My name is Daniela Arcia, I am a junior in the Honors College at Florida International University. My major is Psychology and I hope to specialize in the field of Pediatric Psychology. I was born in Cuba and moved to Miami at the age of eight. I consider myself lucky to have been raised in Miami. A city known for its cultural diversity and vibrant nature. Every part of Miami reflects small parts of our history which is why I love exploring this city.
Wynwood is a neighborhood in the city of Miami, Florida, United States. It is located North of downtown Miami and East of the Interstate 95 and the Florida East Coast Railway. Its location is of vital importance since supports various industries with its access to storage facilities, seaport, railway and the airport. These storage facilities have recently become the home of many artists and art collections which are now associated with the identity of Wynwood (Wynwood, 2011). Wynwood is an urban city, mostly consisting of warehouses occupied by restaurants, breweries, art collections and clothing stores. Its layout makes it easy for visitors to walk from one place to another and explore much of what it has to offer.
Wynwood officially got its start on January 7th, 1917 when partners, Josiah Chaille and Hugh Anderson, purchased the first plot of land naming the area Wyndwood. This area was originally farmland annexed by the city of Miami in 1913. Before this, it was part of North Miami which was the land North of 14th street. A few months after the partners purchased the land, the city of Miami built a park on the Northern area and it was renamed Wynwood Park (without the “d”) but later became Wynwood. The original boundaries were defined by NW 20th Street to the South, NW 36th Street to the North, the FEC Railroad tracks to the East and NW 7th Avenue to the West. Once the interstate was built in the 1960s, it became Wynwood’s western border (Piket,2014).
In the 1920s Wynwood became home of the garment district, better known today as the Fashion District. The district included both clothing retailers and manufacturers. It was located along NW 5th Avenue, between NW 22nd and NW 29th Streets. Most of the workload in the 1960s consisted of Cubans who began migrating to Miami. By 1980, the fashion district housed 225 businesses and came to be known as the third largest garment district in the country. According to an article by the Miami News, retailers were responsible for about $64 million in sales while manufacturers produced about $125 million in revenue annually. As the community grew, many manufactures moved elsewhere to make room for more retailers. Since most of the workers were Cubans, they were moved to places like Hialeah to be closer to their workforce and avoid the increasing rental rates (Piket, 2014).
Over the years, many businesses in the Fashion District were purchased by South Koreans resulting in an abundant community. As documented by an article in the Miami Herald, every store when making one’s way down Northwest 24th street is owned by Korean Americans. With the success of the Fashion District real estate and rental rates skyrocketed. The article profiles a store owner who bought his building for about one million dollars yet today is worth close to six million. He was one of the first Korean Americans to open a clothing store in the area (Saychuk,2013) . The Fashion District contributed to the economic growth of Wynwood while also bringing in another cultural community to the area.
Little San Juan
Wynwood became known as “Little San Juan” during the mid-1950s after a large influx of Puerto Ricans moved into the area. Their influence resulted in the change and implementation of many public areas. Wynwood Park was renamed Roberto Clemente Park in 1974 after the death of the Puerto Rican baseball player in December of 1972. Robert E Lee Middle School was closed in 1989 and rebuilt into another middle school that opened its doors in 1999 which was named Jose De Diego Middle School. The neighborhood service center located at 2902 NW 2nd Avenue was named Eugenio Maria de Hostos, after Puerto Rican patriot and writer (Piket, 2014). The recession in the early 1970s negatively impacted Wynwood’s economic status resulting in many Puerto Rican residents leaving the area. Unfortunately, what remained of Little San Juan would be subject to gentrification in the years to come.
Wynwood on the rise
Around the middle 2000s Goldman Properties took an interest in Wynwood. Owner, Tony Goldman had been instrumental in the revival of SoHo and South Beach converting them into thriving “artsy” neighborhoods (Piket, 2014). Tony, along with his son and daughter started buying land in Wynwood and in 2009 opened Wynwood Walls. These murals are recognized all over the world today and attract a lot of tourists, as does the rest of Wynwood’s colorful canvas.
Wynwood’s population is estimated to be 17,923, as documented by Area-vibes. According to the 2018 American Community Survey, fifty-one percent (51%) of the population is female and forty-nine (49%) is male. The ethnic composition consists of seventy percent White (70.55%), nineteen percent African American (19.11%) and one percent Asian (1.28%). The median age of people in Wynwood is 37 years old while the average household income was $39,564.15.
Interview with Mikayla: Wynwood employee
Mikayla is 22, originally from New Smyrna Beach, FL but currently lives in Miami. She worked in the Fashion District for over a year before her store closed down.
Daniela: Where did you work in Wynwood?
Mikayla: I worked at a collaboration store, PUMA SELECT, an actual Puma store that only sold the latest puma collaborations and changed the entire store every two weeks. They closed down after 1 year and some change.
Daniela: Do you like Wynwood?
Mikayla: I like Wynwood as a place to work because everybody there is so tight knit, you meet people around you fairly easily and most of the time people from other shops become your best customers!
Daniela: What is your favorite thing about it?
Mikayla: If we’re being honest, I’m vegan so it was the easy access to all the vegan spots they have to eat.
Daniela: What is your least favorite aspect of the city?
Mikayla: I guess I would say the littering, everyone could do a better job on cleaning up the streets, but nobody seems to take an initiative and do it (myself included).
Daniela : If there’s anything you could change about the city what would it be?
Mikayla: Stop expanding it, I feel we already take up so much of what used to be a historic district with new shops and new concepts that the old ones die so fast.
There are several ways to get to Wynwood, in my case, the few times I’ve visited I went in my own car and paid for parking through the Pay by Phone app. These have become very popular in areas like Coral Gables and Miami Beach. There are also private spaces where you can park but sometimes the owners tend to over charge so proceed with caution. The Metrobus and free trolley service throughout the area at Metro-mover’s School Board station to the south and the Metrorail at 36th Street and NW 12th Avenue seem like the best option. The city has also implemented the Citi Bike Miami, a solar-powered bike rental system which is a great way to move around the area, they have four stations in Wynwood. I’ll definitely be visiting one of these the next time I’m there!
Now to my favorite part; food! Wynwood has become the home of many trendy restaurants, bakeries and markets. First up, is Ooh Raw; known for its Hawaiian style acai, and poke bowls. This is one of my favorite places in the area, they’re very creative with their plating, you can choose to have your poke or acai served in a pineapple (like the picture), coconut or watermelon. It has a relaxed and casual atmosphere, certainly gives off California vibes. This is also the perfect spot to visit after a workout as they have many healthy options.
Another place to visit while in the area, especially if you have a sweet tooth like me, is The Salty Donut. The donuts are so soft and fluffy, not to mention they’re very creative with their flavors. I recommend the bacon maple donut; I know it may sound like a weird combination, but it tastes amazing! Lastly, if you’re in the mood for ice cream, Cielito gourmet paletas is the place to go to. They have an extensive number of flavors, from watermelon to cookie dough, and even more toppings to pick from. Paletas is the Spanish word for popsicle, although these are a little different than your average popsicle. There are many more places worth mentioning in Wynwood, but these are a few of my favorite ones!
The Wynwood Walls
The walls opened in 2009 after Tony Goldman took an interest in the area and began purchasing buildings. His goal was to create a space using graffiti and street art where people could come and explore. He believed graffiti and street art were not given the respect they deserved and wanted to give this movement more attention. Since then, Wynwood Walls has hosted over 50 artists from 16 different countries covering roughly 80,000 square feet of walls. More importantly, the collaboration of all these artists gave recognition to graffiti and street art through the many pieces showcased. It also helped Wynwood’s economic growth through the tourism they generated.
The Locust Projects
This gallery opened in 1998 in an abandoned warehouse in Wynwood. Today, it serves as a non-profit exhibition space encouraging artist to create unconventional installations. It provides artist with space and resources to nurture their craft without the limitations of traditional art institutions. They also provide artists with grants and host summer programs for teens as a way of supporting Miami’s art community. There is no better place for this gallery than Wynwood as it emphasizes the importance of creative freedom and the unconventional.
Roberto Clemente Park
Located on the Northern area, this park is pretty much the only green space in Wynwood. The park was originally opened by the city of Miami and named Wynwood Park. However, its current name came about in the 1970s with the influence of the Puerto Rican community that migrated to the area. It operates every day of the week, although times vary. It includes a baseball field, basketball courts, a playground and a community center. It hosts several community programs such as summer camps, afterschool programs, baseball and basketball leagues and senior citizens arts and crafts (Roberto Clemente Park).
Wynwood Brewing Co.
This is Miami’s first craft production brewery! It was founded by Luis Brignoni and his father Luis “pops” Brignoni Sr drawing inspiration from Wynwood’s vibrant scene to create one of a kind brews all year round. The Wynwood Brewing Co. is located in the Wynwood Art district just North of Downtown Miami. This area formerly contained warehouses of the garment district and a Puerto Rican neighborhood. When the garment factories left the area, the warehouses became filled with graffiti that eventually turned into Wynwood’s canvas. The Brewing Co. celebrates this expression of arts and culture by contributing their own craft to the area. In 2014, their beer Pop’s Porter won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival Competition.
“We are truly passionate about our craft, our beer, in the same way the artists in our neighborhood take pride in their work.”Wynwood Brewing Co.
Nomad Tribe – Fashion + Social Impact
If ever in the area and need to get some shopping done, Wynwood has some of the best boutiques in town. Nomad Tribe is particularly unique since it is sourced by artisans from all over Latin America. Their work includes comfortable feel good clothing, shoes and accessories for both women and men. It is a brand based on sustainability which influences the standards for each item they create. They also house different designers from around the world each with the same message. They are focused on giving back to global communities, for example, the textiles used come from Peru each with premium natural fibers and are incorporated in each of the garments representing their commitment to the brand. Overall, it encourages individuals to be cognizant of what they buy as it can have an impact on communities across the world.
The Margulies Warehouse
The Margulies Warehouse is a nonprofit institution located in the Wynwood Art District. The 50,000 square foot warehouse is home to seasonal exhibitions from the Margulies Contemporary Art Collection. The growing collection is composed of photography, videos, installation works and sculptures. The Warehouse also hosts educational programs, special exhibitions and an international loan program. It is open to the public from October through April welcoming students and visitors from all parts of the world.
Overall, Wynwood is a place one can’t miss out on visiting. Like any neighborhood it has its drawbacks, one being the lack of greenspace. Roberto Clemente is the only park in the area which has been there since 1917. While Wynwood is an urban neighborhood its sad to see that no new plans for more greenspace have been executed. The neighborhood is home to many delicious restaurants and unique stores but watch out if you’re on a budget. Pricing in these types of places tend to be a little over the top. However, the Wynwood Walls which have no cost to visit and other museums are more considerate with their rates, so it evens out.
Wynwood contributes to the identity of Miami yet manages to stand out all on its own. This urban neighborhood has accomplished great things and has overcome many obstacles since its foundation. Naturally, the same can be said for many places around the world yet there are few that manage to turn adversity into a beautiful canvas. This canvas not only incorporates some incredible works of art but a variety of cultures. It truly embraces the identity of Miami; widely known as a cultural melting pot. Each of these cultures have left their mark in Wynwood to create a neighborhood that people from all over can love and relate to.
Areavibes. “Wynwood, Miami, FL Demographics.” Wynwood, FL Population & Demographics, http://www.areavibes.com/miami-fl/wynwood/demographics/.
Miami News: “The Fashion District” on October 27, 1980.
Piket, Casey. “History of Wynwood Miami.” Miami History Home, 27 Aug. 2014, miami-history.com/history-of-wynwood-miami/.
“Roberto Clemente Park.” Parks & Recreation – Roberto Clemente Park, archive.miamigov.com/parks/park_robertoclemente.html.
Savchuk, Katia. “Fashion District Thrives in Wynwood.” Miamiherald, Miami Herald, 16 Oct. 2013, http://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/article1956377.html.
US Census Bureau. “2018 American Community Survey Data Wheel.” The United States Census Bureau, 26 Sept. 2019, http://www.census.gov/library/visualizations/interactive/2018-acs-data-wheel.html.
“Wynwood” (2011). Miami Dade County. Paper 109 http://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/mpo_dade/109.