My name is Amaranta Mattie Bailly and I am a proud Cuban-French-Floridian. I have grown up in Miami for the Majority of my life but have had the privilege to travel much of the world at a very young age. My education, passions, upbringing and goals drive me to constantly learn more about the world that I live in and how I can better it. I consistently find myself fascinated with various forms of artistic expression, as well as the environment and understanding its intricacies. Comprehending the profound history and facets of my hometown Miami will undoubtedly provide more clarity regarding where I hope my life, as well as hard work, will take me.
Much of my time as a child was spent in Princeton because I have a large amount of my family living in this area, and I have not failed to recognize the disheartening disparity between this community and others that I have had the pleasure of spending time in. I refuse to review and explore a portion of Miami that is constantly being visited, photographed and admired while ignoring the communities that are a part of Miami and that do not receive recognition because they are not as aestetically pleasing or saturated with weath. A lack of attention on these areas lead to a disgusting pattern of oppression and disadvantage for the residents.
Princeton is located on the west side of Ronald Reagan Turnpike and does not surpass SW. 147th Ave., meaning that both US1 and Goulds Canal Drive are within Princeton’s border’s. Princeton is a community that has had a unique and slower development, but is currently being populated at a rapid pace. The amount of inhabitants in this area has increased by 118% in the past decade. The 7.3 mi.² that make up Princeton is becoming absolutely packed with people and therefore much of the area is not under construction in order to build compact community homes. Not only does the increase in population bring much construction, but it also eradicates the vegetation that is a tranquil aspect of Princeton.
Gastron Drake named Princeton in the early 1900s and he began to grow this community by starting a lumber company that fueled the growth of Miami. This company grew in size over the 1910s and the keys as well as Cuba also received material from the Princeton lumber Company. This company existed until 1923, but many people remained in Princeton and homes began to be built in the area because the ground was now mostly flat land. Small parks remained, large plant nurseries exist in and around Princeton and a few mall stripsWere installed to convenience the growing population. Princeton is currently considered an unincorporated community, meaning that Princeton is not governed by its own corporation but is actually part of a CDP. A CDP, or census designated place, is a closely settled community that is not governed by a corporation but whose orders are identifiable for statistical purposes. It is safe to say that the Princeton community is not very strong because there is not a strong political or economic focus on improving the well-being of the area. The history of Princeton implies this land was originally used to fuel the foundation of other cities, therefore, it has not been a focus of development for the majority of its existence.
The Princeton community has a population of 32,000 people, which is 118.4% increase within the last decade. 71.8% of Princeton inhabitants are Hispanic, 18.7% are black and 6.4% or white. The remainder of the inhabitants are Asian or of mixed race. Princetons average per cabinet income is $23,893 meaning that the average income made in Princeton in the single given year is just about $11,000 above the poverty line. Princeton is in the 24th percentile for safety, meaning 76% of cities are safer than Princeton. The US average for violent crime is 22.7%, but in Princeton the average is 51.1%. The average property crime rate in the US is 35.4% and in Princeton the average is 59.2%.
Christopher Landress and I met freshman year of highschool at TERRA Environmental Research Institute, we remained good companions for years but lost touch after we graduated due to the COVID 19 pandemic. We recently got back in touch and have formed a massive bond over just a few months. This interview took place in his home in Princeton, Florida.
Interview with Christopher Landress
Amaranta: So Chris, do you mind introducing yourself for the recording?
Chris: Yeah, hey, I’m Chris, I’m 20 years old, I live in Princeton but work in Florida City.
Amaranta: OK, and you’ve lived in Princeton your whole life?
Chris: Yes, yeah, most of my family lives in Princeton. I live with my parents.
Amaranta: Do you enjoy living in Princeton?
Chris: It’s OK, most of our friends live up north, and that’s where everything fun to do actually is, I can always take out my four wheeler’s here or go to the keys. There’s just not much around.
Amaranta: What is your favorite part of living in Princeton?
Chris: Again, Probably the space, there’s a lot of open fields so I can always go outside. Plus, my dad and I are trying to fix the motorcycles I was telling you about so we could always take those out too.
Amaranta: That sounds like you have a place to bond with your dad. Do you see yourself moving out of Princeton soon?
Chris: I am, yeah, definitely. Why? I just don’t trust a lot of people around here. All my friends live up north or like in Miami. Also, I’ve always felt uncomfortable since the Andrea thing.
Amaranta: Can you explain what happened with Andrea? For the interview?
Chris: Well, you already know what happened, she got robbed, she was shot.
Amaranta: And she didn’t make it. I remember.
Amaranta: Thanks for letting me interview you, I really appreciate it.
I understand some of the dialogue between Christopher and I may be challenging to follow because of our personal relationship. I have slightly paraphrased so that our conversation can be better understood to individuals who do not know us personally. Andrea Camps-Lacayo was Chris’s good friend in highschool, and was my lab partner junior year. Later, I considered her a good acquaintance and always enjoyed her company. Andrea and her boyfriend were robbed at gunpoint in Princeton, Florida by two young men on April 7th, 2020. This altercation occurred because Andrea’s boyfriend was attempting to sell a pair of Yeezy shoes to the gentleman who robbed them. Andrea was reportedly shot in the abdomen, and shortly after died.
Andrea died at the young age of 18 years old, not even two months before she was supposed to graduate highschool alongside her boyfriend, her friends, as well as Chris and I. This tragic death deeply saddened the community, her classmates, her friends, but mostly her family. I clearly couldn’t possibly imagine the torturous pain of loosing a child, and I will not waste time attempting to explain the level of grief that I saw pouring out of her mother at her funeral.
I felt shocked that someone I had spent such a large amount of time with studying with and speaking to, even if we weren’t very close, could just be gone from one moment to the next. I felt and now feel great concern for my grandmother, tio’s, tia, cousins, and now Chris, who live in Princeton.
Location Study Preface
Princeton is an underfunded community that does not have a form of government to advocate for a massive population. I think that when people do not receive the help they need, they become desperate and make bad choices. This should be mentioned because Princeton has earned a foul reputation in comparison to the rest of Miami and the continued lack of attention that it has received continues to contribute to a more challenged society. A large portion of aiding communities in need should be admiring them for exactly what they are, and I have to say that despite the fact that Princeton is unsafe and underfunded, it is a strong and authentic part of Miami. Princeton plays a vital role in maintaining more desirable parts of the city and should receive more credit than it has previously. A deeper dive into the workings of Princeton will shed light onto just how hard this community works to thrive.
Puerto Vallarta is a tranquil eatery located off US one in Princeton Homestead and is incredibly popular with the locals because of The casual vibes. This place offers Mexican cuisine and much of the menu contains seafood although there are vegetarian options. I find it pleasing to know but this place is in fact woman owned and seems to be very family oriented. Puerto Vallarta is a singular building that actually slightly resembles Mexican architecture because of the small height and colors that are incorporated into the exterior, although I would consider Puerto Vallarta to also have a modern aspect. I felt very welcome speaking to the staff and I made an effort to speak in both English and Spanish to practice for myself and my family. I unfortunately am not 21 so I could not order any drinks off the menu, although they looked delicious. I did order the chips and salsa that they had available which seemed incredibly fresh and was made just before serving. I have much personal connection to Princeton but I had never been to this restaurant before and I was pleased to discover such a welcoming and clean atmosphere. I highly recommend visiting Puerto Vallarta to anyone in the area.
Church of the Nazarene is a Christian church located in Princeton Homestead and is a lovely place for worship. I am not able to speak more than briefly on the experience of worshiping at the church because I do not consider myself to be religious. I can say that this church seemed incredibly well kept, welcoming to newcomers and powerful. The exterior as well as the interior has an incredibly gentle appearance and seems to be incredibly popular with the locals. Unfortunately I was not able to enter Church of the Nazarene for an extended period of time because their morning mass begins at 10:45, But what I did see in my short time present was pride in having faith amongst the people present. A proud community and a strong community stand their tallest when they work together to empower themselves. RegardlessOf whether or not I am able to comprehend the complexities of their faith, my respect for their unity has grown exponentially.
I found the business aspect of Princeton to be fascinating because of the history behind why the Princeton community came to be. Before Princeton was a community, as I previously discussed, these acres of land were used as area for a lumber company. athe business today is still heavily focused on agriculture aside from ordinary stores that sell basic amenities. Farm Inc. is an incredible example of what Princeton and the area around Princeton seems to be profiting from. Farm Inc. is both a wholesale and retail establishment that provides landscaping materials and plans to both individuals and companies in need. They are incredibly successful with approximately 2 acres of property that is filled to the brim with A large variety of plant life. I currently am employed at Galloway Farm nursery on Sunset st. and we do receive a large portion of our plants from areas in both Princeton and Homestead as a whole. The massive amount of effort it takes to cultivate and sell such a large amount of plant life on the scale is unparalleled in other parts of Miami, and the more tourist friendly areas of Miami rely heavily on their landscape to draw attention to the establishment present. As I expected, the staff at Farm Inc. were incredibly friendly and explained in a short amount of time what they are doing in their day to maintain their business. I was shocked when I realized that in comparison to my own job, which also includes a large amount of manual labor, I was doing near nothing in comparison to the employees who are maintaining Farm Inc. . This location is not tourist friendly although the individuals who are involved in the buisness are very kind. This is not a place where a tourist should come to take their family and spend a cospious amount of time in, this is a buisness whose focus is to make money off the areas surrounding Princeton, not to appeal to visitors who cannot do much to contribute to their profit.
Transportation is a vital aspect in regards to the lives as well as businesses of the citizens who reside in Princeton. There are various bus lines that stop at Princeton in order to transport the large amount of people who cannot afford vehicles to and from their workplace or their personal endeavors. It is beyond challenging to live in Princeton without a vehicle because the majority of the bus stops rest on the corner of US1 or on Goulds Drive. Princeton is not an area often visited by tourists, and was originally built to be a company as opposed to a community, therefore there are no tour buses or metros that pass through this area. In Princeton you often find businesses that operate out of vehicles like pictured in the image above. I attempted to find La Carnidad Flowers and expected to see a building, and instead I found this vehicle parked outside of the owner’s home. On the side of the street you will often find vendors who work outside of stands or trucks that sell fruit, wildlife, or even small trinkets. This progressive form of business relies on easy transportation of materials to an area that is bound to be noticed. The mobility and the amount of space located in Princeton because of a lack of actual buildings has contributed to an incredibly intuitive form of buisness that many have had to resort to in order to make enough money to support themselves.
I am honored that I have a personal connection to Princeton, Florida and was able to complete such a personal project in the area. The image I have included above is of Princetonian and Park, which I played in various times as a child. I so often visited my grandmother and family in Princeton, but as I grew older I began to recognize the large discrepancies between Princeton and other neighborhoods in Miami. Regardless of the reputation in has received, Princeton cannot go overlooked when exploring Miami because there is a charm to be found amidst the challenges this community faces. Ineffable Miami gave me the privilege of bringing attention to a community that I adore and I am incredibly attached to, in a way that will be able to aid the people. I often fear that this community is unsafe for my family that still resides there, but it has not stopped me from seeing the authenticity and magnificence that Princeton has to offer. I hope that overtime this community continues to be developed and receives more attention in order to benefit the generations that will come after this one. Understanding Miami as a whole is not simply studying the parts of Miami that are aesthetically pleasing, but taking into account the portion of this city that does not fit Miami’s modern, bright, and wealthy image. Princeton plays a vital role in maintaining the beauty that the rest of Miami is so heavily valued for, and it deserves more recognition than it gets. I chose Princeton as my focus because my hopes are that in doing so, I have contributed to said recognition, and I have felt a great sense of pride come from my hard work.
Princeton, Florida. Princeton, Florida (FL 33032) profile: population, maps, real estate, averages, homes, statistics, relocation, travel, jobs, hospitals, schools, crime, moving, houses, news, sex offenders. (n.d.). Retrieved December 13, 2021, https://www.city-data.com/city/Princeton-Florida.html
Trusten Polk captured in Ark Gaston Princeton etc. (n.d.). Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://www.drakeconstructionservices.com/uploads/fckeditor/file/PDFs/Trusten%20Polk%20captured%20in%20Ark_Gaston_Princeton_etc.pdf.
City of Princeton, Florida. USA City Guide to entertainment, restaurants, events, hotels, movies, businesses, schools, libraries, weather, and more. (n.d.). Retrieved December 13, 2021, from http://www.eachtown.com/Florida/City/Princeton;6362/.
Naranja and Princeton, Historic South Dade. Historic South Dade. (n.d.). Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://hsdade.com/article-index/princeton/.