Aleidy Encarnacion: Miami as Text 2022-2023

Hi everyone! Welcome to my blog, Miami in Miami, where we will explore Miami together.  My name is Aleidy Encarnacion, I was born in the Dominican Republic but moved to the Turks and Caicos Islands when I was five years old. I’m an International student at FIU pursuing a bachelor’s in Accounting with a minor in marketing on an international scholarship. I come from a single-parent family with two siblings and because of that, I have a great appreciation for family. I like exploring new things, new cultures, and new environments. I’m passionate about helping others, and I hope to make a difference in the world one day. I hope that this course helps to promote my appreciation of adventure, culture, and history. Hope you guys enjoy my posts.

Downtown Miami as Text

“The Wagners’ Homestead” by Aleidy Encarnacion of FIU in Downtown Miami, 31 August 2022.

We went to Downtown Miami for our first class meeting. Not being from Miami, learning about its rich history was remarkable. Even just walking around Miami’s downtown streets will give you a sense of the city’s vibrant culture. Miami’s past was all around us in the form of buildings, artwork, and historical monuments. The Wagner family homestead in Lummus Park was among the most significant sites we saw on this walk in Downtown Miami. The William Wagner Home, regarded as the oldest house in Miami, functioned as a memorial to one of South Florida’s early inhabitants. 

The Wagners’ story is both a pioneering story and an inter-racial love romance set during segregation and before slaves were freed. William Wagner, a German war veteran living in South Carolina, fell in love with Eveline Aimar, a black creole woman who was fifteen years his senior and already had children. Interracial marriages were not permitted at this time, and as a result, the new family opted to relocate to Miami, Florida. Along with Eveline’s two boys, William and Eveline also had two children of their own. William and Eveline’s two boys moved to Miami first and settled down before the rest of the family did.

The Wagners were very gregarious individuals who welcomed guests into their home and were among the first to make friends with the local native Americans. The children played together while dinner was prepared to be shared by everyone at gatherings they hosted with the native Americans. The Wagners were a generous family. There are several aspects of this family that captivated me. Despite the time, they interacted with various people from their society without displaying any differences. I think they contributed to the level of diversity that exists today in Miami.

Within their community, the Wagners fostered harmony, peace, and acceptance. I believe this is the case because they desired to celebrate other people’s diversity and were unafraid to stand out from the crowd because they had also faced rejection. For those reasons, the Wagner family was well respected. However; it is still sad that the Wagners were forced to sell their home and that one of their boys was killed.  I also wish that we were taught more about topics like these related to Miami’s history, in the public school system. It’s tragic how little history about Miami is known by so many Miami residents nowadays.

The story of the Wagners impacted me in many ways and allowed me to realize how far we have come from racism and colorism. Their story is an embodiment of Miami’s mixed composition today. Being of mixed heritage myself, learning about this incredible family that contributed to Miami’s evolution was eye-opening. It’s difficult to express, yet just by standing in front of this house, there was an incredible sense of peace. I felt like I belonged, and considering my time in Miami, this was one of the most enriching and satisfying experiences I have had so far. The Wagners were a remarkable family in every way.

Overtown as Text

“The Strip” by Aleidy Encarnacion of FIU in Downtown Miami, 14 September 2022.

This week, we began our walk at the Metrorail. Although I was nervous, it was exciting to learn how the Metrorail station operates in Miami. We started out in Overtown. Created as a result of the segregation of black people in Miami following the incorporation of the city. Colored Town was born in 1896. The only neighborhood in Miami, other than Coconut Grove, where black people could buy property and live. Colored Town is now known as Overtown. It received the name of Overtown because in order for you to get from Coconut Grove to get to Colored Town you had to go “over” downtown. 

Despite its tragic formation, Overtown swiftly became known as a vibrant area rich in commerce, culture, and entertainment. Churches and theaters abounded in the area, all of which were a few blocks apart. Because of segregation and Jim Crow Laws, African-American performers were not allowed to spend the night in Downtown Miami or Miami Beach, but were permitted to perform there. As a result, black artists had to spend the night in Colored Town after performing in Downtown Miami or Miami Beach. These kinds of events are what turned Second Avenue in Overtown into Miami’s little broadway. The Lyric Theatre, which was built in 1913, hosted second performances by black artists who had previously performed in Downtown Miami and Miami Beach. 

Overtown performances became a success and gained popularity. A full audience of not only black but also white people who chose to attend these performances over those staged in Downtown Miami and Miami Beach because they were less expensive. With performances by renowned musicians like Josephine Baker, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, and Aretha Franklin, among others, the Lyric Theatre helped unite the community. These Black Artists gave incredible performances at this theatre that brought people together from different parts of America. This speaks about the union between the black community at this time. Famous athletes like Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson and many others could have been found amongst the audience. Doesn’t this sound wonderful? I could only imagine what the ambiance and music were like at these concerts. 

The Lyric Theatre was not only the home for live performances but also served as a venue for political gatherings, movies, school plays, and beauty pageants. The Lyric Theatre is now a beautiful structure with architectural significance that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The images on the building depict Miami’s black culture and tell a story, giving you a sense of what Overtown was like in the 1950s. However, I cannot picture all of this coming to an end as a result of the expressways that were built through the neighborhood’s center, forcing residents to relocate. However, it’s striking to observe how a place created by racial division produced a vibrant and rich atmosphere. The vibrant culture that exists in Overtown is beyond words. All over the city, from the buildings to the citizens, you can sense it. Overtown is full of life and history. I could only imagine how it was before. Now I understand why it is described as the “Harlem of the South”.

Biscayne Bay/Chicken Key as Text

“The Scary Truth of Our Actions” by Aleidy Encarnacion of FIU at Chicken Key, 05 October 2022.

I was extremely nervous for this week’s class. I wasn’t an especially active or adventurous child growing up, so the idea of canoeing in Miami’s water without knowing how to swim made me incredibly anxious. However, I could not have asked for a more fulfilling experience. Our journey started at the Deering Estate, where my paddling partner Christian led the way because he had more experience. I did my best to help, moving my short arms as quickly as I could, but to be honest he carried out most of the job.

The journey from the Deering Estate to Chicken Key was admirable. The sea became increasingly clear as we got closer to Chicken Key Island. We observed mangroves flourishing through the journey and in the island’s surroundings. The fish appeared to be putting on a show for us as we watched them jump out of the water. The water was warm as well as the atmosphere; so much so that for a while, I completely forgot that we were in the middle of the sea, surrounded by wildlife, and that I could not swim to save my life. Words are inadequate to express how I felt when I looked up at the sky on my canoe and took a breath of the fresh air around me.

When we got to Chicken Key, the scuttling hermit crabs that were all over the island were the first thing that greeted us. But we also were faced with the painful consequences of our acts. I spent the better part of an hour picking up small bottle tops that Prof. Bailey mentioned are extremely dangerous to hermit crabs and small fish. However, there was a ton of other marine debris. On the island, significant quantities of plastic, rubber, clothing, and bottled urine among other things were discovered. We traveled about, gathering as much as we could. One bag after another, filled with garbage until there were no more bags left. I wish I could tell you that we had collected all of the marine debris on the island. But the sad truth is that we could not, given the amount of marine debris there was.

This experience really made me more aware of how little regard humans have for the earth. I can speak for myself when I say that I was unaware of the seriousness and realism of the impact that our improperly disposed garbage has on the existence of plants and marine species. We go above and beyond to maintain the cleanliness and opulence of our homes because we take great pride in them. But we frequently overlook the fact that our surroundings serve as a reflection of who we are. Is garbage clustering your home? Do you throw away all the plastic plates and wrappers you use on your house’ floors once you are done with them? The state of our environment speaks to the kind of people we are.

Let’s all try to make a difference for the betterment of our environment and as a whole our societies. At the end of our journey, we were all three shades darker and my travel companion Christian was redder than a spiny lobster. But it was a fantastic experience and a major eye opener.

Vizcaya as Text

“Missing Pieces” by Aleidy Encarnacion of FIU at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, 12 October 2022.

I’m confident in saying that Vizcaya is among Miami’s most picturesque places. When professor Bailly mentioned that this week we would be visiting a museum, I had in mind a typical modern museum with historical and artistic objects. I never would have guessed that the museum we were visiting was once someone’s home. Just like any other museum, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is packed with historical, artistic, and cultural artifacts. However, Vizcaya profoundly reflect Miami’s development and past. James Deering constructed Vizcaya in 1912 with the intention of using it as a home and place of retirement. 

In honor of the Spanish settlers from the Province of Vizcaya who came to Biscayne Bay in the 1500s, Deering gave this place the name “Vizcaya”. James Deering designed his house with the intention of bringing Europe to Miami. Burrall Hoffman, Diego Suarez, and Paul Chaflin all contributed to the realization of Deering’s idea. In order to gain extensive knowledge and inspiration for building this house, four of these men traveled to Europe for a considerable amount of time. As you walk through this house and gardens, you can see the influences of Spanish, Italian, and French culture and architecture.

Undoubtedly, this property has many lovely features, from the sculptures that surround the garden to those that greet visitors at the front entrance. Vizcaya has unique pieces that are not found anywhere else, like the admiral carpet in the living room. This is one of the most captivating pieces in the entire Vizcaya collection. Also, there is the baby’s coffin in the dining room that is used as a cooler, which is quite unique and different.

Vizcaya’s architecture and design reflect a lot of James Deering’s personality and character. The fake books in his office and the portraits of kids who weren’t his children but rather just some random kids on the wall speak to Deering’s mindset and need to maintain appearances. Sure, the house is adorned with expensive paintings, sculptures, and even wall painted marvel. But, Vizcaya, however, neglects to mention the significant historical people who helped shape Miami into what it is now, as in many previous instances.

Ponce de Leon’s cultural and historical significance cannot be left out of Miami’s history. But although I appreciate that James Deering included Ponce de Leon and the Spanish conquistador concept in his home, I believe that it also symbolizes his beliefs on power. He only empathized and related with the Spaniards and not the people who previously occupied the land because the Spaniard represented power and quest. At Vizcaya, no elements of Tequesta, Seminole, or Bahamian culture are discernible.

The people that helped shape Miami into what it is now are always left out, as has happened in numerous instances throughout Miami’s history. Besides a group sculpture of some black Bahamian laborers in the garden, there are no other artistic representations of the construction workers that built Vizcaya. Deering used a variety of artistic styles from other countries and cultures in the design of his home. However, the individuals who were present at the time and who had come before him were not noteworthy. Such an amazing place, but it’s missing so much of Miami’s rich culture.

South Beach as Text

“Empowered Women of Miami” by Aleidy Encarnacion of FIU at South Beach, 02 November 2022.

Photos taken and edited by Aleidy Encarnacion // CC by 4.0

One of the most well-liked tourist destinations in Miami is South Beach, and for good reason. It is definitely a magnificent and unique area unmatched by anything else because of its Mediterranean Revival, Art Deco and other architectural styles. The region is still a reflection of the original plan its land developers had for it. A true paradise. No wonder why tourists love it so much.

It’s nearly impossible to imagine that Miami Beach was once a deserted wasteland, but after pioneer Carl Fisher found it while on vacation in 1910, everything changed. Others were unable to see past the marshland that Miami Beach was once, but Carl Fisher saw it as the ideal getaway location for himself and his friends. Miami Beach, like many other neighborhoods in Miami, unfortunately has a troubled past. Miami Beach was multiracial prior to Carl Fisher’s development. In this small town, whites and blacks coexisted. Sunday afternoons were spent taking boats to Ocean Beach (Miami Beach) for picnics and baseball games. Blacks were, however, quickly denied access to public beaches.

This, however, wasn’t what caught my attention about this area. It’s disappointing that as we continue to tour Miami’s many neighborhoods, I already anticipate that some aspect of their history will be prejudiced. What most inspired me was yet another woman in Miami who made an impact on this city. South Beach shares Miami’s reputation for being influenced by powerful women. Julia Tuttle is credited with essentially establishing Miami. But we must also thank Barbara Baer Capitman, another strong woman, for preserving South Beach. If not for her, South Beach’s charm and Art Deco architecture would not be what it is now.

Barbara Baer Capitman campaigned to protect and preserve the collection of Art Deco buildings in Miami’s South Beach at the time she was alive. She is renowned for founding the Miami Design Preservation League, a group that aids in “preserving, protecting, and promoting the environmental, social, cultural, and architectural integrity of Miami Beach and the surrounding areas”. The Art Deco district of South Beach became the first National Historic District of the 20th century as a result of this remarkable woman.

Moreover, it’s regrettable that other Miami neighborhoods with buildings that also had substantial architectural significance weren’t conserved, such as the theaters that originally stood in Overtown – The Strip (Little Broadway). If that were the case, Overtown would have the same sense of cultural background that South Beach has, and I think that would have been wonderful.

Being a woman myself, I sometimes feel that because it is still difficult for women to enjoy the same level of respect and acceptance that males do in our society, whatever I may accomplish may not really matter. However, as I attend these classes and learn about the inspirational and courageous women of Miami, I am inspired to make a difference and achieve my dreams. There is no reason for women to limit themselves now because we too have the capacity and strength to leave our mark on the world. If they were able to do it when women’s opinions were even more marginalized, then why can’t we change the world and realize our dreams?

Deering Estate as Text

“A Glimpse of the Past” by Aleidy Encarnacion of FIU at The Deering Estate, 16 November 2022.

The Deering Estate is a cultural asset and historic location on the National Register of Historic Places. It still has all the characteristics that Miami had prior to Miami becoming the city it is today. This is prior to the occurrence of significant events that happened in Miami such as Flagler’s railroad and the building of Vizcaya. The Deering Estate represents life in Miami before these events.

The Deering Estate is one of the few locations in Miami that depicts life before urbanization and industrialization. Pine Rockland, Salt Marsh, Mangroves, Submerged Sea Grass Beds, Deering Estate Flow-way, Remnant Slough, Tropical Hardwood Hammock, and Beach Dune Chicken Key are among the eight diverse ecosystems that make up this area. The Deering Estate is committed to maintaining and safeguarding these natural ecosystems, as well as the indigenous plants and animals that live on the estate. It is a place that emphasizes environmental protection and preservation.

The extensive history of this location has shaped me the most. On the grounds of what is now the Deering Estate, archaeologists discovered traces of human occupancy from 10,000 years ago. You can visit the Tequesta burial site, walk in the footsteps of the Paleo-Indians, and learn about the first northern settlers at the Deering Estate. This place also speaks about the segregation that existed in Miami. African-American and Afro-Bahamian laborers worked on the Deering Estate’s People’s Dock during a period of stifling racial segregation. Four workers died and five were injured as a result of the horrendous working conditions during this time in Miami.

In addition, there is the Tequesta Midden, which represents the past Tequesta inhabitants of the Estate. Shell fragments that are just the right size to fit in your hands peek above the soil. The Tequesta community utilized these shells as tools for daily tasks like drilling and shucking shellfish. There is no doubt that the Deering Estate’s grounds once housed a sizable Tequesta settlement. On the Deering Estate is the Cutler Burial Mound, one of Miami-Dade County’s few remaining prehistoric mounds. 12 to 18 Native Americans, including women and children, are thought to be buried on the mound. A 400- to 600-year-old oak tree towers over the burial mound. Its roots reach out in the shape of an arm. 

There is also the Cutler Fossil Site on the estate. The Cutler Fossil Site was dug up in the 1980s and is considered an active site. Its excavation uncovered a Paleo-Indian shelter as well as bones from the megafauna that inhabited this area at the time during the Pleistocene Era, when sea levels were considerably lower than they are now.

It’s incredible to see how this area has survived and been shielded from civilization. Because of this, we are able to gain a glimpse of what life was like in the past, connect with our ancestors, and traverse the same spaces they did. However, given Deering Estate’s incredible historical significance, I believe it would be wonderful if a sign honoring the four Afro-American construction workers who lost their lives there while building the People’s Dock was put in place on the estate. This would help educate the public about Miami’s past and the people who built it.

Rubell Museum as Text

“Introduction to a New World” by Aleidy Encarnacion of FIU at Rubell Museum, 23rd November 2022.

My eyes have been opened to a world I had no idea existed thanks to this class. I had never been exposed to contemporary art before, and I fell instantly in love with it. What most captivates me about this art form is how artists can express themselves in a unique way and provide room for interpretation. I was unaware that Miami was a global reference for contemporary art. There are many intriguing and diverse artists in Miami in addition to a wide variety of public display venues for contemporary art. Miami’s ongoing cultural mix and evolution reflect larger historical trends and current ideas that are represented in contemporary art.

Don and Mera Rubell began one of the largest and most diverse collections of modern and contemporary art in the world in 1965. As of now, the collection includes 7,200 pieces by more than 1,000 artists, and it is continually expanding. The Rubell Museum advocates for a broad spectrum of contemporary artists and serves as a forum for conversation between the general public and the art industry.

It was a pleasure to meet Mrs. Rubell herself. She is nothing you expect. Incredibly humble, and kind, she is undoubtedly inspirational. She talked about her love of art and how she thinks that art can make a difference in the world. She added that because of their shared passion for art, she and her husband began collecting. When asked how she finds artists, she responded that it’s similar to when a beautiful butterfly appears on a boat in the middle of the ocean out of nowhere. They just wait for their butterfly to appear, but she emphasized that you have to recognize when your butterfly appears, in order to take advantage of that opportunity. She explained that the artwork on the wall, which appears to be a mattress, is actually a portrait of her and her husband’s life together as a couple. Because we typically associate portraits with paintings or photographs of people, we may fail to see that a mattress reveals a lot about a person, especially a couple. It is very symbolic of their life.

Before, I would not have considered a mattress an art form. However, after hearing her explanation and exploring the museum, I can see that I have a newfound respect for contemporary art and can affirm that it conveys meaningful messages. I truly enjoyed hearing from Mrs. Rubell, spending time surrounded by the artwork of Jean-Michel Basquiat was by far my favorite part of the day. I was deeply moved by his story, and I can only imagine what the world of contemporary art would be today if he were still around. Additionally, the exhibitions “Where the Lights in My Heart Go” and “Lets Survive Together” were absolutely captivating. The variety of art styles we encounter at this museum inspired me to view art differently and to approach art with greater openness when I look at artists’ work or visit art galleries. After this experience, I want to begin my own collection. This may seem cheesy, but I’m extremely moved by this experience and want to spread awareness of other people’s artistic expressions with the world.

Miami Art Week as Text

“Bringing the World to Miami Through Art” by Aleidy Encarnacion of FIU at Untitled Art Fair, 29th November 2022.

Photos taken and edited by Aleidy Encarnacion // CC by 4.0

The leading independent art fair, Untitled Art, is held yearly on Miami Beach’s sands. Untitled Art is an inclusive and collaborative platform for learning about contemporary art by up-and-coming creators and historical personalities. Its purpose is to promote the larger art ecosystem. With some galleries coming from outside of major art centers, it includes up-and-coming artists, youth galleries, and nonprofit organizations from around the world that have been chosen based on their curatorial integrity and global reach. Additionally, it pays close attention to the environment in which it is housed, making sure that eminent Miami galleries are represented and that local institutions are involved. I want to thank Untitled Art for providing us with the opportunity to participate in this event. This is especially since many members of the public might not have access to contemporary art due to the expense associated with art fairs and galleries. I can say without a doubt that it was a memorable experience.

What many people would think to be bizarre topics, such as “why serial killers commit the crimes they do” or “What drives Narcos and Capos to build the lifestyle they have,” interest me. I spend a lot of time watching interviews and documentation of these kinds of people. But what I want to understand is how these individuals think, what drives them, and why. I recently learned that people use art to express themselves in ways that we sometimes cannot explain. Artists utilize their work to express ideas that they might not be able to do so in writing or verbally. Contemporary art and other types of art are frequently dismissed as meaningless. “It’s just lines and a bunch of paint,” but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This type of art form is highly meaningful and significant. It shares with us the untold tales of people’s lives and experiences, and it’s incredible to connect with people on that level.

I had the opportunity to chat with a phenomenal artist at Untitled Art. I learned a little bit about how she thinks and how this is reflected in her works of art. Born in Lima, Peru, Cecilia Jurado Chueca featured by Kates-Ferri Projects. She moved a lot throughout her life. Her work focuses on her past, and the background of her immigrant family has inspired her to investigate ideas such as “home,” “territory,” “transition,” “multiculturalism,” “uprooting,” and “solitude.” She crafts ceramic works of art by hand-molding ceramic with enamel to replicate the windows of some of the aircraft she has flown in. The way she refers to “those lives still on the road (or without a route) in the streets of the world” caught my attention. Each of her pieces conveys a unique story of what she left behind at that time. Some are completely black and blue to reflect the times she traveled at night and her state of mind. Others allow you to glimpse the green fields like you would when a plane is landing. It’s an interesting way to present a subject that many people can relate to. There is so much significance and meaning that you might not have understood at first. But if you look closer and try to understand the art, its deeper meaning will become clear.

Visiting Dimensions Variable’s booth, a non-profit devoted to showcasing and promoting contemporary art in Miami, was another significant experience I had on this day. They included an artwork created by Miami-based Cuban artist Francisco Masó, whose work explores the idea of power and the connections between blackness, civil rights, and the police force through his own experiences in both Cuba and the United States. The artwork on display was a painting with a consistent pattern in light blue, dark blue, and cream. By looking at it visually you could not think much of it, but once you understood the background of the painting’s concept, your imagination was fired up. The painting was created to depict the attire worn by Cuban undercover police officers. The artist was attempting to convey the severe regime that is in place in Cuba as well as the degree of significance that this line pattern implies. My interests have definitely broadened as a result of this class. I have learned to love art and become more knowledgeable about it because of the introduction of contemporary art and the historical significance Miami has in it. I definitely got a taste of the “Authentic Miami”.  

My Miami Final Reflection as Text

“Great Times with Great People” by Aleidy Encarnacion of FIU, Miami, FL.

Photos taken and edited by Aleidy Encarnacion // CC by 4.0

I have gained so many wonderful experiences and learned so many things this semester. I’m really grateful for this course and the opportunities it provides for students. We explored the pretty, the ugly, and most importantly, the true history of Miami. We began the course’s introduction in the government center in Downtown Miami. We started to gain a sense of the individuals who walked the streets of Miami before Miami was even Miami by touring the two oldest structures from Miami’s pioneer era: The Wagner Family Homestead and the William English Slave Quarters. We discovered some of the historical figures who made significant contributions to Miami’s advancement and development. These figures included Henry Flagler, Julia Tuttle, and the Wagner family, among others, and who left a lasting impression on the Miami community. The people who helped shape Miami’s life but that so many people are unaware of.

Like Miami, this class is diverse; in addition to learning about Miami’s past, we also had the chance to explore nature, art, architecture, film, transportation and other topics. We learned about the native plants and species that once lived or live in Miami during our visits to Deering Estate and Chicken Key. Like mangroves, which are crucial for protecting Florida’s shoreline ecosystem, housing marine life, and providing stability. These visits, however, also highlighted the part we play in destroying our environment.

Miami is unquestionably a lovely city, and you don’t need to enroll in this course to realize that. However, visiting the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens will give you an experience unlike any other. Its beauty is indescribable. Its architecture is outstanding, and its structures are incisive. This location is excellent for bringing Europe to Miami. Let’s not forget about popular South Beach, with its beautiful buildings in the Art Deco style. This early twentieth-century architectural style has curved edges, eyebrows, ziggurat rooflines, and other distinctive features that make it look like machines. Due to its stunning qualities, South Beach has gained well-deserved fame on a global scale.

We learned from Overtown that not everything is as it seems. Despite having a reputation for being a rough neighborhood, Overtown is a warm and friendly area. As you walk through the streets of Overtown, you can feel the richness of the local culture and community. I’ll never forget the Overtown resident who enthusiastically represented his community by dressing from head to toe in Overtown merch that we met during class. He made the entire class feel very positively about the people of Overtown.

Moreover, we learned about the people who built Miami. The black and Bahamian workers who constructed Vizcaya, the Deering Estate’s People’s Dock, and Flagler’s railroad. These workers are the ones who contributed to the current growth and who were responsible for beautifying Miami via architecture. I like how this class brought this to my attention and did not try to gloss over history.

The most valuable part of this course was the connections made. I feel connected and close to my fellow classmates. Together, we’ve shared insightful experiences, ideas, and gained the ability to communicate and work cooperatively. This class focuses on communication and engagement. Prior to this class, I hadn’t fully experienced Miami in its entirety, both from a tourist’s perspective and through encounters with its residents. I now have a better understanding of Miami’s culture, way of life, people, and cuisine, among other things. I’ve been able to appreciate my surroundings as a result of this. My perspective on the world has changed.

Things that I may have previously viewed as unimportant have now captured my highest level of interest. I focus more on street names and signs, wondering about their origins and importance. Referencing the significance of West Flagler Street, Miami-Dade County, and other names. I’m excited about the future and the many places left to explore.

Chosen Neighborhood as Text

“Exploring New Places” by Aleidy Encarnacion of FIU at Doral, Miami.

Downtown Doral. Photos taken by Aleidy Encarnacion // CC by 4.0

It is one of the county’s 34 municipalities and is situated three miles outside of downtown Miami and a mile from Miami International Airport. The City of Doral, which has a population of over 75,000, is home to vibrant shopping and entertainment centers, lovely parks, and top-notch golf courses. It has a population of over 75,000 that has grown by 77% in the past 8 years. Due to its sizable Venezuelan population, the city is frequently referred to as “Doralzuela.” It certainly has a rich South American culture that you can taste through its cuisine. Following Hugo Chavez’s election as president in 1999, Venezuelans began migrating to Doral in the 2000s. Wealthy Venezuelans have primarily settled in Weston or Doral after migrating to Miami (City of Doral).

Hispanics or Latinos make up the largest ethnic group in Doral, making up 83.7% of the population, while whites (including white Hispanics) make up 74.6%. Other ethnic groups in the region include Asians, who make up 2.7% of the population, and Black or African Americans, who make up 1.2%. 50.7% of the population are females (no wonder why businesses thrive so much in the area). Doral’s culture is warm, vibrant, upbeat, busy, and Spanish. You may walk into many of the local restaurants or shops and the staff will immediately start speaking to you in Spanish because they are so accustomed to seeing Hispanics in the area. I find this fantastic because it helps me feel like I belong since I speak Spanish as well (Demographics). Due to its cultural amenities, pro-business atmosphere, and highly educated workforce, Forbes Magazine ranked Doral as the second-best town in America to live in (Living in Doral).

With free trolley service available all across the city, exploring Doral’s attractions is simple. Shopping and dining options abound in Doral. One of my favorite Florida shopping malls, Miami International Mall is located in Doral. It has more than 100 stores. Due to its numerous parks, including Doral Central Park, the largest in the city. Doral is also ideal for recreation besides shopping. This park is the venue of significant events like EGGstravaganza and the Independence Day Celebration. The Doral Cultural Arts Center, which houses a sizable art gallery, a multipurpose room, outdoor courtyard spaces, and a rooftop terrace among many other amenities, is another option. Other unique recreational opportunities include TopGolf’s high-tech driving range (Things to do).

Doral is highly regarded for being a favorable site to conduct business and is acknowledged as the center of global trade and commerce. You’ll notice the wide variety of shops in the neighborhood as you walk through Doral. There is no denying that it feels busy. The location of Doral is one of the factors that makes it such a viable site for business. Each day, more than 150,000 people drive to Doral to work at one of the 9,000 firms there, which also include numerous Fortune 500 companies and government offices. It’s no surprise that Doral’s economy spans a variety of industries, including logistics, health and hospitality, flower imports, and the top tile district in the nation, given that the city has one of South Florida’s busiest business districts and the Miami Free Zone, which provides duty-free warehouse space that draws in international trade (Business and Commerce).

La Boulangerie Boul’Mich. Photos taken by Aleidy Encarnacion // CC by 4.0

Brickell City and South Beach tend to come to mind when we think of the best places to eat and explore in Miami. However, I believe that is a huge mistake. Neighborhoods like Doral have many lovely restaurants and establishments that offer luxury and high-quality services often at lower prices than Brickell or South Beach. For instance, I went to La Boulangerie Boul’Mich at 9690 NW 41st Street, a fantastic restaurant for brunch or lunch. The atmosphere was vivacious and charming, and the design featured a variety of colors. The prices are reasonable, the portions are generous, and the food is delicious and that’s just one of the many restaurants in this neighborhood. In conclusion, Doral residents are really friendly and welcoming. Doral is a rapidly expanding metropolitan environment that is home to a wide variety of excellent choices for dining, shopping, and leisure activities and a fascinating place to explore.

Works Cited:

Living in Doral. Residents  · City of Doral. (n.d.). Retrieved November 23, 2022, from  

U.S. Census Bureau quickfacts: United States. (n.d.). Retrieved November 23, 2022, from  

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