Linabel Armas: Homestead 2021

B I O G R A P H Y

Photo by Hugo Perez (CC by 4.0)

Greetings! My name is Linabel Armas Alduncin and I am currently a junior in the Honors College at Florida International University. I am majoring in Political Science and International Relations with the goal to attend Law School after I graduate. I was born and raised in Cienfuegos, Cuba and moved to Miami, FL about six and a half years ago. As I am still adapting to the city, this class and project will allow me the opportunity to get to know Miami a little better.

G E O G R A P H Y

Map of Homestead, FL

Photo retrieved from Google Maps

Homestead, FL is located in Miami-Dade County. As shown in the map above, it extends from Biscayne National Park to the east and Everglades National Park to the west. The city is located about 25-30 miles northwest from Key Largo and about 30 miles from southwest of Miami. In the recent years Homestead has become a major agricultural area in Miami. It is very common to come across acres of crops and nurseries.

According to the U.S Census Bureau, Homestead has a total of 14.4 square miles (37 km2)- 14.3 square miles (37 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it is water. The city is located near the end of the Florida Turnpike South, north of Florida City; creating the known “Homestead-Florida City area” (U.S Census Bureau: Gazetteer Files)

H I S T O R Y

Looking at Homestead A.F.B. hospital buildings from the intersection of roads “K” and “L” – Homestead, Florida. 1942. ( Photo retrieved from State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.)

Homestead was established in 1913 and became the second oldest city in Miami- Dade County after City of Miami. The city played an essential role in Henry Flagler’s railroad, which helped the development of South Florida.

The name of the city came after construction workers from the Florida East Coast Railway  were extending the railroad to Key West. “The rail line was passing through an area opened up for homesteading”, because the construction facility at the end of the line didn’t have an assigned name, supplies for the workers were sent to “Homestead Country”, later shorten when engineers were mapping the city. (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2011)

D E M O G R A P H I C S

As per the U. S Census Bureau:

As of 2019, Homestead, Florida estimated a population of sixty nine thousand five hundred and twenty three individuals (69, 523). Around fifty percent (50%) of the population were female, and the other belonging half were identified as male. In addition, the ethnic composition of Homestead’s population is composed of around sixty seven percent (67%) of Hispanic or Latinos, twenty one percent (21%) of African Americans, and twelve percent (12%) of white (not including Hispanics or Latinos). Moreover, the median household income is around forty seven thousand five hundred and eight dollars ($47, 508). However, there is about a twenty four percent (24%) of individuals in poverty. (U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts).

Because the city is still growing its populations. Home mortgages and rent prices are not as expensive as in other parts of Miami, which is why many individuals have been purchasing and renting more houses here in the past years. Below is a comparison between a home for sale in Homestead (second picture) and home in Tamiami. As per the pictures, the second home located in Homestead offers a bigger lot size (0.23 acres) and the rounded mortgage is also lower ($1,786). Compared to the Tamiami home which also has the same price, but has barely any lot size.

Screenshots taken from Realtor.com

Biography of Julio Cesar (Current Homestead resident)

Selfie by Julio Armas (CC by 4.0)

Julio Cesar Armas Cortes was born and raised in Cienfuegos, Cuba. At the age of 28 he decided to move to Miami since the rest of his family was already living here. Throughout the years he has lived in different cities of Miami but recently he moved to Homestead, FL with his wife. He is currently 33 years old, married, and awaiting his first child.

Julio Cesar’s thoughts on Homestead, FL

Linabel: So how do you like Homestead so far?

Julio: I really like Homestead. It is very close to my pregnant wife’s job which is my main concern at the moment and it has all I need near by: food markets, shopping malls, etc..

Linabel: What is your least favorite thing about the city?

Julio: Honestly, the distance from my family’s home, all my family lives in Tamiami or Hialeah so it is a long drive to see them every week.

Linabel: Would you change anything from Homestead?

Julio: No, I honestly think that Homestead is a great growing city.

Linabel: Thank you for the interview!

As an upcoming parent Julio thinks the city is a great place for his growing family ;however, the distance to the rest of his family members is a great outlier for him.-

L A N D M A R K S

Homestead Historic Town Hall Museum

Photo retrieved from City of Homestead’s website

With over 125 photos, artifacts, and more; Homestead Historic Town Hall Museum holds great amounts of history about South Florida. Built in 1917, the Town Hall was the first municipal building in the city of Homestead. (Ruth L. Campbell, Museum Director and Curator) The building has two floors. The first level was first built to accommodate a jail cell, the Police Chief’s office, and the fire department. The second level was designed to have a court room in the Council’s Chambers and other different municipal offices.

The office later became the City Hall until 1975 when the City Hall was transfer somewhere else. Later plans wanted to demolish the historical building but Homestead advocates where able to stop such thing. Now the building serves as a museum free to the public.

Florida Pioneer Museum

Photos by Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

The Florida Pioneer Museum is currently closed due to COVID-19 regulations. The museum was founded in 1962 when Dr. Herbert S. Zim and a group of women donated different Indian artifacts and tools. In addition, the facility is located in the old Homestead Florida East Coast Railroad station agent’s home that was built in 1904. In 1964, the house was moved to land that was donated by Henry and Jackie Brooker. (Florida Pioneer Museum: About us) Similar to the Homestead Historic Town Hall Museum , the Florida East Coast Railway tried to demolish the museum but a group of residents advocated and raised money to stop such thing. Although the museum is currently closed due to COVID, this place holds great amount of history about not only Homestead but South Florida overall.

Coral Castle Museum & Garden

Photo retrieved from Google taken by Lana Kapaeva (CC by 4.0)

Coral Castle Museum & Garden was a museum created on Ed Leedskalnin’s Coral Castle. Originally the museum was called “Rock Gate Park” and is currently closed due to COVID-19 regulations. Ed Leedskalnin created such masterpiece because he wanted to showcase his love to the love of his life, Agnes Scuffs. She was ten years younger that Mr. Leedskalnin who was twenty six years old at the time. He felt in love with her and arranged a wedding. Ms. Scuffs cancelled the wedding a day before, leaving Leedskalnin heartbroken. Since then he started sculpting and carving coral rocks. Since no one ever saw him move the coral rocks (which are very heavy) it is believed that he had some type of supernatural power. Overall, this place showcases a beautiful story worth visiting the museum for. (Coral Castle Museum: Who’s Ed?)

G R E E N

The city of Homestead is full of green. When driving to it and while going through its streets, on both sides of the road Homestead offers you great views and pure air due to its greenery.

Losner Park

Photo by Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

Losner Park is currently under renovation and its completely closed. The park is located in the middle of downtown Homestead. From a quick sight it seems like the most centric park around the area. The park counts with an outdoor stage where before COVID-19 they hosted festivals and concerts.

The ongoing renovation promises a durable park where the public enjoys time in the outdoors. The park will feature a new restaurant, updated stage and huge water fountain.

Homestead Bayfront Park

Photo by Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

Homestead Bayfront Park is the perfect spot to go if you are a Homestead resident and dont want to drive all the way to Miami Beach to get into the water. Aside from having a Marine, the park has a small beach for anyone who wants to visit. In addition it has a restaurant on the second floor of the facility that lets you enjoy the water view aside from enjoying some delicious seafood.

Audubon Park

Photo retrieved from City of Homestead’s website

Audubon Park is a small community park close to schools and residential homes. It is the ideal place to go with kids in the afternoon to have some family time with a beautiful lake view. It was very hard for me to find the entrance and parking which is why I believe it is made for residents in the area rather than for visitors.

T R A N S P O R T A T I O N

Photo retrieved from National Park Service

Americans today mostly drive alone meaning they have a car and/ or dont use public transportation. According to Data USA in 2017, approximately sixty seven percent (67%) of the population in Homestead drove alone, eighteen percent (18%) carpooled, and seven percent (7%) used public transit. (Data USA, 2017: Homestead, FL).  

The percentage amount that uses public transportation has to walk or wait a lot. For starters they have a trolley completely free that transports individuals to the National Parks around the area; however, due to the current global pandemic, this service has stopped until 2022. In addition, Miami Dade Transit also offers different metrobus options to get to the Florida City/ Homestead area, along with different bus routes to Homestead. This transportation is mainly used if an individual needs to go out of the city. Although the commute time is longer than if having a car it is possible to get to the desired location without one. Moreover, to stay around the city many walk instead of taking their cars or the bus.

The sixty seven percent (67%) of residents who own/ drive a car in Homestead most commonly dont work in the city. Their commute time ranges from 35-40 mins. However, such time can be shorten if taking the Florida Turnpike, or avoiding traffic hours in main roads like US 1 and Krome Ave.

F O O D

Homestead has very diverse culture. As stated before, a great population of Homestead’s residents are Hispanic or Latino, African American, and white. Each culture’s typical foods are showcased in different restaurants throughout the city.

La Cruzada Taqueria

Photo by Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

La Cruzada Taqueria is a Mexican Restaurant that lets you enjoy typical Mexican cuisine. The place is kind of small and but when you come in you feel like you just walked into Mexico. As a Mexican food lover, I couldn’t had agree more with all of the Yelp reviews: their tacos al pastor were delicious. Unlike many restaurants in Homestead, they not only offer breakfast, but they also offer vegetarian options. This small Mexican restaurant has it all!

 Mamma Mia Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria

Photo by Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

Mamma Mia Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria is a small chain family restaurant that transports you back to Italy with one bite. The family has three restaurants in total counting their Homestead location. They have been able to grow their business throughout the years. According to Yelp reviews, their best dishes include: their garlic rolls and “white” pizza. They also have great lunch specials from Monday through Friday. I went during their lunch and decided to get the lunch special lasagna, which came with a side of Caesar salad and garlic rolls. I can safely say that this restaurant has become my favorite Italian restaurant in Miami.

Yardie Spice

Photo by Edna G. (Retrieved from Yelp)

Yardie Spice is a Jamaican and Haitian restaurant centrally located on Krome Ave. The restaurant is a small business created by a couple. As per the owner’s words, him and his wife both studied management and after years of working for others they decided to open their small restaurant. (Jean Paul on Yelp)

It highlights the spicy food of the Caribbean islands. The small business aside from having amazing food has even better prices. They have “Combo” options that range approximately around the $10. The restaurant has a small menu, however, it customers dont care much about it. According to Yelp, Yardie Spice’s customers love the Legume dish and red snapper with polenta plate because it reminds them of Haiti.

B U S I N E S S E S

When going to Homestead through Krome Ave, from both sides of the road you can see endless nurseries, food trucks, and restaurants. Homestead has an immense amount of business in its city mainly focus on agriculture, food markets, and farms.

Knaus Berry Farm

Photo by Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

Knaus Berry Farm is a very known and popular place by the Miami-Dade County community. The food market is famous for its delicious and unique cinnamon rolls- one bite transports you to heaven. In addition, they have other different desserts like pies, and also have a variety of dinner rolls ( my personal favorite are the cheese and herbs) Knaus Berry Farm is also known for letting individuals picked their own fruits and vegetables during season. A great place to visit with family!

Robert Is Here Fruit Stand and Farm

Photo by Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

Just like Knaus Berry Farm, Robert is Here is another well known place by the Miami residents. The food market has a great variety of “exotic” oils, honeys, and salad dressing only found there. It also serves delicious shakes that you can create with their fruits. In addition, the place has a small ranch with different animals like chickens, horses, and more. This is yet another family friendly facility in Homestead!

Bright Therapy Services, Inc.

Photo by Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

I decided to chose Bright Therapy Services, Inc. because it is one of Homestead businesses close to my heart. In this location, behavior technicians and analysts work with who have autism and other type of disabilities by helping them be independent in life. The kids who range from 1-15 years old learn how to tie their shoes, how to properly go to the bathroom, and more. The facility is centrally located in Homestead near Krome Ave and gives the opportunity to transport the kids from their schools to the facility. To me this place is one of the best businesses in the City of Homestead since it helps kids with disabilities be the greatest version of themselves.

S U M M A R Y

Pictures by Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

Overall, the City of Homestead is a beautiful historical and agricultural city growing its population. The city’s residents are mainly Hispanics, African American, and whites making the culture and traditions of the city be interestingly mixed. The city definitely goes out of the stereotypes about what Miami is like.

Because the city’s base is agriculture may of its citizens work in plantations, farms, fruit picking businesses, and more. Many of these employees are illegal immigrants who get paid less than minimal salary but work to be able to maintain their families and risk getting deported. As I was driving next to a crop field, I saw multiple busses next to a lot of workers who seemed from Latin America. Such busses transport the workers from a meeting point to the crop field early in the morning and take them back later at night. Because of the conditions that this workers are treated under, many non-profit organizations have been focusing on advocating for these immigrants.

On the other hand, the city of Homestead has been working hard to renovate the city and “make it look nice”. In the recent years, the city has been wanting to attract more residents which is why they have been renovation sections of the city like Losner Park, Downton Homestead, and have been building houses on empty lots.

Leaving behind the stereotypes of a crowded Miami, Homestead is becoming my favorite city. Although it is a little far from everything else, the city is beautiful, full of small businesses, farms, and more. I definitely loved visiting and getting to know the city a little better, I will definitely be back to show my friends and family around.

C I T A T I O N S

Looking at Homestead A.F.B. hospital buildings from the intersection of roads “K” and “L” – Homestead, Florida. 1942. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. <a href=”http://<https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/156919&gt;, accessed 15 April 2021.” data-type=”URL” data-id=”<https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/156919&gt;, accessed 15 April 2021.

“About Our City.” About Our City | Homestead, FL – Official Website, www.cityofhomestead.com/228/About-our-City.

“Homestead.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/place/Homestead-Florida.

“Town Hall.” Historic Homestead Town Hall Museum, historictownhall.weebly.com/town-hall.html.

About Us, www.pioneerfloridamuseum.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=15&Itemid=30.

“Homestead, FL.” Data USA, datausa.io/profile/geo/homestead-fl/#demographics.

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