Daniela Canizares: Miami as Text

Daniela Canizares, Downtown Miami, February 2019

Daniela is a Sophomore at Florida International University Honor College. She is majoring in Psychology. Daniela was born and raised in Havana, Cuba and she moved to Miami when she was 15 years old. Once she finishes with her Bachelor in Arts, Daniela is planning on pursuing a Masters in Science in Professional Counseling. Daniela is very passionate about the Spaniard influence in the American culture because for ten years she was a flamenco dancer but she stopped to focus on her academics.

Deering as a Text

Images taken by Daniela Canizares (CC by 4.0)

“Hidden Gem”

By Daniela Canizares of FIU at Deering Estate, September 9th, 2020.

Surrounded by 444 acres of land, we find Deering Estate, one of the only historical places conserved in its original estate ever since it was built. Even its location at Palmetto Bay in Miami makes it hard to believe that this place is one of the key components in the history of this city (taking into consideration that the heart of Miami itself is more towards the North of the City). Upon arrival at Deering Estate, visitors could feel the contrast between “old Miami” and the “new Miami”. The moment you cross the wooden gates, you get the sensation of going back in time to the XX century, when Miami was at its beginnings.

One of the most fascinating components of Deering Estate is its architecture. It has two residencies: The Stone House, which was used by Mr. and Mrs. Deering as the main residence, and The Richmond Cottage, which was first used as an inn and then as a winter house. The Stone House’s walls consist of walls in between 14-16 inches each one, which makes the structure safer due to its closeness to the Bay. Each one of the rooms of the Stone House is built in such a way that in case a fire starts in one of the rooms, it is possible to contain the fire on it, saving the rest of the house’s value. The exterior of The Stone House has engravings of each one of the things representatives of Miami back in the XX century. In those engravings, we see monkeys, pelicans, seahorses, and endemic flowers. On the ceiling of the exterior, we see a mosaic, made with rocks, algae, and shells that the Bahamians building the house would find along the way. On the roof of this house, we see tiles with specific and unique engravings, which workers used as a method of proof to get paid for their work. The house itself mixes Islamic art and modern techniques, which is an astonishing contrast, that makes us see that Miami itself is a mix of multiple cultures.


The Richmond Cottage right next to the Stone House is one of the oldest wooden houses in the whole Miami Dade County. After Andrew, it had to go under reconstruction, but the constructors tried to keep it as similar to the original one as possible. The Richmond Cottage interior design contrasts with the interior designs that we see in Miami nowadays. The rooms are contrastingly smaller than the regular room people are used to, and so are the bathrooms. However, the kitchen’s dimensions are relatively large if we compare the dimensions of the guest rooms and the dimensions of the kitchen. Coming into that room was like going way back in time and looking at a whole different idea, an idea most of us have only seen in Brazilian novelas.
A couple of miles away from the houses, we see a Chinese bridge. It was shocking to see all those cultures mixed, but at the same time it was an escape from the toxicity of the city and the traffic of Miami, as no motor vehicles can go past a certain point, and nature is preserved the same way as it was a century ago.


This visit was more than just a simple walking tour. It was like going back in time, escaping from the XXI century and all 2020 has brought to our lives and going back to the XX century. No motor vehicles, no Miamian traffic. Only history, walls talking by themselves, and an amazing nature ready to tell us all about the unknown, unspoken Miami history.

South Beach as a Text

Images taken by Daniela Canizares (CC by 4.0)

“A unique community”

By Daniela Canizares of FIU at South Beach, September 24, 2020

Miami is a place known for its mixed culture. Rising between the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Biscayne Bay, we find this unique place, originally known as Ocean Beach in its beginnings, and now having the name of Miami Beach. The aspect that makes Miami unique is its architecture, and how the community has been trying to conserve its architecture as it was originally built. For this purpose they have laws in place, making it impossible to change the infrastructure of the buildings.


Miami Beach is characterized by three main styles: Mediterranean Revival, Art Deco, and MiMo. Buildings are showing one or the other, however, there are also buildings having a mix two or even the three of them. From the moment you enter the streets, you start to see a very different landscape from the big buildings surrounding these streets.


Along the styles involving the Mediterranean Revival, we find Versace Mansion in Ocean Drive. This Mansion belonged to Gianni Versace, an Italian fashion designer who after seeing the people at Miami Beach and how freely they walked down the streets decided that was the place he wanted to live for the rest of his life. In his house’s exterior, we see the typical Versace’s logo and some conifer cone’s symbolizing fertility. This design is more European conservative than what we would usually find at Miami Beach.


Another of the styles found at Miami Beach is Art Deco. Their characteristics catch the attention of tourists that are not used to this style as well as residents. We find ziggurat rooflines, eyebrows, curved edges and corners, and elements of three as their main characteristics. They used to only have three storages because it was said that if a building had more than three storages, it would need an elevator, which will take both money to build and space. It was more of a futuristic look. The incorporation of Neon Lights made the streets of Miami Beach unique at that time.


MiMo style came after World War II. They were asymmetric and were characterized by mosaic murals. It was more of a characteristic owned by the own Miami. Its name says it “Mami Modern Architecture”
Even though most of the places along the streets of Miami Beach do not have the same purpose they had at its beginning, they keep the same structures. For example, what used to be a hotel once, nowadays might be a unique restaurant. Or what used to be apartments for retired people, now might be a hotel. However, they conserve their original structure like a city law.
For people coming from the outside, where the only thing they see on a daily base is big skyscrapers, coming to Miami Beach is a travel back in time to the 1950s. It is a unique experience where people get to learn the history and at the same time be a part of it.

Bakehouse as a Text

Images taken by Daniela Canizares (CC by 4.0)

“Bringing nature back to life using the arts”

By Daniela Canizares of FIU at Bakehouse, October 9th, 2020

Hidden behind the entrance of the now culturally known Wynwood, we find the Bakehouse Art Complex. Judging it by its exterior, tourists might even get to think it is just one more of the houses of the neighborhood – having into consideration it is right next to apartments, no so close to the known Wynwood walls, and right in front of a Middle School. However, passing behind those walls, we enter a new world, something we would not imagine seeing in this location. We enter the world of the arts. Or better said, where art is born. One of the artists we find in this magical place is Lauren Shapiro.


Lauren Shapiro combines the world of the arts with nature. Her latest project tries to make people open their eyes to what is happening to the Coral Reefs, and what they can do to help them survive. Her hands-on project allows people from all over the community to work on her art, and feel with their bare hands the texture of nature, which is later put together as a big design.
The novel virus COVID-19 makes it harder for this project to happen at a faster rate, however, by making a reservation, people can go to the Bakehouse Art Complex and be part of it.


Once you are about to start your session, Shapiro gives you a little insight about why she wanted to specifically work with the corals and just by listening to her you feel how passionate she is about the topic and how well learned she is about it as well, which makes you want to contribute even more to this cause. Then, she teaches you how to mold the clay and gives you instructions on how to choose the coral that tells you a story, the one that calls your attention, and then make a coral clay out of it. You could incorporate color to it, always under your perspective. Shapiro only gives you the instructions and then lets you put your point of view on this project. You could either work with gloves or without it, but the best experience would come out of feeling the art and becoming one with it.


After finishing this step, you proceed to place the corals on a bigger picture, a mural that contains all the other corals from the people collaborating.
If someone ever gets to have the opportunity of being part of this experience, it is a rewarding one. They would get to learn about nature, and be part of the eye-opening experience. It is a wake-up call brought to people through the arts.

Rubell Museum as a Text

Images taken by Daniela Canizares (CC by 4.0)

“The Unspoken Art”

By Daniela Canizares of FIU at Rubell Museum, October 25th, 2020

Making an astonishing impact for its location, we find the Rubell Museum surrounded by Pumbling companies and supermarkets -not the typical place someone would find a Museum of this prestige. This location makes this place unique. Judging it from the outside, visitors passing by might think they are in the wrong place because of its façade. However, once they cross the gates, they start feeling out of this world.

Inside the Museum there is the art that common Museums would not have on exposition. However, this is what makes the Rubell Museum one of its kind. The art on the hallways makes people have a conversation and discuss disagreements. An example is a work by the American artist Tschabalala Self, named “Milk Chocolate”. This painting shows a woman of color completely naked. Being a sensitive topic nowadays, a painting like this one would not be shown in any other exhibition. However, the Rubell family brings this piece into the eye of the visitor to provoke conversation between one another. This is not the typical museum where someone would go and be quiet during the whole visit. This is a museum to go to have conversations and see different points of views on different topics, that out of those walls would be seen as controversial.

Every room in the Museum tells a story on its own. Every artist in this Museum leaves its essence that visitors can catch the moment they enter their expositions. It is a story told by art. The conversation you would hear inside this Museum is not the usual conversation you would hear in any other Museum. This art makes you think, and deeply analyze the artist’s intentions behind it. Not the typical Museum but deserves the title it holds to one of the most important ones in the world nowadays.

Deering Hike as a Text

Images taken by Daniela Canizares (CC by 4.0)

“Untouched History”

By Daniela Canizares of FIU at Deering Estate, November 7th, 2020

Deering Estate is divided into two parts: the Historic buildings and a beautiful view of the bay where people go to take pictures, and the history told by nature itself.


Starting the journey in the middle of these two parts, we find the Miami Rock Ridge. This path is almost nonvisible right now due to the climate changes in Miami, which makes it harder to keep a natural historic place like this one, but there are still some traces of what one day used to link this part of Palmetto Bay/Cutler Bay with the rest of the Miamian coast. This path we can see it in multiple places but due to climate changes, it is impossible to see the whole ridge as it was years ago.


After walking for a while, there is a point where you encounter water. Here at this point, buried by nature, you can see pieces that Tequestas used to survive before Mr. Deering came to what we know nowadays as Deering Estate. Some of these pieces are sharp objects, which historians presume they used as a way to cut through the animals to get food and survive. There was also a trace of shells with holes on both sides, which is said they used to introduce sticks through it as another tool to get animal skin to cover themselves and even food.


Deeper in the walk, you will find yourself walking next to the Cutler Burial Mound Boardwalk. This is a burial for the Tequestas that once were living in this area. The history behind it is surreal, and people might think it is made up. The bones were found by a family that was walking nearby with its dog. The dog found the bones and then a group of archeologists came to study the ground, finding that this place had a history no one knew about. Besides this Burial place, there is also one of the oldest trees in South Florida rising right in the center of the Burial. Also, near this place, there is a vertical cave, with symbols so perfectly made that people are still trying to come up with an idea of how they did it and what objects they used for it, which adds more mystery to Deering Estate and attracts fans of supernatural events.


Getting deeper into the waters at Deering Estate, you will find something not a lot of people have the opportunity to experience. There is a stolen plane crashed in the middle of the water and trees. This plane was stolen to move drugs but once the people hijacking it lost control over it and crashed, they left the plane there and ran away from the scene.


Something really interesting about this part of Deering Estate is how well conservative everything looks like. There are pictures of when Mr. Deering bought the property for the first time, and if you compare those pictures to how the place looks like now, you will see only a minimal difference between the two of them.


This experience is recommended if you want to spend some time away from the world of cell phones since there is no service in this place. A day without having to worry about technology. Only you, nature, and the history behind every single thing you look at.

Downtown Miami as a Text

Images taken by Daniela Canizares (CC by 4.0)

“Diverse Miami”

By Daniela Canizares of FIU at Downtown Miami, November 25th, 2020

The history behind the now “new” Miami has people from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds coming together to make what we know nowadays as Downtown Miami.


Starting our journey at the Government Center, right outside we see a structure symbolizing how unique Miami is. To find out the meaning behind it, you have to pay close attention to it, since at a glance it could mean anything but an orange peeling. If you want to look at the perspective of the artist, you have to step back and look at it from a wider angle.


Just a few blocks away, at Lummus Park is where the history dates back in time. In here we find Fort Dallas, what used to be back in the XIX century a plantation slave quarters. Under Miami’s weather conditions, we can only imagine those slaves – who helped in the construction of Miami in its beginnings- living under terrible conditions due to mosquitoes and the high temperatures. This place has served diverse purposes. A short time after, it also served as a refugee for the Seminole War. After that, it served as a post office, trading post, and even a courthouse. Now it is a historic place, but due to COVID regulations, it is closed to the public.


Standing right outside of the Courthouse, we find a statue of Henry Morrison Flagler. He was a key factor in the development of Miami, however, he was also a key factor in the segregation Miami suffered for years. Having him outside of the Courthouse is a contradiction. Yes, he should be there, however, there should be a brief background on him for it to be fair. Just having him standing outside the Courthouse does not seem fair for all the lives that were taken away.
A curious note about Miami is the location of its zero-point: the intersection between Flagler St and Miami Ave. There is more towards one side than towards the other, which makes Miami’s zero points uneven in its distribution of the City.


Miami River, which used to be a key factor in the life of the Tequestas, is now extremely polluted. Authorities recommend not eating anything coming from that river anymore. It is sad to see how humans themselves are destroying a part of history and the food chain.


Miami is one of the most diverse places in the United States. Going one day without having a Cuban cafecito seems like a crazy thing to do. We give credit to food when it comes to manifesting the gratitude we feel about being diverse. However, we never feel the enthusiasm to learn about the history behind the real diversity of Miami.

Everglades as a Text

Images taken by Daniela Canizares (CC by 4.0)

“A wet welcome back”

By Daniela Canizares of FIU at Everglades, January 14th, 2021

As the new year 2021 came to a start, so did the semester and the exploring of, at least for me, new places in my adoptive city. To welcome the new semester back, we started by going to one of the southern places in Miami: The Everglades.


The Everglades is known to be a “swamp” by the people in Miami. Yearly, the Everglades welcome more people from outside Miami, and even outside the country, than people currently living at a remarkably near distance. We had the privilege of being the first educational group having a tour after the shutdown due to COVID 19.


As you get to the main entrance, it seems like a regular park from an outsider’s point of view. To get into the real beauty of the Everglades, there is a drive of around 10 to 15 minutes. However, at the start this drive, there is a gate that charges you a fee to pass beyond that point. Beyond that gate, there is no phone service. If you are looking for a day without using your phone for other purposes rather than taking pictures of your surroundings, the Everglades is the perfect place to go to.

We as a class had the amazing opportunity to be accompanied by Ranger Dylan, who took us in the water with her and showed us the trees growing in there. I had never seen a woodpecker in real life, and by getting in the water I saw him, flying right on top of me. If you stay quiet, you start seeing a lot of animals coming your way, as they think you are not invasive or dangerous. We had the opportunity of seeing mosquito fishes. I did not know that was a real thing until that very moment. Besides all these great things and new learnings, this moment was not my favorite one. I was worried about getting lost or drowning, as I do not know how to swim. The water was clear crystal up to a certain extent, but we could not see what we were stepping on.


On the other side, my favorite moment was walking on a bridge and seeing all the nature surrounding me. I saw an alligator at a close range for the first time -who we collectively as a class named “Jeff the Alligator”. However, the highlight of the day was Jennifer and her love for Biology. Her being a walking Biological Encyclopedia was the most entertaining part of the day, besides changing our wet clothes to dry ones. We proposed a challenge as she was so enthusiastic about her animals and ecosystem: for every animal she would call “beautiful” we would do a squat. We got out of the Everglades more tired because of this than because of the actual walk.


In general, it was a great experience to be able to see each other again and share a good quality time. The Everglades is a good place to go to if you go as a group, but in my opinion, going by yourself can be a bit boring, unless you are a photographer or nature lover.

Author: Daniela Canizares: Miami as Text

Daniela Canizares was born and raised in Cuba and moved to Miami when she was 15 years old. She is currently working towards her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Florida International University, planning on graduating in May 2023.

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