once a swampland would turn into one of the world’s famous and diverse tourist destinations? 

Work Cited:

Munzenrieder, K., 2015. 100 Years: The Dark And Dirty History Of Miami Beach. [online] Miami New Times. Available at: <https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/100-years-the-dark-and-dirty-history-of-miami-beach-7552169&gt; [Accessed 20 September 2020].

Downtown Miami as Text

Miami in Miami of FIU in Downtown. Photo by Komila Kholmatova/CC BY 4.0


By Komila Kholmatova of Florida International University at Downtown, 30 September 2020.

Downtown is a place where liveliness and color emanate from everywhere. This place is considered as the business and central part of Miami. Downtown is also called the heart of Miami, as it is home to skyscrapers, fashionable structures, shopping malls, cultural institutions, and green spaces.

Downtown’s contrast includes wealthy and posh neighborhoods, it is home to major financial institutions and trade conglomerates, as well as various small streets. Downtown is a mix of luxury and urban architecture, where the villas of the world’s most influential and famous people are considered a local landmark.

Also, one can find various sightseeing, like:

Adrienne Arsht Center, a large performing arts center that hosts daily shows, musicals and children’s plays.

The Miami-Dade County Courthouse is located at 73 West Flagler Street. The Miami-Dade Courthouse is still in use today as the central civil court. Initially, court hearings and pre-trial detention cells were held here. The cameras were located on the upper floors. It was assumed that it was impossible to escape from such a height. But a series of high-profile escapes from the Miami-Dade County Courthouse disproved that claim. The inmates escaped using a fire hose and other ingenious devices. More than 70 shoots were recorded in total.

Freedom Tower– is one of the first skyscrapers in the United States, built in 1925. The Freedom Tower in Miami is made in a unique synthetic modern style, successfully combining features of late classicism, American Art Nouveau, striking motifs of Spanish architecture – all note a visual similarity with the famous Giralda Tower in Spanish Seville. According to history, the skyscraper served as a registration and distribution center for refugees from Cuba. Here they distributed medical care, listened to horror stories that refugees told in order to obtain citizenship.

 Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum – a science museum with an observatory and planetarium.

 History Miami – Museum of history, as well as the Perez Art Museum with an incredibly huge collection of exhibits. In the art gallery, tourists have the opportunity to get acquainted with the works of the brush as well-known artists, including Mendieta, Rauschenberg, Rosenquist, Stella, and their contemporary younger colleagues. The know-how of this museum is the occasional interactive events, as well as themed music and entertainment evenings.

The history of Downtown Miami is inseparable from the past of the resort itself. Before the arrival of the Europeans at the beginning of the 16th century, and the first of them were the Spanish conquistadors, the Indian tribes of Miami lived here, later giving their name to the area, as well as the Seminoles, who moved to these regions from the northern states. The first European settlers began to settle in these parts already in the 1800s, gradually ousting the indigenous people. The wealthiest of them immediately started buying up orange plantations and investing in urban planning and the construction of a railway line. Miami began to develop rapidly, which was greatly facilitated by the miraculous climate of these places: winter and summer temperatures practically do not differ and remain at the level of 30 degrees. At the end of the 19th century, it was given city status.

Chicken Key as Text

Miami in Miami of FIU in Chicken Key Island. Photo by Komila Kholmatova, Nicole Patrick/CC BY 4.0


By Komila Kholmatova of Florida International University at Chicken Key, 14 September 2020.

From all the trips we had been to, this trip was the most memorable and unlike the others. The trip to Chicken Key Island was a combination of usefulness and pleasantness.

Usefulness, because our group, led by our Professor, made our world a little better by cleaning the ocean from marine debris. We collected 6 canoes of sea garbage, which included plastic bottles, rubber slippers, pieces of glass, cellophane bags,and  a lot more things including a large barrel that Nicole saw, and by working in a group, we pulled it out of the water and sat in the canoe. 

It’s a shame that people are so careless about nature. Unfortunately, plastic is a global problem. Billions of plastic bags and single-use bottles are used worldwide every year. The inhabitants of the Earth use almost one million plastic bottles every minute! But only less than a quarter of household plastic is recycled. Plastic overflows landfills, chokes rivers and lakes, pollutes the oceans, and harms wild animals. I was very happy and proud that we helped our world and made it a better place, and I hope everyone will take an example from us and contribute to the cleaning of marine debris, or at least be vigilant and not pollute the ecosystem.

Pleasantness, because each of us had the opportunity to merge with nature, spent hours listening to the ocean and enjoy the beauty of it, see pelicans, crabs, fish and other marine life. If someone had told me in the past that I would cross the ocean and swim to the island, I would not have believed it. But today, after going through this, swimming to the Chicken key island, I believe that nothing is impossible and that all fears are surmountable. Fortunately, I was very lucky because I was with a wonderful partner, Nicole, who is much more experienced than me, and it  gave me peace of mind. I have never had such an experience and I will remember it forever. Through this lesson, I not only enrich my worldview and learn more about Miami, but I also get out of my comfort zone and overcome my fears.

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