Liza Guanch is an Honors College student and Psychology major at Florida International University who is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree. Her long-term goal is to study forensic/legal psychology and find a career in a government agency, preferably the FBI. In her free time, Liza enjoys being out in nature and learning about her environment.
Welcome to the town of Cutler Bay. Town is a keyword when defining this neighborhood, as it does have a local government and is larger than a village but smaller than a city. While it is smaller than a city, it stretches about 10 square miles with 4.8 square miles being land, 0.1 square miles belonging to water, and 4.9 square miles belonging to the CDP (1). Cutler Bay is a relatively flat area which makes it more flood-prone which causes its residents to pay flood insurance. It is to be known that the town of Cutler Bay is not associated with Cutler which was a pioneer town that essentially turned into the Deering Estate. It has an altitude of 26 feet and an area of 26.49 kilometers squared (2). Within Cutler Bay there is Cutler Ridge which is a coral formation that stretches from South Miami to Homestead; in Cutler Bay it is at a height of about 14 feet and is included in hurricane emergency plans as the east can fall victim to storm surge (1). While it does have its own governing body, it is still apart of Miami and is considered a neighborhood in Miami.
The history of Cutler Bay does not date back that far, but the history of the land it is founded on does. The original inhabitants of Southern Florida were the Tequestas and eventually, the Seminoles. These were the Miamians before Miami, but they ended up going missing due to European colonization, forced exile, and disease. In 1836, Dade County was founded and named after Major Francis L. Dade who was killed during the Seminole Wars after leading his men into an ambush, controversy on whether Dade County should be named after Major Dade is present because of this. In 1838, Dr. Henry Perrine acquired 36 square miles of township on the agreement with the government that he would be able to bring more settlers into the area, however Perrine was killed in 1840 and was never able to create his town. Many people came into Perrine’s land, but none of them wanted to make his visions a reality and used it for farming, mostly. In 1897, the heirs of Dr. Perrine were finally able to resolve issues with the land and was able to put it on the market. There were few notable settlers in this area, Francis and John H. Earhart owned a farming community which became named as Franjo in their honor and the road leading to the community was named Franjo Rd, also in their honor and Dr. William Cutler who owned around 600 acres north of the Perrine land. Cutler never had enough success with his dream which was like Perrine’s, but he was able to convince a few people to stay and they paved the way for much of what is known today. The settlers who stayed on Cutler’s property named the pioneer town after him and although it is now mostly taken up by the Charles Deering Estate, it remains an important piece of history as it contains the beginning of the construction of Old Cutler Road. As the years continued, many more development achievements were made such as Henry Flagler and his railroads which led to the ability to create the township of Cutler Bay which gets its name partly from William Cutler’s legacy.
Prior to the town incorporation, there was much occurring within the Cutler Bay limits. The Cutler Ridge development plan was occurring along with the Cutler Ridge shopping mall which opened in 1977, over 20 subdivisions were created after the Bel-Aire subdivision was founded, Lennar Homes created Section One of Lakes by the Bay and is continuing to develop more. Demand was high for the areas in and surrounding Cutler Bay, so the demands needed to be met. In 2005, the residents voted to incorporate, and it was approved which made the town of Cutler Bay the youngest incorporated municipality in Florida. The town of Cutler Bay’s first mayor was elected in January 2006, but died in April 2006, so the vice mayor stepped up. The town of Cutler Bay is now governed by a five-person council and is operated under a council-manager government (ALL ABOVE (12)).
According to the US Census, last updated in 2020, the population estimate is about 45,525 which is approximately 5,000 more than the previous census population estimate in 2010, showing that there is continuous growth in this town. In terms of age and sex, there are around 52.4% of females, 24.6% of people under the age of 18, and 13.9% of people at 65 or older. The dominating races in this town are Caucasian and Hispanic with Caucasians taking up around 69.4% and Hispanics occupying 62%. Foreign born people make up around 42.1% and between the years 2016-2020 there were 1,174 veterans residing in Cutler Bay. The average amount of households in Cutler Bay, as of 2020, is 13,000 and the average persons per household is 3.35 with median gross rent being in the upper $1000s and the median household income being around $75,699. It can be also noted that around 88% of the population in the town of Cutler Bay have their high school diploma, but only around 31% have a bachelor’s degree or higher. The level of poverty in 2020 was around 10.7%, but upon viewing the town, it seems likely that this has increased as of late, which is sad to say (US CENSUS (3)). I had the advantage of having a relative who resides in Cutler Bay, so I was able to get more insight from them.
Interviewee: Ventura Guanche
Relationship to Cutler Bay: Resident
He speaks primarily Spanish, as he is foreign born from Cuba, but this interview was conducted in English.
Question: How long have you lived in Cutler Bay?
Answer: Around 10-11 years
Question: Where did you live previously?
Answer: I have lived in many places like Cuba, Virginia and Hialeah.
Question: Why did you move here?
Answer: Your aunt and I chose to move here to be closer to family, but also to buy a smaller home that fit our needs
Question: Do you like living in Cutler Bay?
Answer: Sometimes it can be difficult with traffic and some areas aren’t as safe as others, but overall, it is a nice area, I can’t complain too much
Question: What is your favorite part about living here?
Answer: Being able to host family events since I am in the middle of everyone.
Question: How is it being a Hispanic in Cutler Bay?
Answer: Actually, very easy, almost everyone is Hispanic here, so I can speak Spanish 90% of the places I go without a problem
Sadly, there aren’t many landmarks of note in Cutler Bay as it is still a relatively new town, but some that are present include:
- Southland Mall: Southland mall is located at 20505 S Dixie Hwy, Cutler Bay, FL 33189 and was opened in 1960 as an extension to the Cutler Ridge Shopping Center. There are plenty of dining and shopping options to choose from and, my personal favorite, a movie theatre. Some stores and restaurants include Victoria’s Secret, Applebee’s, and DSW. It is a local hangout and is the ideal location for any shopping occasion. It also has an insane amount of parking all around, so finding a spot is never an issue.
- Black Point Park and Marina: Black Point Park and Marina is a beautiful location fit for any with a love for the outdoors. There is much to do from biking trails, fishing spots, picnic areas, a massive marina for boaters, and a restaurant. It is quite easy to pass time at Black Point. There is also a Black Point mascot, a saltwater crocodile named Fred, who likes to hang out in the area quite often. He is huge and a sight to see. The address is 24775 SW 87 Avenue, Miami FL and it is open 24 hours, but some parking areas do close early (4).
- South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center: This is a building that was created to showcase performers, whether it be music, dance, or art. The grand opening occurred in 2016, so it is somewhat new, but it has been loved by the community ever since. It has the seating capacity of 961 and contains two buildings. One of the two buildings is for the formal performances and has an orchestra pit, a stage, areas for concessions, restrooms, dressing rooms, storage, and a fly tower. The other building is meant for informal performances such as rehearsal and is also used for community gatherings. There are always new performances going on, so there is usually something for everyone’s taste. It is located at 10950 SW 211th St, Cutler Bay, FL 33189, so feel free to stop by and check it out (5).
Cutler Bay may not be home to many landmarks, but there are quite a few parks. Some of those parks are:
- Cutler Ridge Park and Pool: Cutler Ridge Park and Pool is a favorite of Cutler Bay locals and is on 10 acres of land. It is home to its own soccer club and aquatic team and contains many facilities. It has a 25-meter swimming pool, picnic areas, a recreational building, athletic fields, and parking space that fits 70 cars. Currently, the swimming pool does not have admission prices listed as it is in the process of repairing a broken water heater, but when it does have them listed, it is very reasonably priced with adults paying $2, children 17 or younger paying $1.50, senior citizens of 55 and older getting in free, and a 10 month pass for $10. It is located at 10100 SW 200th Street Cutler Bay, FL 33189 (6).
- Bel-Aire Park: Bel-Aire Park is half the size of the Cutler Ridge Park and Pool with it only being 5 acres, but there is still much to offer. Its main use is for athletic purposes as it is home to a tackle football and cheerleading squad and holds many practices/games for adult soccer and youth lacrosse. There are also restrooms, picnic areas, and a parking lot for guests. It is located at 18500 SW 97th Avenue Cutler Bay, FL 33157 (6).
- Saga Lake Park: Saga Lake Park is the perfect location to relax at. It is also 5 acres, but it does not have the same number of athletic fields as the other two parks. It does, however, have a picnic area, a softball/baseball field, and a path for fitness lovers. It is a calm park, but sometimes that it what makes for a perfect park. It has a beautiful view of the lake which may be appealing to those who enjoy picnics by the water. It is located at SW 198th Street & SW 83rd Avenue (6).
In Cutler Bay, the main mode of transportation is car, but there are other options too.
- Golf Carts: It can be said that some areas of Cutler Bay are quite golf cart friendly and can be an effective mode of transportation that reduces pollution and carbon emissions. I do not believe that US1 is safe for this type of transport, but perhaps smaller neighborhoods and areas on Old Cutler can be suitable.
- GO Connect: This is one of the two transportation services that the town of Cutler Bay provides for its residents at no cost. It travels from the South Dade Transitway all throughout Cutler Bay and can be booked via mobile app that has English and Spanish options. Aside from holidays, the GO Connect runs from Monday-Friday 5:30AM-8PM (7).
- Town Circulator Bus: This is the second transportation service offered to the residents of Cutler Bay that, as of September 2021, is free. The first trip begins on Old Cutler Rd and Franjo Rd, with trips continuing to leave every hour after up until the last trip. The hours of operation are Monday-Saturday 8:40AM-4:40PM and Sunday 10:40AM-3:40PM. A real-time update on the location of the bus can be viewed within the mobile transit app of Miami-Dade County (7).
Overall, cars continue to be the most common, but the public transportation does help those who cannot afford a vehicle or those who simply want to take advantage of public transport to reduce carbon emissions and make an impact in saving the environment. They are also useful to those who do not enjoy spending money on gas due to the current outrageous prices.
There are many options for dining within the town of Cutler Bay, but some authentic options include:
- The Tea Room Restaurant: This restaurant has been serving guests a fine selection of international teas and food items since 1974. The interior is modeled after tea rooms in the U.K and England and instantly immerses you with its unique interior and delicious menu items. It was damaged by Hurricane Andrew in 1992 but remodeled and reopened to the public to continue introducing people to new and exotic teas (8).
- Black Point Ocean Grill: This restaurant is located within Black Point Park and Marina. It serves delicious and fresh seafood along with plenty of other options for the non-seafood lovers or the alcoholic beverage lovers. They also have live music performances of different genres to suit every person’s taste in music. Before or after a meal at the grill, guests can take a peaceful stroll along the water’s edge on the boardwalk. It is a little piece of heaven and a must-try location (8).
- Ackee Jamaican Cuisine: Many may not know, but South Florida has a deep love for Jamaican Cuisine and this restaurant satisfies the cravings of many Cutler Bay locals. It is a cozy location and offers authentic Jamaican food such as curry chicken and oxtail; they also serve an authentic Jamaican drink called BIGGA which is a lightly carbonated soft drink that comes in many flavors (8)
There are so many businesses within Cutler Bay, but three of them include:
- Hair Ego: Hair Ego is a beauty salon in Cutler Bay that has been around for over 40 years. It is highly rated and does everything from the simplest hair cut to the most extensive of treatments to your hair. It is a unisex salon, so it does offer both men and women services. It also offers waxing and nail services, so there is more than one reason to visit. It is a local business and is located at 20463 Old Cutler Rd Cutler Bay, FL 33189 (9).
- Encompass Health: Encompass Health does have other locations, but the business itself is important and is a wonderful addition to the Cutler Bay town. It serves as a rehabilitation facility for those who have suffered a life-changing illness or a severe injury. It offers different types of therapy to match any need of every patient and they go above and beyond to ensure that their patients receive the best care (10).
- Sweet Haven Bookstore: Sweet Haven Bookstore is a quaint location that sells used books, gifts, and many other items. It is a small store which adds to the experience and may bring a sense of peace for customers who do not like huge department stores. This store has much to offer as used books are usually good books, so it seems that there can be many treasures found within and it is a local business which is always a plus (11).
All in all, Cutler Bay is a town that many may not think much of, but it has opportunity for growth. The community is mostly Hispanic which emphasizes the diversity present and the acceptance of it. While there may not be many landmarks due to the town being so young, there is an extensive developmental history that can be found simply by going onto the town website. There are many beautiful parks to visit and lovely places to try new foods at. It may not be a town that people give much thought, but it is home to many, and it continues to let people in. Access to public transportation is another feature of Cutler Bay that makes it so appealing, as that benefits many people and can be the most effective way to travel at times. The only downside to Cutler Bay may be the traffic or the fact that there is not much to do past a certain time, however Miami is not Miami without traffic and Black Point is open 24 hours, so that is certainly an option for those night owls who want to enjoy the nighttime weather.
Google. (n.d.). Cutler Bay Map. Google maps. Retrieved from https://firstname.lastname@example.org,-80.3292365,13.98z
(1) Wikimedia Foundation. (2022, February 8). Cutler Bay, Florida. Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cutler_Bay,_Florida#Geography
(2) Cutler Bay Miami-Dade County, Florida. Cutler Bay, FL – Geographic Facts & Maps – MapSof.net. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.mapsof.net/cutler-bay
(3) U.S. Census Bureau quickfacts: Cutler Bay Town, Florida. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/cutlerbaytownflorida
(4) Services, M.-D. C. O. (n.d.). Black Point Park & Marina. Untitled Document. Retrieved from https://www.miamidade.gov/parks/black-point-marina.asp
(5) Dade County: Department of Cultural Affairs. Miami. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.miamidadearts.org/facilities/south-miami-dade-cultural-arts-center
(6) Town parks. Town of Cutler Bay Florida. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cutlerbay-fl.gov/parksites
(7) Town Transportation. Town of Cutler Bay Florida. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cutlerbay-fl.gov/publicworks/page/town-transportation
(8) Cheap self-storage units in Cutler Bay, FL | Value Store … (n.d.). Retrieved from https://valuestoreit.com/locations/florida/cutler-bay/
(9) Hair Ego Salon. Hair ego. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/HairEgoSalon/about
(10) Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Miami. Inpatient Rehabilitation Hospital Miami. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://encompasshealth.com/locations/miamirehab
(11) Home. Sweet Haven Books Used Books, gifts and more. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sweethavenbookstore.com/
(12) Town history. Town of Cutler Bay Florida. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cutlerbay-fl.gov/community/page/town-history