Photographed by Anna Buntova/ CC by 4.0
Anna Buntova is an international student from Novosibirsk, Russia, pursuing her degree in Behavioral Neuroscience at Florida International University’23. As a child of the world, she has always been mesmerized by the dynamic culture of the U.S.A. which spurred her desire to study abroad. First, she received her high school diploma in Saint Johnsbury Academy located in VT. Anna’s passion for connecting and bonding with people of various cultures dictated her fate of studying in Miami, FL, to get her college degree in hopes of becoming an explorer of uncharted areas of human cognition. Through Miami in Miami Honors course she wants to get closer to the idea of the melting pot where many cultures embrace their unity despite their differences.
El Portal Location/ Image taken from Google Maps
El Portal is a village located in Miami-Dade County, Miami, Florida. It occupies 272 acres of land. The Spanish name of the village translates to “the gate” in English which originated from two wooden gates on Northeast second Avenue that were perched at the entrance to the village. The village is surrounded by West Little River, Miami Shores, and Miami-Dade, Pinewood. El Portal is a small enclave that was initially a neighborhood of the city of Miami up until it was annexed into the City of Miami in 1925 which then became a village in 1937. More specifically, El Portal is located in South of Miami Shores, between 85th and 91st Streets and between NE and NW 5th Avenues. El Portal looks as if you are entering a park. It is a sanctuary for birds and is well-known for its beautiful trees. Sometimes a peacock can be spotted and it is even represented on the logo of El Portal. The cities of El Jardin and Sherwood Forest together with El Portal form the city of El Portal. The architecture of El Portal varies from historic Spanish Revival Architecture to modern houses.
The village of El Portal was incorporated in 1937, however, its history goes back even way earlier. The El Portal Archeological Zone was registered on March 1st, 1983. According to the records of the National Archives, the historic El Portal dates back to 1843 with its first settlement inhabiting the lands. Dedicated as a park in the 1920s, the El Portal burial mound is the first archaeological site in Miami-Dade County to be recognized and preserved. Radiocarbon dates and archaeological data show that the mound was built as early as 600 AD or 1420 years ago and the prehistoric Native American village dates to 200 AD or 1820 years ago.
It is called the Little River Mound which is a four-foot-high grassy hill, or knoll. The Little River Mound, fascinatingly, is the first known publicly recognized archeological site in Mimi- Dade County, It is located in the Sherwood Forest neighborhood on the quiet 85th Street. It looks like an elevated circle from above. Pedestrians and bikers can pause and gaze and the beauty of the area.
This Mound is also known for the cave which is argued to be either a natural phenomenon or either built by French Huguenots, Indians, or Tequesta. The Indian Mound is one of the highest points in Miami-Dade and used to be even six to eight feet higher.
The village was also designated as a bird sanctuary by the state for more than 50 years, which means that the birds and trees cannot be harmed in any way.
According to the 2020 Census Bureau, 1986 people live in El Portal. The density is 4,774.04/sq mi (1,844.35/km2). El Portal is a pretty small but diverse community. The community is composed of 50.1% Afro-Americans, 39.8% Caucasians, 28.6% Hispanic or Latino, 1.2% Asian, 0.1% Native American or Alaskan. As of 2000, speakers of English were spoken as a first language by 51.96% of residents, while speakers of French Creole made up 23.72% of the populace, Spanish at 22.38%, French 1.08%, and Patois was the mother tongue for 0.86% of the population. The average household income for a village is $39681. The average age is 36. The most common religion in El Portal is Catholicism making up 24% out of all religions practiced in El Portal.
El Portal is praised for its nature. It is no wonder why it is called a bird sanctuary. Moreover, it is a home for endangered species of Manatees and sharp-shinned hawks. The Nature Trail is the place to visit if you want to check out these amazing animal species.
You can easily get to El Portal by car which may take about 40 minutes to get if you are going all the way from FIU. The fastest way is to go down 107th Ave and turn on the Dolphin Expy, and then turn on I-95 and exit on NW 6th Ave. Finally, you would have to follow down the NW 79th Street reaching the 2nd Ave. As an option, it is also possible and relatively cheap to get to El Portal by using public transportation. You can get on the 11th bus and then switch to the 3rd. The nearest location it can drop you off is Biscayne Boulevard. It might be quite a walk to get to El Portal from there, but it is worth it.
El Portal is a very small community, but the greatest power of its diversity and the irreplaceable care for nature. I was not able to visit the place by myself, but as an avid animal lover, I would be more than happy to visit it in the near future.
“El Portal, Florida.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Oct. 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Portal,_Florida#Geography.
“El Portal, Florida.” Miamism, https://www.miamism.com/blog/el-portal-florida.
“The History of El Portal ” Village of El Portal.” Village of El Portal, 24 Aug. 2021, https://elportalvillage.com/archives/.