Jeanine Prado: Miami as Text 2022-2023

Photo by Jeanine Prado / CC by 4.0

Hello, I’m Jeanine Prado. I am a sophomore attending the Honors College at FIU and majoring in Communications (PRAAC). I love meeting people and going out and experiencing life. I look forward to getting to know my classmates and my beautiful hometown, Miami.

Historic Miami as Text

Photo by Jeanine Prado / CC by 4.0

“Historically Beautiful”

By Jeanine Prado of FIU at Downtown Miami, September 7, 2022

One of my favorite stories to come out of Miami history is about William Wagner, Eveline Aimar, and their little family. Miami has always been recognized as a melting pot for multiple cultures and races; the Wagners might have been the first instance of that.  

Photo by Jeanine Prado / CC by 4.0

The German man and French-Creole woman built one of the oldest structures in Miami. Within the structure lived a mixed family that were open to befriending the Seminoles; who their people told them were the enemies.  

The Wagners became the middle ground and further pushed the mixed population agenda here in Miami. I often am proud to see the place I come from be applauded for its inclusivity. The years between the Wagners and me cannot be erased nor can we ignore it; segregation happened, POC people were used as slaves and people died at the hands of others for the land. Miami has troubling history, like the rest of the U.S.A, but it was able to grow from that. Taking the life of the Wagners into example and advice from Julia Tuttle (a woman who defined Miami before it really became Miami) it became a beautiful and loved piece of land.  

Photo by Jeanine Prado / CC by 4.0

To show its beauty a representative art piece sits off to the side of the government building. The shattered fruit bow fruit with orange slices and peels represent the chaotic city of Miami and applauds what makes it up.

Photo by Jeanine Prado / CC by 4.0

Looking at the art piece, you must understand Miami. Miami is not just a tourist spot nor is it just a party city nor is it a missing piece of Latin America; Miami is a world within itself that cannot be defined by one thing. The art piece reflects the notion that Miami has layers and pieces that make it up. I look at the art piece and see my Miami represented perfectly and I applaud the collaborators Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen for getting Miami right.  

Photo by Jeanine Prado / CC by 4.0

In my opinion, one of the most defining pieces of architecture in Miami is the Freedom Tower. The tower, a copy of the Giralda Tower in Sevilla, is located on the border of downtown and does not look out of place even next to the FTX Arena or Bayside. It became the Freedom Tower in the 60’s when it was used as a place for Cuban refugees. Since then, it has represented freedom and opportunity. Its location could not be any more Miami-esque with the ocean right there and the party life waiting to start at Bayside.  

Photo by Jeanine Prado / CC by 4.0

Downtown has so much deep-rooted history that I did not know of but nonetheless it is beautiful. No matter how troubling the past is and how much making up we need to do, Miami is still a fast-paced city that has changed so much for the better of its people. As you walk through the streets of downtown you can really see how Miami has developed and changed as a city and as a community overall. My love for this city grows the more I learn about it. 

Overtown & Hialeah as Text

Photo by Jeanine Prado / CC by 4.0

“As time goes on, things change.” 

by Jeanine Prado of FIU at Overtown and Hialeah, September 21, 2022

I just turned 20 and looking back at my life 5 years ago, it was nothing like it is now. I look older, I have new friends, a new dog and have a different view of life. As time passes, we experience change, and it is often necessary.  

Photo by Jeanine Prado / CC by 4.0

Overtown, Miami’s most overlooked and under appreciated part, is a victim of change; not completely good change. Gentrification has led to massive changes within the area. The idea of gentrification seems great because it can better a poor area, but it causes a lot of problems for the inhabitants of the area. As homes get bought out, businesses get rebuilt and expressways go over the town, more people end up leaving than staying around; they cannot keep up with the standard of living.  

Great Bethel church still stands but is in danger of being bulldozed and replaced by something trendier. As one of the first established and organized dominions in Overtown it is important to many but as the surrounding area gets replaced and people get pushed out, less and less people are there to save the church.  

Photo by Jeanine Prado / CC by 4.0

Mrs. Alberta Godfrey talked beautifully about her experience and how as a realist she came to terms with the change. Even though it breaks her heart to see the things she grew up with leave it is just a part of life. Even with a realist mind she shows her hope that at least her church can stay strong and stay as a haven for those who remain.  

Photo by Jeanine Prado / CC by 4.0

It is comforting knowing that some things will stay around. Great Bethel church is an example as well as Jackson Soul Food. A restaurant that has not lost its roots is exactly what an area like Overtown needs. Its food and culture remind people of where they come from and gives them a sense of familiarity. The restaurant is still at risk, even if presidents like Clinton visited it. Overtown is not considered historical and does not have the same level of respect as other parts of Miami. The history of Overtown will always be at risk unless we fight to keep it alive. Overtown is important for the formulation of the melting pot Miami id and without it we would be missing a huge part of Miamian history.  

Photo by Jeanine Prado / CC by 4.0

Hialeah Park is an abandoned hidden gem in Miami. Historically known for its horse racing and pink flamingos, it now welcomes a group of gamblers. Things changed and slowly we lost things that once made Miami.  

Winston Churchill, Britian’s Prime Minister (1940-1945), was quoted as saying “Extraordinary!” The moment he looked upon the racetrack. Standing in a similar place I can see the beauty that he saw. The vast field had its natural charm, and the flamingoes added a sense of exoticness that could not be found anywhere else.  

Photo by Jeanine Prado / CC by 4.0

It is funny how time works. Barely a year before I was born, racing horses became illegal, and it halted the traffic that was coming to Hialeah Park. Only a year difference and not once was I told about it. Now 20 years later is when I got to find this beautiful piece of history. 

Photo by Jeanine Prado / CC by 4.0

I wish that a lot of these pieces of history would have stayed. How exceptional would it be to see a jazz singer in Lyric Theatre or have a drink at Hialeah Park while races happened (not horses)? Miami history would not be at such a risk to be lost.  

Miami is dependent on its history to make it what it is. Some things need to be saved and kept around because without them Miami would become nothing more than another city with nothing too special about it.  

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