Hey readers, I am Balazs Kornis a sophomore finance major at Florida International University. I am planning on becoming an Investment Banker after graduating. I was born and raised in Hungary, in 2018 I moved to Maine to finish my high-school studies in the United States. I came to Miami 1,5 years ago to study at FIU and I immediately became fascinated with the cities diverse culture, a big difference from Maine. Once I saw the class on instagram stories of people it immediately caught my interest. Additionally I love traveling and trying the different types of foods, which in Miami there is no shortage of. I am also really interested in aviation and I would like to get my private pilot license and take a look at Miami form above.
Downtown as Text
“Downtown as a History Lesson”
By Balazs Kornis of Florida International University at Downtown, 22 January 2021.
Downtown Miami today is a busy places home to many business, high-rise buildings, government building and cultural places. However next to all of this are buildings, monuments, statues and even the remnants of a structure used for rituals by the original inhabitants of the Miami area.
Before the Spanish led by Ponce De Leon came to Miami in 1513, it was inhabited by the Tequestas who we know very little about, since most of them got wiped out by small pox they caught from the settlers. However they did leave somethings behinds. Most notably the Miami circle which is a remenats of a ritual place, still used by other Native American tribes today. They also left burial mounds along the mouth of the Miami River which today has been replaced with high-rise building during the construction of which many interesting archeological items got discovered.
Second big change in Miamis history happened after the United states moved into Florida and chased the Seminoles and Miccosukee into the Everglades. A man named William English brought his slaves to the Miami area, one of their houses can be still seen today in Lummus Park. Next to this house is the house William Wagner who came to Miami to be able to live with his Creole wife. Another important person in this time period was Julia Tuttle first of many important women in the history of the city. She and Mary Brickell another woman whose mausoleum is locates in Brickell park, persuaded Henry Flagler to bring the railroad down to Miami by sending him a box of fresh oranges after all the citrus up north perished in a freeze. This eventually led to the incorporation of the City of Miami and the creation of Overtown where they segregated the Bahamians who voted for incorporation. Flagler also built roads and canals facilitating the expansion of Miami westward. There is a statue of him commemorating his achievements in-front of the courthouse located in Downtown.
Third big change to downtown came in 1959 when Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba, which led to mass immigration from Cuba to Miami, to process the Cuban immigrants the Freedom tower was used this tower was built after a church in Sevilla Spain. This tower today represents freedom and hope to the Cubans in Miami. Next to the tower is a statue of a boy carrying a house on his back while walking on crutches, representing the children who their parents sent to Miami alone in-order for them to have a better life. Today the tower is used as museum by Miami-Dade College. Since then many other hispanics came to Miami and made Miami become a vibrant melting pot of cultures
“City of Miami.” City of Miami – Official Website, archive.miamigov.com/home/history.html. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.
Everglades as Text
“The Nature in our Backyard”
By Balazs Kornis of Florida International University at Everglades, 5 February 2021.
I have only lived in Miami for one and half years, before coming here I have heard about the Everglades, but in my mind it was just a barren swamp full of alligators. Right before I landed here in Miami for the first time the plane circled out to west allowing me to see how close the city the swamp really, I could see the lights of the city and then they just stopped there were no lights beyond a line just nature. At that moment I realized how the Everglades is right in Miami’s backyard.
I have went on an airboat tour before in Sawgrass, and drove on the roads crossing the Everglades even at night to listen to the Alligators, but it always felt like I was outside of nature just observing it from far away. When we stepped into the water on our tour at the double Cypress bowl, after the initial shock and confusion, I realized I truly was in nature. This nature exists independently from us besides the occasional sounds of a car driving by it felt like I was in a completely different place. I have never realized how many Cypress trees are there along with all the different kinds of vegetation and the many-many bird species. It was very interesting to listen to Ranger Dylan about all the species of flora and fauna, and also the challenges the Everglades faces in terms of pollution, global warming and Invasive species.
I was a bit disappointed over the lack of animals we saw on our adventure by I understood the unusually wet ending of the wet-season prolonged the higher water levels allowing the animals to spread out more. However seeing the cypress forest with all the smaller types of vegetation like the ferns growing on the trees, it was also interesting to see how the forest just ended and switched into a grassland. Even though we did not see animals besides birds and a couple of small fishes, we knew they were there the Alligator hole was clear evidence there were Alligators nearby. These Alligator holes are place were trees cannot grow because of the Alligators digging into the soil destroying the roots of tress and creating a deeper hole. Near it was also a island like structure which according the professor is where all the snakes live like the venomous Eastern Diamondback and Water Moccasin snakes along with the non venomous invasive Burmese Pythons which almost completely wiped out small mammals in South Florida. At the end of our slough slog we just existed out to the road which seeming just popped out of nowhere.
After our slog we headed to Anhinga Trail where we saw plenty of animals including multiple American Alligators sunbathing right next to the trail with parts of their body poking through the fence allowing us to come super-close to them presenting excellent photo opportunities. In the water there were plenty of waterlilies with birds diving down for fish in-between them presenting a different place compared to the cypress bowl where our slog took place. It was hard to comprehend how diverse the Everglades after it being just a barren swamp in my mind. Further along the trails boardwalk part we saw the Anhinga birds the namesake of the trail, sitting on top of a little structure, the namesake of the trail.
Returning home on the busy turnpike it was hard to comprehend how amazing this unforgettable experience was and how sharp the contrast is between the Everglades and the busy city. I would like to thank Professor Bailey and Ranger Dylan for this amazing opportunity.
South Beach as Text
“Art Deco in Paradise”
By Balazs Kornis of Florida International University at South Beach, February 19 2021.
Living in Miami we take all the art deco buildings in Miami Beach for granted, while others travel here just to see them. I personally like more modern styles of architecture using a lot of glass, however my parents when they visited here were very impressed by it. Many other travelers share their interest in the Art Deco buildings at South beach.
Art Deco is one of the three main architecture styles in Miami Beach, next to Mediterranean revival and Miami Modernist also known as MiMo. It came to the United States and Miami in the 1930s after it was first demonstrated at an expo in Paris. (Encyclopedia Britannica) Unlike other styles like Mediterranean Revival, Art Deco does not try to be like something old but wants to be futuristic looking like a spaceship from early science fiction. Some of the characteristics of Art Deco are clean often rounded shapes, symmetric shapes, two dimensional statues and a lot of lines to make our eyes move around making the space fill bigger than it is. These lines are often also on the terrazzo flooring prominent in Miami beach. Even though the buildings are modern they sometimes use elements from older architecture like ziggurat like rooftops.
The modernism in the buildings can be seen in some of them resembling a radio or jukebox from the time. A good example of this is the Barbizon. Where the rounded shape and the two vertical lines in the middle give it a very futuristic style. Another thing which can be seen on the building is the so-called eyebrows between the floors which are supposed to provide shade to the windows. As many other buildings it has 3 floors, which is because the building code required an elevator for more than 3 floors, and they were very expensive at the time causing most buildings to be only 3 floors. First thing everyone notices at Miami Beach is the ocean which got incorporated in some of the building like the Colony Hotel. The rounded edges somewhat resemble a ship. It has a light blue coloring with darker blue accents, some of which just below the roof resemble a wave patter. The letters on the building have neon lights on the giving it a vibrant glow at night. Neon was a very popular technology back in the 30s. Another great example of Art Deco is the Break Water hotel where the neon was not spared, which we unfortunately were not able to see at night. The building uses a large number of lines showing making our eyes look around and a central tower making us look up another common theme on Art Deco buildings. A bit of an outlier building is the Clevelander Hotel which is an asymmetric L shape with a ground level pool, functioning as a party spot.
Miami beach’s word famous Art Deco architecture is something we should treasure and preserve by utilizing the building and renovating them to satisfy modern demands without destroying the architecture especially on the outside. Someone who has done a lot to preserve the buildings is Barbara Baer Caritman. The City of Miami Beach should honor her and the buildings legacy and work on preserving and keeping Miami beach as a cultural destination.
Encyclopedia Britannica. “Art Deco.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 2 Feb. 2021, http://www.britannica.com/art/Art-Deco.