Roger Masson: Hialeah 2020

Key Biscayne, Florida. Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.

STUDENT BIO

Hi, my name s Roger Masson, and I am 19 years old. I wanted to start this project with a warm welcome to my Blog on the great city of Hialeah—La Ciudad del Progreso (The City of Progress). I was born in Miami, but I spent 11 years in Alachua, Florida, where I grew up and spent most of my childhood. Moving back to Miami was always an important dream of mine— no matter how long I was gone, I always felt right at home here. Being part of this class has been a true gift; I have grown to cherish this city much more and understand its rich history. 

GEOGRAPHY

Hialeah is located in a favorably central part of Miami-Dade County. It is located in close proximity to the Miami International Airport. It is home to a number of local businesses and charming single and multi-family homes and apartments, reasonably priced. Hialeah also includes a variety of “green” areas, many with baseball fields—a particularly popular sport among its population.

Palm Avenue splits the West and the East side of Hialeah apart that divides a more suburban, affluent area from a less privileged sector of the city. There is a noticeable income gap in this area. For example, if we take a look at the schools in the east of Hialeah—like Hialeah High School—and Westland Senior High School, there are clear differences in its infrastructure and the resources available at each school. 

Image taken from Zillow

HISTORY

The history of Hialeah is vibrant and detailed. Its name, Hialeah, comes from a Seminole Indian by the name of Willie Wille after describing the area as “pretty prairie.” This city was settled in 1921 and later incorporated in 1925. This area simultaneously developed to be referred to as “working man´s town” during the time that Miami bloomed, as mentioned in the Miami Herald. (“FlashbackMiami”) A central component of Hialeah’s history revolves around the establishment of the Hialeah Park Racetrack, as well as Hialeah park, putting this suburban town on the map on a national level. The triumph of Fidel Castro’s Communist Revolution in Cuba marked a turning point in this city’s history and influenced its present-day demographic structure. The influx of Cuban refugees to the United from that point on made this area rich in Cuban culture and fundamentally shaped the city’s culture, as well. Today, Hialeah is home to Hispanics of all nationalities, attracted by Spanish being spoken by a great part of its residents.

DEMOGRAPHICS

The chart located below does a great job of assessing the characteristics of Hialeah´s demographics. An interesting detail to note is that such a large Hispanic population lives in this city. This element is consequently reflected in the section discussing the food and businesses unique to Hialeah. Other features worth mentioning include that the median age is 44.3, and its median household income is $33,161. (Datausa)

image Retrieved on https://datausa.io/

Resident Interview: Jose Cereijo

Jose Cereijo graduation picture, Photo by HJ Miami.com.

Jose is a freshman at Florida International University and is studying Mechanical Engineering. His hobbies include horseback riding, riding ATVs, and “mudding.” He graduated from Imater Academy in Hialeah, June of 2020. 

Interview with Jose Cereijo, Resident of the City of Hialeah, Florida:

1.         Where are you from, and how long have you lived in Hialeah?

“My mom and dad are both from Cuba, but I was born in raised in Hialeah and have lived here all 19 years of my life—you can say that I am a native “Hialeahan.” My parents have lived here since they moved here from Cuba; they also have a small business here.”

2.         What is your favorite memory made here in Hialeah??

“I actually have two. During played baseball during my high school experience at Imater Academy, and one of the most memorable moments here would have to be the day we won a game at Babcock Park and celebrated as a team. The other would have to be the day the Miami Heat won the NBA championship, and we ran to 49th street with pots and pans to celebrate such a momentous event!”

3.         What is your favorite and least favorite aspect of living in Hialeah?

“The sense of community in Hialeah, to me, is unmatched. The friends that I have made here have almost become family. For the most part, people are always willing to help here. However, there are some residents that tend to be on the more aggressive side when driving, which can be quite annoying at times.”

LANDMARKS

Hialeah Park. Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.

Hialeah Park Racing and Casino: 2200 East 4 Avenue, Hialeah, Fl 33013.

As mentioned in this project’s history section, Hialeah Park Racing and Casino can certainly be considered a landmark. In recent years this place has not lived up to its past, but it would be a shame not to discuss the fact that Sir Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, described this park as “extraordinary!” (HialeahParkCasino)

Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.

José Martí Monument in his honor, James S. Walker Community Center

For Cubans, José Martí represents a strong figure of liberty, independence, and patriotism. There is a lot to say about Hialeah’s demographic and culture through this monument. While Cubans living in Hialeah might have left behind their island, it is remarkable to see how much of Cuba’s characteristics form part of this city.

Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.

Entry Plaza Okeechobee Park: 481 To to Lo Chee Dr, Hialeah, FL  33010

            This emblematic sign provides a warm welcome to all when entering the city through Okeechobee Road. An interesting fact about this location is that it was featured in the video parody: “Sweet Home Hialeah,” which makes colloquial references to the city and its uniqueness.

GREEN

Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.

Triangle Park: 290 Palm Avenue, Hialeah Fl 33010

Triangle Park may not be as big as the other parks in Hialeah, but it is truly a cute park located in southern Hialeah. During this time of the year, this park is transformed into a festive spot with holiday décor that embodies Hialeah’s Christmas spirit!

Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.

James S. Walker Park: 800 west 29 Street, Hialeah Fl 33012

            Walker Park is known for its baseball field, which is used for the local teams along with the distinct schools located in this area. There is also a basketball court and a community center at this park.

Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.

Amelia Earhart Park: 401 E 65th St, Hialeah, FL  33054

            Park Amelia is located on the northern side of Hialeah, separating it from the city of Opa-Locka. This is the largest park in this city, with a stunning 515 acres. This park offers an 8-mile-long trail ideal for mountain biking, beautiful lakes, an area with farm animals, and many spots that can be used for birthday celebrations and so on. (Miamidadeparks)

TRANSPORTATION

Hialeah features various modes of transportation, which ultimately connects its residents to the rest of Miami. The picture below summarizes the three modes of transportation—the Metrorail, the Miami Dade County Bus, and driving– interestingly so.

Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.

First, the Metro-Rail Station is located in two distinct parts of the city—the Okeechobee station in West Hialeah and the East Hialeah station. This is an important feature since it serves as a mechanism that transports individuals from the suburban section to important sectors such as Downtown Miami where people typically work. There is also parking available at thedistinct stations for commuters that look to avoid traffic or take a green initiative to reduce their carbon footprint.

Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.

            The bus system is also key transportation means since bus stops are located extremely spread out around the city. This facilitates the resident’s ability to take the bus from proximity to their home. Moreover, those that take the metro-rail can also get to the respective station via the bus.

            A great number of Hialeah’s residents get to their destination via driving. While it is true that the existing public transportation is an effective means of transportation, the city of Miami is exceedingly spread out and it could make for a long ride. 

Walking or riding a bicycle is also a mode of transportation in Hialeah. There are many parts of the city where residential sectors are close to grocery stores and restaurants, for example, which make walking or biking feasible. 

            The means of transportation in Hialeah are not perfect. Still, there is reason to believe that the city provides adequate opportunities to use public transportation and the city’s location makes it close to other areas of Miami. As seen in the screenshot below, a trip from Hialeah to Miami International Airport is a 13-minute drive, more or less. Since driving is still a more ideal option given the great distances in Miami, traffic can get pretty unbearable at times. There is an opportunity for the city representatives to work on this matter to alleviate the resident’s stress of traffic, while also helping the environment.

FOOD

Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.

La Fresa Francesa: 59 West 3rd Street, Hialeah, Florida 33010—

This French restaurant is a hidden gem in Hialeah. This charming café is located near Okeechobee Road and offers a varied menu that includes great brunch options. It is a cool spot to enjoy French-style cuisine in an area that features predominately Hispanic and North American dining options. This distinguished restaurant was even part of the exclusive Miami Spice event.

  

Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.
Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.

Fritanga Nicaragüense Hermanos Mendoza: 1358 Palm Ave, Hialeah, FL  33010

Hialeah is home to nearly 12k Nicaraguan American residents, according to the census. (Census) A huge part of their impact on this area is in the form of their famed Fritangas such as this one. What stands out about this location is that it is a family-owned restaurant with exceptional prices for extraordinary food. 

Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.
Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.

Molina´s Ranch Restaurant: 4090 East 8 Avenue, Hialeah, FL 33013

Due to the large Cuban population, it is expected to find many Cuban options. Picking just one Cuban spot was not an easy task, but Molina’s Ranch offers truly special dining experiencing that deems spotlight. A plate worth trying is their Ropa Vieja!

BUSINESSES

Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.
Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.

Hialeah Schwinn Cycle: 4070 E Fourth Ave, Hialeah, FL  33013

Hialeah Schwinn Cycle is a one-of-a-kind small business in Hialeah that has been part of the community for 63 years. The store sells and fixes bikes at a competitive price while offering state-of-the-art customer service. It does not go unnoticed that this small business is fairly busy no matter the time of day; there really is reason to believe that this location is special.

Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.
Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.

¡Ñooo, Qué Barato!: 1198 W 23rd St, Hialeah, FL  33010

            The name of this iconic store really sets it apart from other businesses and just makes one excited to visit. This phrase roughly translates to “dang! It’s so cheap” in English. The neat thing about this store is that it sells items at low prices that make it easier for those who are trying to send things abroad to family and friends.

Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0.

Red White & Blue Thrift Store: 901 E Tenth Ave, Unit 12, Hialeah, FL  33010

            The Red White and Blue Thrift Store is located in the famous Flamingo Plaza in East Hialeah. This business attracts shoppers from all sectors of Miami, given its great range of options and outstanding prices.

SUMMARY

Hialeah has always had a special place in my heart. As the son of Cuban parents, this city served as a connection to my Hispanic heritage, given how challenging it is to visit the island. Hialeah is rich in history, culture and features an extraordinary feeling of community. Unfortunately, individuals are quick to overlook the significance of the suburban sectors of Miami, like Hialeah. This has the potential to spark an interesting dialogue on the importance of suburbs like Hialeah to the city of Miami as a whole. Hialeah offers a nice option for residents of middle and lower-income to live in a safe and central area, perfectly connected to the rest of Miami by its transportation. There are definitely opportunities to make this city better, like finding ways to alleviate the traffic levels and tackling the factors that cause its residents stress, as Jose Cereijo mentioned.

Citations:

https://hialeahparkcasino.com/about/history#main

https://datausa.io/profile/geo/hialeah-fl

https://www.hialeahfl.gov/467/About-Hialeah

http://www.miamidade.gov/parks/amelia-earhart.asp

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