Jacob Meyer: Miami as Text 2022

Jacob at 1-800 Lucky Restaurant in Wynwood

Jacob Meyer is a senior currently studying for a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations with a certificate in Human Rights and Political Transitions at Florida International University. He hopes one day to be a leader in the global political sphere. He eventually wants to break down barriers by studying various languages and traveling all around the world. While being fluent in German and English, he has studied languages such as French, Spanish, and Mandarin. In his free time, he likes to go out with friends, play piano, and cook.

Deering As Text

Images Taken by Jacob Meyer // CC by 4.0

‘Urban to Natural Landscapes’

By Jacob Meyer of FIU at Deering Estate, January 28, 2022

When thinking about Miami there are usually images of tall skyscrapers and busy highways with horrible drivers. However, being at the Deering Estate really changes your perspective on what Miami is really like by seeing parts of the land that are ‘untouched’ by urban development. It also unlocks a large part of the history of this city many call home.

Before visiting I did not know the significant impact that Bahamian workers had on the development of Miami. They have faced a great deal of struggle and tragedies. They were able to build the house and the Richmond Cottage which are two beautiful buildings with architectural influence from North Africa and Spain. One of the most surprising things that I learned while visiting is the workers that died during the construction of the canal and how in history classes there is not much learned about the struggle that these workers faced.

When going into the nature preserve there was a lot of untouched lands that could be seen. Seeing the beautiful mangroves while learning about the Tequestas that lived 6,000 years ago was truly an experience. It was mind-blowing to touch tools that were used so long ago and to learn how they used to walk along the Atlantic Coastal Ridge. The best part of being inside the nature preserve was going inside the solution holes. I did not know things such as this existed in Florida due to only experiencing more suburban and metropolitan areas.

I hope to one day continue exploring more of the beautiful natural landscapes that Florida has to offer.

Vizcaya as Text

Images Taken by Jacob Meyer // CC by 4.0

‘Birthplace of the Miami Attitude’

By Jacob Meyer of FIU at Vizcaya, February 18, 2022

Miami is well known for its nightlife with many popular clubs like Space and E11even. When visiting Vizcaya, it was very apparent where the ‘party culture’ in the city began. Vizcaya was filled with architectural influence from France, Italy, and Spain and around every corner were themes of extravagance.

When I first entered the house, there stood a statue of Dionysus. At first, it seemed confusing why that Greek God was chosen, but upon seeing the rest of the estate, it seemed very fitting. It was mind-blowing to learn that the house was filled with ceilings imported from Italy and a table imported from ancient Pompeii. When entering the gardens, it was intriguing to explore small mazes and coves in the rocks to escape the sun.

It was no surprise to learn that James Deering threw many parties at the house. This made me draw comparisons between the book ‘The Great Gatsby’ and the stories of Vizcaya with how Jay Gatsby, like James Deering, always had the best house, collections, and social events. When making this comparison, it can also be seen how the events and landscape of the estate influenced modern Miami culture. Miami is very well known for the feeling of high-class and extravagant dining, hotels, and clubs. Furthermore, in the locals, this has brought a sense of materialism and living more of a laid-back life.

Not only has seeing Vizcaya been one of my favorite experiences whilst living in Miami, but it has gotten me excited to explore the grand halls and gardens of Versailles. I hope to go back and spend more time looking at the art and walking throughout the gardens.

‘Exploring the History of the 305’

By Jacob Meyer of FIU at Downtown Miami, March 11, 2022

When exploring downtown it was amazing to see all of the unknown history of Miami. A city that is filled with tourists and sunny beaches but tourism has covered up some of the celebrations and unfortunate events that have occurred in the ever-growing place we call home.

When typically driving through downtown Miami, I always see skyscrapers that form a beautiful skyline. It was incredible to hear about the Wagner Homestead as it is one of the oldest buildings in Miami that happened to be the home of a mixed-race couple. The wooden home was a structure that is unfamiliar to me as I have only seen tall buildings and Mediterranean architecture during my time in Florida.

One place that really stood out to me was the Miami River which gave Freshwater to those who lived in the earlier days of Miami. Unfortunately, it is upsetting to see the pollution that has entered the river causing damage to the ecosystems that once thrived. However, it is reassuring to hear that there are efforts being made to help save those ecosystems by making the water clean once again.

This has inspired me to walk through downtown Miami on my own and spend time exploring the historic sites that the city has to offer.

South Beach as Text

Images Taken by Jacob Meyer // CC by 4.0

‘Sun, Sand, and Art Deco’

By Jacob Meyer of FIU at South Beach, April 1, 2022

Miami Beach is an area of Miami that is bustling with tourists during Spring Break season. It was shocking to hear that this busy and urban area was built on sand and shells due to the location being on a barrier island. However, the history of its development explains why the area has bad floods every time it rains.

One of my favorite things about Miami Beach is the amount of Art Deco architecture that can be viewed on Ocean Drive. Art Deco short for ‘Arts Décoratifs’ derives from a movement started in France. It is very visually pleasing to my eyes with the symmetry, use of pastel colors, and interesting various fonts used for neon signs. In a way, the use of Art Deco in architecture feels as if you are transported into a beach town from the ’60s. One of my favorite buildings was the Park Central Hotel as it uses pastel blue and white with a royal blue accent.

Another amazing thing about the history of Miami Beach was the Versace Mansion. Gianni Versace was a world-renowned fashion designer that was one of the first major celebrities to move to the area, thus bringing many others to Miami Beach. Unfortunately, Versace was murdered as he was walking back into his mansion. Although it was was terrible incident, it has made to be one of my favorite true crime stories.

This trip increased the love and appreciation that I have for Art Deco and the area of Miami Beach. In the future, I hope that the city preserves the Art Deco style architecture by stopping the building of large condos and skyscrapers.

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