Stephanie Gudiel: Hammocks 2021

Student Bio

Hi! My name is Stephanie Gudiel, I am a junior at Florida International University studying psychology with a minor in business. I was born and raised in Miami, more specifically in the area of West Kendall, which is right next to Hammocks, however, I tend to spend most of my time all over Miami. Outside of school, my interests are travel, cooking, and I like to spend the majority of my time outdoors, whether it be at the beach relaxing or playing volleyball at a park.

Geography

Image by Google Maps

The neighborhood I chose is called Hammocks, it is just south of West Kendall and east of the Everglades. It is a total of 8 square miles, and known to be residential and family oriented. Hammocks is made up of houses/apartments/townhouses, strip malls, countless parks, lakes, restaurants, and schools. Although it is not part of the kendall area, geographically speaking, those who reside in the area consider it as Kendall.

This area is not anything like Coral Gables per say, or Miami Beach, it represents Miami’s average citizens, the working class with your typical 3-4 people household size. The purpose of Hammocks is to have that perfect community feel, which is why it is family centered, from the events held, to the restaurants nearby, to finding a park almost every block. Hammocks is growing with newer housing developments as well as shopping centers.

History

The Hammocks area is a relatively new neighborhood in Miami in comparison to the more well known areas such as Coral Gables. Most of the residential areas were built and established between 1970 and 1999. Before that the whole area was farmland, in fact a good part of the area still is to this day. Before Krome Ave there are huge pieces of land that serve as farmland, specifically for crops, or are simply unoccupied. Hammocks is what is known as a CDP (census designated place), which is just a concentration of population simply put.

The name Hammock originates from what the land was before they began to build on it. Hammocks is a term used to describe trees, normally hardwood, that form a contrasting ecosystem. They tend to grow in areas surrounded by wetlands, which is exactly what this area was and still is to this day in a way.

Overall, there isn’t much historical information in regard to this neighborhood as it is still being developed.

Demographics

According to the United States Census the total population of Hammocks is estimated to be around 61,516, with the median age being 38. For this estimate they used a 2019 American Community Survey. Like most of Miami, the population in Hammocks is predominately hispanic, so 71.3% are White (Hispanic), White (Non-Hispanic) 14.2%, Other (Hispanic) 5.67%, Asian 2.92%, and Black or African American 2.61%. Education wise, this area seems to be well educated as 91% of the population are high school graduates or higher. To break that down even further, 23.1% of the population have a high school degree or equivalent, 18.5% some college-no degree, 13% have an associates degree, 25.9% have a bachelor’s degree, 10.5% are graduates or have a professional degree. The median female income is $36,928 while the median male income is $45,055, which bring the household median income to $70,014 (Census.gov).

Above is a portrait of a resident of the Hammocks, who is also a long time friend of mine. She moved to Hammocks about 5 years ago but was born and raised in Miami. Before living in Hammocks she used to live in West kendall. During the interview she said that although she only moved a couple miles more south she definitely felt the difference. Since moving to Hammocks she has been able to go to the park more often with her dog as there is a dog park a couple blocks from her. She also enjoys going to the park with her mom for some zumba classes the community hosts. She likes how calm and family oriented the area is, however she does also like that they are continuing to develop the area with new shopping centers and restaurants as she likes to try out these new places and they bring a bit of change to the area. What she doesn’t like about the area is the traffic and commute when it comes to driving to the city, especially because of the amount of school zones around her.

Landmarks

HAMMOCKS TOWN CENTER

Photo retrieved from https://mdpls.org/branch-west-kendall-regional

This town center was built in 2000, I may not live in Hammocks but I remember frequently visiting this town center since I was little. It had the closest library to my house at one point, which is the West Kendall Regional Library and they would hold family friendly events, as well as tutoring every saturday. This library, currently holds online classes (due to covid) for beginner and intermediate english and spanish speakers, they also hold yoga classes, and workshops on various interests. It is all free to the public and easy to register online through the miami-dade public library system website. Apart from that, the Town center has a couple pizza places, restaurants, salons, a pre-school, grocery store, and pharmacy. The town center itself has been there for 21 years, but throughout the years it has changed a bit bringing the people of Hammocks a good spot to spend time as a family or with friends.

OUR LADY OF LOURDES

Since the population of Hammocks is mostly hispanic, there is a tendency for religion to be very important to its population. Most hispanics are catholics which is why I am considering Our Lady of Lourdes a Landmark. Our Lady of Lourdes is a very well known Catholic church, not only in Hammocks but by people all over Miami. It is a church as well as a private school for Pre-k3 through 8th grade, their curriculum is based on the beliefs and mission of the Roman Catholic Church. The church in itself has many ministry groups for people to join, whether they’re new believers, if they want to grow in their faith, they also have different groups for different ages. This helps build that sense of community in Hammocks. The church holds many masses throughout the week for the convenience of the people. Monday through Friday they hold spanish mass at 7pm, Monday through Saturday they hold mass in english at 8am. On Sunday’s they hold masses from 7am to 6:30pm in english and spanish. Religious or not, I do believe it is a place worth visiting, everyone has always been welcoming the times I’ve gone and it is very serene and calming walking through the campus.

U-PICK STRAWBERRIES & TOMATOES

On the eastside of the Hammocks, on 137th ave there is a U-Pick. Depending on the season they have tomatoes, peppers, or strawberries growing on the land. It is open for the public to pick their fruits or veggies and purchase them. I remember going as a kid with my parents every now and then and it was always a fun time. The prices are reasonable, and with the pandemic it is a great opportunity to get the kids out of the house for some fun in the sun. It’s normally not crowded which is great during these times.

Green

wild lime park

This is my favorite park, it has a little bit of everything which makes it perfect for people of all ages. There is a playground for kids to play that has a tent like cover to block off the sun during those hot summer days, there are many benches around the playground for parents to sit and watch their kids play. There is also a sheltered area that has picnic tables, bathrooms, as well as a concession stand that sells snacks, drinks, and ice cream. Next to the playground there is an area with outdoor gym equipment, anyone can use them and enjoy a workout in the nice Miami weather. Each piece of equipment has instructions along with pictures to guide anyone who is new to working out. Further down there is a soccer field with LED lights for those night practices. There is a trail from the park that leads to the huge Hammocks lake, anyone can walk or bike on this trail along the lake. Throughout the trail there are benches to take a break, there’s sheltered picnic tables facing the lake, there are small beach like areas with sand leading to the water, and there is also a volleyball court. This park is open for everyone from 7am to 7pm.

BARK PARK

This is a dog park that is split into two, one side is for smaller dogs and the other for dogs over 35lbs. The whole park is fenced so the dogs can run free and socialize with other dogs. There are sheltered picnic tables for people to sit and watch their dogs from a distance, or meet other dog parents. The dogs have small water fountains for them, as well as ramps and other tricks they can practice or show off with equipment set up. The park is open for anyone from sunrise to sunset.

CAMP MATACUMBE

This is a rustic themed park, it is more kid focused because of the type of recreational activities available. It is one big playground that follows a rustic theme, so there’s wooden tree houses, a rock themed slide, an outdoor jungle gym. Some people can also go and practice their archery. Unlike the other parks, this one has no shelter for parents or children for those hot sunny days, but there are benches available around the playground. This park is open from 9am to 5pm.

Transportation

Most Hammocks residents commute using their car as they don’t normally work in the area, they normally take about a 45 minute commute. However, like the rest of Miami there is the metro bus available throughout Hammocks, the residents that tend to use this option are Miami dade college- Kendall campus students, or those who need to use the Metrorail station. The route generally used is the 104 bus as it passes through Killian and Kendall Drive.

Food

Punto peruano

This is a food truck that is normally parked next to the Ocean Bank on 156th and 88th Street. They sell authentic peruvian food and are open from 7pm to 1:30am. My mom is Peruvian, year after year I go visit Peru and whenever I’m missing that delicious Peruvian food this is where I go. No other place has been able to serve the food as if I was in the small town of Trujillo. They have your typical Peruvian dishes like ceviche, lomo saltado, and anticuchos, but they also serve the authentic dishes I haven’t been able to find anywhere else like Hamburguesa a lo pobre. I highly recommend trying them out if you want a taste of Peru and have reasonable prices for the big portions.

BONJOUR FRENCH BAKERY

Photo retrieved from Bonjour Bakery

Not your typical Miami bakery, this is a French modern fusion bakery found on 166th and 88th street. The pastry chef Eric Buffenoir was born on the Blue Coast of France and started to bake since he was 7 years old at his family’s bakery. Later on in life he worked on a cruise that docked in Venezuela, there he picked up some hispanic techniques and flavors. A few years later he went to Spain and opened up a French Bakery there. In Miami he mixes the sweet French flavors with Caribbean aromas to keep adding to the growing culture in Miami. They are a bakery but also serve breakfast and lunch. Every item I’ve tried from their bakery has left me wanting more, from their food menu I recommend trying the Charolais which is Strogonoff beef tenderloin, paprika, mushroom and cream. Their prices are a bit more on the high end for what is typically known in this area, but I would say it is worth it. They are open from 8am to 6pm.

AMICIS

This is an authentic Italian restaurant at Hammocks Town Center. They are open from 11am to 10pm, and serve what you would typically think of when it comes to Italy, pasta, pizza, and soups. This restaurant has been there since the Town center was built, I remember going when I was a kid with my parents, and later on it would be a hang out spot after ice skating to grab a slice of pizza with friends.

Businesses

Kendall ice arena

The town center also has the Kendall Ice arena, which was my favorite spot to hang out with my friends in middle and high school. The only other ice arena close to Miami is in Pembroke Pines. The Kendall Ice arena is open for public skating, private lessons, birthday parties, and are home to the Miami Toros Hockey team. They do have varying weekly hours for public skating because they host figure skating competitions throughout the week, but it is on their website. Public skate admission with skate rental is normally $15, but on Wednesday and Thursday they have “cheap skates” days which reduces the admission with skates to $12. On Friday evening they normally have a Live DJ to have a more lively environment. The ice arena also has air hockey tables, as well as some other games to enjoy if you want to take a break from skating.

urban air trampoline and adventure park

This is an indoor adventure park that is open from 4pm to 9pm everyday. This is a great place for people of all ages, it is a family friendly environment There are trampolines, dodgeball, wall climbing, warrior obstacle courses, runway tracks, and much more. Depending on how many attractions you want to go to there are different packages available for purchase. They also hold birthday parties and have a cafe when kids or parents get hungry and want to grab a bite.

Jungle gym fitness safari

Similar to the adventure park in a sense, there is a jungle gym fitness bus. This is a small family owned business. Essentially it is a bus that was transformed on the inside to be like a fitness gym for kids. So it is all matted and they can wall climb, they can swing, there’s a trampoline and balance beam. This is more of an after school/summer camp program to enroll your kids so they can be entertained and let out all their energy.

Summary

Overall, Hammocks is a small, relatively new neighborhood that is still in the process of developing. However, it shows the real lives of the average Miami citizen, away from the tourism and glamour. Hammocks did succeed in building a tight knit community from the events they host, to the family friendly parks and recreational activities around. The only thing I would say they did not succeed in is when it comes to having its residents make their commute, with school within every block it takes them a good while in the mornings to get where they need to be.

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