Aleksandra Baryshnikova: Miami as Text

Photo taken of Aleksandra Baryshnikova in 2021. Photo by Komila Kholmatova /CC BY 4.0

Welcome to my page! My name is Aleksandra Baryshnikova, I’m a Junior in Hospitality management at Florida International University. I was born in Saint-Petersburg, Russia. This city has a special place in my heart. The city is full of historic places, palaces, parks, and museums. When I was a kid my family developed a personal love for traveling. Since then I want to visit as many countries as I can. Other than that, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, and my dogs. I love creating photography and arts. I hope “Miami in Miami” class is going to help me to discover Miami and new passions.

Downtown as Text

Photo taken of Aleksandra Baryshnikova in 2021. Photo by Annette Cruz /CC BY 4.0

“Deeper connection ”

By Aleksandra Baryshnikova of FIU at Downtown Miami, 22 January 2021.

I have been living in Miami for three years and I never fell in love with this city. However, from all of the places in Miami, Downtown is on my top list. Even though I have been to Downtown quite a few times and I never paid much attention to buildings and structures. When students and I were walking through the “heart of Miami” ( sometimes running because professor Bailly is a speed) we were amazed by the history of this place. Downtown is full of contrast. Rich and poor everyone wants to take something from this place. 

In one day with professor Bailly I saw more, than in three years by myself in Downtown. The place that gathered my attention the most was a piece of the Berlin Wall. The Wall was built after World War Two. It represents two different views and ideologies of the USSR and the US. Their views were extremely different as well as their governments and they decided to separate Germany. The eastern communists were obviously more conservative and strict in every single way. While western democrats were more open-minded. The piece of the Wall today symbolizes victory and division at the same time. Still, we can see how Russian and the US are different. Even nowadays Russia saved its conservative views while America represents liberty. I think I liked this monument because I feel that this piece is a part of my history. My great-grandparents participated in Word War 2 , they shared their memories with my family. I remember they said that War is the worst thing that could happen in the world.

Another historical place that captured my attention was Freedom tower. While I was listening to the professor’s lecture I felt extremely sentimental for Cuban kids who had to go through immigration alone. The Freedom tower is extremely important in Miami history because it tells the story of the Cuban immigration to America during the Cold War. 

Miami represents diversity. However, we need to remember where this diversity came from and respect the importance of the history of Miami. We should never forget the real history of Miami. Indians were the first people who lived in the area of Downtown more than 15 centuries before white men came and colonialized lands. Tequestas were a Native American tribe and people shouldn’t forget that they died in those lands because of colonialization.   

Everglades as Text

Photo taken of Aleksandra Baryshnikova in 2021. Photo by John William Bailly /CC BY 4.0

“Hidden gems”

By Aleksandra Baryshnikova of FIU at Everglades , 12 February 2021.

Our second journey took place at  Everglades National Park, situated at the junction of North America and the tropical Caribbean climates. Everglades Park is home to a varied flora and fauna. Who would have thought that we would have a chance to go slogging there?

As soon as we stepped into the water we entered a magical portal to wildlife. Few minutes after I looked back,  there was no road, no cars, only a labyrinth of cypress. Everglades opened their doors for us, it was kind to us. Water was clear and still, soft wind accompanied us all the way through our adventure. I felt as we were a group of explorers. Everyone knows that a good group of explorers have a ringleader. In our case, we had two leaders: Ranger Ms. Dillan and Professor Bailly. Our leaders guided us through the labyrinths of cypress and waters.  My classmates and I were brave enough to enter the alligator hole. The students submerged into the water, up until their waist; gathered around and gazed at the mysterious hole. After a while, we all agreed that there were no alligators. Hence we persisted to scramble through trees and water.  Later some people decided to “baptized” themself in Everglades waters. It was quite entertaining.  After lunch, our brave group decided to continue our adventure with Cesar Becerra. Cesar is a Miami historian and a natural-lover explorer. I was thrilled when Cesar said that he could take us to a place that was seen only by two hundred people. We trumped through the woods to look at some of the hidden Everglades finds. It was magical. I tried to capture everything that Cesar was saying. Meanwhile, the atmosphere of “Indiana Jones” mixed with the “Jurassic Park” vibes followed us through the whole day from the moment when we stepped into the water to the moment when we had to sit in our cars and leave the mysterious place. 

“Grateful and pleased”, words that would best describe my feelings. The Everglades flora made my mind and soul dived into a deep state of serenity and complete silence.  

South Beach as Text.

“Unseen faces , Unheard voices.”

By Aleksandra Baryshnikova of FIU at Everglades , 19 February 2021.

To a tourist lacking any knowledge of the Miami landscape, one would never assume that South Beach is an island filled with impassable mangroves and buzzing mosquitoes without a single coconut palm tree. However, archeologists confirmed that South Florida was inhabited by humans around ten thousand years ago. 

Photo taken of Strarlin hotel in 2021. Photo by Aleksandra Baryshnikova /CC BY 4.0

There is a plethora of ignorance when it comes to the history of South Beach. Some people still believe that colonist Carl Fisher found, now called South Beach, during his vacation dated in 1910. Supposedly, later on, Fisher announced that he is buying the land and rebuilding it into a “paradise”. Yet according to Samuel Hensdale Johnson, before Fisher’s railroad, Miami was like a tiny neighborhood where people knew everyone who lived there. When the railroad was done, South Beach became unrecognizable. Later, blacks were banned from there. 

Fisher, Flager, Collins these names are all around the city. Certainly, the above-mentioned people made a great contribution to the development of the city. Although, after blacks basically built the whole town and the time came to share the bounty from the flourishing Miami, Black residents were quickly banished. People blindly admire the city of Miami without realizing that not only white businessmen were involved in the history of South Florida and it needs to be said more.

After all, the history of Miami is not something to be proud of. On the other hand, the architecture of South Beach is magnificent. Ocean Drive is a truly unique place. This exclusive place combines a mix of architectures such as Art Deco, Mediterranean, and Mimo. It is impossible to choose a favorite style. Every single building has a unique detail that leaves an indescribable impression. In fact, Ocean Drive was saved by Barbara Baer Capitman. Thank to her merits and activism, we still have this gorgeous neighborhood. Without her passion, South Beach would look like a run-of-the-mill skyscraper city. 

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