Hayden Anderson: Miami as Text 2022

Hayden Anderson is an Honors College student at FIU studying marketing with hopes to go into the fashion industry. Hayden wants to travel the world to experience as many cultures as possible. She enjoys taking pictures, thrift shopping, and reading books. Her goal is to create a non-profit that helps underprivileged girls where a portion of the proceeds from her clothing line will go. She defines success as knowing she helped as many people as she could.

Photo Taken By Aleck Arroyo// CC by 4.0

Deering Estate as Text: Tequesta Truth

By Hayden Anderson of FIU on February 6th, 2022

Photographs taken by Hayden Anderson// CC by 4.0

The first word that comes to my mind when I think of the Deering Estate is a smorgasbord. There is an abundance of contrasting components that make up this historical time capsule. From the juxtaposition of the Spanish and farmhouse architecture to the 8 different ecosystems and tribe burial ground, all housed on 450 acres of land; it’s chaos. Individually, they are all rich with character and history, so when you put them together, it can be a lot to take in, which takes people’s attention away from their individual purposes. This isn’t to say that the Deering Estate isn’t incredible, quite the contrary. It captures the essence, the cheer chaos, of Miami exquisitely. This city is chaos. It’s home to every race, ethnicity, gender expression, and sexual orientation imaginable. There is no place better fitting for the estate than Miami.

From the moment you walk to the entrance of the Deering Estate, you are welcomed by a canopy of luscious greenery. Then you walk through to see two buildings that couldn’t look they like don’t belong together more. One is a scarlet and cream colored farmhouse-style cottage and the other is a limestone house with columns, arches, and windows all inspired from architecture of different countries. Directly behind is a boat basin lined with towering palm trees that leads out to Biscayne Bay. From there, you walk down a path that will lead you to a private trail where you can truly see how the plethora of different ecosystems come together.

The two groups of people that are most significant to the history of the Deering Estate, that also have the least representation, are the Tequesta and the Bahamians.

There would be no blog for us to write or tour for us to take if it wasn’t for the blood shed and intense labor of the Bahamians. They dredged the basin in horrendous conditions for a year to create the breathe taking view we had the privilege to enjoy. During construction, four workers died, and many more were injured in a tragic accident. The fact that the same place where people’s lives were taken so dreadfully is now home to manatees, some of the most peaceful creatures, goes to show that there is so much more to the Estate than just a pretty picture you post.

The Tequesta were one of the first tribes in South Florida, and were inhabitants of the land long before the Deering Estate was created. They were very resourceful and would use shells they found as multipurpose tools for survival. Nestled within the private trail is the Tequesta Burial Mound where a few members of the tribe were buried. They’re buried in a circular pattern surrounding a massive oak tree. The obvious analysis is that the tree represents life growing from death, but it’s more than that. Oak trees are known for strength and stability which are both traits the Tequesta. They used their ingenuity to make tools and utilize every resource they could to sustain themselves. Eventually they went extinct due to slavery and disease, leaving very little information about them. The Tequesta are rooted deeply in the history of South Florida, yet we never learn about them in school.

Places like the Deering Estate, are excellent proof that history is more than what is displayed in our textbooks. It’s the ugly, discriminatory, hateful things that have happened that helped create the world we know today. One thing I would have liked to see at the Deering Estate, is more representation of the Bahamians because they are the ones who actually created the estate. Their website mentions the Bahamians and the Tequesta, but I didn’t see anything about them while I was there.

Vizcaya as Text: Palace of Pleasure

By Hayden Anderson of FIU on March 6th, 2022

Photographs taken by Hayden Anderson// CC by 4.0

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens surpassed all my expectations and more. The Deering’s have such a unique way of showcasing and preserving the rich culture and landscape of Miami while also incorporating elements of European architecture and art. James Deering created a haven where he and his guests could come and indulge themselves in the finer things. The hedonistic emphasis can be clearly seen from the statue of Bacchus in the entrance to the cheer decadence of every room in the house. I only wish I could have lived during their time in hopes I would be lucky enough to be a guest in this exquisite villa.

Walking in from the street, you enter into a path of luscious greenery where beautifully crafted statues are nestled. I was in awe as soon as I walked out to see the canopy of trees that perfectly framed the house. The first thing I noticed was the glass roof which I was intrigued to find out was a later addition and not in the original plans. When we walked in the house, I was amazed by the statue of Bacchus. After learning that he’s the god of wine and ecstasy, I thought it was very fitting to have him as the foyer’s centerpiece. Seeing how beautiful the entrance was, I couldn’t imagine how the rest of the house would look.

I am so incredibly envious of those who got to wake up and walk out to that breathtaking courtyard everyday. And to experience it without the glass roof, the ocean breeze blowing through; I can’t think of anything better. When I think about how taken aback I was by the Italian-inspired architecture, I realize how truly unready I am to experience the real Italian landscape.

One of my favorite parts of the tour was James Deering’s persistence with perception. What I particularly liked was the painting of children in one of the rooms, none of which were his. He wanted to make sure people perceived him, and the villa, exactly how he wanted. The other element was the library that had a wall of shelves that were covered in what look like books, but were actually fake. I think it’s really interesting because it achieves the desired look without having to buy all those books. This showcases how dedicated Deering was to making Vizcaya in his exact image.

No words can fully capture how much I loved touring Vizcaya. It’s everything I want my future home to be. I love how every room had a different art style with eccentric furniture and decor; it felt like a different story was being portrayed in each one of them. The attention to detail is utilized to maximize pleasure and luxury, as is the Miami way. The Deering’s have outdone themselves again.

Downtown as Text: Priest Point of View

By Hayden Anderson of FIU on March 27th, 2022

Photographs taken by Hayden Anderson // CC by 4.0

Having only lived in Miami for a short time, there is still so much I have yet to learn. After the past three walking tours, I’ve discovered my lack of knowledge about the history of Miami is not as uncommon as I thought. The majority of the students who were born and raised here had no idea who the Tequesta were and how much of an impact they had on the foundation of this city. The Miami-Dade school board is to blame for the absence of the Tequesta, and the real origin of Miami, in their curriculum. It is truly a shame that I am learning about the Tequesta at the same time as someone who grew up here. Besides Professor Bailly, the only other person I’ve heard even mention the tribe was the Priest we encountered at the Gesu church. The Priest was incredibly knowledgeable and shared a lot of very interesting facts about the relationship between the Tequesta and present-day Miami. In front of the church was a sign dedicated to the Tequesta which was one of my favorite parts of the whole tour. The sign and the Priest were so honest about the tribe’s history and gave them the credit that they undoubtedly deserve. While the encounter with the Priest was the part that impacted me the most, the entire tour was extremely engaging, informative, and definitely my favorite of the three we’ve done so far.

One can’t deny that Henry Flagler had a major impact on the economic growth of Miami. Flagler saw the potential that Florida had to become a popular tourist destination so he left his job in the oil business and moved to Florida. With the expansion of the railway system, construction of hotels, and agriculture growth, Floridas’s economy flourished thanks to Flagler. The recognition does not only go to Flagler, but the black workers who helped make it all possible. As thanks for their work, Flagler segregated them and forced them to live in a small part of Miami which became known as Colored Town. Having learned this, I think that having a statue of Flagler in front of the Miami Courthouse, a place that is supposed to represent justice, is simply ironic. This is just one of the numerous ways in which Miami idolizes white business men, but not the black Bahamian and Native American men who built this city with their own hands.

SoBe as Text: Deco Days

By Hayden Anderson of FIU on April 10th, 2022

Photographs taken by Hayden Anderson // CC by 4.0

When you ask someone to describe Miami, 9 times out of 10 they will include something about South Beach in their description. That’s because this is what Miami became known for, and one of the main reasons tourists come to visit on vacation. The crystal blue water, luscious greenery, towering palm trees, and pier make South Beach the perfect destination to relax and enjoy the South Florida weather.

Ocean Drive is one of my favorite places to go in Miami because of the beautiful art-deco architecture. I have always been fascinated by this style of architecture and the pastel colors and retro fonts these buildings are typically decorated with. Each hotel, restaurant, and store are unique but go together so cohesively to create a time capsule that makes you feel like you’ve gone back to the 80’s every time you walk down the street. South Beach is always a party which is the very essence of Miami.

The history of Ocean Drive is just as intriguing as the exquisite architecture it houses. As early as the 1930’s, gay people were frequenting Ocean Drive which led to the emergence of night life in Miami. Gay bars slowly began popping up which attracted more people, eventually making the South Beach area a hub for gay people. This new community allowed them a place where they could be themselves and feel accepted. There were very few places like this in the US at the time, which made it even more rare. In the 90’s, the openly gay fashion icon Gianni Versace, moved to South Beach and built the breathtaking Versace Mansion. Being openly-gay, even in a place like South Beach, comes with its risks. When Versace was killed, it was a devastating to not only the fashion community, but the gay community as well. Over the years more queer bars and restaurants have opened in the area as the gay community continues to grow in Miami. To honor the true impact this community has had on South Beach, the city of Miami painted a cross walk rainbow.

From the first time I went to South Beach, I truly loved every aspect of it. Getting to hear more in depth about its history and being able to analyze the art deco architecture was very interesting. Even though I missed half the tour, getting to experience the beautiful day with my class more than made up for it.

Author: Hande018

Hayden Anderson is an Honors College student at FIU studying marketing with hopes to go into the fashion industry. Hayden wants to travel the world to experience as many cultures as possible. She enjoys taking pictures, thrift shopping, and reading books. Her goal is to create a non-profit that helps underprivileged girls where a portion of the proceeds from her clothing line will go. She defines success as knowing she has helped as many people as she can.

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