My name is Ahdriana Amandi and I am a Psychology Major at Florida International University and its Honor’s College. Although my professional goals are to either become a College Professor or to pursue entrepreneurship, my first loves and passions are History and Art. Growing up in Miami has given me the chance to experience and enjoy both first-handedly. I chose to focus on the city of Homestead and its past, present, and future because this sleepy city has taken my heart more and more each time I visit.
Homestead, Florida is a small city packed with charm and history. Its coordinates are 25°28′16.28″N 80°28′5.24″W and it is recognizable to any South Florida native by its abundant farms and local businesses. This city is about 35 miles from the city of Miami, and 25 miles from the city of Key Largo. Many often stop to get a bite to eat before heading to the keys, and homestead natives often dread Friday mornings and Sunday nights because the highway to and from the keys becomes filled with cars and their boats trying to spend their weekends fishing, kayaking, or snorkeling or are either heading back home to prepare for the work week. It is a rural area, with a lot of agriculture but not as much as the Redlands, a nearby neighborhood. It is often hard to tell when you are in homestead, or have crossed through to the Redlands, or Florida city. These small areas do have their own history and landmarks but are often placed in the umbrella of the city “homestead”(“Homestead” 2011).
Up until the 19th century, the Tequesta and other natives called the Calusa lived in what we now know as Homestead. Although little is known of them today, it is thought that they did not live in the everglades but would often canoe through it as a means of transportation. Remnants of their existence still is prevalent in Homestead’s museums and parks.
Shortly after President Lincoln’s 1861 speech, the Homestead Act of 1962 allowed Americans to own 160 acres of land for a filing fee. This allowed former slaves, women and immigrants to become landowners and gave many the possibly to start new lives around the united states (“Homestead Act”). Many people came to south Florida because the area was fertile and the weather was warm year-round, which meant that farming was much more profitable here. The city then became named Homestead and was registered as Miami’s second oldest city when the railroad was built. The town was officially registered in 1913 with a total of 121 people and 28 registered voters, as only white men who owned property could vote (“History of our city”). It soon became the agricultural city that it is known as today and has had very little changes in the past 100 years. However, homestead has begun to catch the eye of many developers and businesses, as the cost of living is much lower than in other areas.
The City of Homestead allows visitors to download their “Homestead Then & Now” self-guided tour which showcases all the historical gems in the city, as well as their history.
According to the united states 2018 census, there are 68,000 people who live in the city lines of Homestead. The area is mostly Latinx and black population, with white Latinos making up over 58 percent of the population with 39,700 people and black people making up 18 percent with 12,700. The rest of the population are white non-Latino being 12.9 percent of the population with 8,850 people and other mixed races/identities. (“DataUSA:Homestead”). Homestead is home to the Homestead Correctional Institution and the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children, and I was unable to find if the numbers from the census also included these populations.
36.8 percent of people who live in homestead were not born in the U.S, and seventy-eight percent of the population has their citizenship. According to the census, about 65.6% of households speak other languages at home that aren’t English. The household income is 40k a year, which is lower than the Miami-Dade county average and lower than surrounding areas such as cutler bay (65k). 38% are homeowners and the median gross rent is 1,243.
More interesting information from homestead’s demographic is the large number of veterans, the majority who served in either Vietnam or the gulf wars. Homestead has 2,495 veterans, double the number than the average city, most likely due to the homestead base being located here (“QuickFacts”).
Historic Homestead Town Hall
The Historic Town Hall Museum was founded in 1994 by vice-mayor Ruth Campbell and holds many relics of Homestead’s past. The museum sits in the heart of downtown Homestead and is a quaint building that is easy to miss. Many of the buildings in this area are vacant but with the recent developments such as a new movie theatre and many restaurants, there is hope that life will come back to North Krome Avenue. Due to COVID, this historic landmark is sadly closed until further notice and like many organizations in the area, its future is unknown. Thankfully, however, its website is up and running and contains a plethora of information on the city of Homestead as well as pictures and other information about the museum.
The Homestead Speedway opened in November 24th, 1995, a few years after hurricane Andrew. The hopes of the developers were to help the city of homestead after the catastrophic storm that caused approximately 500 million dollars in damage. Since then, it has hosted multiple NASCAR cup Series, The Dixie Vodka 400, and other prestigious races. It has a capacity of 55,000 seats and brings revenue to the city when people come and stay for a weekend to watch the races (“Homestead-Miami Speedway”).
Robert is Here
I placed Robert is Here in landmarks instead of under food or businesses because although it is those things, It can also be considered a landmark for this community. Being located in Florida City, a neighborhood within Homestead, Robert is Here originally began as a fruit stand in 1959. Nowadays, however, it is a tourist destination that people from all walks of life come to visit to try exotic fruits such as persimmons, tamarind, jackfruit, guanabana, and many more. Their legendary milkshakes are also a big hit with many, and the 10-minute wait to get your hands on one is absolutely worth it. With COVID, Robert Is Here is currently open only through drive-thru, but visitors can enjoy the birds and petting zoo from a distance as they drive by. I personally love their red dragon fruit, guanabana milkshake, and my current favorite is their seasonal pumpkin milkshake mixed with mamey (it tastes just like sweet potato pie!)
Losner park sits in the heart of Downtown Homestead and is known for hosting multiple events during the year (Pre-covid, of course). It’s the smallest park in the area, but having an excellent location makes it a staple in the homestead community. When there aren’t events being held, however, the park gets quite dirty and beer cans, plastic bags, and more trash accumulates here. Thankfully, however, there have been talks of expanding the park to include more amenities and improve this gem. The park also has a sculpture dedicated to all American veterans and with Homestead’s large veteran population, is a well-loved landmark.
Mayor Roscoe warren municipal Park
The Roscoe Warren Park was built in 2010 and is the largest park in homestead. It has a lot of features, such as a playground, a soccer field, and a path that is smooth and excellent walking or for roller-skates, skateboards, or anyone else on wheels.
Unfortunately, many of the parks in homestead (including this one) requires cars, as transportation in the area isn’t the best. Many parks with amenities such as this one feel almost inaccessible unless you have a car, as it is far away from the more populated area of homestead.
The best park in homestead is inarguably the everglades national park. This national park is the 10th largest national park in the united states, expanding other 1.5 million acres long. When visiting the park, visitors have the chance to see a plethora of species, many of which are endangered and protected by law. Horseshoe crabs, black bears, Florida panthers, spoonbills, and many other creatures make this park their home.
“The miracle of light pours over the green and brown expanse of saw grass and of water, shining and slowly moving, the grass and water that is the meaning and the central fact of the Everglades. It is a river of grass.”
— Marjory Stoneman Douglas
Transportation in Homestead is difficult to navigate, and Is for the most part, inaccessible to its citizens. Over 60% of Homestead citizens drive themselves to work, 6 percent used public transportation and the other half either walked, used a taxi, or biked to work (“DataUSA:Homestead”). Due to Homestead being poorer than other surrounding communities, less money is placed on infrastructure and transportation. Aside from Downtown homestead, which is approximately a mile long, the sidewalks are worn-out or nonexistent throughout the area. Bus stops being far from each other and buses having inconsistent schedules may be the reason citizens don’t use public transportation as much as they could.
The city of Homestead, however, has recently included a downtown and east/west trolley that is free to citizens and circles around homestead in a way to help the transportation system. The city also offers a free ride during the weekend to the national parks in the area: the Everglades, Biscayne National Park, and Homestead Bayfront Park. Since the beginning of COVID-19, the trolley has an allotted 6-10am service for seniors to access Publix’s Special Senior Hours.
La Cruzada is a quaint Mexican restaurant that is right across the street from homestead’s city hall. The décor gives the place a comforting feel, and their kind staff and fresh guacamole leaves every visitor with a positive impression. With a 4.3-star review on google reviews and almost 1,143 people raving about the quality of the restaurant, it is a must-visit location. The barbacoa and chorizo tacos and menudo are my personal recommendation when visiting this restaurant.
White Lion Café
The white lion café is so hidden, it is easy to miss it unless you are looking for it. They primarily serve American meals and fresh fish, and even serve their legendary 99-dollar PB & J sandwich that comes with a bottle of Dom Perignon. Like most restaurants, its kind staff and fresh dishes are what places it on this list of places to visit while in homestead.
Sake Thai & Sushi
When people often think of homestead, they think of fresh Mexican food. Although there is plenty of that in this neighborhood, Sake Thai & Sushi fresh dishes and delicious appetizers are an absolute must-try. The service here is impeccable and their fresh ingredients make visiting this restaurant while visiting Homestead a great choice. I recommend ordering the monkey brains, sushi tacos, and tropical roll.
Exit one Tap and brewery
Exit One Taproom opened their doors in 2018 and since then have created a fun and unique local spot that is a Homestead treasure. This shop offers craft beers at affordable prices, and the employees and its owners have excellent customer service. They have a gorgeous space and even offer outdoor seating.
Schnebly Winery and Brewery
This location offers historical tours, wine tasting events, can be booked as a wedding venue, and is even the home of Miami Brewing Co., another location that has its own space and drinks. Schnebly’s is usually packed with people and during COVID, has been no exception. It is a pricey spot, but worth the visit and with multiple events constantly being held, Schnebly’s Winery and Brewery is definitely a spot that warrants multiple visits.
When entering the small grocery store in the heart of downtown homestead, it can be overwhelming. You are immediately welcomed with the smell of tortillas and meat, and the pinatas adorn the ceiling of the large but overfilled store. Each aisle has rows of unique inventory: spices, candies, and drinks that aren’t common anywhere else in Miami are in stock here, and the affordable butchery and freshly sold tortilla ensures that this place is never empty. With a large population of homestead being Latino and a large majority of that population being Mexican, I feel that this store is representative of its community. If you stop by, be sure to buy some barbacoa and a pound of fresh tortilla, it is absolutely worth it.
Homestead, Florida is a great place to visit to escape the hustle and bustle of other Miami neighborhoods and enter a rural town with many beautiful aspects, as well as problems. Being one of the oldest cities In Miami-Dade, it can often feel forgotten and worn out. Many areas and neighborhoods are unkept. However, it does seem to be improving with time and I don’t believe the homestead that is today will be the Homestead people will know 20 years from now.
Britannica. n.d. 9 December 2020. <https://www.britannica.com/place/Homestead-Florida>.
City Of Homestead. History of Our City. n.d. 9 December 2020. <https://www.cityofhomestead.com/264/History-of-Our-City>.
—. Homestead Trolley. n.d. URL. 7 December 2020. <https://www.cityofhomestead.com/374/Homestead-Trolley>.
CityofHomestead.com. “Homestead Then & Now.” 2018. PDF. 4 December 2020. <https://www.cityofhomestead.com/DocumentCenter/View/1892/Homestead-Then-and-Now?bidId=>.
DATAUSA. Homestead,FL: Census Place. n.d. 4 December 2020. <https://datausa.io/profile/geo/homestead-fl/#demographics>.
Douglas, Marjory S. and Robert Fink. The Everglades: River of Grass. New York: Rinehart, 1947. Book.
History.com. Homestead Act. 19 August 2019. 9 December 2020. <https://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/homestead-act>.
National Parks & Services. Everglades. 9 September 2020. 5 December 2020. <https://www.nps.gov/ever/index.htm>.
National Parks And Services. Hurricane Andrew (1992) . 30 May 2019. 4 December 2020.
United States Census. QuickFacts: Homestead city, Florida. 1 July 2019. 8 December 2020. <https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/homesteadcityflorida>.
Wikipedia. Homestead-Miami Speedway. 8 December 2020. 9 December 2020. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homestead%E2%80%93Miami_Speedway>.