Roger Masson: Coral Gables 2021

STUDENT BIO

Vizcaya Museum and Garden, Miami, FL. Photo of Roger Masson by Kathalinna Zuniga/CC BY 4.O.

Hello! My name is Roger Masson, and I am 20 years old. I am a student at FIU studying International Relations. Given my major, the classes I take are typically limited to politics and history—subjects that genuinely fascinate me. However, with this class, I uncovered a different side of myself— appreciating art, nature, and the joy of giving back to the community. I have grown to understand the vibrant culture and uniqueness of the city that I am privileged enough to call home!

GEOGRAPHY

Coral Gables is a community in the county of Miami-Dade and is located south of the Miami International Airport. The city’s boundary begins on South-West Eight Street and 57th Avenue, known as Red Road, and extends to 37th Avenue, known as Douglas Road. This is a residential city with a bustling business community and many restaurants and exciting shops. A remarkable geographic feature for this city includes waterfront access—seen in the stunning Gables by the Seaand in Matheson Hammock Park. The following communities: Pinecrest, South Miami, Coconut Grove, West Miami, and Little Havana neighbor Coral Gables. This city’s geography puts it in a rather sought-after spot given its proximity to key attractions such as Key Biscayne, Brickell, and Miami Beach, and especially the international airport.

Map of Coral Gables taken at the Coral Gables Museum by Roger Masson/CC BY 4.0

HISTORY

            The history of Coral Gables is rather exciting and is linked to the current features of this city. George Merrick, the founder of this beautiful city, took great inspiration from the Spanish colonial influence in Mexico and other Central American countries, wanting to introduce this style right here in Miami. (Tour of City of Coral Gables Museum) George Merrick, whose family moved down to Miami from Massachusetts, purchased a great deal of land known as Coral Gables. He later divided and sold off the lots. Mr. Merrick infused his vision of a city emulating Mediterranean, Andalusian Spanish, and Arabic ambiances.  For this reason, Coral Gables’ architecture and urban design resemble a fuse of this region and its characteristics. This feature adds to the uniqueness of this zone, influencing the home prices and the demographics greatly. 

DEMOGRAPHICS

The chart below phenomenally assesses Coral Gables’ demographics. What stands out in this analysis is the large White-Hispanic and White Non-Hispanic population, while the black population reflects a minute sector of the population—at three percent. Additionally, it is worth stating that the median age is 27 for its native-born population and 52 for its foreign-born population. Its median household income is $100,000. (Datausa) 

image Retrieved on https://datausa.io/

Resident Interview: Angelica Franganillo Diaz

Angelica is a senior at Florida International University and is studying Political Science. She is considering a career in Law and is in the process of applying for Law School. 

Interview with Angelica Franganillo, Resident of the City of Coral Gables, Florida:

Photo of Angelica Franganillo/CC BY 4.0.

1.         Where are you from, and how long have you lived in Coral Gables?

“I was born and raised in Carolina, Puerto Rico, and I moved to Coral Gables in 2019, when I transferred to FIU from the University of Puerto Rico.”

2.         What drove you to move to Coral Gables?

“First, location. Since I study at FIU, Coral Gables is only 20 minutes away, and I am also close to the airport, which is important since I travel to Puerto Rico very often to see my family. But I was inspired to move to Coral Gables because of the beautiful architecture and how safe this city is.”

3.         What is your favorite thing to do in Coral Gables?

“I love walking on Miracle Mile with some friends and having coffee at Crema. I also enjoy roaming through Books and Books— it is one of my favorite spots!”

LANDMARKS

Biltmore Hotel: 1200 Anastasia Ave, Coral Gables, FL  33134

Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables, FL. Photo by Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0

Elegance, class, and beauty fall short at categorizing the Coral Gables Biltmore Hotel. It was built in 1925 by George Merrick in cahoots with John McEntee Bowman in efforts to “serve as a hostelry to crowds which were thronging to Coral Gables but also would serve as a center of sports and fashion.” (Biltmore Hotel History) During the wars, the hotel was used as a hospital for the army and endured many difficulties due to numerous instances of economic disarray—however, the Biltmore’s essence prevailed and continues to serve as a hotel and one of the most distinguished landmarks in Coral Gables

City Hall of Coral Gables:405 Biltmore Way, Coral Gables, Florida 33134

Coral Gables City Hall, Coral Gables, FL. Photo by Roger Masson/CC BY 4.0.

The City Hall of Coral Gables epitomizes the majestic nature of this city, serving as an impressive structure, welcoming those entering. What stands out about this building is its Mediterranean Revival style with elements of Miami, given that it is primarily made of coral rock. (Prof. Bailly lecture, 2021)

Coral Gables Elementary School: 105 Minorca Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33134

Coral Gables Elementary School, Photo By Roger Masson/CC BY 4.0.

This elementary school merits recognition as a landmark given its centrality in George Merrick’s plans for this city, and its original design remains largely intact. Its antique features illustrate the way schools were designed to allow students to connect more with nature. 

GREEN
Biltmore Golf Course: 1210 Anastasia Ave, Coral Gables, FL  33134

Biltmore Golf Course. Photo by Roger Masson/CC BY 4.0.

Granada Golf Course:2001 Granada Blvd, Coral Gables, FL  33134

Granada Golf Course. Photo by Roger Masson/CC by 4.0.

If you are an avid golfer, Coral Gables is the place to be! Two prominent golf courses in this city include the Biltmore Golf Course and the Granada Golf Course. These places include ample greenery and an area allocated for walking around the course. Both locations are meticulously maintenance making it quite a delight to walk down these beautiful golf courses—even if golf is not of your particular interest.

Matheson Hammock Park: 9610 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables, FL 

Matheson Hammock Park. Photo by Roger Masson/CC BY 4.0.

Matheson Hammock Park offers an area of greenery while also providing a great beach area to take pictures and enjoy a day with friends. Entrance prices are relatively affordable: five dollars per car on weekdays and seven dollars on holidays and weekends. This park is famous for memorable occasion photos like graduations and fifteens pictures. Moreover, it is also recognized for housing the remarkable restaurant: Red Fish Grill.

TRANSPORTATION

Coral Gables is home to several modes of transportation, connecting its residents to the rest of Miami while facilitating access to visitors. 

The Metro-Rail Station is one fundamental mode of transportation. It is positioned in two sectors of the city—the Douglas station on 37th avenue and US1 and the University station situated in front of University Miami on US1. The Metro-Rail serves as an essential mechanism that connects individuals from a primarily suburban area, with a sizable university student population to Downtown Miami and Brickell, which are business centers and home to attractive nightlife. It is an incredible option for those who do not have a car and those trying to avoid driving, following a green initiative. Parking is available at an affordable cost, allowing commuters to avoid traffic and save a fortune on parking. Also, it helps reduce their carbon footprint.

            Moreover, the Miami-Dade County Bus System also serves as a central transportation mechanism given the dispersed nature of bus stops in this city and its affordable pricing at $2.25 to hop on. Via the bus, individuals can get around the city and the essential areas, especially the Metro-Rail. Additionally, the Coral Gables Trolley is another option that is free of price to anyone interested in hopping on. The stops are positioned in important sectors such as Miracle Mile and Ponce de Leon, alleviating the cost of transportation—and most importantly—parking. 

            Driving is also a common way for Coral Gables residents to get around. The existing public transportation might be better than other areas such as the Redlands, where I grew up. However, Miami is a city that is exceptionally spread out, and some destinations are not easily accessed by public transportation. Driving offers a much faster alternative than public transportation at times. 

Walking or Bicycle Riding around the city of Coral Gables is possible and adds to the distinctiveness of this city. The urban design of Coral Gables makes it feasible to walk and explore certain parts of the city, such as Miracle Mile and its adjacent streets. This area, in particular, was designed to allow for a comfortable walk to your favorite restaurant or shopping destination. To this feature, Giralda Avenue was closed off to traffic and is a phenomenal spot to walk and find a delicious place to have lunch or dinner.

Giralda Avenue. Photo By Roger Masson/CC BY 4.0.

            Transportation in Coral Gables offers various options that truly help make this city accessible and an appealing site to visit. Due to the urban planning of the city of Miami as a whole, the city is difficult to connect entirely, and it affects the way people from the western sectors of town depend on public transportation. However, it is neat to note that Coral Gables is an outstanding example of a city that offers various means of transportation and invests in ways to limit the number of cars on the road.

FOOD

Café Demetrio:

Cafe Demetrio. Photo By Roger Masson/CC BY 4.0.

To begin, Café Demetrio is one spot that cannot be ignored when visiting Coral Gables. This spot holds the record for being the first coffee house. It stands out for being an 18th-century European style-café. When visiting, the French Toast and caramel latte are out of this world and worth trying!

Zucca Restaurant

Zucca. Photo By Roger Masson/CC BY 4.0.

Zucca is a world-class Italian restaurant located at the Hotel St. Michel on Alcazar Avenue, on the first floor. This restaurant truly captivates you from the outside with its picturesque vibes and draws you into an environment of pure elegance. This spot is perfect for a special occasion or a romantic evening. It is on the pricey side, but the exceptional cuisine and delightful ambiance make it entirely worth it! 

Talavera Cocina Mexicana

Talavera Cocina Mexicana. Photo By Roger Masson/CC By 4.0.

Talavera Cocina Mexicana gifts the city of Coral Gables with an authentic taste of Mexican cuisine. Its name originates from the fine pottery unique to Mexico, highlighting its roots and national pride. This is a perfect place to grab brunch on the weekend and enjoy their delicious Tacos de Barbacoa. This restaurant also includes vegetarian options. 

BUSINESSES

Back and Forth Miami: 226 Almeria Avenue Coral Gables, Florida. 

Screenshot of Back and Forth Miami’s Instagram Account.

Back and Forth Miami takes shopping to another level. This clothing store offers a matchless shopping experience for men’s clothing, with carefully curated products that range from streetwear and menswear. This store stands out for its top-notch customer service and its dedication to making each customer feel special. 

Veneta Cucine

Veneta Cucine, Coral Gables, Florida. Photo By Roger Masson/CC BY 4.O.

Veneta Cucine, located on Miracle Mile, is a state-of-the-art kitchen manufacturer and is proudly a family business that has been around for forty years. This Italian enterprise made it down to Coral Gables, providing this city with top-grade Italian kitchen cabinets and more. Its showroom truly demonstrates that this business represents pure luxury. 

Books and Books

Books and Books, Coral Gables, Florida. Photo By Roger Masson/CC BY 4.0.

Instead of buying books from Amazon or any other chain company, it would be nice to think about buying from our local, independent bookstores. Books & Books, located directly in front of the Colombian Consulate, is a great way to show your support for such a staple business in our community and its central role in enriching us with knowledge. This place is one of my favorite places to purchase a new book and enjoy an iced latte. 

SUMMARY

The city of Coral Gables adds tremendously to the culture and genuineness of Miami. Whether you are looking to delight in an elegant dinner, walk in the park, or appreciate the shopping scene of this great city, Coral Gables has it all. One detail that caught my attention while conducting this project is the demographic feature of Coral Gables. This city is predominantly White Hispanic and White Non-Hispanic, and only a mere 3% of the population is African American/ Black. This speaks on a more pressing issue that continues to affect our city—the systemic features of racial segregation, supported by the city’s founder, as evidenced by Prof. Bailly. It is lamentable that remnants of this dark period of our history are still reflected in contemporary times.

Citations:

https://datausa.io/profile/geo/coral-gables-fl

https://www.backandforthmiami.com

http://www.talaveracocinamexicana.com

http://www.cafedemetrio.com

https://coralgablesmuseum.org

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