Luis Gutierrez: Tamiami 2022

STUDENT BIO

Luis Gutierrez is currently a junior studying English at Florida International University. He loves to watch movies, listen to old music, and play beach volleyball with his friends. He also enjoys writing and collecting vinyl records. 

GEOGRAPHY

Tamiami, located in Miami, Florida, is a well-rounded neighborhood that contains both an urban and natural landscape for its residents. It stretches from NW 12st all the way to Bird Road and SW 137th Ave to SW 117th Ave. It contains many roads, homes, and shopping centers but is almost balanced out by the number of local parks and green landscapes in the neighborhood. 

Photo taken from “Wikipedia”

This neighborhood’s urban landscape is one that can be seen throughout other neighborhoods in Miami and involves homes, town houses, and shopping centers built in the last century. The natural landscape of the neighborhood involves parks that contain several opportunities for activities for the residents of all ages such as sports, celebrations, and events. 

Photo taken from “Miami in Focus”

HISTORY

Tamiami’s history, like most famous stories, starts with the choice of a name for it. The name Tamiami originates from the name of a famous strip of road that connected Tampa Bay to Miami and was known as the Tamiami Trail. It went through the Everglades and improved trade for Florida significantly when it finished its construction in 1928. The rest of Tamiami’s history is just major events that impacted the location of some of its major landmarks. A great example of this is the Tamiami Airport that had closed in the early 1960s for the construction of a university now known as Florida International University along with a well-renowned park known as Tamiami Park. 

Photo taken from “Pintrest”

DEMOGRAPHICS

The population and characteristics of the residents in Tamiami are very interesting and can be found through the United States Census website. There, it spoke of the age, gender, income level, and cultural roots that the residents hold as well as listing that this information was both gathered and estimated in the year 2020. 

The population of Tamiami is approximately 55,000 with 21% being 65 years older and 16% being under the age of 18. The gender of the population is almost at the half mark with 54% of people living in Tamiami being female. 82% of the population is White along with 92% of the population being Hispanic. However, the percentage of people that are White but not Hispanic is 6.5%. The median household income is around $63,000 although 11% of the population in Tamiami is considered to be in poverty. 

Portrait of Resident

Name: Emily Fornaris

  1. How long have you lived in Tamiami? -I have lived in Tamiami for almost all my life. My family and I moved when I was very little from Pinecrest due to some financial issues.
  2. What do you like most about your neighborhood?– I think I like most about my neighborhood is that I am close to everything I enjoy such as FIU and my friends.
  3.  If you were to change anything about your neighborhood, what would it be?– I would want there to be less traffic on 8th street if possible and maybe less people living here because it tends to get crowded in some areas like the grocery store but other than that I can’t think of anything to change.

LANDMARKS

Our Lady of Belen Chapel

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

Our Lady of Belen Chapel is located inside of the Belen Jesuit Preparatory School. It lies on the corner of its campus so it is easily seen when driving by it. It is currently under construction and has been for the past 2 years, but the school plans on opening it to all visitors in its community very soon. Recently, the cornerstone of the building was blessed and this is a very significant event in the building of any sacred structure. Also, this blessing reassures eager locals that the construction of the chapel is close to being complete.

Prince of Peace Catholic Church 

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

The Prince of Peace Catholic Church is located on NW 6th St in Tamiami. The parish was established in 1987 by Archbishop McCarthy to create a multiethnic community in the neighborhood of Tamiami. The actual building of the church was built in 1999 and was dedicated to the Archbishop. Today, this Catholic Church hosts masses weekly in both English and Spanish as well as several events to commemorate diversity, the community, and Catholicism.  

Memorial Cubano

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

Located in Tamiami Park, The Memorial Cubano or Cuban Memorial is a tall rectangular monument that has the Cuban flag on all four sides. This was built in 2014 to commemorate all of the victims that were affected by the dictatorship of Fidel Castro. It specifically recognizes 10,000 Cubans that lost their lives fleeing Cuba. Surrounding the memorial are the names of the victims engraved on black marble as well as small lights that keep it illuminated throughout the night as well. 

GREEN

Tamiami Trail Park 

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

Tamiami Trail Park is a very small park that is in front of Belen Jesuit Preparatory School. It contains a good sized playground for children to enjoy as well as a curved path through the grass for walking. Though it is small, it has enough grass for picnics and get-togethers. Out of the three parks listed here, this is the one I would least recommend to have any parties or big gatherings due to its size and location being in front of a busy road and school. 

International Gardens Park

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

International Gardens Park is a mid-size park that has some opportunities for activities such as a baseball field and basketball courts. It also has a playground in the middle of the park for children to play around in. Surrounding the playground and basketball courts are picnic tables and benches for the opportunity to bring some food and relax. Towards the back of the park, it opens up and it leads to a large patch of grass that is perfect for any outdoor activity. 

Tamiami Lakes Park

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

Tamiami Lakes Park is the largest of the three parks listed and has everything that a park needs to have. It has large spaces of grass between its activities such as baseball, basketball, and soccer. It also contains a playground that is covered by a large tent to block out the rain and sun. The park has several picnic tables that are also covered by a roof for weather protection. The large patches of grass that separate each landmark such as a field or picnic table really adds to the park aesthetic and doesn’t make it feel cluttered. 

TRANSPORTATION

Metro-Bus

Photo taken from “Miami Dade.Gov”

The Metro-bus is a well-serviced bus that contains routes that go all around Miami including Tamiami. Tamiami has several bus stops in its neighborhood such as one on SW 18 St & SW 124 Pl. It gives a mode of transportation to all parts of Miami for both residents and non-residents of Tamiami for only $2.25 a trip or a monthly pass for $45. 

Uber/Taxi/Lyft

Photo taken from “Apple Insider”

Besides taking a bus or having your own car, residents of Tamiami use technology to designate where they want to go. Through applications such as Uber and Lyft on their cellular device or laptop, they are able to input their desired location and instantly be connected to a driver in the area that can take them there. It is easy and efficient but the farther the location, the greater the cost. 

FOOD

Milly’s Empanada Factory

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

Milly’s Empanada Factory is a great place to enjoy tequenos, pastelitos, and of course, empanadas! She also serves more American food such as cheeseburgers, hotdogs, and churros. The founder Millincett Martinez arrived from Venezuela in 1995 and brought her passion for making empanadas to the beautiful city of Miami. Today, she is still providing wonderful food for her community that just can’t get enough of it!

Islas Canarias

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

Islas Canarias is a restaurant that was founded in 1977 by a husband and wife known as Raul and Amelia Garcia. They strived to bring the Cuban and Spanish culture that they knew and love through the food they were serving. The restaurant makes local fan favorites such as croquetas, Vaca Frita (Fried Cow), and Bistec Empanizado (steak sandwich). Tamiami residents love to come here to enjoy a nice meal at any time of the day or even just to hang out with some old friends and enjoy a cafecito(Cuban coffee)!

JC’s Pizzeria

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

In a small corner of a shopping center in Tamiami, a little pizzeria known as JC’s Pizzeria resides. This restaurant is everything you want in a pizza place: cheap and good food, fast service, and the scenery of a pizzeria. They have been serving Italian food since 2008 and is a great place to grab food after catching a movie in the theater that is located right next to it. 

BUSINESSES

Family Paintball Center

Photo taken from “Family Paintball Center”

Family Paintball Center is located on 137th surrounded by storage containers and large fields. This place allows people of all ages to participate in paintball games with either their friends or random players. Even if you don’t own any equipment such as a mask or paintball gun, people are able to rent equipment through their business before playing. You can also reserve to have a large party play on the fields without any random players interfering. Overall, this location allows for a fun activity to commence for all levels and ages of paintballers. 

Mac and Chess

Photo taken from “WSVN”

Mac and Chess is located on 8th Street next to a Regions Bank. This restaurant can be considered part of the Food list above but this one offers something that the other food locations don’t: activities! While chowing down on the many mac and cheese flavors they offer, you can also play a board game with your friends. They have dozens of board games that are free to play while you wait for your food or while you eat. This hangout spot knocks game night and dinner all in one go. 

Palace 18/AMC Tamiami 18

Photo taken from “Miami News Times” of Palace 18 before renovations
Photo taken from “Miami News Times” of Palace 18 after recent renovations

Palace 18 is a theater located off 26th St in a small shopping center. This movie theater was created by Cobb Theaters in 1996 and showed plays rather than films. After a couple years, however, Palace 18 was bought by Regal and then slowly began to display movies on the big screen. In 2015, it was bought out by AMC and continues to display upcoming movies to hundreds of fans. Unfortunately, through recent renovations, AMC has taken out the Palace 18 neon sign and has replaced it with an AMC sign, thus removing all physical history of the theater. Many locals, including myself, will still always call this theater Palace 18.

SUMMARY

Tamiami is a small and quaint neighborhood that adds to the Miami lifestyle and culture. The amount of greenery that can be seen inbetween the houses and streets makes it feel both urban and natural. I believe that Tamiami is a great neighborhood but there is nothing that makes it stand out from other neighborhoods unfortunately. It easily blends into its neighbors and is overshadowed in an instant due to its lack of unique businesses, restaurants, and landmarks. Many of the sights that are in Tamiami can be found in almost any other neighborhood in Miami. Though it is easily overshadowed, many of the residents love their neighborhood and wouldn’t trade their community for anything.

CITATIONS

Cinematreasures.org. http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/12713.kml.

Explore Census Data, https://data.census.gov/cedsci/.

Martinez, Teresa. “Belen Blesses Cornerstone of New Chapel.” ADOM, – Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, 10 Nov. 2021, https://www.miamiarch.org/CatholicDiocese.php?op=Article_archdiocese-of-miami-belen-jesuit-school-blesses-cornerstone-of-new-chapel.

“Our History.” Prince of Peace Catholic Church, 2 May 2021, https://www.popmiami.net/our-history/.

“Tamiami Trail Officially Opened in 1928.” Miami History Blog, 12 Mar. 2022, https://miami-history.com/news/tamiami-trail-officially-opened-in-1928/.

Transit Fares and Parking Fees, https://www.miamidade.gov/global/service.page?Mduid_service=ser1617316231654558.

Author: Luis Gutierrez

Hi! I am currently a sophomore studying English at Florida International University. I love to watch movies, listen to old music, and play beach volleyball with my friends. I also enjoy writing and collecting vinyl records!

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