Janelle Fraga is a Junior in the Honors College at Florida International University. She is an English Major on the writing and rhetoric track with a minor in international communications while seeking a pre-law certificate.
She was born and raised in the suburban Miami, Florida, more specifically, Kendall West. Although, both of her parents are Cuban immigrants, Kendall West is where Janelle calls home. She hopes to be able to expand on the knowledge she already has of this place. And expose herself to new ideas and areas.
Kendall is the Miami Suburbs. Here you can find neighborhoods filled with mixed Hispanic-American, African-American, and biracial middle class families. The streets are calm and you can occasionally glimpse a pedestrian walking their dog not too far from their home or making their morning jog around the street corner and back. The area is fairly new and not too large in square feet or population. Most people know each other either by acquaintance or friend of a friend of a friend’s cousin. Kendall is known for its modern aesthetics but also local spots true to the Miami culture. Many residents in Kendall especially love the broad availability of affordable things to do such as golf courses, a roller rink, an ice skating rink, two skate parks, movie theaters, an arcade, many shopping centers, an indoor children’s’ playground, and many cafecito spots. Kendall thrives off the local restaurants and shops that indulge various cultures prevalent in Miami. Kendall is located just 24 miles away from the famous South Beach and 20 miles away from Wynwood. According to the United States Census Bureau, the Kendall region has an approximate total area of 16.3 sq mi.
In the 16th Century, Florida was acquired by the Spanyards but was mostly composed and settled by the Tequesta Indians. Little by little, Spanyards began to expand their reign over Florida claiming more lands and forcing the Tequesta’s out. In 1821, Florida was overtaken by the United States.
Long before Kendall was named Kendall, it was mainly empty pre-developed lands composed of two Seminole camps. In 1883 the land was purchased by Henry John Broughton Kendall and the Florida Land and Mortgage Company. The lands were under construction to house residents until the early 1900’s. In 1914, the first post office opened and was later followed by a school in 1929. By the 1940’s, the Seminole camps diminished as they moved elsewhere and the population was rising. During the Florida land boom in the early to mid 1920’s Florida’s population tripled, thus so did Kendall’s. Development began to expand as more people moved down east. 88th Street, the main street extending through all of Kendall from State Road 997 all the way to the Hammocks neighborhood, is named Kendall Drive after Henry John Broughton Kendall.
In the 1930’s Kendall and all the people of Miami forwent many financial difficulties. This slowed the turbulent growth of the city up until the 1950’s. From 1959 to the early 2000’s large populations of cuban immigrants fled to Miami. It is estimated that about 500,000 fled to Miami. The population of Miami boosted as the immigrants began to scatter through the city, some settling in Kendall, although still new and not as developed as other parts of the city such as the infamous Miami Beach.
North Kendall Drive used to be known as “The Road to Nowhere.” In 1962, the City opened Dadeland mall which was drawn from the name “deadland”. However, this shopping center immediately boosted the population growth. With 62 merchants, construction surrounded Dadeland offering affordable homes right off the Palmetto Expressway. This opened the doors for further growth such as Baptist Hospital down the road off Dadeland. Towards the end of the 1970’s Kendall was considered one of the, if not the, fastest growing communities in Miami. By the end of the 1990’s Dadeland was recognized as the busiest shopping mall in the United States.
The City hit a pause in 1992 after the devastation of Hurricane Andrew. 1.3 million households were left in ruins. Andrews eye hit 25 miles south of downtown Miami with winds of 140 mph. It is noted that Kendall took one of the largest hits from this hurricane. The building codes of Florida were upgraded to be able to withstand hurricanes such as Andrew. Homes were rebuilt and improved to meet the City standards to prevent destruction.
Today, Kendall continues to expand and experience growth in real estate, local businesses, and consumers. Kendall is considered to be a small town within a big city. Most of the developments and structures from the 1950’s and beyond have remained and have slowly begun to be revamped.
According to the United States census Bureau, Kendall is the largest City in Florida. Kendall has about 88% Whites, 4% Asian, 3% Black or African American, 3% other races. The sex ratio is 52% Female and 48% male. In Kendall households, 49% are married and 32% are non-family. The average earning of a resident is about $43,212. The most interesting demographic to me is that 64% of residents speak Spanish and only 30% speak soley English. The overall poverty rate is fairly low at 9.4%. Most immigrants in Kendall, 83% are from Latin America, 10% are from Asia, and 5.5% from Europe. For naturalized citizens, the trend follows a similar scope with 90% from Latin America, 6.3% from Asia, and 3.2% from Europe.
Biography of Joyce Fraga (a Kendall resident)
Joyce Fraga was born in South Miami Hospital, 6 miles away from Kendall, on July 2, 1998. She has even since lived in Kendall. Joyce currently works as a Registered Behavior Therapist. Her job takes her to schools and homes within Kendall and out to other neighborhoods within Miami. She graduated from Florida International University in 2018 with a bachelors in Psychology and a focus on Behavior analysis. Now she is currently attending Cincinnati University online studying Applied Behavior Analysis.
Janelle: What is your favorite thing about Kendall?
Joyce: I love all the accessibility of Kendall. It is fairly easy to find and reach anything within a short distance. Anytime I am in need of something whether it be retail related or groceries, I find it very easily and quickly.
Janelle: If you could have grown up anywhere else would you, and if so where?
Joyce: I don’t think so. I love that I was able to grow up so close to my family and in a place that is true to my culture. I love walking into any bakery and being able to buy cafecito, you don’t get that everywhere!
Janelle: Do you enjoy living in Kendall?
Joyce: Yes, I think that I have had a plentiful life in Kendall.
Janelle: What is your favorite hangout spot in Kendall?
Joyce: My personal favorite has to be Town and Country, i can always find something to do there. Even if it is just walking around with my friends.
Janelle: How do you think Kenall can improve as a City?
Joyce: I personally think Kendall has developed a lot over the years. I don’t know what else can be added to improve the city. I feel like it already has a little bit of everything. Traffic is the only thing that I hate about this City. Other than that, I honestly am left without words.
Dadeland Mall is located in the heart of Kendall between the 826 Palmetto Expressway and US 1. It is filled with some of the best brands and retailers in the nation. In 2015, Dadeland Mall was named one of Miami’s Five best Shopping Malls. Since 1962, Dadeland has been a prominent part of Kendall. It holds some of the Florida’s largest Macy’s, jcpenney, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Nordstrom. It even hosts indoors and outdoor restaurants; tailoring both to convenience and comfort. Today, Dadeland is not just a spot for local shoppers but tourists like to visit and shop at these grand stores as well. It invites a home away from home attribute.
Dadeland began with only 62 merchants and now has 185 retail stores and restaurants. Dadeland was further expanded across the street with a local community. In the 1990’s to early 2000’s the city worked on creating a more urban aesthetic to this area. New apartment buildings and stores now surround this mall. The City even built the Dadeland Metrorail beside the mall as well revitalizing the City and transportation. This allows for residents to have faster commutes and nearby the major spots in town. The avenue of these new complexes has taken the name of Dadeland Boulevard adding to the beauty of Dadeland Mall.
Love Lock Bridge
Have you ever heard of the Love Lock Bridge in Paris? Miami has incorporated one of its own in Town and Country off Kendall Drive. Medlock, vice president and general manager of The Palms at Town & Country, was inspired by the love bridge in Paris and recreated one in Kendall.
Couples, families, and friends are all encouraged to lock their love forever onto the bridge and engrave their names on the bridge forever. The tradition is you secure your lock and throw the key over the bridge. This symbolizes that your love will last forever. Many couples have proposed or even started relationships on this bridge. It is a memory to last a lifetime.
Kendall still holds true to its history and holds a retro roller rink with fun music, food, arcade games, and skating. The evolution of music in Miami in the 80’s also resulted in the public love of skating. Super wheels take after the 80’s Art Deco aesthetics. Since 1998, Super Wheels in Kendall has been a little piece of the 80’s in the middle of a small but big town. Before Super Wheels was Super Wheels, the rink was purchased by James Ritter, a six time national roller skating champion.
A local competitor, Thunder Wheels, later bought the rink and revamped it to include the arcade games and style it has enhanced now. In 2001, the rink was officially launched as “Super Wheels”. Today, Super Wheel hosts parties, fundraising events, family and community entertainment. Guests include not just children but young adults and adults too. Occasionally, Super Wheels will host “Throwback” nights, and encourage adults to come out and skate revisiting their childhood days with friends. It has been a popular spot since the early 2000’s and continues to evolve with the generations to come allowing residents to enjoy both inline and four-wheel skating.
Lago Mar Park
Lago Mar park is located just off Kendall Drive on 152nd Avenue. This is one that I personally enjoy most and call home. It is considered a residential park, however, it is open and welcomes people of any neighborhood to enjoy the playgrounds, dog park, and volleyball sand field. It is not too large, but not too small either. It is just the perfect size for your average family to stroll around and enjoy a Sunday afternoon tossing a ball around a field. Since it is more local, it is not too crowded and residents will often run into familiar faces. Many birthdays for neighbors are hosting here with featured bouncy houses.
Lago Mar South was built between the late 90’s and early 2000’s. During the development of the neighborhoods in the South West side of Kendall, this park was created. Local elementary schools have held field trips to this park as well encouraging unity within the community. The park has slowly begun to revamp and improve based on modern times. The volleyball field and the dog park were recent additions. Soon after their installation, the city rebuilt the children’s playground adding new and stimulating activities.
Westwind Lakes Park
Westwind Park is located further down 152nd avenue as well. This Park not only has two separate sand volleyball fields, but also has a skating rink. It’s an outdoor rink that is open to the public. Here you’ll find many young girls and boys from the community attempting their latest tricks they’ve learned. There is also a playground for children of course and a soccer park. Westwind Park is much larger than Lago Mar Park. It is also in between local neighborhoods and schools for the local community to enjoy the outdoors. Dogs are welcome here as well although there is not a designated dog park area.
Bark Park is Kendall’s very own dog park! This park is open to all residents, and even those that are not residents. This sight is absolutely beautiful and it is beside local crop lands. When visiting the park during sunset hours, you’ll catch the most beautifully painted skies with streams going across and beyond. You don’t even need a dog to be able to step into this park, although it is mostly for dogs and their owners.
The park is fairly new, it was built in the early 2000’s and has just recently begun to build a name and a reputation for itself. Since Kendall is one of the newest areas in Miami, there are still certain areas being developed.
The Dadeland Metro mover is a fee service that offers public transports to all those seeking commute within Miami. The stops range from Downtown Miami, Wynwood, Brickell, Government Center, and Kendall. On Kendall Drive and the Dadeland Boulevard, there is a metro station that offers not just the metro mover but buses as well. According to DataUSA, most residents commute alone to and from work. The average commute time is about 31.2 minutes. It is also noted that the average car ownership in Kendall is 2 per household. About 7% of residents carpool and the remaining 4% work from home.
Public transportation is not as commonly used by Kendall residents although it is easily available. Most residents own their own car and prefer driving alone to work. Some even undergo 60 to 90 minute drives to work. 25% of households in Kendall had 0-1 cars available. It is also not too common seeing people walk to work. Typically when you see people long the sidewalks they’re going for a run or walking their dog.
Kendall is mostly composed of Hispanic-Americans that run on rich Cuban coffee. La Carreta is a Cuban restaurant on Kendall Drive that offers a range of Cuban classics including the cafecito that most of its residents are addicted to. It is a family friends establishment that has been on Kendall Drive since before the 2000’s as Kendall began to grow. Many individuals, Hispanic or not, enjoy dining here as it feels as though you’re being welcomed into a Cuban household with warm food.
Miller Ale House is a Restaurant and Sports Bar. It offers a casual and friendly environment. Many friend groups enjoy spending nights at Ale house to watch popular sports games. I recommend the Zingers as you watch WWE Mania while your friends and strangers all yell at the screens collectively. Even if you do not watch sports, they play funny clips of home videos for those who get lost during the games. It also makes it easy to make new friends over the shared love of food and whatever is playing on the TV.
Bahama Breeze is a Caribbean Food establishment nearby the Regals Movie Theater on Kendall Drive and is also across the Ulta makeup store. If you’re looking for a place that offers a tropical feeling in the midst of a starlight city, this is the place for you. The food ranges from you tropical favorites ranging from the various cultures within the Caribbean islands. This restaurant is perfect for a family outing and even a romantic date night.
Lotus Couture is a boutique on 84th Street. This boutique was started by two sisters who had a passion for fashion and a love for their City. The two sisters are named Daniela and Jessi. Their mission statement has always been to “enhance the beauty and confidence in every woman through our trendy and fashionable outfits. This is one of my favorite and go-to boutiques and their employees are always excited to help anyone find their perfect outfit for any event.
This boutique grew from a just two sisters dream to a brand of its own with 89.3k followers on Instagram and millions of shoppers from all over the nation.
Scrapers Ice cream is an Ice Cream food truck that has become a hot spot in Miami. They stop every night in front of the Chase bank on 88th Street. The line is always filled with people making the parking lot the smallest place to accommodate the hype of the food truck. Most residents buy their ice cream and hang out in their cars or sit outside right in front of the bank. The food truck has become some peoples favorite ice cream shop although it is technically not a food establishment. Over the years Scrapers has quickly grown recognition for their handmade ice cream rolls. Everyone in Kendall can recognize the rolled up chunks of Ice cream and distinguish its distinct flavor and combination.
Like mentioned earlier, Kendall is the Suburb among a party City. Most people around the nation know of Miami as the party city and extravagant culture and diversity. Kendall embraces the cultures of Miami but also allows a safe space for families to flourish. Kendall is currently expanding onto West Kendall and just recently a west Kendall baptist hospital opened stretching all the way down Kendall Drive reaching Chrome Avenue.
Kendall is enriched by the various people living in it and adding to it’s value. I personally have enjoyed living and growing up in Kendall. I was born and raised here and I do not know of anywhere else. But I also don’t think any other place would have fit me as this small town in a big city.
Christian PortillaSouth Florida News Service. “Couples, Families Lock Their Love on Bridge at Kendall Mall.” Miamiherald, Miami Herald, 8 Apr. 2015, http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/kendall/article17887988.html.“Dadeland Mall.” Flashback Miami, 7 Apr. 2016, flashbackmiami.com/2015/12/10/dadeland-mall/.“Home.” Scrapers Ice Cream, http://www.scrapersicecream.com/.“Kendall, FL.” Data USA, datausa.io/profile/geo/kendall-fl.“Kendall, Florida.” Wikiwand, http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Kendall,_Florida.“Kendall, Florida Population 2020.” Kendall, Florida Population 2020 (Demographics, Maps, Graphs), worldpopulationreview.com/us-cities/kendall-fl-population/.“Lotus Couture .” Https://Www.lotuscouturemiami.com/Pages/about-Us.Miami Herald Archives. “Bullets Once Flew at Dadeland Mall in a Deadly Shootout. The Cocaine Cowboys Were Here.” Miamiherald, Miami Herald, 23 June 2019, http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/kendall/article231644003.html.Miller’s Ale House, millersalehouse.com/about-us/.