Hello! My name is Oscar Roa, my pronouns are he/him/his, and I’m a third-year mechanical engineering student from Bogotá, Colombia. I love going out and exploring Miami with my friends, working out, and playing music. I am always eager to learn from people who have different lifestyles and backgrounds from mine.
Imagery @2021 CNES/Airbus, Maxar Technologies, Sanborn, U.S. Geological Survey, Map data@ 202
Riverside, also known nowadays as East Little Havana, is located at 25° 46′ 25″ N, 80° 12′ 30″ W (GeoHack). It started developing soon after the City of Miami was established. The urban landscape of Riverside is comprised of mainly residential areas. However, it is also home to LoanDepot Park, the Miami Marlin’s baseball stadium, and decks on the river area. When it comes to its natural landscape, Riverside has several parks that we will discuss in the Green section of this blog, as well as the Miami River. The most important sources of income for the city of Riverside are
The city of Riverside began its rapid growth soon after the railroad was brought by Henry Flagler in 1896. The most influential people who were responsible for Riverside’s development were the Tatum brothers and their company Lawrence State Land Company. Thanks to the railroad, the value of property in Riverside increased drastically, and it got even higher in 1915 with the introduction of the Flagler Street Trolley. Thanks to both the railroad and the trolley, later on, there was a great economic influx and thus a great development. With time, churches and businesses settled in the area. In the 1920s, thanks to Miami’s real estate boom, the city of Riverside expanded greatly. There were new roads, like the representative 8th street, which allowed for greater development. Additionally, there was a great inflow of Jewish people who brought their businesses with them to Riverside. (Calle Ocho News).
After the end of World War 2, there was an era of economic prosperity in the U.S., which ignited a second real estate boom in Miami. There was a rapid development of suburban areas in Miami, which prompted the migration of Riverside residents into the new suburban developments. This left open space in Riverside, which was promptly filled by the Hispanic community (primarily Cuban) in the 1960s. The main reason for the great influx of Cuban immigrants was the Cuban revolution (July 26, 1953 – January 1, 1959). (Calle Ocho News).
Riverside demographics are listed below. (Niche).
- Master’s degree or higher: 4%
- Bachelor’s degree: 12%
- Some college or associate’s degree: 17%
- High school diploma or equivalent: 33%
- Less than high school diploma: 34%
- Hispanic: 93%
- White: 4%
- African American: 3%
- Two or more races: 0%
- American Indian or Alaska native: 0%
- Asian: 0%
- Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander: 0%
- Other race: 0%
- Male: 53%
- Female: 47%
- <10 years: 10%
- 10-17 years: 8%
- 18-24 years: 6%
- 25-34 years: 16%
- 35-44 years: 13%
- 45-54 years: 15%
- 55-64 years: 12%
- 65+ years: 21%
Median Household Income: $22,263
- <$25k: 54%
- $25-$44k: 21%
- $45-$74k: 15%
- $75-$149k: 9%
- $150k+: 1%
Interview to Gloria Moreno:
Oscar: “Please introduce yourself and describe your relationship with Riverside.”
Gloria: “My name is Gloria Moreno, I was born in Cienfuegos, Cuba, and I came to the United States in 1987 with my family. I have been living in Riverside since then.”
Oscar: “What has changed since you first arrived? What has stayed the same?”
Gloria: “Many things have changed since I came. Everything is different. There has been a lot of construction and modernization. What hasn’t changed is the way I feel in Little Havana. I feel safe and I feel that I am at my home away from home.”
Oscar: “If you were given the chance to move anywhere else in the world, would you?”
Gloria: “Absolutely not. I have a great life settled here and I appreciate it a lot. I am already too old to be thinking about starting a new life somewhere else.”
Oscar: “Thank you very much for your time.”
Gloria: “It’s my pleasure.”
Photos by Oscar Roa/CC by 4.0
Riverside has several museums, monuments, historical landmarks. The majority of them are around 8th street (Calle Ocho), and the Cuban heritage of Miami. Among these, we have MDC’s Tower Theater Miami, Calle Ocho Walk of Fame, Calle Ocho Museum and Performing Arts Center, The Cuban Memorial Boulevard, The Calvary Baptist Church, and the Loan Depot Park. The latter is more of a modern-day landmark but it’s very significant in Miami’s and the United States’ baseball culture. I’m going to further expand on three of my favorite landmarks:
Loan Depot Park:
“LoanDepot Park (formerly Marlins Park and officially stylized as loanDepot park) is a retractable roof baseball park located in Miami, Florida. It is the current home of the Miami Marlins, the city’s Major League Baseball franchise. It is located on 17 acres of the former Miami Orange Bowl site in Little Havana, about 2 miles west of Downtown. Construction was completed in March 2012 for the 2012 season.” (Wikipedia).
Calle Ocho Walk of Fame:
Also called the Latin Walk of Fame, the Calle Ocho Walk of Fame was established in 1988 to recognize Latin celebrities with ties to South America. It runs between 12th Avenue and 17th Avenue. (Cafe la Carreta).
Calle Ocho Museum and Performing Arts Center:
“Considered to be a mainstay of the arts renaissance in Little Havana, Cubaocho is a museum and gathering space where art, music, dance, cigars, and mojitos converge. Art lovers can gaze at the museum’s large collection of 19th century and early- to mid-20th century Cuban art as they sip on a cocktail. Besides its art collection, Cuba Ocho is also home to a research library and cafe bar boasting an impressive selection of rums.” (CubaOcho).
Photos by Oscar Roa/CC by 4.0
As far as parks and green areas, there are only a few considering the great number of residencies in Riverside. These are the Grove Park, the Grove Mini Park, the Ernesto Lecuona Park, Riverside Park, and the Jose Marti Park.
Jose Marti Park:
The Jose Marti Park was named after the Cuban patriot and poet who devoted his life to the idea of liberating his country. The park is 1.7 acres of green space along the Miami River. There are different recreational activities like basketball courts, an indoor gym, a six-lane, 25-meter pool, and a recreation building among others. The park also offers free yoga classes on Tuesdays on a first-come, first-serve basis. (Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau).
Riverside Park is a small park located in the southeast area of Riverside. The park counts with two basketball courts, a baseball field, and a playground.
Maximo Gomez Park, better known as the Domino Park, is an iconic spot where Little Havana locals come to smoke cigars and to discuss the news over a game of dominoes. It is a common gathering spot for the families where the children can play and the parents can hang out. (The Jose Marti Park was named after the Cuban patriot and poet who devoted his life to the idea of liberating his country. The park is 1.7 acres of green space along the Miami River. There are different recreational activities like basketball courts, an indoor gym, a six-lane, 25-meter pool, and a recreation building among others. The park also offers free yoga classes on Tuesdays on a first-come, first-serve basis. (Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau).
The modes of public transportation in the city of Riverside are the Metrobus, taxicabs, and private transportation companies. The modes of private transportation are private vehicles, and along the Miami River, boats. As you can see on the map, riding the bus doesn’t give the people of Riverside access to the key stops like some of the public parks, or any location within the suburbs. This is a limiting factor that is common in the city of Miami, which tends to make owning a car a necessity for the people of Miami. A 15-minute commute by car can take an hour using public transportation.
Although there is a great deal of variety when it comes to the restaurants available in the city of Riverside, the most authentic and representative cuisine of Riverside is Cuban cuisine. After all, Riverside is also known as East Little Havana. Among the best restaurants in Riverside, we can find Versailles Restaurant, Sanguich de Miami, Azucar Ice Cream Company, Union Beer Store, Bar Nancy, Cafe La Trova, Los Altos, and El Santo Restaurant.
My top three restaurants to highlight for Cuban cuisine in Riverside are:
Azucar is an ice cream store located in Calle Ocho. It is well-known all-around Miami because of its great variety of flavors and its façade. It is a great spot to grab a delicious treat while visiting Calle Ocho’s tourist attractions. Its most popular ice cream flavor is “Abuela Maria”, it is made with vanilla ice cream, guava, and Maria cookies. It is featured in the picture above.
This is the World’s Most Famous Cuban Restaurant, it opened its doors in 1971, and quickly became the gathering place and unofficial town square for Miami’s Cuban exiles. Today, it remains the unrelenting gauge of the community’s pulse. (Versailles Restaurant).
Cafe la Trova:
“The world-famous Julio Cabrera and his team of Cantineros bring to life the retro Cuba atmosphere with their artisanal, handcrafted cocktails. James Beard Award-Winning Chef Michelle Bernstein lends her culinary prowess with a contemporary take on Cuban-styled dishes. Immerse yourself in Miami Cuban culture with live music played by real Trova musicians.” (Cafe La Trova).
There are many different kinds of businesses in the city of Riverside. Ranging from family-owned restaurants, salons, and stores; to well-established companies and multinationals. I highlighted three companies from three different fields to show the diversity of businesses in Riverside.
“RMK Merrill-Stevens is a full-service shipyard dedicated to the refit and repair of the world’s finest yachts and vessels. Work is of the highest international standards and meets Classification Societies requirements, including ABS, Lloyds, and US Coast Guard Regulations. The shipyard handles many diverse projects of all sizes including major refits, rebuilds, and reconfigurations (including reengineering and repowering). RMK Merrill-Stevens adheres strictly to the Client’s individual needs, privacy, and confidentiality, whilst ensuring on time and to budget delivery upon completion.”(RMK Merrill-Stevens).
“Nuro Marketing Agency is a full-service web design, internet marketing, and web development agency offering integrated web solutions for businesses around the world.” (Nuro Marketing).
DMI Asphalt Equipment, LLC:
“Our company, initially incorporated in Miami; Fl has been serving customers in The Caribbean, Central, and South America since 1988. The main core of our business is exporting asphalt plants, aggregate equipment, and general construction machinery. We offer after-sale technical services including plant setup and calibration, personnel training, 24-hour spare parts shipment, and custom fabrications if required.” (DMI Asphalt Equipment, LLC).
As you were able to see throughout this blog, Riverside is a very complex and rich city. It has a very significant Cuban influence and it is a very important place for Cuban history and culture; it has several museums and cultural sites which celebrate the Cuban heritage. Despite the fact that it was originally occupied by the Jewish community and it was a very luxurious place to live, housing in the city of Riverside isn’t as expensive as many other areas in Miami nowadays. The average household income is $22,263, $40,580 below the national average. This might be due to the fact that the average education level of its inhabitants is low compared to the national average, having 34% of its inhabitants with less than a high school diploma compared to the national average of 12%. Riverside’s most iconic landmark is up to personal interpretation, people might say it is the Loan Depot Park because of the size of the structure and the huge role that baseball plays in American Culture. However, I would argue that Riverside’s most iconic landmark is Calle Ocho because of its cultural importance. Calle Ocho not only represents Cuban culture but Miami’s culture as well.
I invite you to visit Riverside and the landmarks highlighted in this blog. Experience this neighborhood and learn from its history, it will give you a good idea of Miami’s culture and history.
Paul S. George “Riverside, Little Havana’s First Neighborhood Part 1″. January 9, 2019.
Paul S. George “Riverside, Little Havana’s First Neighborhood Part 2″. January 31, 2019.
Tompkins, Wayne. “Commissioners OK Plan to Have Marlins Change Name, Spring-Training Site”. Miami Today. May 24, 2007.
Ramos, Roberto “The Ramos Cuban Art Collection (1800-1958)”. 2020.
Cardona, Carolina “Explore Calle Ocho in Little Havana” Jul 7, 2021.