Ashley Diaz was born in Miami, Florida, to Hispanic parents on October 9, 1999. She lived in Miami Gardens, Wynwood, and then Hialeah. She used to be a competitive swimmer and later became a lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor, where she teaches kids as well as adults how to swim. Ashley is currently attending Florida International University and studying computer engineering, hoping to get a Masters in Business Administration after her four years are completed. She is prone to being active and loves to explore the city that she lives so close to. With so much to discover she decided to take the Miami in Miami class offered in the Honors College at FIU, taught by professor John William Bailly.
Wynwood is a small portion of South Florida that is populated with street art and buildings that are on the rise to serve a residential purpose. Surrounding Wynwood is the I-95 North and East, 20th street is on the southern border and the Florida East Coast Railway on its western border. It is only a ten-minute drive from Miami Beach, one of Florida’s main attractions.
Wynwood has a growing reputation for being a prominent player in the world of showcasing diverse arts. However, this was not always the case, and it was quite different from how people see Wynwood today. In 1917 two men named Josiah Chaille and Hugh Anderson bought a plot of farmland that was part of the Pulaski Estate. Chaille, thought of as one of the founders of Wynwood, was on the Miami City Council, and in 1920 they enacted a plan proposed by him to use a new street name and numbering system. As for Anderson, another founder of Wynwood, he became extremely wealthy during a successful high for Miami in the 1920s. Two months after the men took out the first plat in Wynwood in 1917, the City of Miami built a park in the northern part of the area, which was called Wynwood Park. However, as the years went by, the locals ended up just called it Wynwood. This park is now known as Roberto Clemente Park, and can still be visited today.
In the late 1920s, the area of Wynwood had become home to a Coca Cola bottling plant, an Orange Juice bottling plant as well as an American Bakeries Company plant. The presence of these factories created many jobs and supported the citizens of Wynwood to join the working class. In the 1960s, there were a large number of Cuban immigrants that worked in the booming industry of garment. The southern portion of Wynwood or the Miami Fashion District was one of the largest garment districts in the country, according to an article in the Miami News in the 1980s. After the manufacturers left the Wynwood area and the ownership of many companies was changed, there was a massive influx of immigrants of different ethnicities. The shift included but was not limited to Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, Haitians, and Colombians immigrants. By this time, the neighborhood was considered a lower-middle-class, and its unemployment rate was 55%. It had a dramatic increase in drug trafficking during this time as well.
The owners of the American Bakeries Company plant mentioned previously had moved out of the area around the 1980s, leaving their building without a tenant. A group from the South Florida Art Center bought the building. It became one of the most significant working artist’s space in Florida, known as the Bakehouse Art Complex. This perhaps was the beginning of the gentrification of Wynwood. In the early 2000s, a man named Tony Goldman and some of his children began purchasing warehouses. Goldman had his sights set to open up a gallery called the Wynwood Walls, and in late 2009 early 2010, that is precisely what happened.
The demographics of Wynwood have changed so much since it started to develop. According to the areavibes website, the population of Wynwood is approximately 17,923. With 70% of the population being white, just under 20% is black or African American, and Asians and a mix of other races make up the remaining percentage of the population. The average age of people who live there is 35 years old. The median household income distribution of the people in Wynwood is 53,417 dollars.
Interview with a Former Resident:
Karen Ayuso is a former resident of Wynwood, and she lived there over 20 years ago. I spoke to her in order to gain some information and first-hand experience from someone who lived there before. She prefers not to share a picture of herself.
How long ago did you live in Wynwood?
I lived there from 1984 through 1999.
How was it like living there at that time?
There was much violence, and it was a poor neighborhood. Mom and pop shops everywhere, and we always walked to school. I went to Booker T. Washington at the time it was a junior high.
How would you describe the change in Wynwood?
It was drastic, and we had decided not to live there in the future, even though it was changing. I did not think that it would change that much from how I knew it.
How would you describe the drug problem during the time you lived in Wynwood?
Oooof. There was a drug dealer in my house, and across the street, they were my neighbors, this included my family. Most of the drug dealers were connected to Griselda Blanco, and she was the provider for all of the drugs.
How has growing up there affected you as an adult?
It was either you lived or you died. Back then, I just wanted to get out of there as soon as I could. The violence problem has gotten better now, but it has affected me growing up in that neighborhood.
How is it like visiting Wynwood now?
There is a lot of history there, and a significant change for sure. But you couldn’t pay me enough to move there. It is just not my cup of tea, and I lived there in the past when it was not exactly at its prime.
There are quite a few distinctive places that put Wynwood on the map, one of them being the “Wynwood building.” The building is located in the heart of Wynwood and holds information that people often look for when planning their next night out. Although it is often more productive to visit their website for the latest news and events happening in Wynwood, it is still a beautiful work of art. Rafael De Cardenas created the Wynwood Building’s artwork making it a unique building in the presence of other buildings that surround it.
In the early 2000s, there was a large purchase made in the warehouse district in Wynwood by Tony Goldman and his children. They were going to be used to grow the art industry within the neighborhood. However, in late 2009 early 2010, Tony Goldman dreamed of the “The Wynwood Walls,” and it was created during this time as well. It is an outdoor gallery that showcases multiple artists and their work and presents them in a new way. It became a populated place and a landmark to be assured. The Wynwood Walls have had lots of spotlight in the art industry.
Although Wynwood lacks green spaces, there is one park that has lots of history to it and is enjoyed by the local population. Back in 1917, two men bought the land that later became Wynwood Josiah Chaille and Hugh Anderson. The City of Miami created the park, which was called Wynwood Park. Later, when the Puerto Rican population in Wynwood increased, the park was renamed to honor the Puerto Rican baseball player Roberto Clemente. The locals renamed the park two years after the player died in a plane crash in 1972. Amenities to the park include summer camps, after school programs, baseball, basketball, chess table, computers, and a playground. It is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 9 pm and Saturdays and Sundays from sunrise to sunset.
The flatness of Wynwood, as well as its climate, makes it the right candidate for biking. The neighborhood of Wynwood is home to a specific biking tour that has become very popular. Whether you have never been to Wynwood or you have been there many times, the biking tour has become increasingly popular. There is a Bar Crawl and Brewery Tour that has become a new way for people to explore and get around Wynwood.
There is a trolley that runs through Wynwood for free and is accessible to all, and services run from 8 am to 7 pm from weekdays to Saturday. Every 30 to 60 minutes, the trolley will come. It is important to note that the trolley does not go to Miami Beach. In addition to this, on the move it website, one can see the potential routes through bus from places around South Florida to or near Wynwood. Some of these routes require that one walks to Wynwood after arriving at their destination.
In a small corner among all of the residential buildings that are newly forming, one will see a place called Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop. It is known for its excellent and cheap eats. This restaurant, known for its authentic Cuban cuisine, is most famous for its “pan con bistec” sandwich. It is also known by Food Network to have the best cafecito, which is a type of Cuban coffee. The restaurant is not located near the art attractions of the neighborhood; however, it is a great place to stop by for some exceptional Cuban food and at a great value.
Serving as Miami’s first craft production brewery, the Wynwood Brewery was founded by Luis Brignoni and his father, Luis Brignoni Sr., who are both of Puerto Rican heritage. For the individuals who can and want to go for a drink and have a good time, the Wynwood Brewery Company may be a pleasant stop. There are quite a few notable beers to try, and the brewery has days where one could play games in teams making the experience unique and very memorable. Some of their popular beers include “La Rubia” which translates from Spanish to English as the blonde one. Other beers that they have that are a local favorite include Father Fransisco, Laces, and Caribbean Sour.
Coyo Taco has a handful of locations in Florida, and the rest reside in other countries. According to its website, the tortillas are made by hand on-site, and the guacamole “smashed to order.” Being located so close to all of Wynwood’s art attractions, it has become a must-go for fresh Mexican street food. According to the Conde Nast Traveler, it is most known for its dunken carnitas, as well as its quinoa tacos that is a vegetarian dish.
The businesses in Wynwood seem to be endless, with the Design District bringing in dozens of high-end stores, and it also includes restaurants and some museums. The Wynwood Walls surrounds the Design District, and it has a vast number of appeals. Some stores that are in the design district include Bvlgari, Louis Vuitton, Jaeger le Coultre, and Hermes, to name a few. Along with the stores that one can see, there are also splashes of art around the area. One establishment is the De La Cruz Collection, and this gallery is not advertised. Instead, one will most likely read about it online to know of its whereabouts or just hear from word of mouth. The owners are Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz. Originally from Cuba, they decided to formulate this three-story 30,000 square foot gallery of contemporary art.
There is a shop that showcases vintage car models, and its collection changes as does the prices. Anyone looking into just browsing will find themselves in awe by the aesthetic designs of these more antique cars. Walt Grace Vintage located in the art district of Miami, and apart from cars, they also have vintage guitars on display. Bill Goldstein is the founder of Walt Grace Vintage and thought that vintage cars and guitars deserved an art gallery of its own. Goldstein also thought that it should be on the same level of importance as any other works of art.
Overall, Wynwood has tremendously improved its appearance through the works of art and booming businesses that reside there. Locals have come from all walks of life, and its people make up the busy and well-deserved nightlife. There is an unimaginable amount of activities and events that take place in Wynwood, and it seems as though the attention will not veer. Whether an individual has a desire to view South Florida’s mixed culture in the form of art or spend a night out with friends to explore, Wynwood is an exceptional choice.
Wynwood’s history has been all about the continual development, and even recovery from a downfall. Making this neighborhood one visit for a unique experience. Conveniently placed in the urban part of South Florida, near man other attractions, it is a hotspot for many and rightly so. The cuisine is not limited to any specific culture and or lifestyle. There is something for everyone, and there is a wide range of tasty good eats. Wynwood has made itself a place for creators of all kinds to demonstrate their works of art. Its businesses have given life to its vast crowds of people looking for an unusual experience.
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Public Transportation Web Tracker, publictransportation.tsomobile.com/webtracker/webtracker.htm?labels=false&tkn=81E39EC9-D773-447E-BE29-D7F30AB177BC&lan=en.
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“Wynwood & the Design District Travel.” Lonely Planet, 31 July 2019, http://www.lonelyplanet.com/usa/florida/miami/wynwood-the-design-district.
“Wynwood Building.” Wynwood Business Improvement District — Miami, Florida, wynwoodmiami.com/street_art/wynwood-building/.
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