Daniella Rubio: Miami as Text 2022

Photo by Daniella Rubio/CC by 4.0

Daniella Grace Rubio is a second-year student pursuing a double degree in Political Science and Criminal Justice. Passionate about politics and the law, she aspires to work in D.C. and has already involved herself in various political campaigns, law firms, and programs like the Senate Page Program. After graduating with both majors, she would like to continue her studies and attend Law School, where she would then work her way up to pursue her dream career of becoming a judge. Her primary hobbies have included reading, hiking, cooking, and boating. During her time at F.I.U., Daniella has already integrated into fraternities like Phi Alpha Delta and honor societies such as P.A.T.H. Currently enrolled in J.W. Bailly’s Italy Study Abroad, she is looking forward to learning about Italy’s omnipresent influence on art and culture and is excited to travel to Europe for her first time.

Deering As Text

Nature Preserve at Deering Estate. by Daniella Rubio/CC by 4.0

“When Quiet Enough”

by Daniella Rubio of FIU at Deering Estate, 06, February 2022

Over time, Miami has become a place that has become too loud and too bright. While this city is known for its beautiful beaches, endless sun, and one of the greatest melting pots in the world, this alone does not scratch the surface of what Miami is really all about. Whether it’s due to the lack of ancestral attachment or too busy looking towards the future, many locals fail to comprehend the dark and complex history on which we live and stand upon. This was something I realized while touring the nature preserve located at the Deering Estate. Once owned and inhabited by Charles Deering, the estate has become an architectural wonder and an archeological site with endless discoveries. When entering the preserve, you are automatically transported to the past, where you are able to interact with the various ecosystems, follow the original old cutler road, and encounter phenomenons distinct to Florida, such as solution holes and freshwaters connecting the Everglades and Biscayne Bay.

In addition to learning about the interesting ecosystems in Florida, through the Deering estate, we are also able to gain insight and follow the footsteps of those who once inhabited Miami. At the estate, archaeologists have been able to find pieces of evidence that prove the existence of human inhabitation dating back to 10,000 years. It has also revealed to us what is believed to be a former large community and one of the two only burial grounds of one of the first Paleoindians of Florida, the Tequestas.

One thing that has really stuck with me since this trip was the story of Romulus and Remus. While it is based in Italy, it has made me realize that regardless of where we are from, deep down, everyone in Miami is connected to each other through our geographical ancestor, the Tequestas. I believe that it is crucial that this idea is shed upon the people of Miami because it educates us on the foundations of our city and unifies all of us despite our differences.

After completing this tour, I have found how crucial it is to advocate for an updated Florida education system that teaches the youth more about Floridas history and to appreciate those who have come before us. Additionally, while I find nothing wrong with enjoying the constant sun, the large city, and the beautiful beaches of Miami, it is beneficial to us locals and tourists to take a step back and recognize Florida’s hidden and diverse ecosystems. By doing so, you are not only able to enjoy the other beautiful side of Florida, but also, when quiet enough, be able to glimpse the hidden world that our geographical ancestors once roamed.

Vizcaya As Text

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. by Daniella Rubio/CC by 4.0

The Palace of Miami

By Daniella Rubio of FIU at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, 18, February, 2022

Visiting Vizcaya was a great opportunity that I would recommend to anyone who is interested in learning more about Miami’s history. Once inhabited by James Deering, this 43-acre Villa is a stunning palace whose architecture and gardens were heavily influenced by Italian, French, and Spanish. When entering Vizcaya, you are taken back to the past and become immersed into the rich art and history located at every corner.

While I enjoyed the tour and walking through the gardens, what truly captivated me the most about Vizcaya is how it has and continues to display most of the characteristics of Miami. One example of this can be seen through the various crafts and cultures displayed throughout the estate, such as Roman, Greek, Spanish, and Muslim, all unified through their construction with Floridian foundations and materials such as coral rock. This alone is a strong resemblance to the city of Miami, which is one of the biggest and most diverse melting pots in the world, all the while connecting each inhabitant through the very same foundations. 

In addition to these diverse cultures, Vizcaya has also been able to emulate a fun side of Miami, which is known for its nightlife, endless drinking, and partying all along its bodies of water. Throughout the tour, it was apparent that James Deering had intended for the Villa to be a place for lavish and glamorous parties. One instance could be seen at the west side entrance of the Villa, where you are automatically greeted by Dionysus, the god of wine and ecstasy, welcoming you to have the time of your life during your visit (and enjoy as much alcohol). According to many, the parties that have been held that this Villa was on par with those in the famous book, The Great Gatsby. To this day, Vizcaya continues to host events such as weddings, quinceaneras, and parties that take up to weeks and months in advance to plan.

Along with seeing all of the cultures embedded into this estate, I would have loved to learn more about the Afro-Caribbean builders, and there be more awareness of their own influences on the estate. In addition, I think it would have also been interesting to learn about any findings or discoveries of Tequesta inhabitation prior to Vizcaya’s completion. 

Nonetheless, Vizcaya is a beautiful estate that is rich with various art styles and traditions that is truly breathtaking for first timers like me. And once you complete your visit, you will not only have a better understanding of Miami’s history, but you will also have zero doubts about Vizcaya being the Palace of Miami. 

Miami As Text

Miami Freedom Tower. by Daniella Rubio/CC by 4.0

The Ellis Island of the South

By Daniella Rubio of FIU at Downtown Miami, 11, March 2022

When thinking of Downtown Miami, many, including myself, would associate it with boating, partying, or where people go for their daily jobs. And while on the exterior, this seemed to be the case when walking through the city, you soon discover that there is more that meets the eye. Throughout my journey on this excursion, I was able to gain a better understanding of Miami’s history and how historical events such as slavery, the Indian wars, and the Tequestas have helped shape Miami into what it is today. 

While many of the historical landmarks throughout Miami highly interested me, the one that really caught my eye and has resonated with me since the trip has been The Freedom Tower. Surrounded by many hot spots such as the bayside shopping mall and the FTX arena, The Freedom Tower is a Miami treasure that many admire due to its unique architecture. Its exterior consists of Mediterranean Revival architecture and emulates a similar style to the Giralda Tower in Seville, Spain. In the lobby of The Freedom Tower, you are welcomed by highly detailed columns, symmetrical octagon ceilings, and a magnificent sculpture symbolizing the building’s history.

The architecture of the freedom tower is exquisite and is one that some visit solely for its art and design. However, what truly makes this building magnificent is its history. To many Cubans within Miami, this tower is significant because of its role in assisting Cubans that were fleeing the political turmoil in Cuba during the Cold War. Along with granting many of those who fled a one-way ticket into the United States, this building also assisted in providing essentials to Cubans such as education, health care, finance, and housing. Today, the tower is a symbol of freedom and hope that was founded by Cuban refugees to become a safe haven during Cuba’s political turmoil.  

As a Miami Native, I have rarely visited downtown Miami and only did so to eat at some of the restaurants within the city. However, by participating in this tour, I was able to learn more about those who were there before us and how many of the conflicts throughout history molded Miami into what it is today. Lastly, I also felt that I was able to connect to my Cuban roots through the visitation of The Freedom Tower and find my own reasoning on why this building is deserving of the title of the Ellis Island of the South.

SoBe as Text

Art Deco at South Beach. by Daniella Rubio/CC by 4.0

“The Miami Attraction”

By Daniella Rubio of FIU at South Beach,1, April 2022

Over the years, Miami has become the go-to spot for many tourists, whether locally or internationally. And while there are many places of interest throughout the city, such as the stadiums, restaurants, malls, etc., there is nothing that compares to South Beach (SoBe). Located at the bottom half of Miami Beach, South Beach is a highly populated location that is widely known for its beautiful beaches and buildings, along with its love for bright colors and LED lights. Compared to many areas within Miami Beach, South Beach is the place where one is guaranteed to have the liveliest and most fun-filled experience.

Art Deco

Throughout this trip, I discovered that there are many factors that make South Beach the vibrant phenomenon that it is today. One, in particular, could be seen through the architecture displayed in a strip called the South Beach Art Deco. Unlike many of the common architectural styles seen in other cities, this strip focuses on everything linear, similar to those seen in ziggurats. Along with this linear design, I also learned that many of the buildings within art deco consist of distinct qualities like curved edges, glass bricks, neon colors, circular windows, and eyebrows. When entering this strip, one is automatically transported into a futuristic and geometric world similar to The Jetsons.

The Versace Mansion

Within the art deco strip, one building that caught my eye was the Villa Casa Casuarina. Commonly known as the Versace mansion, this villa stands out on the South Beach strip because it lacks any of the qualities that define art deco. Built by Alden Freeman, this Mediterranean Revival villa consists of multiple Roman and Greek references along with being an exact replication of a villa once owned by Christopher Columbus’s son in Santo Domingo.

While I found Casa Casuarina’s architecture to be breathtaking, what really intrigued me about this villa was its history. During the lecture, I was able to learn more about the great Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace, who turned Casa Casuarina into his own Versace Mansion. By inhabiting this villa, I believe Versace was able to make a difference and change south beach for the better by enhancing its culture along with promoting it to many national and international travelers. And while this estate should have become a symbol for this great shift, it ultimately became a somber one after Versace was murdered at its front steps.

When looking at Miami, many see it through the eyes of South Beach. Whether it is due to the unique architecture found on the Art Deco strip, the beautiful beaches hugging the city, or the deep history and cultural influence found at every corner, there is no doubt that South Beach is Miami’s greatest attraction.

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