Monserrat Garcia is in her senior year at Florida International University. On track to graduate with a major in Political Science and a minor in Criminal Justice, Monserrat is very excited for what is to come next in life. Monserrat hopes to be matriculated in law school by 2021, and currently is very interested in civil law. On her free time, Monserrat likes to spend time with her family and friends as well as visit different Italian restaurants to enjoy a delicious plate of pasta.
“Miami’s Corner of History” by Monserrat Garcia of FIU at Vizcaya
What was once a winter home for a man, is now a home of history and culture for Miami. Being more than a century old, Vizcaya truly is a corner of Miami filled with heritage. Upon arrival of Vizcaya one is immediately greeted with a plethora of flora that goes on for several acres. The famous gardens of Vizcaya root back to 16th century Italy. The Vizcaya gardens who were designed by Diego Suarez show a strong presence of European influence in Miami. Walking around the gardens one will find several sculptures that depict ancient deities. One of the figures that stood out to me was the figure of Bacchus, the greek god of wine. Depictions of this god can be seen several times throughout one’s exploration of Vizcaya.
Despite the fact that this historical site was constructed several years after the spanish discovered the new world, Vizcaya holds much art and design that date back to this time. While the gardens are inspired by Italian landscaping, the inside of the house is heavily inspired by Spanish architecture and culture. The walls of the Vizcaya house are decorated with several paintings and creations by spanish artist. The courtyard centered in the middle of the 54 bedroom home is very heavily inspired by the spanish. In Spain it was very typical for homes to have a courtyard where people could enjoy the sun and the nature outside.
After a day of exploring the breathtaking sites of the Vizcaya home and gardens the impact that the old world had on the new world is completely clear. The coming of the Spaniards and other europeans to the new world had both negative and positive consequences. Though James Deering had Vizcaya constructed to be a winter vacation home back in 1912, Mr. Deering left the city of Miami with a spot rich with history and culture. Reminding people of their roots and the cultures that influence them and generations to come.
The “Elis Island of Miami” by Monserrat Garcia of FIU at the Freedom Tower
Images taken by Monserrat Garcia at the Freedom Tower
Upon arrival at the Freedom Tower, one is greeted with symbols and artwork representative of the old world. A Spanish galleon rest at the very top of the building. The outside of the tower is heavily influenced by a cathedral in Seville. The Freedom Tower was built in 1925, and originally was owned by the newspaper company known as the Miami Daily News. The news company used this building as its office space for several years. After the newspaper moved to a new facility the Freedom Tower earned the name of the “Elis Island of the South.” For years, the tower became a place where Cuban refugees would go to and seek political asylum.
Once entering the building one notices the deep history that is encased in the walls of the tower. From pictures to children being sent to the United States by their families in Cuba to ancient ball games played by the Aztec. Our tour of the tower began by examining an artistic composition titled Entrance of Hernan Cortez into Mexico. This painting depicts the sharp differences between the natives and the Spanish. The natives are shown wearing minimal but colorful clothing, while the Spanish are covered from head to toe in silver amour. During our tour, we also observed a painting of the native Indians with Ponce de Leon. This painting portrays a very bias account for the interaction of the old world and the new world. The image strongly romanticizes the Spanish coming to America and paints their arrival as the growth of civilization rather than a destruction of culture and a society.
After our visit to the Freedom Tower, we made our way to the Historic Gesú Catholic Church. Coming from a predominantly catholic family it was extremely fascinating to witness the roots of the catholic religion in Miami. Back in the year 1567, a father named Juan Rogel came on a mission to spread the catholic religion. The actions of one man and his assistants, resulted in the catholic religion being heavily practiced in several regions of the Americas. The Freedom Tower and its neighboring historical buildings are places in Miami that are engulfed by history and culture. Without knowing, every historic artifact found in these buildings has affected our lives and the lives of those in the Americas one way or another.
“Everyone’s Land, No One’s Property” by Monserrat Garcia of FIU at the Deering Estate
The Deering Estate is a hub for history and culture in South Florida. Living just 10 minutes from the estate, reading, and learning about the history and characteristics of it and the land surrounding it was intriguing and eye-opening. The Deering Estate itself is a historical site that encompasses the Richmond Cottage, the Stone House, and the land in its vicinity.
The first building in the area of the estate was the Richmond Cottage. This cottage was built in 1896 and served as a home for S.H. Richmond and his family. Years later the estate was purchased by Charles Deering who ordered the construction of the Stone House. The Stone House was made to resemble architecture from the Old World. On the ceiling of a section of the house, one can find a seashell mosaic, which in 1992 underwent major restoration due to Hurricane Andrew.
The cottage and home found in the estate are admired by thousands of tourists and visitors, but they are not the only attractions that can be found in the estate. Unlike most places today in Miami, the Deering Estate is one of the many places that has been remained largely pure and untouched. Thousands of visitors from all corners of the world each year come to the Deering Estate for its location and geological uniqueness. From the Boat Basin in front of the Stone House to the Miami Rock Ridge, the Deering Estate is home to some of South Florida’s most rare and endangered animal and plant species. If you are lucky enough you could leave the Deering Estate having seen otters, dolphins, manatees, sinkholes, and exotic flora. The Deering Estate is roughly 440 acres of land rich in vegetation as well as history. History that is open and accessible to all those who wish to learn more and get a glimpse of Miami before its boom in tourism and urban architecture. The Deering Estate brings us back to our roots and reminds us of the beauty that can be found in nature.
“Picture Perfect” by Monserrat Garcia of FIU at South Beach
The statement “I live where you vacation,” holds its validity through places like South Beach. South Beach is about 2.70 square miles of Art Deco buildings, beach resorts, and exclusive bars and restaurants. As a resident of Miami, South Beach is one of my favorite places. Whether I want to spend a day walking the lively streets of the neighborhood, or an afternoon reading on the sand South Beach has always been the place to go. Despite what many people believe, the chic South Beach was once a mosquito-infested swamp. It wasn’t until 1913 when Car Fisher, an American entrepreneur began the development of South Beach and turned mangrove forest into beach resorts. Like the Deering Estate and Vizcaya, South Beach is home to a lot history and culture. Back in the early 19th century several Jews began to settle in the neighborhood and now make up a large portion of the residents of South Beach. The Jewish Museum of Florida can be found in South Beach, a museum whose purpose is to conserve the Jewish culture in Miami and the cities of South Florida.
For those who have an eye for unique architecture, the streets of Ocean Drive are a sight to see. The buildings along the streets of Ocean Drive are known for their curved edges, porthole windows, and neon features. These features are considered to be essential in Art Deco Architecture—a style that is meant to resemble machines and even household appliances. Back in the 20th century people had a fascination for linear and parallel designs. South Beach has come a long way from the swamp it originally was. Walking the streets of South Beach, one is left in awe by its intricate architecture and picture-perfect beaches.
“Looking Back” by Monserrat Garcia of FIU at the History of Miami Museum
The HistoryMiami Museum (HMM) is located in Downtown Miami. The museum is one of Downtown Miami’s many attractions and museums. Although it houses several artistic compositions, the HMM is not known for its contemporary exhibits but rather its ancient exhibits that give us a glimpse at Miami centuries ago.
The HistoryMiami Museum is home to exhibits and artifacts from the pre-columbian to 500 B.C. While continuing a tour through the museum one will become familiar with the lifestyle the tribes who lived before us carried out and architectural advances that have been made since then. The HMM aims to tell the history of the city of Miami—the good and the bad. It aims to give its visitors raw and unedited information and successfully does so. After having learned about the lives of Miami’s natives and continuing to stroll down the museum one will find themselves surrounded by exhibits depicting the new technologies that came to Miami during the Second Industrial Revolution.
When continuing down the room one will find themselves in front of a genuine 1920s trolley that would roam the streets of Miami. Of all the exhibits in the museum, a sign on this trolley is most impactful to me. This sign shows the racial discrimination occurring in Miami in the 20th century and gives its visitors a small yet powerful sight of the prejudice and hardship inflicted upon the African American residents of Miami. The HMM is a place to look back, to come face to face with the mistakes of our past, and envision a better future for ourselves and our city.