Lemuel Fernandez: Miami As Text

Photo by Annette Cruz/ CC by 4.0

Hi! My name is Lemuel Fernandez, and I am a Junior at Florida International University studying Biological Sciences. I was born in Cuba but raised in Miami.  My goal in life is to become a Physician Assistant and give back to a community that has given me so much. Through Finding Miami, I hope further to understand the history of this extremely diverse city in order to adequately provide quality healthcare to its residents in the future.

Downtown as Text

Photo by Lemuel Fernandez/ CC by 4.0

“More than Meets the Eye”

By Lemuel Fernandez of FIU at Downtown Miami, 22 January 2021.

For many people, when they hear the word Miami they automatically think about the beach, spring break, unpredictable weather patterns, and luxury. Few people actually take the time to learn the history of this cultural melting pot, to walk through its streets and experience the real Miami. Being nicknamed “the mother of Miami”, Julia Tuttle was one of the biggest advocates for the incorporation of the City of Miami. Tuttle was the one that got Henry Flagler to extend his railroad down to Miami which catalyzed the development of Miami from a desolate area to the major city that it is today. The diversity and versatility of Miami can be seen in the Plantation Slave Quarters found in Lummus Park. Termed the “Long Building”, it served as slave quarters, army barracks, a post office, a courthouse, and a tea room/social club.

As a common theme throughout the United States, Miami features a past which has been “white washed”. Unknown to most, Henry Flagler did not just bring a railroad to Miami. Once he successfully got the city to be incorporated, largely thanks to his male employees, Flagler segregated his African American employees to “Colored Town”, what is now known as Overtown. Part of Miami`s problematic past also involves the Tequesta people. What is now known as the “Miami Circle” was previously known as the hub of their city. This is where they congregated on a daily basis and where they first saw Ponce De Leon sail in through Biscayne Bay, we now use it as a dog park. On the north side of the Miami River, we constructed a hotel where the Tequesta used to bury their loved ones. By keeping all of this history hidden, we are bound to relive it. History is meant for us to learn from our mistakes so that they do not happen again.

Everglades As Text

Photo by Lemuel Fernandez/ CC by 4.0

“Unplugged”

By Lemuel Fernandez of FIU at Everglades National Park, 05 February, 2021

Although it is in their own backyards, most Miami residents have never been to Everglades National Park. Personally, after living here for over 15 years I have only visited the national park three times. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, Everglades National Parks offers countless activities to spend your day interacting with nature and appreciating the natural world. Slough Slogging in particular allows you to walk through the River of Grass and experience something that not many people do in their lifetime. When you first begin slogging, you quickly notice that the water is colder than you expect. Your attention then shifts to the fact that while the water is clear, it is murky in the path that you are walking. This may terrify you because at first you do not know if you are stepping on a log or on a snake. However, as you spend more time in the water, you become more comfortable moving around as you realize that animals really do not want to be near humans and just want to be left alone. One piece of information that I will share with you based on personal experience, try walking as close as possible to the tree trunks as the farther you are from the trees, the deeper the water is.

One of the more popular trails in the national park is the Anhinga Trail. The trail allows you to walk through a sawgrass marsh in wish you can see alligators, turtles, and many different types of birds. The trail starts at the Royal Palm Visitor Center and is a little under 1 mile long. Fun fact, the trail actually sits on what was the main road of the Royal Palm State Park. Before Everglades National Park and Royal Park State Park, the land was owned by Henry Flagler in hopes of building his railroad through the Everglades and out to Cape Sable. Once people became aware of the countless benefits that the natural ecosystem of the Everglades provides the people of Miami, the land was given to the government for the inception of Royal Palm State Park after push from Mary Mann Jennings and the Florida Federation of Women’s club. Just another example of how women shaped Miami and its surroundings into what it is today.

South Beach As Text

Photo by Lemuel Fernandez/ CC by 4.0

“Star-Studded”

By Lemuel Fernandez of FIU at South Beach, 19 February, 2021

Miami Beach has become one of the most sought-after vacations for people all around the world. When standing at South Point Pier and looking at down the beach, it is impossible to imagine how this land used to be full of mangroves and largely uninhabited. The Tequesta tribe would sail out to the island to escape the mosquitos in the mainland but kept they kept their primary residence at the mouth of the Miami River. While on his first trip to Miami Beach in 1910, Carl G. Fisher fell in love with the island and recognized its potential. He dreamed of making it a perfect vacation destination for his friends in the automobile industry.

With the development of South Beach came segregation. In order to increase the population of the now City of Miami Beach, Fisher worked to attract Jews to live on the island. The reason for this is because they were not black, and they had money to spend. Jews were only allowed to reside south of fifth street and many businesses used “Gentiles Clientele Only” in their marketing to attract white customers and assure them that no Jews would be there. Fifth street became the main road into south beach, serving as a physical divide between the white and Jewish population living on the island.

As a common theme throughout South Florida, Miami Beach would not be what it is today without women. Barbra Baer Capitman, founder of the Miami Design Preservation League, fought for the preservation of the historic Art Deco district and was a fierce activist in her community. Barbra began to campaign for the preservation of Art Deco district as many investors began to buy the long-neglected buildings and constructing buildings that had nothing to do with the history of Miami Beach. Barbra believed that if we did not protect those buildings, then the true history of Miami Beach would be lost. Because of her, Miami Beach has become one of the biggest travel destinations in the world as many tourists travel from all over the world to see the Art Deco buildings that Barbra fought so hard to protect. Yet again another example of how women (badass women as Professor Bailly says) shaped Miami into what it is today.

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