Victoria Jackson: Opa-locka 2020

Photo taken of Victoria Jackson in 2020. Photo by Nigel Courtney/ CC BY 4.0

Student Bio:

Hello Everyone! My name is Victoria Jackson, and I was born and raised in Miami Florida. I am junior in the Honors College at Florida International University studying English-Education. Outside of school I love travelling, reading and dancing. I am looking forward to exploring the place I have called home, seeing and experiencing the different wonders Miami has to offer and creating memories with the rest of my classmates

Geography:

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Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

Opa-locka is an urban city located in the northeastern area of Miami-Dade County. It spans around 4.2 square miles and it is located about 13 miles from the city of Miami (“City of Opa-locka History”). It is surrounded by the areas of Hialeah, Miami Lakes, Golden Glades, North Miami and Westview. Opa-locka is a city that has a mixture of industrial, domestic and commercial areas (“The Beacon Council”).

Map of Opa-locka from Google Maps

History:

Opa-locka was founded during a land boom that was happening in South Florida. In 1925 during a partnership with James Bright, an aviation pioneer named Glen Curtis became increasingly interested in the area that is now Opa-locka and sought to acquire it. The site was originally called “Opa-tisha-wocka-locka” meaning big hummock, but it was changed to its nickname, Opa-locka, by Curtiss after he bought it. Curtiss planned to have Opa-locka be one of his top achievements and had it modeled after the Arabian Nights (“Opa-locka Company Administration Building”). With the help of Bernhardt Muller, the city started its development and took on a Moorish revival style of architecture. In late 1926 the Great Miami Hurricane hit the city and destroyed a great part of the city and caused the land boom to cease. From that point they became economically disenfranchised and has since struggled to recover.

Demographics:

The United States Census Bureau lists that there are 15,887 people living in Opa-locka as of 2019 with most of them being female. The City-Data shows that the African American population is the largest group of people living in the area at 61.5% followed by the Hispanic population at 35.3%. The city’s median household income in 2017 was $27,523 which was almost half of the state’s median household income (“QuickFacts”). 44.9% of residents live in poverty and a little more than half of that percentage belongs to the African American population (“Opa-locka, Florida”).

Interview with Pansy Hunte:

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

Victoria: Hello, please introduce yourself.

Pansy: Hi, I’m Pansy Hunte

Victoria: Have you always been a resident, or have you moved here from another area?

Pansy: No, I haven’t always lived here. I immigrated to Florida in ’79 with my children. I worked at the Jackson North maternity nurse.

Victoria: How long did you work there?

Pansy: I worked for 15 years as a labor and delivery nurse.

Victoria: Is the building you worked at still there?

Pansy: No, it’s not there anymore. It closed after they moved the patients to the main hospital after many high-risk deliveries. I don’t remember the exact year it closed down but if you pass by there now the building is gone and the area is rundown.

Victoria: Could you describe the city back then.

Pansy: The people in the community that lived here were very nice but there was a lot of violence. A lot of violence because of the drug activity and poverty. Where I worked before was in a dangerous area. It was called The Triangle. It was known for heavy violence and drug use. They changed the name of it now. Now its called Magnolia North.

Victoria: Do you notice much of a difference from then to now?

Pansy: There has been a decrease in violence. More people are coming to live here because of rebuilding and construction that is happening in some areas. There has also been a few businesses opening up.

Victoria: Name one thing about the city that you wish would change in the future.

Pansy: For the city to assist more with housing and employment.

Landmarks:

Opa-Locka City Hall (777 Sharazad Blv, Opa-locka Fl, 33054)

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

The Opa-locka city hall was developed in the 1920’s during the big land boom of South Florida. It is one of the last buildings that survived the destruction cause by the Great Miami Hurricane. It is part of the U.S National Register of Historic Places and is boarded up. It is located right next to Sherbondy Park and is a couple of blocks away from the current and more modern city hall.

Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport (14201 NW 42nd Ave, Opa-locka Fl, 33054)

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport Miami, formerly known as Opa Locka Executive Airport, was founded in 1927 by Glen Curtiss. It served as a base to the Miami Naval Air station during World War 2 and also had a part in Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs in the 1960’s.

Veterans of Foreign Wars (757 Ali Baba Ave, Opa-Locka Blvd Fl, 33054)

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

The Veterans of Foreign Wars was a center that honored and helped to provide for Veterans and their families with money and different resources. Its part of one of the oldest programs that are offered for those who served

Green:

Ingram Park (2100 Burlington St, Opa-locka, Fl, 33054)

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

Ingram Park is situated in the northeast area of Opa-locka overlooking a small lake. The main features include a baseball and football field as well as a tennis and basketball court. The park is also home to different youth educational programs for after school students and for children during the summer months(“Parks & Facilities”).

Sherbondy Park (380 Bahman St, Opa-locka, Fl, 33054)

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

Sherbondy Park is located in the north area of Opa-locka. The park is bordered by two older government buildings, the Opa-locka Building & License Department and the Opa-locka City Hall. There is a small playground, a basketball court, and a large baseball area as well as other indoor facilities that support their after school and summer programs. It has become a COVID-19 testing sit for the community (“Parks & Facilities”).

Segal Park (2331 NW 143 St, Opa-locka, Fl, 33054)

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

Segal Park, compared to the two other parks in the area, is on the smaller side. It features a main building, an open field and a short walking trail. It also has a center where after school programs and summer programs are held (“Parks & Facilities”).

Transportation:

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

The Opa-locka Express Bus

The Opa-locka Express Bus is a newer addition to the area (“Move That Bus”). Making its grand debut in 2011, the free of charge bus service hopes to benefit many of the residents in the area especially the elderly and those who are enrolled in school. It alternates between two main routes and operates on the weekdays from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm while on Saturdays it operates from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Other than street stops it also has stops at places like Walgreens and Miami Dade College which is helpful for their target group (“Free Bus Shuttle Service for Opa-locka Residents”).

Tri-Rail

The Tri-Rail has a station in Opa-locka that connects with seventeen other stations (“Rail”). The Tri-Rail also provides incoming passengers with connections to the Miami-Dade Transit Metrobus and the Opa-locka Express Bus shuttle. There is free parking available to those who commuted to the station and it is accessible to those with disabilities.

Metrobus

The Metrobus has a stop at the Tri Rail station and connects to other stops like the Santa Clara Metrorail Station, Civic Center Metrorail Station and the Adrienne Arsht Center Metromover Station.

Car

For more than 90% of the city, a car is the most preferred method of transportation. (“Opa-locka Demographics”). With the commute time to and from work being an average of 30-40 minutes many people drive themselves or figure out a carpool strategy (“Opa-locka, Fl City Center”).

Food:

Jackson Soul Food 2 (14511 NW 27th Ave, Opa-locka Fl, 33054)

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

Jackson Soul Food 2 is the second location of the historic family owned and operated business that was started in 1946. The core of their legacy is to provide a space where comfort soul food could thrive. It is an important staple in the African American community and has even attracted people nationally and internationally. A visit to this cozy restaurant will make you feel as if you are eating a large diner with a family you have known your whole life. I can remember so many fond memories from past visits there with my family.

Nat’s Seafood (1739 Opa-Locka Blvd, Opa-locka Fl, 33054)

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

Nat’s Catering, or more commonly referred to as just Nat’s, is a restaurant established in 1979 that is run from a unit in a warehouse facility. They have a cafeteria style of dishing out great soul food at reasonable prices. Unlike most restaurants, Nat’s is only open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00am to 5:00pm. My family and I have been coming here for years. One of the downsides is that because it is only open on four days out of the week and it is highly sought out, the wait in the line outside in the sun can be long.

Crabman 305 (2006 Opa-Locka Blvd, Opa-locka Fl 33054)

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

Crabman 305 is an amazing place to get flavorful seafood. The restaurant began in 2013 out of a single-family home garage and eventually became a very well-known restaurant in South Florida. While times differ the restaurant is open everyday selling delicious hot meals that are of great price.

Businesses:

Opa-locka Hialeah Flee Market (12705 NW 42nd Ave, Opa-locka Fl, 33054)

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

Opening in 1981 the Opa-locka Hialeah Flee Market has over the years become a staple and serves as landmark of its own. It is open every day of the year and has more than 100,000 visitors (“All About Opa-locka”)

Coin Laundry (149 Opa-Locka Blvd, Opa-locka Fl, 33054)

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

This quaint coin laundry is in a small shopping center that is located in the middle of a residential area. While it is on the smaller side, it can be packed with people due to it being open 24 hours a day 7 days of week.

Elegant Beauty Supplies/Salon (2710 NW 135th St, Opa-locka Fl, 33054)

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

Elegant Beauty supplies store belongs to a beauty supply chain. They sell full lines of various quality hair and beauty products to the public. They pride themselves on being an all-in-one place where all your hair and beauty need can be met. What makes them unique is that they have full-service hair salon including nail technicians. You can make an appointment or walk in. There is also an ample amount of parking space.

Summary:

When I hear people talk about Opa-locka I mostly hear them describe it as a place that is extremely dangerous and that it is a bad area with bad people when that is not the case. I have found that a lot of the city’s residents are kind and welcoming. The city is also filled with hidden gems and a rich history down every street. While there are people with bad intentions, there is a lot of hardworking people that need more support and more backing from their community leaders. There is good and bad in any population. Do not let that deter you from visiting this unique city.

Citations:

-, Christina Gordon, et al. “Move That Bus! Commission Officially Launches The Opa-Locka Express Bus.” Miami’s Community News, 11 May 2011, communitynewspapers.com/opa-locka/move-that-bus-commission-officially-launches-the-opa-locka-express-bus/. 

“All About Opa-Locka.” All About, http://www.miamiandbeaches.com/neighborhoods/opa-locka. 

“City of Opa-Locka History.” Opa, http://www.opalockafl.gov/229/History. 

“Free Bus Shuttle Service for Opa-Locka Residents.” Google, Google, http://www.google.com/amp/s/www.sfltimes.com/news/local/free-bus-shuttle-service-for-opa-locka-residents/amp. 

“Opa-Locka Company Administration Building.” Abandoned Florida, 5 May 2020, http://www.abandonedfl.com/opa-locka-company-administration-building/. 

“Opa-Locka Demographics.” Point2, http://www.point2homes.com/US/Neighborhood/FL/Opa-locka-Demographics.html. 

“Opa-Locka, FL (City Center).” NeighborhoodScout, http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/fl/opa-locka/city-center. 

“Opa-Locka, Florida.” Opa-Locka, Florida (FL 33054) Profile: Population, Maps, Real Estate, Averages, Homes, Statistics, Relocation, Travel, Jobs, Hospitals, Schools, Crime, Moving, Houses, News, Sex Offenders, http://www.city-data.com/city/Opa-locka-Florida.html. 

“Parks & Facilities.” Opa, http://www.opalockafl.gov/138/Parks-Facilities. 

“Rail.” Tri, http://www.tri-rail.com/. 

“U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Opa-Locka City, Florida.” Census Bureau QuickFacts, http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/opalockacityflorida/POP815219. 

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