Verónica Guzmán Betancourt: Bal Harbour 2021

   All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

Student Bio

Verónica Guzmán Betancourt is a Junior at Florida International University in Miami, Florida.  She is pursuing a major in Psychology as well as Natural and Applied Sciences, while being a member of the Honors College. After graduation in early 2023, she plans on continuing her education in Forensic Psychology.

Geography

Village of Bal Harbour in Miami, Florida. Photo taken from Google Maps/ CC by 4.0

Bal Harbour is a small village in Miami, Florida. So much so, that many people fail to realize that it is its own established village, shadowed by the better known nearby cities of Aventura and Sunny Isles Beach. According to the last U.S Census, the Census Reporter states the current size of Bal Harbour to be 0.4 square miles. Although most of the area is land, most of the important parts of Bal Harbour are water.  

The village is the northernmost part of the Miami Beach barrier island. Traffic mainly passes though Collins Avenue, which clearly separates the living area from the commercial side. To the west of Collins Avenue, apartments and houses can be found alongside the famous Bal Harbour Shops. To the east of Collins Avenue, beachside hotels run along the coast. 

The village is surrounded by water from the west, east, and north. The southern city limits are denoted by the Kane Concourse, south of which begins the city of Surfside. The northside of Bal Harbour opens up to a channel that connects Key Biscayne to the Atlantic Ocean. Running across the channel, Collins Avenue becomes a bridge that connects the village to Haulover Park.

History

   All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

The village of Bal Harbour is located in the county of Miami-Dade in South Florida. The village is about 8 miles north of the well-known Miami Beach. The story of its establishment is quite long, as the village was incorporated on August 14, 1946. It can be considered to be a fairly modern village when compared to nearby cities.

The planning for the creation of Bal Harbour started as early as the 1920s. The Miami Beach Heights Corporation was the sole owner of the land, which was mostly uninhabitable as it was a swamp.

By the 1930s designers were brought into Miami to begin the design of Bal Harbour, which was originally to be named Bay Harbour. The word Bal comes from the fusion of the words bay and atlantic. Throughout the decade, many plans were made and sent for review. As the final touches were being made, World War II took the world by surprise. As Miami was a major city for the United States, the establishment of Bal Harbour had to be put aside. 

As head of the Miami Beach Heights Corporation, Robert C. Graham allowed the United States Air Corps to use the land, soon to become Bal Harbour, for their military purposes. After the war was over in mid-1945, the land began its conversion.

Demographics

   All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

From the last U.S census, the population of Bal Harbour was reported to be 3,004. This leads to an estimate of about 7,835 people per square mile of land. The median age for residents of the village is 51.6 years, which is about 25 percent higher than that of the state of Florida. 

The residents of the Bal Harbour are predominantly female, 55 percent. There seems to be a disproportion in the distribution of race and ethnicity in the area, as 58 percent are white and 35 percent are hispanic. Only 2 percent of the population is black and 3 percent is asian. 

The median household income in Bal Harbour is $76,962. When compared to that of the state as a whole, it is about 1.4 times higher. The median household income of Florida is about $55,660. There is an estimate of 1,424 households in the village, with about 2 persons each. Only 65 percent of couples living in Bal harbour are married, however only 48 percent of the entire population is married, leaving 52 percent to be single. These rates are similar to that of Florida, as it has a 51 percent rate of married residents. 

Almost 62 percent of the residents of Bal Harbour have a Bachelor’s degree or higher, which is over double the rate in Florida. About 31 percent of the population of the village has a postgraduate degree.

Interview with María José Giraldo

   All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

Veronica: Hi Maria, thank you so much for taking time to chat with me. To start off, could you please introduce yourself? 

Maria: I am a sophomore at FIU studying Biology with a pre-med track. I was born in New York to Colombian parents. I have lived in many places throughout my life, from the Americas to Europe. No other place has been as fascinating as Bal harbour, that’s for sure.

Veronica: What is your relationship with Bal Harbour? 

Maria: When we first moved to South Florida, we lived in Aventura for quite a while. My family became very acquainted with the area. My mother loved going to the Bal Harbour Shops, so growing up I would spend a lot of time there. On the weekends we would switch between Surfside and Bal Harbour. 

Veronica: What is your favorite aspect of Bal Harbour? 

Maria: I think that the best part of Bal Harbour is the water. I love the ocean, it was one of the things that I enjoy the most living here. I love that it’s the middle ground between fantasy and reality. Driving through Collins, I always feel like I’m in my own movie. 

Veronica: What is something you recommend for people to do in Bal Harbour? In particular, to those that might not know much about the village. 

Maria: Hands down it has to be watching the sunrise at the beach. I’ve been to other beaches down here but I don’t know. Bal Harbour is kind of a second home for me. 

Veronica: What is a downside to Bal Harbour? 

Maria: One of the most obvious things to Bal Harbour is how fancy and upscale everything is. It’s not really a place for everybody, it’s nice for a day or two but after that there’s not much to it. I soon realized how expensive and unattainable everything is there, at least for me as a working college student. 

Veronica: Thank you for your insight!

Maria: Thank you for putting Bal Harbour on the map!

Landmarks

More information on how to get involved with the arts and culture within Bal Harbour can be found on the village’s website.

One of the most popular landmarks in Bal Harbor is the Bal Harbor Shops. The village shops had recently reached its 75th year anniversary, as of 2021. Bal harbour’s rich history continues as it constantly flourishes with tourists from all over the world and is one of the most successful town square shops in the United states. 

The Bal Harbor Shops is currently being expanded. This massive project will cost around 500 million dollars to complete. This project will add around 241,600 square-feet to the shops along with an estimated 40 new restaurants and retail stores. The new expansion of Bal Harbor Shops will be completed by 2024. 

   All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

Another very successful landmark is the Ritz carlton. This hotel is one of the most popular places to stay in Miami, down from its massive luxurious rooms to its guest service. The hotel also offers a very nice venue for weddings which is also extremely popular among tourists, when visiting Miami. The location of the Ritz Carlton is defined as one of the best beach resorts in Miami, as you get to experience its pristine stretches of hot white sand and refreshing light blue ocean water. While experiencing such a breathtaking view, the Ritz Carlton offers fine dining that involves exclusive locally caught seafood.    

Green

   All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

Given the small and coastal nature of Bal Harbour, the only natural area within the village is the beach. The access to the beach can be slightly tricky, as the beach is public but most of it is restricted by the beachfront hotels. One must find metered parking throughout the village or use the valet parking provided by the hotels. Bal Harbour Shops does have a parking garage where you can pay an hourly rate, however the walk to the beach is longer than if walking from a hotel or nearby street parking.

Bal Harbour Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches South Florida has to offer. The environment there is a paradise on Earth. With the iconic palm trees and ocean breezes, this beach is beyond comparison. Known for its fine white sand, Bal Harbour is home to one of the most coveted vacation/getaway destinations South Florida has to offer. 

With the perfect tropical weather, Bal Harbour Beach is postcard worthy. Leaving your mind at ease, it is the perfect place to disconnect from all the worries and stress of daily life. The exclusivity of the beach makes you feel safe and excited to witness one of the prime locations in Miami.

Transportation

   All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

The best method for transportation around Bal Harbour is walking. The distances are less than a mile long and with Miami’s traffic coming all the way to Collins Avenue, walking is the most efficient way to get around the village. A car is only necessary when you are traveling outside Bal Harbour to adjacent cities. Most people who live here use the car to go to establishments like pharmacies or supermarkets when required. Bal Harbour is mostly a tourist city, which explains the heavy waves of traffic that move through it. The village is extremely popular with people coming in from Aventura and North Miami Beach as well. 

Unlike other parts of Miami, walking to your destinations within Bal Harbour allows you to get the most out of the village. The spectacular views are to be witnessed in its entirety, not through the limitations of the window of a car. Bal Harbour has been accommodated for its residents and visitors, providing safe and distinct walkways. The village does provide a shuttle service for its residents.

Bal Harbour’s small area is the perfect paradise destination. Given that it is a coastal city, the beach is one of its deciding factors. The use of public and private transportation is discouraged, unless traveling long distances to other parts of Miami. 

Food

Carpaccio

Carpaccio restaurant located in Bal Harbour Shops

Carpaccio is a popular Italian restaurant that opened over 25 years ago. Located in Bal Harbour Shops, it is attended by some of the most famous celebrities and powerful people of the area. The dishes are rich in flavour, one of the best in the village. 

Address: 9700 Collins Ave, Bal Harbour, FL 33154

King David Cuisine

Photo provided by King David Cuisine.

King david cuisine is famous for its multiple custom dishes and unique culinary knowledge. Some special dishes that they offer are Moroccan themed and come in a variety of styles. King david cuisine displays a beautiful dining area and a great customer service experience. Located in the heart of bal harbor, this restaurant won’t disappoint when it comes to its mediterranean and moroccan style dishes.  

This restaurant opened in 2018. 

Address: 10245 Collins Ave, Bal Harbour, Florida, 33154.

Makoto

Makoto restaurant in Bal Harbour Village

The Makoto in Bal harbor offers a variety of dishes that are all inspired by Japanese cuisine. Makoto is home to one of the most talented Edomae-style sushi chefs in Miami. Chef Makoto Okuwa has a career that has been constantly expanding for over 20 years. The chef had created his own take on Japanese style cuisine, starting from the age of 15 years old. 

Address: 9700 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33154

Businesses

Given the tourist nature of the village, most of the businesses here move around the business and commerce aspect.

Humannature

Founded in 1999, it is a public relations and communications agency focusing on science and technology.

Phone:  (305) 864-8224

10155 Collins Ave, Bal Harbour, FL 33154, USA

Talu Bisoneaux Hospitality

A business management consultant.

Phone: (744) 888-8840

9910 Collins Ave #5, Bal Harbour, FL 33154

CyberVision, Inc

A software company based within the Ritz-Carlton.

Phone: (201) 585-9809

10295 Collins Ave #804, Bal Harbour, FL 33154

Summary

Photograph provided by the village of Bal Harbour.

Even though South Florida is all about shopping and beaches, the exclusive and classy Bal Harbour adds to the individuality of Miami. With its fine resorts and amenities, the village welcomes travelers from all over the world to enjoy its breathtaking, natural beauty. 

With its establishment in the mid 1900s, the village is relatively modern and up to date with all the progressive technology. Always looking to accommodate its residents and visitors, Bal Harbour is pedestrian friendly and accessible to all. Collins Avenue, the main road going through the village, provides fast, easy, and sustainable movement. 

No matter who you are, you can visit and taste a little bit of paradise. It being such an upscale and elite area of Miami, Bal Harbour does come with its heavy weight on the wallet. The fine dining and resort style lifestyle might not be adequate for the average person. However, to enjoy the village, you do not need to spend exorbitant amounts of money. Taking a walk down Collins Avenue, with the palm trees and the ocean right beside you, is completely priceless. It is an experience unlike any other. It has no comparison to its southern neighbor Ocean Drive, the ambience is unmatched.

Citations

“All about Bal Harbour.” MiamiandBeaches.com, https://www.miamiandbeaches.com/neighborhoods/bal-harbour.

“Bal Harbour, Florida.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Oct. 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bal_Harbour,_Florida.

“Bal Harbour’s Art Access Program to Museums in Miami.” Bal Harbour, https://www.balharbourflorida.com/miami-arts-culture/access-program/.

“Carpaccio at Bal Harbour Shops Miami.” Bal Harbour Shops, 30 May 2021, https://www.balharbourshops.com/store-directory/carpaccio/.

Census Profile: Bal Harbour, FL. https://censusreporter.org/profiles/16000US1203275-bal-harbour-fl/.

“Kosher Glatt: King David Cuisine: United States.” King David Cuisine, https://www.kingdavidcuisine.biz/.

Makoto, https://makoto-restaurant.com/.

“Miami Travel Guide to Family Activities, Hotels, Bal Harbour Mall.” Bal Harbour, https://www.balharbourflorida.com/miami/travel-guide/.

https://www.allbiz.com/business/humannature_14-305-864-8224

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