Afifa Fiaz: Overtown (AKA Colored town) 2022


Photo by Ashley Sanchez //CC by 4.0

Afifa Fiaz is a Pakistani student getting her bachelor’s at Florida International University. She is planning on continuing her studies in the medical field. She loves travelling and exploring new places. Her goal in life is to help people through medicine.


Overtown, also known as “Colored town”, is a city in the northwest Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States. It is located located at 55°45’26″N 3°54’59″W (55.7571900, -3.9164500). Overtown is bounded on the north by NW 20th Street, on the south by NW 5th Street, on the west by the Miami River and SR-836, and on the east by the East Coast Railway and NW 1st Avenue. Downtown Miami, Town Square, Edgewater, Wynwood, Allapattah, Little Havana, and Brickell are among the nearby cities. Interstate I-95, which runs right through the center of Historic Overtown.


Photo taken by Afifa Fiaz CC// by 4.0

Overtown formerly known as “Colored Town” dates back to 1896, where it was inhabited by African Americans. When Coconut Groove started to come about due to Henry Flagger’s railroads (primarily built by blacks), the blacks were no longer welcomed there. They had to go “Over” downtown after they were done working or performing there as it was against the law for them stay after a certain period of time. As time went by, Overtown started thriving rather quickly and started attracting known folks such as James Brown, Josephine Baker, Aretha Franklin, and Muhmmad Ali, who stayed in colored town after visiting Coconut Groove. As more and more night life was brought on the Avenue G, the city acquired it’s nickname “Harlem of the South.” Overtown even became the central organizing center for Civil Rights movement in Miami. “Whether it was the organization of an action against segregation, a voting initiative, or the delivery of a speech, Civil Rights history unfolded in Overtown. Churches often served as the ground zero, hosting such figures as Malcolm X, Andrew Young, and Martin Luther King.” Bailly’s Lectures

The town’s glorious moments come to end in 1960’s when two highways cut through the middle of it. The construction of two expressways, I-95 and I-395 caused the city to be separated into four quadrants. This resulted in the displacement of 80% of Overtown residents along with the areas business community, that held over 300 businesses. New structures caused the destruction of older homes and buildings in the neighborhood. Despite many efforts in the last few decades, the city hasn’t been able to recover economically. Today, Overtown has among the highest poverty, unemployment, and crime rate in Miami. About Overtown


The population of Overtown is at it’s lowest with 8,333 residents currently living there. Most of the town is under the poverty line; Unemployment is at 34%, with a substantial proportion of youth not in school or working. The median household income is $22,909 Point 2. According to the Florida Department of Health, the incidence of hospitalizations for heart disease in Overtown was three times that of Miami-Dade County generally; the percentage of low birth weight newborns in Overtown was 10.8 percent, which was higher than the county-wide average of 8.9 percent. The neighborhood has one of the highest infant death rates in Miami-Dade County. About Overtown


Photo of Janelle Fertil taken by Rachel Fertil //CC by 4.0

Janelle Fertil has family from that was there during Overtown’s thriving moments.

Afifa: Hey Janelle, so tell me a bit about your family and it’s relations with Overtown?

Janelle: Well, my family particularly my aunt used to work in Coconut Groove and had to go to Overtown at the end of the day every night. She used to live there with her husband and kids. I am not sure what her job position was but I know she lived there and told us many stories about the town.

Afifa: Do you happen to know if she crossed paths with any of the known people that performed or passed by Overtown?

Janelle: Actually yes, she told us a story of how she got to see Aretha Franklin’s performance and was going on and on about how crazy the show out was. She mentioned that people from other places even came to see her perform.

Afifa: Was your aunt one of the many people that had to relocate when the highways were built?

Janelle: Yes, she and her family were asked to move to a different location.

Afifa: Have you been to Overtown? Why or why not?

Janelle: I have once with my aunt’s kids to see some of the places they used to talk about. They were showing me spots that used to be homes or businesses at one point.



Photo taken by Afifa Fiaz //CC by 4.0

Lyric Theatre was built in 1913 by a man from Georgia named Geder Walker. It was once known as “the most beautiful and costly playhouse owned by colored people in all the Southland” by Miami Metropolis. Many performers such  Cab Calloway, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis Jr., Josephine Baker and Billie Holiday performed here. When Walker passed, his wife took charge of the theatre until 1959, when it became a church. It was used for various reasons: movie theater, performance hall and community auditorium. However, it went quite after the building of highways in 1960’s. It wasn’t until 1988, that the Black Archives History & Research Foundation of South Florida bought it and marked it as a National Register of Historic Places.

The Lyric Theatre was reopened in 2000. The renovated Lyric Theater had a new lobby, box office, and administrative offices, among other improvements. Many events have been hosted within the theater since its restoration. The late Whitney Houston recorded a music video there, Missy Elliot had a party there during the 2005 MTV Movie Awards, and a local documentary was also produced there. The Lyric Theater underwent another refurbishment and reopened during Black History Month in 2014, claiming the status as Miami’s oldest operational theater.

Lyric Theatre was built in 1913 by a man from Georgia named Geder Walker. It was once known as “the most beautiful and costly playhouse owned by colored people in all the Southland” by Miami Metropolis. Many performers such  Cab Calloway, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis Jr., Josephine Baker and Billie Holiday performed here. When Walker passed, his wife took charge of the theatre until 1959, when it became a church. It was used for various reasons: movie theater, performance hall and community auditorium. However, it went quite after the building of highways in 1960’s. It wasn’t until 1988, that the Black Archives History & Research Foundation of South Florida bought it and marked it as a National Register of Historic Places. Historic Overtown’s Lyric Theatre


Photo taken by Afifa Fiaz //CC by 4.0

Greater Bethel was founded by Alex Lightburn on 12 March 1896, is known to be Miami’s oldest black church. The church’s congressional meetings started in a small house transitioning into a larger wooden structure. The wooden structure later gets destroyed by the Great Hurricane 0f 1926. In 1928, reconstruction of the church began and lasted till 1943, building the Mediterranean revival style seen today. The church even got listed as the National Historic Place. Another extraordinary things about this church is that Martin Luther King spoke here on 12th February 1958 at the SCLC Crusade for Citizenship. The point of this event was to bring in new voters and keep access to polls. Martin Luther King’s words can still be reminisce today. National Register of Historic Places Greater Bethel


Dana A. Dorsey was one of the first African-American millionaires in Miami. Him and his wife Rebecca bought land when when the city of Miami was newly incorporated. They then built properties and leased them to other African Americans residents in Miami. Dorsey came about on his own and soon became a influential businessman, relator, banker, and philanthropist. Dorsey started to be brought up in 1896, when he was working as a carpenter for Henry Flagler’s railroad. He realized that the blacks workers needed housing and got the idea to buy property as far as Ft. Lauderdale. “He and his wife sold land on Northwest 17th Street and First Avenue to the City of Miami for a park for African-Americans which is still enjoyed today.” Dorsey was also big on education and therefore donated land for black schools. He even sold the Dorsey High School land for one penny to Dade County Public Schools. Dana A. Dorsey Collection


Dorsey Park

An important park of Overtown is the Dorsey Park. This park was built after Dana A. Dorsey and his wife sold the land to the city of Miami. It gained popularity due to the baseball players that played in the Negro League. During the time of segregation and Jim Crow laws, the park was an escape for most blacks.  “Black folks used to come out “dressed to the nines” after Sunday church to watch ball. Very exciting place to be.” Warren Cromartie, a Negro League’s Indianapolis Clowns player. Since blacks were banned from playing Major League Baseball, the formed their own major leagues. Even though Miami didn’t have any teams that played in the Negro League, the Miami clowns originated from this park, eventually becoming the Indianapolis Clowns in the Negro Major Leagues. Today, you can still see the murals in the parks walls reminiscing these times. History Of Negro League Partly Written At Miami’s Dorsey Park

Gibson Park

On the map, Gibson Park is shown by the term Overtown Optimists Club. Gibson Park provides programs such as After School, Summer Camp, Winter Camp, Spring Break Camp, Master Swim, and Learn to Swim. The Overtown Optimists Club is located in Gibson Park and provides Dance, Travel Basketball, Swimming, Flag and Tackle Football, Cheerleading, Mentoring, and College Tours, as well as Tee Ball and Baseball.

William Park

This park located in Overtown features outdoor activities, shelter, spring camp, sports area, summer camp and youth programs. These features are similar to that of Dorsey Park. William park



Photo taken by Afifa Fiaz //CC by 4.0

Jackson’s Soul food was first introduced to me by our professor on one of our excursions. This is a renown restaurant in Overtown. This is a must when visiting Overtown as they serve authentic soul food. This family owned restaurant had great and fast service even though our group was large. I had their spicy wings and mac and cheese, along with lemonade to finish this perfect meal. I will definitely be visiting Jacksons Soul Food with my friends in the future.

House of Wings

House of wings is a restaurant in Overtown that serves chicken wings, Caribbean, and sea food. If you want to try different variety of wings, then this place is a must! I recommend their spicy wings with fries along with fried shrimp. House of Wings was even listed as top 13 best chicken wings in Miami. Thrillist

Lil Greenhouse Grill

Lil Greenhouse Grill is another restaurant located in Overtown. This restaurant started as a food truck and is now quite popular for its food. They have variety of food ranging from seafood cakes to barbecue rib tips. Their prices are very affordable and service is very friendly. Lil Greenhouse Grill


Photo taken by Afifa Fiaz //CC by 4.0

Overtown has local metro trail to help resident commute for cheaper. Overtown, like the rest of Miami is always packed with traffic. Because this is predominantly a low-income region, residents rely significantly on public transportation. Overtown includes local Metrorail stops, making long-distance travels to work and schools within Miami-Dade County a little simpler for those who cannot afford their own private automobiles. Overtown has three Metrorail stations: the southernmost, known as the Virgin MiamiCentral Station, the central, known as the Historic Overtown/Lyric Theatre Station, and the northernmost, known as the Culmer Station.


Photo taken by Afifa Fiaz //CC by 4.0

Overtown was once a thriving city that once attracted many people. It declined after the I-95 and 395 freeways were built. Many Miami residents overlook Overtown. People’s stigmas and prejudices have led them to assume that traveling along I-95 and looking down at the town is preferable to driving through it. During the Jim Crow era of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Overtown, also known as Colored Town, was the prominent and is now the historic center for black business in Miami and South Florida. Musicians such as James Brown, Josephine Baker, Aretha Franklin, Muhmmad Ali, and others once performed in the town! People would come from all over the country simply to hang out with the known and have small chat for a dime! When the I-95 and 395 highways were built through town, the community fell silent. Hundreds of homes and properties were destroyed as a result of the motorways. Many people thought it was an act of racism and segregation to restrict blacks from thriving at the time.


“Historic Overtown’s Lyric Theater.” Historic Overtown’s Lyric Theater,

“Experience Historic Overtown, Florida.” , Florida,

“Age and Sex in Overtown, Miami, Florida (Neighborhood).” The Demographic Statistical Atlas of the United States – Statistical Atlas,

“Who Was D. A. Dorsey?” D. A. Dorsey Technical College,

Dixon, Lance. “This Historic House Is Paying Tribute to One of Miami’s Black Pioneers.” The New Tropic, 19 Feb. 2019,

“Gibson Park.” Parks & Recreation – Gibson Park,

“Williams Park.” Miami,

Areavibes. “Overtown, Miami, FL Transportation.” Overtown, FL Transit – Public Transportation, Amtrak Train Stations & Airports,

Bailly, John. “Overtown Walking Tour.” Bailly Lectures, 13 Oct. 2021,



Photo taken by John Bailly //CC by 4.0

Afifa Fiaz is a junior at Florida International University. She was born in Pakistan and migrated to the U.S. with her parents at the age of 7. She is currently perusing a pre-med route and plans on going into the Physician Assistant Program at FIU. Her goal in life is to help people through medicine and volunteering experiences. She loves to explore new places, cook, draw, and give back to the community.


I volunteered with the Muslim Student Association council (MSA). MSA is a religious, a non-profit organization committed to the establishment and maintenance of Islamic societies in a community. As a part of the MSA, I have had many volunteering opportunities, such as feeding the homeless, toy drives, and many more! One very unique event that we organized was for the senior citizens in shelter homes that have been left by their families. This event was funded by other Muslims in the community and organized by volunteers.


The reason I chose this volunteering experience to mention out of all my other ones is because it holds a special place in my heart. Being able to host an event for the elderly that have been left in nursing homes by their families was an eye opener for me. Most of the senior citizens there had not been to any events since they arrived at the nursing home and were quite shocked to be invited to an event organized especially for them. This volunteering experience does not correlate to my major, however, it still allowed me to do something kind and special for others. It was also a great way to connect with many different personalities.  


As someone who loves talking to people and learning about their life lessons, this was a perfect opportunity to talk and volunteer. I connected with this opportunity by talking to the senior guests that we hosted the event for. Each one had a unique experience and story of their own. One of the lessons that I received from many of the citizens was that life will always throw curve balls at you, it is up to you as to how you approach them in life that will determine your future.


Photo taken by Afifa Fiaz //CC by 4.0

When I received the announcement from the MSA head about hosting an event for the senior citizens, I knew that I wanted to be a part of this beautiful experience. Me and my friend took the initiative to step up and raise funds for the event. Raising funding was extremely challenging, however, we were able to get other Muslims on board once they saw our vision. We signed up people to volunteer and help make the event possible. Each volunteer helped cater food and set up the hall. Me and 7 other volunteers decorated the hall with flowers and banners. We even set up a photo booth with polaroid camera to help snap delightful moments through-out the night. The event took place on February 14th, 2022, at Al-Hikmat Center located in Pembroke Pines, Fl. Most of the senior citizens came in on time and we escorted them to their tables. We planned some games, and a dance floor for them. Most of us danced with the senior citizens to help them feel involved and valued. We set up the food and served it to them. I made rice for the event, while others made chicken curry, pasta, kebabs and much more. All throughout we could see the senior citizens enjoying themselves and letting loose.

Photo taken by Hiza Riaz //CC by 4.0

The best part was talking to the senior citizens one on one. When we were accompanying them on the floor, I got the opportunity to talk to them about their life. One thing I asked them all was to tell me one life lesson they learned. Each one of them was eager to tell me their own version of life lessons and experiences. To see their faces light up was so heart-warming, making all the efforts that were put towards the event feel accomplished.

During the middle of the event the head counsel and some senior citizens gave speeches about the event. The event came to an end with the passing of small take home goodie bags that we made earlier. Each goodie bag was filled with things to remember the night and a polaroid of the senior citizens to take with them.


Waiting for approval


Volunteering at the Senior citizen was by far the most emotionally rewarding volunteering experience in my life. Taking lead in an event such as this came with its challenges, but when it all came together, all the sweat and tears were worth it. Not only was the event successful, it also brought light into the senior citizens life again. Children often forget about the social impact of their parents life in nursing homes, what they don’t realize is that as human being we are one of the most social species on Earth.  This event was the perfect example of how small efforts can make the senior residents feel important and welcomed. I personally believe that this event should be held every year or more events like these should happen often. The elderly are an important part of our society and deserve just as much support and love.

All in all, volunteering can be beneficial to both you and the community. It’s a form of communication that helps build support systems in your life. It can protect you from stress, depression, and other mental challenges. Volunteering according to researchers in London School of Economics also triggers the happiness effect, which indicated that the more people volunteer, the happier are. It can also teach you valuable job skills like managing and organizing Benefits of Community Service. As Mahtama Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Cited Works

“Benefits of Community Service.” Community Engagement,,and%20reduce%20stress%20and%20anxiety.

Afifa Fiaz: Sunny Isles Beach 2021


Photo taken by Komal Sahar// CC by 4.0

Afifa Fiaz is a junior pursuing a Bachelor’s degree at Florida International University (FIU), enrolled in the FIU Honors. She was born in Pakistan and moved to the United States when she was 7-years old. After receiving her Associates degree at Broward College, she transferred to FIU to earn her bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences. Her main goal is to be able to help people through medicine and therefore is planning on going to Medical school after she graduates. She is currently working as a medical assistant in a surgical clinic. Afifa loves traveling, dancing, and spending quality time with her family and friends.


Screenshot from Google Maps

Sunny Isles Beach, also known as “The Venice of America”, is a city in the northeastern Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States. It is located at 25°56′30″N 80°7′30″W   (25.941270, -80.125111). The city has a total area of 3.7 km2 (1.4 sq. mi) according to the United States Census Bureau, with 2.6 km2(1.0 sq. mi) of land and 1 km2 (0.4 sq. mi) of water (28.37 percent). Sunny Isles is a two-mile long island surrounded by Aventura, North Miami Beach, and the Atlantic Ocean.


Photo taken by Afifa Fiaz// CC by 4.0

Sunny Isles, also known as The Venice of America, is a 2.26-square-mile plot that was bought by Harvey Baker Graves for tourist attraction in the 1920s.   The building of the Haulover bridge in 1925 attracted developers who built coastal residences in this area. A year later nearly a million dollars were invested by a group of investors to build an all-wooden racetrack that was later destroyed by a strong hurricane, naming this event Fulford’s Folly.

After the building of the Sunny Isles Pier, the city became a tourist attraction, later causing it to be marked as a historic site that can still be visited today. The city continued to develop until the 1950s and 1960s when over 30 motels developed, creating “Motel Row”, along Collins Ave. Ocean Palm is one of the 30 motels that caught a lot of attention as it was the first two-story motel in the United States. The Beatles and many other entertainments even visited the themed motels along Collins Avenue.

Tourism began to slow down in the 1970s, however, new mid-and high-rise multi-family buildings created opportunities for residents. The residential areas become more populated due to the development of the condominium buildings such as Winston Towers and Arlen House. In 1997, the citizens of Sunny Isles vote the city be established as a municipality, causing it to be put on the map. In the early 2000s, the city saw a surge in large luxury projects, which replaced majority of the historic motels.  Sunny Isles History


According to the United States Census Bureau, Sunny Isles Beach population estimates to be about 21,804, increasing 4.7% from 2010. The ratio of male to females is only 2%. In terms of age demographics, the majority of residents are 65 years old, followed by youths under 18 years and children under 5 years, with 24.1 percent, 14.0 percent, and 3.7 percent. In the last 12 months of 2015-2019, the per capita income was $47,470. It has increased by 7.3 percent over the previous year, and the median household income has increased to $55,350. The city of Sunny Isles Beach has 91.1 percent White citizens, in which 46.0 percent are Hispanic or Latino residents and 47.5 percent are White only. The city has a very low percentage of Asian and Black or African population, it is respectively about 2.9 percent and 2.5 percent.


Photo of Michelle Hernaiz taken by Aileen // CC by 4.0

Michelle Hernaiz is a Sunny Isles Beach resident.

Afifa: “Where are you originally from? And how long have you been living in Sunny Isles?

Michelle: “I am originally from Venezuela and moved to Sunny Isles 7 years ago with my mom.”

Afifa: “How would you describe Sunny Isles? Is there anything you particularly like about this city?”

Michelle: “I would describe Sunny Isles as a sweet and lovely place. People are here are either extremely nice or extremely rude lol. My favorite part about living in this city is the beach and shopping centers.”

Afifa: “Okay, and is there anything you dislike about the city?”

Michelle: “I would say the traffic, it gets really bad at times and makes it difficult to get around but other then that I think I love everything about the city.”


Collins Ave

Collins Avenue, also known as the heart of the city, is located at the center of Sunny Isles Beach and is the main street of this city. It was named after John S. Collins, a developer who completed the Collins Bridge that connected the Miami Beach to the mainland across Biscayne Bay.

Collins Avenue is home to many historic Art Deco hotels. Art Deco is a visual arts, building, and design style that originated in France shortly before World War I. Art Deco merged contemporary trends with exquisite craftsmanship and luxurious materials. Buildings exterior design and interior architecture were influenced by Art Deco’s signified luxury. Eden Rock and  Fontainebleau Hotel are two examples out of the many Art Deco architectures on Collins Avenue in Sunny Isles Beach.

St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church

Photo from Spanish Monastery website

The history of the Monastery of St. Bernard de Clairvaux dates back to 1133 AD, “making its cloister the oldest building in the western hemisphere.” Its construction began in Sacramenia, a municipality of Segovia in northern Spain, and took about 8 years to complete in 1141 AD which is about 360 years before Columbus arrived in the Americas. The Monastery of St. Bernard de Clairvaux become home to Cistercian monks for about 700 years after the canonization of Bernard of Clairvaux. However, in 1830 it was seized and sold due to a social revolution.

In 1925, The Cloisters and the Monastery’s outbuildings were bought by a man named William Randolph Hearst. He had the structure brought to the United States, in carefully hay-wrapped after it was dissembled. Over 11,000 wooden crates were sent to be shipped, unfortunately, not all of them made it due to the outbreak of the disease epidemic in Spain. After the arrival of the shipment, Hearst started to face financial hardships causing him to sell most of the pieces at an auction. These crates were stored in a warehouse for about 26 years until bought by two entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs spent over 20 million dollars and 19 months to put the monastery back together!

In 1964, the Ancient Spanish Monastery was sold to Colonel Robert Pentland, Jr. He was a multimillion, who gave them to the Bishop of Florida. “Today, it is owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida.” Ancient Spanish Monastery

Sunny Isles Beach

Sunny Isles Beach is a very well known tourist attraction. The city is constructed right up to the water’s edge, and many of the greatest hotels and resorts are waterfront properties. Many celebrities chose to own residencies along the coastline of Sunny Isles as it is considered to be a very high-end place. Many people chose to retire in Sunny Isles to enjoy the views. The warm weather and endless option for water sports allows the beach to be a tourist attraction all year long.


Oleta River State Park

Photo taken by Afifa Fiaz// CC by 4.0

The Tequesta Native Americans arrived on the banks of what is now known as the Oleta River as early as 500 BCE. The land The Oleta River park’s history goes as far as the Tequesta Indians. The Tequesta Indians set their camp on the Oleta River thousands of years ago. The land supplied various natural resources for the livelihood of the Tequesta. This riverway was called Big Snake Creek in the 1800s and it wasn’t until 1922, that it was renamed Oleta River by developers. During the 1800s, the Oleta River was used as a route in the Second Seminole War by the U.S. troops, federal forces utilized the river to move south. While the river was a useful resource, the Florida war had devastating consequences for the indigenous people.

Kayaking at Oleta River Park
Photo taken by Afifa Fiaz// CC by 4.0

“In 1938, the historic Blue Marlin Fishhouse opened as a successful smokehouse, fish house, marina, and restaurant w” In 1938, the historic Blue Marlin Fishhouse opened as a successful smokehouse, fish house, marina, and restaurant which can still be visited today.” Regulations to protect the park were put in place after it started becoming increasingly popular. Oleta River State Park was then purchased by the state of Florida in 1980 to conserve and nurture the park’s unique natural elements. Today it’s open to the public for kayaking, biking, and much more. Oleta River Park

Haulover Park

Haulover Park, also known as Haulover Nude Beach, is a 177-acre park with 1.4 miles of beachfront. This beachfront property was acquired by the Dade County Commission in 1940. Haulover park was constructed by William Lyman Phillips in 1945 after the outbreak of World War II.  It was officially open to the public in 1948. In 1991, Haulover Beach became a nude beach, meaning clothing here is optional. Haulover Park

Heritage Park

Heritage park, located on Collins Ave, pleases people with its green and gorgeous open space. Even though this park is not as vast as the others it does have something special that other parks don’t. This park has a memorial dedicated to Sunny Isles residents who have served the country. Each year nominations are held to add more members to the wall who have served in the United States Armed Forces.


Sunny Isles Beach has a variety of modes of transportation. Transportation spans from reasonable to expensive, and sometimes free, making it convenient for the community’s diverse financial range.

SIB Shuttle

The SIBshuttle is a free community shuttle service that runs three lines, seven days a week. For the convenience of residents and tourists, three lines (Orange 1, Orange 2, and Blue) are in operation at the same time. The SUBshuttle also connects residents and visitors to other cities such as Aventura, Hallandale Beach, and North Miami Beach. Transportation

Miami-Dade county Transit

Another form of transportation available in Sunny Isles is the Miami-Dade County transit that provides public bus, train, and mover transit. Miami-Dade Transit buses, including Routes E, H, K, S, and V are available in Sunny Isles Beach. The Miami-Dade Metrorail system also includes 23 accessible Metrorail stations located one mile apart from Kendall to northwest Miami-Dade, including Miami International Airport. Transportation


Other form of transportations include personal vehicles, Uber and Lyft drivers, etc. Sunny Isles is considered a rich neighborhood in which many household members own cars. According to, about 76.7% of the population in Sunny Isles drive their own vehicles to work compared to 3.6% that use mass transit. Since so many residents in Sunny Isles own vehicles, it has an average of 31.8 minutes one-way commute time. That is more than the 26.4-minute average in the United States.



Sunny Isles Beach Seafood Restaurant - BALEENkitchen
Photo from Sole Miami’s website

 Baleenkitchen is a popular restaurant located on Sunny Isles’ gorgeous Sole on the Ocean. The theme of this restaurant is inspired by the Baleen Whale that is “known to be the world’s fastest-moving migrator that wanders through international waters feeding throughout the arctic, tropics, and everything in between.” The interior of the restaurant is inspired by the coastal views that can be seen in its floor-to-ceiling windows. The restaurant’s menu goes respectively with its motto, “Eat Local. Think Global.”


TIMO, Sedona - Menu, Prices & Restaurant Reviews - Tripadvisor
Photo on TripAdvisor

Timo, a restaurant that started as a dream of two F.I.U. students is now a four-star neighborhood restaurant in Sunny Isles. This restaurant offers contemporary Italian-Mediterranean food. The warm friendly environment of the restaurant is ideal for a quick meal, an intimate supper, or a lively gathering spot for friends and family. TIMO


Photo from Trip Advidor

Chayhana Oasis is another known restaurant in Sunny Isles. This is South Florida’s first real Uzbek restaurant. Chayhana is named after the tea shops common throughout Uzbekistan, where men meet on comfortable beds to sip tea, eat snacks, and have intellectual conversations. The interior architecture design entails elements like geometric patterns and onion-dome arches. Their Chef expertly combines Uzbek, Caucasian, European, and Middle Eastern that provides homely tastes. Chayhana Oasis


When most people think of Miami, they envision a beautiful, luxurious location with a wild nightlife and year-round warm weather with a beach, such as Sunny Isles Beach. Sunny Isles Beach is home to world-class restaurants, nightclubs, theaters, cultural attractions, and, of course, the beach. Sunny Isles Beach has one of the most beautiful coastal views in the Miami area, with miles of magnificent white sand, immaculate public parks, and plenty of places to party. Sunny Isles would be considered the “perfect” place to be in Florida. As far as what doesn’t work is the unaffordable real estate. Sunny Isles Beach real estate is not only among the most expensive in Florida, but it is also consistently among the most expensive in the United States. Another thing to point is the percentage of whites in the city. The White percentage is about 91.1 compared to the 8.9 African American and others. This is a major red flag in my opinion as it doesn’t show much diversity. This goes back to our history of placing the whites as a high and rich status.


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Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Art Deco”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2 Feb. 2021, Accessed 12 December 2021.

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Mola, Valeria. “History of Sunny Isles Beach.” ActiveRain, 30 Sept. 2007,

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“Sunny Isles Beach Seafood Restaurant – Baleenkitchen.” Sole Miami Beach Resort, 16 Oct. 2021,

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U.S. Census Bureau Quickfacts: Sunny Isles Beach City, Florida.

Afifa Fiaz: Miami Service 2021


Photo taken by Nida Khizzar// CC BY 4.0

Afifa Fiaz is a junior pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences at Florida International University (FIU), as a part of FIU Honors. Her main goal is to be able to help people through medicine. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, traveling, and volunteering to give back to the community.


I volunteered at The Deering Estate, an Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL) in Miami-Dade County, specifically doing the Chicken Key Cleanup. The Deering Estate is located on the East Coast of Florida in the Palmetto Bay area. It is marked as a historic site and parts of it aren’t even open to public. Thanks to John Bailly, our professor who is an artist-in-residence at the Deering Estate, we were able to host the Miami in Miami tradition of the Chicken Key Cleanup.

Photo taken by Afifa Fiaz// CC by 4.0

Chicken Key is a seven-acre land that’s a mile off shore and is only accessible through canoeing from the Deering Estate. Many bird species call this nature preserve home, and you’re likely to witness marine creatures like manatees or sea turtles during your visit. We are allowed to bring our own canoe, however, we were fortunate enough to use the canoes provided by the Deering Estate. More information on this can be found on Deering Estate.


I had the privilege to volunteer at the Deering Estate because I am enrolled in Miami in Miami, an honors course at FIU. Professor John Bailly and my other classmates (a total of 26 people) accompanied me on this trip.

Photo taken by a Deering Estate Staff member// CC by 4.0

Miami in Miami is a course I enrolled in to step out of my degree pathway to have a college experience that is more than what meets the eye of a pre-med student. This experience took me out of my comfort zone and opened up a whole new world of ways to give back to the community. Being oblivious to the impact the debris has on marine life will lead to further destruction. As someone who is heading towards the medical field, I enjoy helping others and this experience allowed me to do that for both the environment and the living organisms there.


Photo taken by Claudia Martinez// CC by 4.0

As someone who loves the water and animals, this was the perfect place to connect with the environment. Surrounded by some of the most beautiful fish around me, seeing the baby crabs, and the manatees was far more than what I was expecting.

One of the ways I was able to connect with this experience was through the conversations with my fellow volunteers. From talking about our future aspirations to where we came from was really heart-warming. It helped me see that losing yourself in the service of others is one of the best ways to find yourself.


Photo taken by Afifa Fiaz// CC by 4.0

As we stood on the dock, listening to Professor John Bailly’s instructions, my anxiety was getting worse. As someone who doesn’t know how to swim, the thought of canoeing was nerve-wracking. We were given bags and asked to pick partners that had previous canoeing experience. I went around asking and chose a partner who was strong and another who was a lifeguard. We chose our canoes and started paddling, at this point I was actually starting to see that it is not as hard as I thought it to be. I started to feel the breeze on my face and touched the water beneath me. Seeing the Professor kayak so smoothly gave me confidence of being able to take this on by myself one day. We took a brief pit-stop at a beautiful hidden area to site-see the baby marine life. At one point, it felt as if we were not moving forward only to realize we were ahead of most of the volunteers around us. Once we reached Chicken Key, we tied our canoes to mangroves and decided to enjoy the crystal clear water. We swam with fish around us, took some photos, and played “who can jump really high and fall in the water.” Afterwards, we took a small break to have a picnic together. This was one of the highlights of this experience because it helped us connect with each other.

Photo taken by Ashley Sanchez// CC by 4.0

After our picnic, we got straight to work! We picked up items as small as bottle caps to as big as a huge green flag. I was surprised to see how quickly our bags were filling up. We collected over 20 bags full of trash! Exploring the island as we were cleaning up was a very unique experience. At one point, I got lost and was going back into my panic mode, but luckily I spotted one of my peers who was also lost. Together her and I made our way back to our group. As I was walking, I started to get really dizzy and light-headed. By the time I reached my group, some of my peers saw me and rushed over to cool me down. Thanks to them, I was able to recover within a few minutes.

Taken by Oscar Roa// CC by 4.0

As we started heading back, canoeing felt way easier this time around because the current supported us and even saw a manatee. Once we reached the shoreline, we unloaded our canoes filled with trash bags and helped the Deering Estate staff dispose the trash properly.


Approved hours by FIU Honors


The Chicken Key cleanup was designed to demonstrate the full extent of the devastation caused by littering, and in my opinion it was a success. This day in general was successful, although we could have been better prepared. For example, having almost little to no canoeing experience kept a lot of us on edge. Some of us even ran into the mangroves, however, after a while we were able to get the hang of it. We utilized reusable green trash bags because these bags helped reduce the addition of plastic. The bags were also the perfect size so that we could store them in our canoes to bring them back to the dock. I truly believe that there is a need for more cleanups for Chicken Key, so that the island does not get as polluted.

Even though this was a nerve-wracking experience, volunteering has always been something I enjoy doing. This volunteering experience was by far the most interesting and unique. The professor’s lectures were the cherry on top to this experience; his knowledge and experience helped us see things from a different perspective. In experiences like these, it is easy to get caught up in the fun of it all, but it’s important to remember the reality of the situation. Our oceans are constantly being filled with trash by humans who are careless and irresponsible. Seeing what the island looked like before our cleanups and the impact we had on it motivates me to continue to take advantage of any future opportunities to grab a paddle, a canoe, and a trash bag to do this all over again. It helps me realize that sometimes even our smallest efforts can go a very long way. As Matt Bevin once said, “While it may seem small, the ripple effect of small things is extraordinary.”


“Miami Museums: Miami Historical Sites.” Deering Estate, 7 Nov. 2021,

Afifa Fiaz: Miami as Text 2021-2022

Photo taken by Hiza Riaz //CC by 4.0

Afifa Fiaz is currently a Junior in the Honors College at FIU. She is majoring in Biology and is currently a Medical Assistant at a surgical clinic. Her goal in life is to help people and give back to the community through medicine. She was born in Pakistan and loves to carry her culture in various ways. In her free time she likes to travel, cook, draw, and even host great events.


(Right) Taken by John Bailey //CC by 4.0 (Left) Taken by Afifa Fiaz //CC by 4.0

“History Walk of Miami”

By Afifa Fiaz of FIU at Downtown Miami, 8 September 2021

Walking down the street of Miami and going through the historical events that took place there can change your whole perspectives of things. From learning about the Tequesta’s, who lived here from the beginning to how oranges played a part in the past.

Miami was originally founded by a rich women named Juliet Tuttle who grew oranges on her lands and lived in the Miami area. The majority of the citrus in Florida was killed by a strong freeze in the 1890’s, but not in Miami. Henry Flagler was building his railroad to deliver citrus to the northern states at the same time, however the freeze had a significant influence on his business as well. Julia Tuttle saw this as an opportunity send him a few oranges along with an invitation to expand his railroad down to Miami. A smart women one would call it!

Lummus Park, known to be the oldest public park of Miami holds some of the oldest structures. The home of William Wagner was one that really caught my eye. Wagner married a women of color and one with kids, in that era that was seen as shock . Not only did Wagner lived in that house with his family, he also used it as a church and a place where him and the Seminoles had meals and peace making conversation together. Having a house that was so different, yet one that every person was welcomed in is a goal of mine to build in the future one day.


Photos taken by Afifa Fiaz //CC by 4.0

“Miami’s own New Orleans”

By Afifa of FIU at Overtown, September 22, 2021

Taking the Metrorail as a form of transportation taught me how to navigate around the city along with valuing my time. For someone who had a very negative perception of the Metrorail, it was quite surprising on my end to see how clean and efficient it was. In terms of energy usage, space occupancy, and number of passengers transported, the Metro Rail System has shown to be the most efficient. Some of the places we went to included Hialeah, Santa Clara, and my favorite Over town.

Many people living in Miami tend to forget about Over town, a Miami, Florida neighborhood located northwest of Downtown Miami. People’s stigmas and perceptions have caused them to be believe that taking I-95 while looking down at the town is better than driving through it. Over town also known as Colored Town during the Jim Crow era of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was once the preeminent and is still the historic center for black business in Miami and South Florida. The town was once alive with musicians like James Brown, Josephine Baker, Aretha Franklin, Muhmmad Ali and many more! People would travel all across the country to come just hang out with the known and have small talks for only a dime! The town became silence when I-95 and 395 freeways built through the town. The freeways destroyed hundreds of homes and properties. Many at that time believed that this was an act of racism and segregation to keep the blacks from booming.

Vizcaya as Text

Photos taken by Afifa Fiaz/ CC by 4.0
TOP: Biscayne Bay entrance of the house
BOTTOM: Back entrance of the house

“Originality Stolen?”

By Afifa Fiaz of FIU at Vizcaya on October 20, 2021

Vizcaya home and garden was once the home of rich James Deering. James Deering was millionaire who decided to build an estate in South Florida after being diagnosed with anemia. He loved sailing and boating, as well as landscaping and plant conservation. These hobbies played a significant role in the creation of Vizcaya. Deering began constructing on this 15-million-dollar home in 1912 officially initiating occupancy on Christmas Day 1916. The house’s architecture was influenced by Veneto and Tuscan Italian Renaissance with Baroque elements. Paul Chalfin, Burrall Hoffman, and Diego Suarez help build Vizcaya’s design, architecture, and landscape.

Photo taken by Afifa Fiaz/ CC by 4.0

 Vizcaya is displayed with artwork, furniture, and architecture from all over Europe and Asia. Deering imported pieces of all the places he visited to make Miami his home without keeping cultural appropriation in mind. For example, the statue of Bacchus, the god of wine and pleasure, had a leaf over the genitalia since it’s considered profane in American culture. This is considered very offensive in Rome culture as they do not have discomfort with human sexuality and bodies. Another fascinating thing in the house was Deering’s office which portrayed him as a very intellectual and busy man. However, when you take a closer look, the “books” in his office were nothing but a wall of illusion.        

Photo taken by Afifa Fiaz/ CC by 4.0

All in all, even with Vizcaya’s cultural appropriation and Deering’s ignorance to showing off his wealth in silly ways, Vizcaya has some of the most beautiful gardens. The Italian Renaissance gardens include some of the most breathe taking views and lovers’ spot. Gardens like these are what I aspire to include in my future homes one day

South Beach as Text

Photo taken by Afifa Fiaz/ CC by 4.0

Dive into Miami Beach’s History”

By Afifa Fiaz of FIU at South Beach on November 3rd, 2021

Miami Beach, a very well-known city worldwide, has some of the most unique views and architecture. South Beach is a neighborhood in Miami that has preserved most of the city’s historic architecture from when it was first developing. The pastel colors and the boat shaped structural designs take you back to the retro era.

Photo taken by John Bailey CC/ by 4.0

Miami beach is often associated with tourism and fun times. There is even an Orb in the middle of two buildings known as the Betsy Orb. The Betsy Orb is a giant ball representing a beach ball stuck between two buildings. Today, Miami Beach is a site where people can have a good time, but its past tells a different narrative. Henry Flagler used Black African American slave labor to build Miami from ground up long after the civil war. Using Bahamians to build on their own land and still having it improperly done is very ironic.

Miami Beach’s classic design used several optical illusions to make the city appear upscale despite the fact that it was a low-budget urban culture. Land in Miami Beach was cheap at the time it was bought, and the structures built on it were vertical to give them a higher look.

Photo taken by Afifa Fiaz/ CC by 4.0

 Even with all its dark history, South beach gave the Jewish community a lot of hope. The community held events, built synagogues, and even had kosher places to eat. Today, the city of Miami Beach is focusing on the preservation of its original beauty as well as innovative approaches to improve traffic flow, as it is a place where walking short distance is faster than driving.

Everglades as Text

Top two photos: Taken by Afifa Fiaz //CC by 4.0
Bottom left: Taken by Carolina Echeverri //CC by 4.0
Bottom right: Taken by Oscar Roa //CC by 4.0

Nature’s Beauty

By Afifa Fiaz of FIU at Everglades National Park on January 12th, 2022.

On January 12th, I had the opportunity to slough slog through the Everglades. Slough slogging through the Everglades is a pristine method of derailing yourself from the tracks of your everyday life to become one with nature. My favorite part of the day was when we went to the Cypress Dome and stood in silence to hear and feel nature rather than just seeing it. Connecting with my senses helped me really make the most out of this experience. Being a student that also works full time, the fast life makes us forget the value of nature.

Not only was I able to appreciate the beauty of the Everglades, but I was also able to increase my knowledge of the vital resources provided by the Everglades. The Everglade provides fresh drinking water for about one-third of Floridians, protects our communities from severe weather conditions like hurricanes, and “Supports Florida’s $1.2 billion fishing industry.” The National Wildlife Federation. The Everglade is also home to about 789 different species, of which 39 are considered to be endangered Animals of the Everglades.

One of the things I found to be astonishing was the importance of each species and their unique traits to survive in the Everglades environment. For instance, the periphyton filters the freshwater and provides shelter for small insects or the Cypress Tree with its strong trunks to withhold its structure even with the water constantly hitting it. We were also able to view a few Wood Storks up close and witness them hunt for food. Ranger Patty, our Everglade tour guide, mentioned that in mythology Wood Stork is a sign of good luck and harbinger of spring. It was surreal to be surrounded by such stunning scenery in such a natural state. All in all, the trip to the Everglades was the perfect way to start this year. We were practically a part of the landscape, with ultimate exposure.

Coral Gables as Text

Photos taken by Afifa Fiaz //CC by 4,0

“The City Inspired by Spain”

By Afifa Fiaz of FIU on January 26th, 2022

I had the opportunity of touring Coral Gables, a city located in Miami, with my class this week. City of Coral Gables was founded by George E. Merrick who bought 3000 acres of land in 1899 and established it as city in 1925 using the Mediterranean Revival style. Merrick’s Mediterranean Revival style was inspired by Washington Irving’s romance texts about Spain and Vizcaya of James Deering. It was built on oolite Limestone by Bahamians during the Depression period. Even with such intense segregation, Black Bahamians were the only ones who knew how to work Oolite limestone as it was a very difficult and only material available at that time.

Our tour started at the Coral Gables Museum that was once a police and fire station. It was designed by Phineas Paist and Harold Steward in 1939, to help provide the city safety and job opportunities. The structure of the museum was articulated around the mass of Depression architecture along with Mediterranean style. The museum is surrounded by numerous sculptures designed by female artists such as John Keller. The structures that stood out to me the most were the four pelicans that were seen above the entrance and even throughout the city. The pelicans symbolize sacrifice based on the popular myth around them that indicates “that pelicans bled them themselves in order to feed their young.” Our professor even compared himself with the pelican helping us see his efforts and hard work he put into our class lectures.

The tour continued to Giralda Plaza, the Biltmore Hotel, the Colonnade Building, Miracle Mile, Coral Gables City Hall, and lastly Coral Gables Elementary School. All these structures went along with Merrick’s vision of Spanish and Moorish type architecture. “The gleaming white coral rock, the palm trees, tropical flowers and verdure seemed to me to provide a natural setting with which Spanish architecture alone would harmonize.” The uniform architecture can be seen throughout city. For example, the moss curtains, stucco finishing, clay tile roofing, decoration around doorways and windows, loggias and round arches and columns. It was quite pleasing to see the constant structures of these buildings and how each one of them helped shaped the city’s beauty. My main concern for Coral Gables are the newer buildings, that aren’t depicting the older structures, take over. These newer office building are ruining the beauty and unique style of this city and it’s aesthetic.  This isn’t just seen in Coral Gables but also in other areas in Miami. People aren’t respecting the city’s history and are destroying the vision of those who created them.

Works Cited 

Stepulveda, S., & Bailly, J. (2022, January 28). Coral Gables Walking Tour. Bailly Lectures. Retrieved January 31, 2022, from  

River of Grass as Text

Photo taken by Afifa Fiaz// CC by 4.0

“Nature > Humans”

By Afifa Fiaz of FIU on February 16th, 2022 at the Everglades

No matter how many times one goes to explore the Everglades, there is always something new and unique to find every trip. The Everglades has a way of connecting us humans with nature in the most pristine way. It shows we can live side by side with nature without causing harm to it. Humans have a tendency to believe that they are superior to any other species and at times can cause more harm than good. The Everglades on the other hand shows how different organisms and species can coexist in the most beautiful way, such as the crocodiles and alligators. 

Human impact on the Everglades has caused it to change a lot over the years. The water flow that was once controlled by plants and animals’ extraordinary characteristics were shifted by humans for agricultural development. When engineers rerouted the water flow in the late 19th century, it caused populations to scientifically decrease. The population of wade birds went down 90% The Everglades National Park! Even with plans to rehydrate the Everglades, it is impossible to gain what was lost due to the polluted phosphorus from fertilizer used on farms upstream. This further emphasizes the harmful and irreversible damage humans leave on this environment.

Another interesting thing seen in the Everglades are human efforts to build railway through it. Henry Flagler tried to expand his railroads by building through the Everglades. Despite his maximum efforts, he was unsuccessful as the Everglade was unsuitable for such construction. Additionally, more human efforts of building can be seen throughout the Everglades, such as remnants of farmhouses and feeding stations. Overtime, the Everglades began to consume these structures.

Despite human impact, the Everglades was able to maintain its long-standing reputation. As Marjorie Stoneman Douglas said, “The miracle of the light pours over the green and brown expanse of saw grass and of water, shining and slow-moving below, the grass and water that is the meaning and the central fact of the Everglades of Florida. It is a river of grass.” Unfortunately if humans continue to destroy the Everglades, we will be left without this national treasure.

Work Cited

“ Homepage (U.S. National Park Service).” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior,

Design District as Text

Photos taken by Afifa Fiaz// CC by 4.0

By Afifa Fiaz of FIU on February 23rd, 2022 at The Margulies Collection

Art in my opinion can be seen through two lenses: traditional and modern. In the past we have seen artist come up with pristine art pieces, ones which included traditions and customs of society. However, this has changed in the modern world. Artwork today portrays an artist own expressions and perspectives. Examples of modern art can be seen at the Margulies collection warehouse.

The Margulies collection, located in Miami, is a non-profit 50,000 square feet warehouse that’s dedicated to present exhibitions of contemporary art. It holds collections from Martin Z. Margulies, educational programs, special exhibitions and an international loan program. Lecture notes. One of the art pieces that really stood out to me at the Margulies Collection was the recreation of the situation room that recreate the situation the U.S. officials followed secret military operation to kill Osama bin Laden The Art Newspaper. This art piece created by Will Ryman is a perfect example of modern art world. You can see that the sculptures are built poorly and without any technique, the vision behind the piece was not political or monumental according to the artist rather it was supposed to help him feel that exact moment. This piece helps the audience see how warfare’s are handled in the world today.

Let’s take a look back at the Andrew Jacksons presidency and how he was able to stop civil war in 1832 because he was veteran and had seen the worst of wars. If we compare this to modern world era, I wonder if officials in charge that are fighting wars behind screens with a click of a button will be able to save the country from future wars without being in wars that didn’t take place behind screen. This piece shows how wars behind screens are causing humanity to be “turned off” when making decisions such as launching missiles that can destroy thousands of lives. It raises questions like: Can we really trust officials that have never been in war and have seen the horrifying effects it leaves on the world to make decisions that impact as all?

So much destruction in modern war takes place miles and miles away from the source of the destruction, the human being who caused it.” James Dickey

Work cited

Stoilas, Helen. “Walk into the White House Situation Room with Will Ryman’s Dramatic Installation.” The Art Newspaper – International Art News and Events, The Art Newspaper – International Art News and Events, 3 Dec. 2021,

Bailly, John. “Miami Art Institutions.” Bailly Lectures, 11 Oct. 2021,

Key Biscayne as Text

Photos taken by Carolina Echeverri // CC by 4.0

By Afifa Fiaz of FIU

This week our class was fortunate enough to learn the history of the Cape Florida Lighthouse. The Cape Florida Lighthouse is known as a time capsule based on its vast history. It was built in 1825 to help guide sailors around the Florida reef to avoid accidents. Cape Florida was also used for slave departure at one point since it was close to other free slave countries. On July 23, 1836, the Seminoles attacked the lighthouse as it was a refugee for white settlers after the Seminole War. Their frustration caused them to set the doors and windows on fire near the base of the light house destroying the stairs that lead to the top. This caused the keeper at that time, Joe Thompson, and his slave, Arron Carter, to get trapped. Thompson fired at the Indians and threw gun powder in the rising flames causing an explosion. The explosion made the Indians to believe that both men died, so they fleet on the boat. However, Thompson was still alive and was rescued by a passing ship and Carter was buried as he died in the incident. In 1846, the structure was rebuilt but it wasn’t until the 1970’s that was relit. (The Attack on the Cape Florida Lighthouse, 2019)

            Today, the lighthouse is known as the oldest structure in South Florida and people are still able to visit it. What’s infuriating about this structure is the story displayed with it. The story is told through only side and is in complete ignorance of the Seminoles who were fighting to stay in their own land. The poor drawings of this event show the Seminoles as animals and cold-blooded humans that burnt down the lighthouse and showed Americans as these heroes who fought against them.

            Learning about the history of the Cape Florida light house, I started to question our education system. As kids, we were taught history through one lens, the American lens. It focused on all the American victories and accomplishments instead of the unpleasant after effects of those events on other cultures. K-12 pupils are taught what the school boards have put in place. The same board that are putting in laws which restrict talking about racism or slavery as if such things didn’t exist. When kids are taught history, they aren’t thinking about the other side, it isn’t until they go to a higher education system such as college or university that they are taught to see other perspectives on past events. Unfortunately, not everyone gets the opportunity to gain an understanding of our past events through all lenses and go on about their lives knowing the unfinished history taught in schools.

Works cited

Hersh, Carl, and Kathy Hersh. “The Attack on the Cape Florida Lighthouse.” Dunn History,

Coconut Groove as Text

Photo taken by Afifa Fiaz CC// by 4.0

By Afifa Fiaz of FIU on March 30th, 2022 in Coconut Groove.

Usually when one thinks of Coconut Groove, they imagine the lavish houses and life style; however, this city holds rich history of Miami. Coconut Groove is known to be the oldest permanent residence in Miami-Dade. The neighborhood that was once inhabited by Tequesta and Seminoles was later filled by black Bahamians in the 1880’s after the passing of the Homestead Act. The Bahamians settlers built houses, schools, churches, and a grave yard around the area known as “The Barnacle” today. Coconut Groove officially became a town in the early 1900’s after the America’s first Naval Air Station opened at Dinner Key, which put Coconut Grove on the map.

Coconut Groove also holds a structure known as the Coconut Groove Playhouse. The Grove, envisioned by Miami industrialists Irving Thomas, Fin Pierce, and designed by an architect by the name of Richard Kiehnel in Spanish Rocco style. In 1926, Thomas decided to sell the structure to Paramount Enterprises, Inc. to help bring in large crowds. The structure also served many other functions, such as stores on the ground story, offices on the second, and residences on the third. Unfortunately, the play house success comes to an end after the Great Depression. The structure even became a training school for the U.S. Army Air Corps navigators in World War 2. It isn’t until 1955, that the playhouse was purchased by George Eagle to be turned into a performance art center. The ownership of the theatre changed several times afterwards, eventually causing the State of Florida to buy it in 1980. This structure is still standing today and can be visited in Coconut Groove. Bailly’s lectures

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