Andro Bailly: Coral Gables 2021

Student Bio

Photo by Andro Bailly / CC by 4.0

My name is Andro Bailly, and I am a junior at FIU. I am an Honors college student majoring in International Business. My interests are cycling, rock climbing, investing, and having a good time with friends and family. I was born and raised in Miami and have spent many of my summers exploring the European nation. Upon graduation I will seek to further my education and pursue an MBA.

Geography

Photos by Andro Bailly / CC by 4.0 and Google Maps

The neighborhood I have selected is Coral Gables. Coral Gables is one of the most prestigious neighborhoods in the Miami area. It has gorgeous houses, top tier restaurants, some of the greatest parks in Miami, Universities, and the beautiful Old Cutler road. The northern region is more urban and has a wide array of landmarks, galleries, businesses, restaurants, and museums. The urban area is heavily integrated with the public transportation system, making it easy to navigate around the northern half of Coral Gables.            

The southern half of Coral Gables is mostly composed of residential areas and high-class green areas such as Matheson Hammock park, Chapman Field, and Fairchild. There is limited presence of transportation, a few bus stops are present on the south western zone. Old Cutler is a magical road covered by a strong canopy of trees. On both sides of Old Cutler are high end houses that represent the upper income of Miami citizens. On the east side of Old Cutler are the coastal neighborhoods and the green areas that will be further described in the green section.

History

The origins of Coral Gables start with a man named George E. Merrick. In the year 1899 he purchased the land that is now Coral Gables and developed it with a Mediterranean style. The creation of the congressional church and the charter of the University of Miami occurred in the year 1925 (CoralGablesChamber.org). Coral Gables has experienced exceptional growth and is a magnificent area but there are harsh truths that lay beneath its creation. Segregation is an innate feature of the US; it has been here since the beginning and is still present to this day. The US itself was built by people of all races and cultures yet these people were not treated equally. Coral Gables is no exception, it was largely built by the Bahamians (Johnwbailly.com). The demographics section below will give a deep dive into just how segregated our society is currently, specifically Coral Gables.

Demographics

Photo by Alec Lau / CC by 4.0

Coral Gables has a population of approximately 50,000 people. Of these 50,000 people, 92% of them are White individuals. Of this 92% of White people, 60% of them are Hispanic or Latino. The Coral Gables population is also well educated with 96.2% of the population graduating from high school and 66.7% having earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. The median value of household value is $846,000 which is significantly higher than the median value of a Dade County household which is $289,000. The median income in Coral Gables is $100,000 which is two-fold of the median income in Dade County. Black or African American account for 3.1% of Coral Gables while in Dade County they represent 17.7% of the population (Census.gov).

Above is a portrait of Alec Lau. Alec Lau is a resident of Coral Gables and was an ideal candidate for my interview. He is a close friend that I have known for over 7 years. He is a student at USC and loves to fish.

Question 1: Where do you live in coral gables and how long have you lived there for?

Answer: I live in Gables by the Sea and have lived here since 2005.

Question 2: Do you have any knowledge regarding the history of Coral Gables?

Answer: I do not have much knowledge about the history of Coral Gables, if any.

Question 3: What are your favorite aspects of Coral Gables?

Answer: My favorite aspects of Coral Gables are the amount of greenery, its proximity to the coast, the designs of the houses and buildings, and the restaurants/shops.

Question 4: What are your least favorite aspects of Coral Gables?

Answer: My least favorite parts of Coral Gables are the roads and traffic, costs of living, the number of regulations by the city, and the lack of public transportation.

Question 5: Where would you recommend a good place to eat in Coral Gables?

Answer: There’s a good variety of restaurants in Coral Gables. Personally, I would recommend going to somewhere like Bachour, Mamey Miami, or Havana Harry’s.

Landmarks

Photo by Andro Bailly / CC by 4.0

This is a bunker that was built during the early 1960s because of the Cuban Missile Crisis. This bunker is located directly south of Matheson Hammock. When walking towards the ocean you can find a path that veers off into the forest and leads to this bunker. It is completely covered in graffiti and is a cool hangout spot that only some of the youth know about. The Cuban Missile Crisis directly involved South Florida because of its proximity to Cuba. This bunker was most likely used as an outpost that provided information regarding any threats that it could detect (abondonedfl.com).

Photo by Andro Bailly / CC by 4.0

During the 1930s the US was enduring the Great Depression, as a result, President Franklin Roosevelt created an organization called the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Coral Gables needed assistance and needed a new municipal building that would house both firefighters, police officers, and a court room. In 1938 a deal between the WPA and Coral Gables had been formed (corgablesmuseum.org). As time went on, upgrades were required and this buildings usage as a court room and fire department were no longer suitable for the growth of Coral Gables. This building is now known as the Coral Gables Museum and most of the inside and outside of the Coral Gables museum has been preserved and is open to the public.

Photo by Andro Bailly / CC by 4.0

The picture above is of the luxurious Biltmore hotel. It was constructed in 1926 and was a glamorous hotspot that hosted all sorts of celebrations. During WWII, the Biltmore’s new purpose became that of a hospital. It was a VA hospital up until the year 1968, when it was abandoned. For many years it became a place for the youth to sneak into and spread stories of ghosts. It was later purchased by the City of Coral Gables and experienced a grand reopening in the year of 1973. It has a total of 350 rooms, has an expansive golf course, and once bragged of having the biggest pool in all the US (wlrn.org).

Greenery

Photos by Andro Bailly / CC by 4.0

Matheson Hammock park opened in the 1930’s and was the first Dade County park (livingnewdeal.org). It is a common sight to see weddings, birthday parties, photo shoots, and relaxing picnics here. The picture on the left depicts the area of Matheson Hammock that is free and hugs Old Cutler Road. The coastal section of Matheson requires a small parking fee (you can also park in the free area and walk to the coastal spot free of charge) but is well worth it if you are interested in spending the day at a beach or enjoying some food at the highly rated Redfish by Chef Adrianne. A stunning view of downtown Miami as depicted on the picture on the right is another reason to visit the coastal part of Matheson.

Photos by Andro Bailly / CC by 4.0

This is Fairchild Botanical Gardens and was first opened in the year 1983. It is 83 acres of land containing plants that have been collected from all over the world (fairchildgarden.org). There is also a magical butterfly exhibit that is a must see and hopefully visitors are lucky enough to spot the few hummingbirds in the exhibit. Fairchild is named after David Fairchild who is a world renown plant scientist and explorer. A visit to Fairchild on a Sunday will be rewarded with a high-level farmers market. Just be careful when walking around Fairchild’s body of water because there are alligators present. Rare plants and alien looking trees can be seen throughout the Fairchild layout. You can choose to walk and explore Fairchild yourself or hop on a trolley for a guided tour.

Photos by Andro Bailly / CC by 4.0

Once an airfield during WWI and WWII, Chapman Field is now a Miami Dade County park with over 850 acres of marshlands, mangroves, pineland, seashore, and a dog park (ars.usda.gov). It is a top location for those interested in hikes through nature, walking their dogs, canoe rides, and relaxation on the bay. Chapman field is named after an Airforce soldier that was the first casualty in WWI in France. The picture on the left is the first sights when exiting off the canoe/kayak ramp. The picture on the right is of the shoreline along Chapman. If you hike to the shoreline during low tide, you will be able to enjoy miles of shallow water, white sand, and sand bars perfect for relaxation or sports.

Transportation

Photo by Andro Bailly / CC by 4.0

The Coral Gables Trolley in the picture above is unique to the Coral Gables neighborhood. It is a free service provided by the City of Coral Gables and effectively eases traffic congestion (a serious problem in Coral Gables as mention by the resident Alec Lau). The metro station behind the trolley in the picture above is the Douglas Road Metrorail station and serves as a hub for the Metrorail line, Coral Gables Trolleys, and Metro Buses. Since the trolley is special to Coral Gables, its route is rather limited and extends in a circle surrounding the Douglas Road station. These trollies operate Monday through Friday from 6:30am to 8:00pm and arrive at stops on a 15-minute basis (coralgables.com).

Photo by Andro Bailly / CC by 4.0

The Metrorail is speedy way to move north and south bound along US1. There are two stations that are accessible from the Coral Gables neighborhood. The Douglas Road station and the University station are roughly 1 mile apart from each other and are both along the same route. This route can take you all the way to Dadeland south and up to Downtown Miami. The Metrorail operates 7 days a week from 5am to 10pm (miamidade.gov). There is a small fee to pay but the service is currently free because of the COVID pandemic.

Photo by Andro Bailly / CC by 4.0

The Metrobus on the left side of the picture operates in the Coral Gables neighborhood and has a far more complex and expansive route then the Coral Gables Trolley. These Metrobuses run 7 days a week and 24 hours a day, providing a cost-effective option for people to travel around Miami (miamidade.gov). There are many routes and stops that pass through Coral Gables. This picture was taken at the Douglas Road station (one of the many Metrobus stops). Coral Gables residents and visitors are very lucky to have a public trifecta of transportation available to them. This greatly affects the ability of the lower wealth class to move around and perform necessary tasks.

Food

Photos by Andro Bailly / CC by 4.0

El Taquito is a small Mexican grill located near Coco Walk and the coastal Peacock Park. This place offers authentic Mexican food at an affordable price. The picture on the right, is their menu which consist of common Mexican cuisine. This restaurant is special to me because when I was working in the area it was a common choice for lunch. The people who work at the restaurant reflect this authentic Mexican culture. This is not a chain so be sure to take advantage when you are walking down Main Hwy. I recommend the Tacos.

Photos by Andro Bailly / CC by 4.0

This is a pricier selection, Cracked by Chef Adrianne. Cracked was opened in 2018 by the popular Chef Adrianne. Their goal is to provide simple food from organic and free-range ingredients. They have a vegan friendly restaurant, and all items are locally sourced. The picture on the right is of the filet mignon steak sandwich with a side of truffled fries that I highly recommend if you are a meat lover. Chef Adrianne also has a restaurant located in Matheson Hammock park called the Redfish.

Photos by Andro Bailly / CC by 4.0

If you love Tacos and you love to eat Tacos on a Tuesday, then Taco Craft is the choice for you. Prices of Tacos are slashed by nearly 50% on Tuesdays. The ultimate way to take advantage of very high-quality tacos that are rather expensive compared to other Tacos. Their cheese dip which can be seen in the picture on the right is a must have side for a large group of people. Taco Craft gets busy after 8pm so make sure to show up earlier if you want to avoid a wait time above 20 minutes. My top 3 taco recommendations would be the Korean Short Rib, Key Lime Grouper, and the classic Carne Asada.

Businesses

Photos by Andro Bailly / CC by 4.0

The business depicted above is the Deering Bay & Yacht and Country Club. This location is a haven for rich people that are retired or want a place to keep their large boats. They have a world class golf course and boats have direct access to the Atlantic Ocean. The Deering Bay & Yacht and Country Club is directly south of Chapman Field and was once a part of the airfield in WWI and WWII (dbycc.com). This club also offers top of the line cuisine and tennis lessons.

Photo by Andro Bailly / CC by 4.0

The Miracle Theater/Actors Playhouse was built in the years of 1947-48 (johnwbailly.com). It has 900 seats and is host to the performing arts. In the picture above you can see that The Jungle Book is going to be performed live on stage and the Wizard of Oz is going to be streamed. The main attraction now is for people who appreciate live performance. If you prefer to see live action talent performed in an Art Modern style building as opposed to your regular films then the Miracle Theater is the right way to go.

Photo by Andro Bailly / CC by 4.0

This funky looking building is the Home Financing Center, it was built in 1984 (zippia.com). This business focuses on providing loans for people in the Coral Gables area that do not have enough money to purchase a house on their own. This spaceship building has around 70 employees and has an annual revenue of roughly 30 million dollars. If you are interested in buying your dream home but do not quite have the funds, then the Home Financing Center may be able to provide you with some aide.

Summary

Coral Gables is a one-of-a-kind neighborhood with a small yet telling history, epic green areas, great restaurants, special landmarks/monuments, and powerful businesses. Segregation and unfairness are a common tale in the US and Coral Gables is not exempt from this. It was built by Bahamians hired by George Merrick. Yet 92% of the Coral Gables population is white. Only 3% of Coral Gables is African American while 17% of Dade County is African American. These numbers alone show that the residents of Coral Gables are not a diverse population, and this can be attributed to Miami’s racist zoning laws. Non surprisingly Coral Gables is also a neighborhood with house values and annual incomes that are more than 2-fold the median in Dade County.

Coral Gables also has possibly one of the best public transportation ecosystems in Miami. The Douglas Road station serves as a hub for the Metrorail, Metrobus, and Coral Gables trolley. This allows for the lower income population to traverse throughout the Coral Gables neighborhood without a car and in a timely manner. This also eases the traffic congestion which is a problem that Alec Lau stated as his least favorite aspect of Coral Gables. Strong public transportation support allows for nonresidents to access the Coral Gables neighborhood which is beneficial for the businesses located there.

Chapman Field, Matheson Hammock, and Fairchild are some of the greatest green areas in all South Miami. In a concrete jungle it is not common to find heavens of natural Miami wildlife. Finding great restaurants, unique businesses, landmarks, museums, monuments, and the public transportation to take you there is an easy task in Coral Gables. Hopefully, this guide will give you some ideas as to what to visit when in Coral Gables.

Sources

Sources

Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, Historic Timeline

Johnwbailly.com, Coral Gables Walking Tour, Stephanie Sepulveda & John W. Bailly, 11        March 2021

https://johnwbailly.com/lectures/coralgablestour/

United States Census, Quick Facts, Miami-Dade County, Florida, Coral Gables City

https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/miamidadecountyflorida,miamicityflorida,coralgablescityflorida/PST045219

Abandoned Florida, Coral Gables Bunker

Coral Gables Museum, The Journey from Municipal Building to Museum by John Allen

            https://coralgablesmuseum.org/portfolio-item/an-archelogical-expedition-the-journey-          from-muncipal-building-to-museum-2/

WLRN, A History Of The Biltmore, Miami’s Best Known Creepy Hotel, 30 October 2014

            https://www.wlrn.org/culture/2014-10-30/a-history-of-the-biltmore-miamis-best-known-    creepy-hotel

The Living New Deal, Matheson Hammock Park – Coral Gables FL

            https://livingnewdeal.org/projects/matheson-hammock-park-coral-gables-            fl/#:~:text=The%20city%20got%20its%20first,Surfside%2C%20was%20added%20in%2      01932.

Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden, Mission & History

https://fairchildgarden.org/mission-history/

Agricultural Research Service, Chapman Field – The Evolution of a South Dade Army   Airdrome by Raymond G. McGuire, 1 January 2001

            https://www.ars.usda.gov/southeast-area/miami-fl/subtropical-horticulture-            research/docs/chapman-field-the-evolution-of-a-south- dade-army-airdrome/

Coral Gables – The City Beautiful, Coral Gables Trolley

https://www.coralgables.com/trolley-services

Miami-Dade County, Metrorail

https://www.miamidade.gov/global/transportation/metrorail.page

Deering Bay Yacht & Country Club, Club History

https://www.dbycc.com/about-us/club-history

Zippia – The Career Expert, Home Financing Center Overview

https://www.zippia.com/home-financing-center-careers-849682/

Author: androbb7

A human doing human things

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