Thwin Thet Su San: Wynwood 2021

STUDENT BIO

Picture of Thwin Thet Su San at Wynwood, Picture taken by Balazs Kornis , 2019 (CC by 4.0)


Thwin Thet Su San is a Sophomore student studying Finance at Florida International University. She dreams of working as a corporate lawyer after finishing grad school. She came to Miami from Yangon, Myanmar after finishing high school to explore, learn and grow in a new environment. Miami is a wonderful place for her to explore cultures other than the one she had grown up in for the past 17 years. She hopes that she will be able to gain amazing new experiences every week that she spends exploring Miami. Other than that, she loves reading fantasy and other novels in her free time. This will be a great course as she will be able to leave the books and explore the real world.

GEOGRAPHY

Map of Wynwood from Google


Wynwood is a neighborhood in the City of Miami. It is bordered by I-95 on the west I-195 in the north, on the east by a the train tracks and in the south by NW 20th Street. Wynwood exhibits amazing contemporary and street art pieces both on walls surrounding businesses or in galleries. Moreover Wynwood is known for its aesthetic businesses, bars and of course the murals that spread across Wynwood. Before it became a place for art and fashion, it was known as Little San Juan due to its growing Puerto Rican population.What was first abandoned warehouses in the neighborhood started to transform into artist studios, restaurants, bars and cafes in the early 2000s. Wynwood became what it is today thanks to to Tony Goldman, who was a developer for the neighborhood. Wynwood primarily has lorries buildings made of old warehouses and factories.

HISTORY

picture of Josiah Chaille from History-miami


With the history of almost 100 years, Wynwood has been known for its diverse cultures and the gentrification. It is only fair that we delve into how Wynwood became what it is today. Josiah Chaille and Hugh Anderson were two of the people who contributed into developing and founding Wynwood after purchasing the area of Wynwood back in 1917. Originally, the area was a farmland and was part of North Miami. Josiah took part in providing naming and numbering system for Wynwood as part of the Miami City Council which came to be known as the Chaille Plan. Chaille, along with Anderson, named the place Wyndwood. After the city of Miami built a park, it dropped its “d” from the name and became known as the Wynwood Park. Afterwards, the Park was dropped from the name and people now refer to it as Wynwood.

When Wynwood was first developing, it was a working class neighborhood as there were restaurants and even a Coca-Cola bottling plant. This gives an opportunity for working class people to work and also live in Wynwood. During the mid-1950s, Wynwood became to be known as “Little San Juan” due to a large population Puerto Ricans that were moving into the area. Due to this, there were a lot of public areas that were developed. The Wynwood Park that was built in 1920s was now renamed to Roberto Clemente Park after the death of the Puerto Rican baseball player. Numerous public establishments were also renamed accordingly to the Puerto Rican residents living as well. Directly correlated to Wynwood’s economy downfall was the leaving of Puerto Rican residents who held much influence to the development of both the Fashion District and Art District.

As it developed, Wynwood can be categorized into three different districts known was Fashion District, Art District and Technology district. The Miami Fashion District began its influence in 1920 with the development of garment industry in Wynwood. This district was located in Northwest 5th Avenue and between Northwest 22nd and Northwest 29th street. Most of the workers for these industry were Cubans who were migrating to Miami, who contributed to growing the garment industry. As the garment district gets more well known and the prices of the land were increasing in 1980s, the manufacturers started to move to a new area to be close to their workers who now lives in area such as Hialeah. Still this does not stop the Miami Fashion District to expand and influence the vibrant culture of Wynwood.

The Miami Art District is part of the district where different murals are displayed on walls, collections and galleries. In the early 1990s, the design district was falling into an abandoned place with no development. But with the help of Tony Goldman in the early 2000s, we can see the development of the area as well as the increase in real estate prices. This part of the district was influenced by the urban developer Tony Goldman who took part in developing South Beach, areas of New York and more. He had a vision to turn abandoned warehouses into artistic spaces. Currently, this district contains high-end brand shops such as Louis Vuitton, Prada and more, to restaurants from award winning chefs, to art galleries.

DEMOGRAPHICS

According to data provided by Miami DDA, population of Wynwood is estimated to be around 7,721 among 109,617 people in the whole Greater Downtown. With data provided by point2homes, they surveyed that the Male population was 47.5 % and the Female population was 52.5%. Wynwood is made up of different people that are from US and from abroad. US born citizen making up 56.55% of the population, Citizen not born in US making up 23.7% and people that are not citizen make up 19.87%. The population includes 70.5% White people, 19.11% are African American and Asian population making up 1.28%.Even then, only 1.32% of people make up the population of people who moved from abroad. The average age of the population living in Wynwood was 36 with white collars making up 72.1% while blue collar workers were 27.9%.

The average income according to point2homes was $40,397 with median household income being $28,484. The income also depends on the age as well with people under 25 earning 31,000, people in-between 25-44 earning 33,000 and people between 45-64 earning 29,000

Interview with Kelvin, an employee
Picture of Thwin Thet Su San and Kelvin Khant at Wynwood Walls, taken by a random tourist, 2019, (CC by 4.0)

Kelvin is 20, a student at U Miami, originally from Burma and is also a friend of Thwin Thet Su San. Kelvin currently lives in University of Miami dorms but he was previously working at BND burgers until it got closed down.

Why did you choose to work in the Wynwood neighborhood?

I was first looking at other places to work at but Wynwood is a really amazing community to work in. I also work until late so it is convenient for me to work there since there are a lot of people frequenting even late at night and most of the shops are still open. It’s easy dinner for me when I finish work. I also found out the people are really nice and chill so it was easy to work at.

What Is your favorite place in Wynwood?

My favorite has to be 1-800-lucky because it has reasonable price and I love the ramen from Usagi Tokyo. I also love that they have taiyaki ice cream. Makes it easy for me cause I don’t need to go anywhere else. But I also love the luxury shops that are around there. I always have to keep myself in check not to spend on luxury branded shirts!

What is your least favorite place in Wynwood?

I would say panther cafe. Nothing against it really. It’s just the line is long so when I am on a coffee run, its hard to get a coffee in time for the shift. Also I hate parking there. Usually before my shift, that’s when the all the people starts coming for their night outs and it usually takes me 10 minutes to find a parking spot that is near BND burgers since it is located right across the Wynwood Walls.

LANDMARKS

Wynwood walls
Picture of Wynwood Walls by Thwin Thet Su San, 2021 (CC by 4.0)

The Wynwood Walls were founded by Tony Goldman in 2009 in effort to make a thriving neighborhood full of culture and art. Tony was a real estate developer and a visionary who saw the potential in Wynwood. Wynwood Walls now contains art that changes from time to time, painted by national, local and even international street artists. Wynwood wall is a place for emerging and highly acclaimed artists and has more than 40 artists’ works currently on display. These art displays gave way to fame and recognition and even to show the process of the painting as the murals were done from scratch in front of audiences. It’s a mesmerizing process that once we saw the effort and time that goes into it, we can appreciate it more than seeing a painting. Moreover, it also generates economic growth by mentioning arts from different parts of the world.

Marguiles collection
Picture of Margulies collection by Thwin Thet Su San, 2021 (CC by 4.0)

Margulies collection is a studio near Wynwood that contains different types of art pieces. The Margulies collection was set up back in 1999 by Martin Margulies who was an avid collector of different art pieces.The collection has sculptures, paintings, photographs and short movies. The collection from the exterior seems small and subtle compared to all the extravagant colored graffiti that surrounds the neighborhood. Inside, was a 50,000 square foot warehouse full of vibrant and enticing art. The collection held arts from different artists around the world such as Isamu Noguchi, Anselm Kiefer, Peter Coffin and so much more. Every piece of art was mesmerizing and so was the moving digital art that were displayed across the warehouse. Admission is free for Florida students but $10 for other people. Considering the money will be given to charity, it is worth it to spend a small entry fee to see all the mesmerizing art pieces.

Miami Art Walk
Thwin Thet Su San and friends at Miami Art Walk by Thwin Thet Su San / CC 4.0

Miami Art Walk is held on every other Saturdays, starting at 6:00 pm until late at night. The streets are packed with different foods from different cultures and hundreds of art pieces. During this time, the visitors get to see the Miami art scene at night time and get to enjoy all that the small businesses have to offer. It takes place at 2250 NW 2nd Ave at the Wynwood Market place where there are bars, food trucks, live music, entertainment zones and vendors for different small businesses such as jewelry, clothes, and sunglasses to name a few.

GREEN

Roberto Clemente Park
Apple map image of Roberto Clemente Park

Roberto Clemente Park, also previously named as Wynwood Park is a gorgeous park that spans for 25 acres. This park marks the influence of Puerto Ricans who held a great influence in the development and the economic recession of Wynwood back in 1980s. Roberto Clemente Park was also named after the late Roberto Clemente, who was a Puerto Rican baseball player who passed away in 1972.

Robert E Lee Park
Apple map image of Robert E Lee Park

Robert E Lee park is located beside Jose De Diego Middle School, which is now renamed as Jose de Diego park, honoring a Puerto Rican nationalism hero. The name change was also caused by an outrage of people who did not want a confederate general Robert E Lee to be honored anymore due to racism that Lee has done.

TRANSPORTATION

Cycle party is a pedal tour around Wynwood where tourists cycle to visit bars and restaurants that are located within Wynwood. Each bike seats around 16 people and from what I have seen, it is one of the best ways to see Wynwood and also to indulge in alcoholic fun. It showcases everything Wynwood has to offer while also requiring minimum effort.

Other than the Cycle party, Other type of transport around Wynwood includes Miami’s free trolley service and the Metro mover. Metro mover is a free to ride train system that operates at Downtown Miami. All of them provide no parking needed and cheap and easy way to enjoy Wynwood.

FOOD

Picture of Balazs Kornis and Thwin Thet Su San with Taiyaki ice cream, 2019 (CC by 4.0)

The one main reason I frequently go to Wynwood is for its food. I fell in love with all the amazing restaurants and food trucks that seems to be located in Wynwood. One of the amazing places with different type of food that I like to go is 1-800-lucky. It might not be as amazing and true to asian cuisines but it is close. Their dumplings and the taiyaki ice creams are amazing and made to perfection. Another place that I love to go is to OMAKAI sushi. This is quite a high priced restaurant that specializes in fresh seasonal fish sushi that melts in your mouth. It shows to the extent of how much asian culture, especially Japanese culture have made its way into Miami.

Picture of a local taco store’s taco taken by Thwin Thet Su San,2019 (CC by 4.0)

Other than that, one of my favorite way to get good food is through food trucks that serves tacos. One good place worthy of a mention is Coyo Taco. The tacos inside the Wynwood Market place held amazing beef and pork tacos. It is worth all the little money I have left in my bank card.

BUSINESSES

Picture from Wynwood brewing company


Wynwood brewing company is a brewery founded by Luis Brignoni and it is also the first craft brewery in Miami. The brews are influenced by the surroundings of Wynwood. It is located in the Art District where there are a lot of warehouses in the place of the garment factories. Wynwood is also a place full of small businesses that seems to sell authentic and cute clothes and accessories as well. Wynwood Tribe store is a clothing store where they sell up cycled clothing for both men and women. I have been there and the prices in there are moderate and they have really cute clothes.

Screenshot taken from Panther coffee’s website

One of the busiest places that people seem to line up for is panther coffee. Panther coffee is based in Miami which sells Coffee beans and even has a store in Wynwood. This place is usually packed with customers wanting to get a cup of freshly brewed coffee at a normal price. For what we have to pay for it, it is definitely worth the money.

SUMMARY


Wynwood is a place of different culture that blends well together with each other. What first started as a farmland and where there were not much development is now a central hub for artists to express their feelings and for visitors to have fun and enjoy their time looking at all the art surrounding them. With prices for real estate sky high in this area, it can also be expensive to enjoy the restaurants and businesses in the area. But if you’re visiting the galleries and galleries only, it can be worth the price since all of these galleries are either free or a fee of small amount of 2 tacos($10) in Wynwood.

It is amazing to see how far a neighborhood has come but yet disappointing when people trash all over the place making the art district seem cheap and bad looking. It is also sad to see there are not much green environment around the area as well. Yet, Wynwood is a place where different culture come together like colors mixing to form a more beautiful color. People laughing on the street with strangers with no care for their race or who they are. All these cultures mixing together is the embodiment of what Wynwood is meant to be.


CITATIONS

Elfrink, Tim. “Activists Want to Erase Wynwood’s Robert E. Lee Park, but Officials Say It Doesn’t Actually Exist.” Miami New Times, 17 Aug. 2017, http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/miamis-robert-e-lee-park-should-go-activists-say-9590432.

“History of Wynwood Miami.” Miami History Blog, 29 Sept. 2020, miami-history.com/history-of-wynwood-miami/.

“Household Income, Wynwood Population & Demographics – Point2.” Real Estates for Sale & Rent by Point2, http://www.point2homes.com/US/Neighborhood/FL/Wynwood-Demographics.html.

“Miami Design District.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 23 Sept. 2006, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miami_Design_District. Accessed 25 Apr. 2021. 

“Tony Goldman.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 17 Oct. 2012, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Goldman. Accessed 25 Apr. 2021. 

“Wynwood.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 31 Jan. 2007, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wynwood. Accessed 25 Apr. 2021. 

“Wynwood’s Thriving Arts & Culture Scene.” MiamiandBeaches.com, http://www.miamiandbeaches.com/things-to-do/art-and-culture/wynwoods-thriving-arts-culture-scene.

Miami DDA – Economic Development Miami – Tourism Miami | Miami DDA, http://www.miamidda.com/wp-content/uploads/MDDA_DemoPopReport_05072018.pdf.

Panther Coffee, http://www.panthercoffee.com.

Wynwood Brewing Company, 5 Mar. 2021, wynwoodbrewing.com.

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