Brittney Sanchez: West Miami 2020

Photo of Brittney Sanchez by Cristina Martinez / CC BY 4.0

Student Bio:

Hello! My name is Brittney Sanchez. I am a junior at Florida International University in the beautiful city of Miami. I have an Associate in Arts degree in Pre-Recreational Therapy and I am currently in the Honors College pursuing a bachelors degree in Physical Education: Sports and Fitness. I love to explore, travel, and learn new things. For this reason, I knew that John W. Bailly’s Miami in Miami class was the right fit for me. Being homeschooled gave me the opportunity to travel to many places, but this class has shown me that I do not have to travel far to learn about unique cultures, see fascinating landmarks, and immerse myself into adventurous experiences. For my Ineffable Miami project I chose to explore a small city named the city of West Miami. Learn more about this little-known city below.

Geography:

Photo of Brittney Sanchez by Carolina Garcia / CC BY 4.0

The city of West Miami is a relatively small city located in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States. Unlike other larger cities located in Miami-Dade County, West Miami is less than a square mile. West Miami is bordered by two main streets in the north and west sides. North of West Miami is the famous ‘Calle Ocho,’ which directly translates to Eighth Street; and to the west lies 67th Avenue. Although West Miami is next to these populated and well-known streets, it is a quaint family oriented, tight-knight city. It is mainly occupied by single family homes, small shops and businesses on the outskirts of the city, some green areas, and West Miami’s city hall. 

Map of West Miami from Google Maps.

History:

The city of West Miami has a short but unique upbringing. According to the City of West Miami’s official website, “On April 7, 1947 four businessmen decided to incorporate the city when Dade County wanted to reduce the cocktail hours and ban gambling rooms.” The four businessmen along with some residents invested only about $400 and decided to name it the city of West Miami. Although it was a significantly small city in the 1900s, after World War II, many soldiers decided to build new homes in the free lots available in West Miami. “Incorporated as a town with only 700 residents, West Miami now stands as a city with 6,132 residents, a 4% increase since the 2000 census” (City of West Miami, Official Website).

Demographics:

The City Data shows that the median age of the residents living in the city of West Miami is 45.2 years old. The female to male ratio is very close, but females take the lead with a 9.4% average above men. It also shows that the median household income level has increased since 2000. The most recent documentation is taken from 2017 which indicates that the median income level increased from $34,910 to $48,464. Like many other cities in Miami-Dade County, West Miami is filled with hispanic culture. In fact, many of the names of small businesses in West Miami are written in Spanish, and you will most probably hear people predominately speaking Spanish all around you in West Miami. According to the U.S. Census Buraeu, the White alone percent of residents living in West Miami are 95.4% and Hispanic or Latino percent is 93.1%.

Interview with Luis Garcia

Photo of Luis Garcia by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

Brittney: Please introduce yourself.

Luis: “Hello, my name is Luis Garcia. I am a Catholic married civil engineer, and I have lived in West Miami since 1997”

Brittney: Why did you choose to live in the city of West Miami?

Luis: “It offered what we were looking for. A stand alone house which was moderately priced in a central location.”

Brittney: How would you describe West Miami and its residents?

Luis: “A small gem in the county. A current change of residents with the new comers being middle class young families.” 

Brittney: What is your favorite aspect of West Miami?

Luis: “It is a city that feels like a small community and it is centrally located”

Brittney: If someone you knew were to come to West Miami, where would you take them?

Luis: “The recreational center, because it was recently renovated and it has a variety of facilities for indoor games and outdoor sports, as well as a new hall.”

Brittney: Would you say you feel safe in this city?

Luis: “Yes, because we haven’t been a victim of crime for over 10 years” 

Brittney: What is something you wish you could change?

Luis: “The buildings going up. The small community feeling of 1997 is being lost by greedy developers and corrupt politicians.” 

Brittney: How do you wish to see West Miami in 5 years?

Luis: “I hope there are no more high rise developments, and that the residents invest money in their homes to maintain the original flavor and standards of living of West Miami. 

Landmarks:

West Miami monument at Cooper Park (5841 SW 16th St, Miami, FL 33155)

It is easy to spot this monument due to the high rising American Flag in the middle of the park. This West Miami monument commemorates two Jewish War Veterans from 1951. Their busts are propped up by a column and they can be seen on both sides of the flag. A slab commemorating their heroic acts can be seen near the ground where it states, “To the glorious memory of our comrades of every race, color, and creed who have made the supreme sacrifice that this monument might stand in a free America.”

Temple Beth Tov-Ahavat Shalom (6438 SW 8th St, West Miami, FL 33144)

Photo of Temple Beth Tov-Ahavat Shalom by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

This quaint synagogue can be found in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Calle 8 in West Miami. The temple is described on their website, Beth Tov-Ahavet Shalom, as “friendly, conservative, traditional, and warmhearted.” The website also states the history of the temple. “In 1955 a group of very determined members, headed by Morris Harris decided to establish the first traditional synagogue in West Miami. After a lot of planning, hard work, perseverance and much paper work, the plan was approved by the authorities in August of 1956″(Beth Tov-Ahavat Shalom). Today, they offer a variety of religious services throughout the week, along with their different programs, classes, and activities.

West Miami City Hall (901 SW 62nd Ave, West Miami, FL 33144)

Photo of the West Miami City Hall by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

“The City of West Miami takes pride in delivering “Efficient City Services” to residents and to the businesses located within our Municipal boundaries. We take pride in our ability to deliver personalized service”(City of West Miami, Official Website). The West Miami City Hall hosts many town meetings for residents to discuss city regulations with city commissioners as well as providing passport pictures for West Miami residents. You can also find the mayor Rhonda A. Rodriguez, Vice-mayor Eric Diaz-Padron, City Commissioner Candida Blanca, Commissioner Juan M. Blanes, and City Commissioner Luciano L. Suarez at the City Hall.

Green:

City of West Miami Recreation Center (1700 SW 62nd Ave, Miami, FL 33155)

The city of West Miami has a great amount of green space considering its small area. One of the largest multipurpose green spaces in West Miami is the recreational center. They offer a variety of sports for adults and children including Baseball, Tennis, Softball, Basketball, Racquetball, and T-ball. There are many fields and courts including, a Baseball field, Tennis court, Basketball court, Racquetball court, One-wall court, Multipurpose Lit Ballfield, Lit Batting cage, and a small playground area for children. According to the City of West Miami Official Website, “Various programs and activities are continuously offered and special events are celebrated throughout the year at the Recreation Center, making it a focal point of community and family involvement.”

Cooper Park (5841 SW 16th St, Miami, FL 33155)

Cooper Park is a spacious and family-friendly community park in West Miami. This park has something to do for the entire family. For example, there is a small sand box with swings for younger children, two playgrounds for older children, a large green area for athletes to engage in any sport, and a fitness area for adults. The only downside of this park is the fact that dogs are not allowed in the park.

West Miami Park (1540120510100, Miami, FL 33155)

Photo of West Miami Park by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

As you drive down SW 18th Terrace you are met by this small playground. I found this to be a peculiar place to insert a playground because it is in the middle of a completely residential street. According to Google Maps it is called the West Miami Park, but there is no way of identifying this park otherwise.

Transportation:

Freebee West Miami City Bus

The Freebee West Miami City Bus is a new addition to the city. It was only introduced a few months ago, and it is a great way to get around the city. This free program of transportation can be used by simply downloading the app, to see where the bus is located, and then order a ride.

Metrobus

The Metrobus route schedule starts at the West Miami City Hall at 8 am. According to the Miami Dade County Metrobus Route Details, “The City of West Miami provides this service. Sylvania Heights Elementary School, Trail Plaza, Recreation Center, E.P. Cooper Park, Publix, Fairlawn Library, Trail Shell, Air Park Plaza.”

Driving

One of the perks of living in West Miami is the centrality of its location. Many well-known places and areas in Miami-Dade County range from only 15 to 30 minutes away in a car. For example, West Miami is only 5.5 miles South of Miami International Airport, 14 miles West of Miami Beach, 19.8 miles East of the Everglades National Park, and 14.2 miles North of Zoo Miami. West Miami is also surrounded by many expressways. For example, it is East of the Palmetto expressway (SR 826), South of the Dolphin expressway (SR 836), and West of I-95.

Biking / Walking

The last method of transportation in West Miami is biking and walking. According to West Miami Demographics, the highest means of transportation to work in West Miami is a car, followed by walking. Since it is a fairly small city, walking or biking to grab a quick bite to eat or to get something from the grocery store is very convenient; however, the majority of people you see biking or walking in West Miami are people trying to exercise or families on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Food:

Luis Galindo Latin America Restaurant (898 Red Rd, West Miami, FL 33144)

Photo of Luis Galindo Latin America Restaurant by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

If you are craving Hispanic food, the City of West Miami is definitely the place to go. One of my favorite Cuban restaurants located in West Miami is, Luis Galindo Latin America Restaurant. It is an inexpensive and delicious local eatery swarming with daily hungry customers. They serve a wide range of traditional Cuban food and their portion sizes are very large. I recommend ordering the churrasco (juicy skirt steak) with white rice and plantains, you will not regret it.

Google’s Rating: 4.2 Stars, Brittney’s Rating: 5 Stars

Sakura Sushi Bar (1180 SW 57th Ave, West Miami, FL 33144)

Photo of Sakura Sushi Bar by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

According to Yelp, Erik G. opened Sakura Sushi Bar in 2012. It is a cozy restaurant with a wide variety of Japanese and Korean food. They are known for having many traditional sushi rolls as well as some unique sushi rolls, like their very own West Miami Roll. You can enjoy indoor and outdoor seating, and they even have a bar where you can see the sushi chefs making the sushi. Although there are many sushi options to choose from, I would recommend ordering my favorite roll, the Waffle Roll. It is a flavor packed roll with, “Shrimp Tempura, Crab Salad and Cream Cheese, Topped with Avocado, Crispy Flakes, Spicy Mayo and Sweet Sauce” (My Sakura Sushi). The only downside of this restaurant would be the cost, especially for a college student like me. The sushi rolls are particularly small for their high prices.

Google’s Rating: 4.4 Stars, Brittney’s Rating: 4.8 Stars

Frank’s Fresh Fruit Mini Market (6480 SW 8th St, West Miami, FL 33144)

Photo of Frank’s Fresh Fruit Mini Market by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

Frank’s Fresh Fruit Mini Market is the newest addition to the City of West Miami. It only opened up this year and it is already booming with customers. It is a unique combination of a fresh fruit mini market along with its full menu with typical Hispanic cuisine options. The prices are extremely affordable and very delicious. I recommend the strawberry milkshake, it is the right combination of sweet and tart, and it is perfect for a hot afternoon in the beaming Miami sun.

Google’s Rating: 4.4 Stars, Brittney’s Rating: 5 Stars

Businesses:

La Edad De Oro Adult Day Care (5870 SW 8th St, West Miami, FL 33144)

Photo of La Edad De Oro Adult Day Care by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

I chose to include this adult day care because I believe the City of West Miami does an exceptional job at providing service for all age groups. According to Aging Care,”Adult day care can give caregivers respite by providing a center where elderly parents can be taken for a couple of hours or the entire day and picked back up later. The day programs include social activities, meals, and general elderly supervision.” This adult day care provides an active and social environment for many elderly people. On a typical day you can see them enjoying an exciting game of Bingo.

Flor’s Hair Styling (6206 SW 8th St. West Miami, Fl 33144)

Photo of Flor’s Hair Styling by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

Flor’s Hair Styling is a small, independently-owned boutique offering a variety of services for both men and women. While you are waiting for your hair to dry you can get your manicure and your pedicure done. You can also find many hair products, jewelry, and hair accessories at the salon. Flor, the owner, opened this salon many years ago and has many loyal customers.

Ramón Puig Guayaberas (5840 SW 8th St, West Miami, FL 33144)

Photo of La Casa De Las Guayaberas by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

What can be more Cuban than a store that sells Guayaberas in West Miami? Guayaberas originated in Cuba in the late 1800s. They are light weight, breathable linen shirts made for men. They are easily recognizable by their large pockets and two stitched parallel lines running down the torso area. You can see on RamonPuig.com that this store sells Guayaberas for as low as $40 to as high as $150. They are open seven days a week and even offer shipping .

Summary:

Although Miami is known for the beaches and scenic nightlife ambience, there are many smaller hometowns that are often overlooked, such as West Miami. I believe West Miami is a great city to live in because of its central location, affordable housing, safety, appetizing cuisine, friendly residents, and hispanic culture. It is an adequate and small city made perfect for raising a family in. With many local parks, nearby grocery stores, its own school, a recreational center, and many small businesses, families can truly flourish in a city like West Miami. It’s small size makes it easy to get from point a to point b, and it is a very safe neighborhood because of the constant police cars present in its small radius. It is evident that West Miami is mostly residential, and I believe they have done a noticeable initiative to make it a comfortable living space for all of its residents.

Citations:

City of West Miami. (n.d.). City of West Miami Florida. https://cityofwestmiamifl.com

City of West Miami. (n.d.). Mission Statement. West Miami Florida. https://cityofwestmiamifl.com/index.asp?SEC=61161D64-4EB5-4B21-9EDB-F286C8DCD0DF&Type=B_BASIC 

City of West Miami. (n.d.). Recreation Center. West Miami Florida. https://cityofwestmiamifl.com/?SEC=3D7ED9FE-3A86-4497-A4D1-AF59CDC744D4 

La Edad De Oro Adult Day Care Llc. (n.d.). Aging Care. https://www.agingcare.com/local/la-edad-de-oro-adult-day-care-llc-miami-adult-day-care-fl 

Miami Dade County. (n.d.). Route West Miami Shuttle. Metrobus Route Details. https://www.miamidade.gov/transportation-publicworks/routes_detail.asp?route=9027 

Menu of Sakura Sushi Bar. (n.d.). My Sakura Sushi. https://www.mysakurasushi.com/menu 

Ramon Puig Guayaberas. (n.d.). Ramon Puig Guayaberas. https://ramonpuig.com 

Synagogue Beth Tov, Ahavat Shalom, Inc. (n.d.). Welcome to Temple Beth Tov, Ahavat Shalom, A House of Prayer and Study. https://bethtovahavatshalom.org 

United States Census Bureau. (n.d.). Quick Facts West Miami city, Florida. United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/westmiamicityflorida 

West Miami, Florida. (n.d.). City-Data. City of West Miami. (n.d.). City of West Miami Florida. https://cityofwestmiamifl.com 

West Miami Demographics. (n.d.). Point 2 Homes. Miami Dade County. (n.d.). Route West Miami Shuttle. Metrobus Route Details. https://www.miamidade.gov/transportation-publicworks/routes_detail.asp?route=9027 

West Miami, Florida. (n.d.). City-Data. City of West Miami. (n.d.). City of West Miami Florida. https://cityofwestmiamifl.com Yelp. (n.d.). Sakura Sushi Bar. https://www.yelp.com/biz/sakura-sushi-bar-miami

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