Ahdriana Amandi: Miami Springs 2021

CC BY 4.0

Student Bio

My name is Ahdriana Amandi and I am a Psychology Major at Florida International University and its Honor’s College. Although my professional goals are to either become a College Professor or to pursue entrepreneurship, my first loves and passions are History and Art, and growing up in Miami has given me the chance to experience and enjoy both first-handedly.

Geography

Formally known as the Country Club Estates, Miami Springs sits on the South side of Okeechobee road, nestled north the Miami Airport and south of the city of Hialeah. It is a small rural community that is characterized by its incredible and abundant history, as well as it’s small-town feel. This triangle-shaped neighborhood is extremely child-friendly and has so many services available to its citizens and once visiting, you will understand why so many people choose to make this neighborhood their home.

History

Glenn Hammond Curtis is an individual who could have an entire project dedicated to his life. He was a bicycle shop owner, a racer, and he even became known as the fastest man on Earth when in 1907 he drove one of his company’s motorcycles at 136 miles per hour in Ormond Beach, Florida (Crouch, 2020). This inventor/pioneer of bicycles, vehicles, motorcycles and aviation eventually went on to become the founder of Miami Springs and the co-founder of Hialeah. It was founded in 1926 and by 1930 there were 400 people living in the neighborhood.

It was a planned community, and everything within the neighborhood focused on the golf course that was built at the same time as the community (a very similar history to Coral Gables and the Biltmore Hotel). As mentioned earlier, its original name was Country Club Estates, but its nickname was “Miami Springs” because of the natural springs that existed during its inception. Due to construction, the springs were eventually destroyed, but name stuck (Viva500). Curtiss built his home in the neighborhood and his family such as his brother-in-law and mother also lived in the community.

Demographics

According to the 2019 Census information, 14,375 people live within the small neighborhood of Miami Springs. Within that population, 76% of those citizens are white Hispanics, 19% are non-white Hispanics, and the remaining 5% are other ethnicities, meaning that the large majority of Miami Springs’ residents are white Latinos. Cubans make up the highest percentage of Latinos in the area, and with 53 percent of the population being foreign-born, 78 percent of people have their citizenship. (“DataUSA: Miami Springs”, N.d.)

Image Retrieved on https://datausa.io/

The average age of a Springs’ citizen is 53 years old, meaning that many of the citizens are older individuals. Miami Springs’ residents also have a Median Income of 59k a year, which is much higher than similar neighborhoods around it, and higher than Miami-Dade’s average income of 44k a year. The average salary in Men comes in at about $62,000 a year, which is 20,000 thousand dollars higher than the average women’s income (46,000). Citizens with a higher income live in the northern part of Miami Springs.

The most common jobs are office and administrative job positions, but there are a plethora of occupations that people have. It seems that many of these people do not work in Miami Springs though, and their average commute is 24 minutes, which is close to the National average. 

The median property value in Miami springs sits at $380,000, and the values are continuing to increase and are much more valuable than other neighborhoods (Virginia Springs’ median property value is $297k, and properties closer to the airport sit at around 224k.) Homeownership, however, is 56.2%- meaning that only half of the population own their properties, but that number is increasing. Something particularly interesting is that 70 percent of the population pay taxes that are much larger than the national average, coming in at around $3,000 each year.

Victoria Amandi. Ahdriana Amandi / CC BY 4.0

Biography of Victoria, a Miami Springs resident

Born and raised in Miami, Victoria Amandi is a 9 year-old who lives in Miami Springs with her Mom, Dad, little brother, and dog, Cookie.

Ahdri: What is your favorite place in Miami Springs?

Victoria: I love Curtiss Parkway. It is so peaceful, and I love being able to skateboard there with my friends. I also love seeing the bridges, they are really cool and unique.

Ahdri: What is your least favorite thing about the city?

Victoria: It’s really boring and I usually have to go somewhere else to find new things to do. Because it’s so small you can get bored of everything!

Landmarks

The Hunting Lodge, 281 Glendale drive

When visiting this landmark, it sticks out from many of the other places I visited. Unlike the rest of the pueblo revival architecture in the rest of the historical buildings, this structure was wooden and had a limestone fireplace, which is not very common in this neighborhood.

This building, such as many of the other buildings in Miami Springs, has served multiple purposes throughout its creation. Designated as a Miami Springs historic site in 1994, the hunting lodge was built by Glenn Curtiss as a way to enjoy the outdoors a few miles away from his home, and it was one of the most popular sites before the country club and clubhouse were created. It served as a clubhouse for the Miami Gun Club, and eventually became the neighborhoods elementary school from the 1920’s to the 1930’s, and the building went on to become a perfume factory, airplane factory, and is now someone’s beautiful log cabin home (“Hunting Lodge”). The people who live in the home now have it beautifully manicured. Although the site as been through some renovation the past hundred years, the owners of the home kept the original wood on the sides of the home as a way to pay homage to this building’s past.

Hunting Lodge. Ahdriana Amandi / CC BY 4.0

Miami Springs Golf Course, 650 Curtiss Parkway

Ahdriana Amandi / CC BY 4.0

The Miami Springs Golf Course was designated a Miami Springs Historic Site in 2008 and is the largest landmark. It opened in 1923 and its 18-hole 183-acre long course has been a large source of attraction and tourism for the community (Miami Springs Golf & Country Club.). Even if you are not a fan of golf, driving by and seeing the large green manicured lawns makes this landmark a beautiful and historic site. Although I could not find the price of what it takes to maintain this course, there is no doubt that much of the property taxes paid by community members goes to maintaining the golf course.

Glenn Hammond Curtiss Mansion and Gardens, 500 Deer Run

This Pueblo revival style home belonged to Glenn H. Curtiss, the founder of the city. He and his family lived here until he died, and the mansion is now run by a non-profit organization that is run by mostly volunteers. It was reestablished in 1998 when individuals in the community set up a grassroots campaign to save up money to restore the house to its original glory. This home’s interior and exterior are both incredible, with western and Seminole in fluences that are prevalent in each aspect of the property. This home does have a few touches of Miami here and there, such as an oolite staircase and native plants that adorn the landmark. The structure is now used to hold events such as weddings and other grand parties. The building was open to the public but due to COVID-19, I was unable to visit the interior of the home (The Curtiss Mansion).

Green

Dove Ave Park, 700 Dove Ave

Dove Ave Park. Ahdriana Amandi / CC BY 4.0

Although there is plenty of greenery, this park is one of the three parks in the Miami Springs neighborhood. With one speedball field, four Tee ball fields, a playground and a dog park, the park itself feels very small. The park is a large mass of greenery, but there are not many trees. The city seems to be making an effort to add some native plants, however, and have planted some juvenile gumbo limbo and wild coffee. Although the park is on the smaller size, this is a small community, and is an excellent place to spend an afternoon.

Ahdriana Amandi / CC BY 4.0

Miami Springs Recreation Department, 401 Westward Dr

Home of the Miami Springs Sport Center and the Springs Community center, the Miami Springs Recreation is one of the true gems of the city. With a pool, basketball course, archery, gym, and an aquatic center, these centers have so many fun activities for residents and non-residents to enjoy (although non-residents do pay more to use the amenities)  

My favorite aspect of the park was the large playground that was pirate themed. The floor is rubber and there are many fun activities for children to enjoy while visiting, and it is clear that the management of the park makes a big effort to keep everything clean.

Curtiss Parkway

Ahdriana Amandi / CC BY 4.0

This two-mile long trail sits in the heart of the city. Although this trail isn’t technically a park, it is a beautiful spot to walk, skate or bike on. It sits nestled between the golf course as well as some homes and walking through it is an absolute dream. The city decided to plant oak trees throughout the trail, making it shady and enjoyable to use year-round.

Transportation

With most people in the community having two cars, the community has not seemed to have invested much in public transportation (CITE CENSUS). Since the neighborhood is small, it’s understandable that there are not many bus stops, but it is still shocking to drive around and see very few in site. During my visit to Springs, I saw one bus stop the entire time I was there.

The city does offer a free shuttle that circles around the neighborhood, and they offer a pdf online that shows where the stops are. The shuttle only comes around from 7am-6pm though, and people who work or need to travel at a later time may struggle. Having a car is a MUST in this community, and although there have been positive steps to improving transportation, this aspect of the municipality could be improved.

Image taken from https://www.miamisprings-fl.gov/

Food

There are very few restaurants within the city lines, as the town was meant to be a purely rural area. The city, however, does feature the list of small businesses on their website and encourages everyone to visit.

Cracker’s

Ready to yeehaw? When driving by, this place is easy to miss but this small but home-town-feeling casual restaurant is serves southern comfort foods and classic American meals that you would not expect to find in the Hialeah/Springs area. There food was inexpensive and the portions were large. Much of their dining area is outside, making it a perfect restaurant to visit during lockdown. I recommend trying their “BBQ Baby back ree-tubs” as well as daily homemade cakes!

Ahdriana Amandi / CC BY 4.0

Big Tomato

Serving classics such as pizza, wings, and paninis, this place is somewhere that everyone can find something to enjoy. This place can be pricey, as they do use gourmet ingredients, but it is an excellent place to visit when you want pizza that tastes fresh, crispy, and cheesy.

My little Greek deli

Out of all the restaurants to visit in Springs, this is the place I’d recommend the most. This small place used to get packed pre-covid, but they are currently open at 50 percent capacity. My favorite part of this restaurant is that they serve authentic Mediterranean food and their pastries are out of this world. I personally recommend their kourabiedes and baklava.

Ahdriana Amandi / CC BY 4.0

Businesses

Woody’s Tavern

This tavern is another charming place to visit in Miami Springs. With a large amount of outdoor seating and live music playing every weekend, this place is always booming with life. Their parmesan garlic fries are fantastic, and I also recommend their smoked fish dip.  

Hotel Country Club

Designated as a historic site in 1984, The hotel country club is now an elderly home and rehab center. I was unable to find a lot of information about the center, but the employees were kind enough to let me enter and enjoy the classic pueblo revival architecture that is common in many of the other Miami Springs landmarks.

Ahdriana Amandi / CC BY 4.0

Bryson’s Irish Pub

Bryson’s Pub has an indoor and outdoor bar with an awesome menu and atmosphere. They also have a liquor store that visitors.

Summary

Miami Springs has so much more historical significance than the eye can see, and it is a place I recommend every Miami citizen to visit. There are so many more historical places and incredible landmarks to visit that I did not mention here and they are all incredible.

The city sells itself as an excellent place to raise children and I highly agree. Although the city is small, there is much to do and many activities both children and adults can enjoy and participate in. Another aspect that makes it a great neighborhood for families is all the greenery that is in the community, making it an awesome place to spend outside.

Works Cited

“QuickFacts”, United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/miamispringscityflorida Accessed 17 April 2021.

Advisory Council on Historic Renovation. “Miami Springs, Florida.” https://www.achp.gov/preserve-america/community/miami-springs-florida. Accessed 21April 2021.

Crackers Casual Dining. https://www.eatatcrackers.com/

Crouch, Tom D.. “Glenn Hammond Curtiss”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 19 Jul. 2020, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Glenn-Hammond-Curtiss. Accessed 25 April 2021.

Data Usa. “Miami Springs, Fl”. https://datausa.io/profile/geo/miami-springs-fl/#demographics. Accessed 22 April 2021.

Miami Springs Golf & Country Club. “The Miami Springs Golf Course History.” 2017. http://miamispringsgolfcourse.com/history/. Accessed 22 April 2021.

Miami Springs. “Hunting Lodge.” https://www.miamisprings-fl.gov/community/hunting-lodge. Accessed 20 April 2021.

Miami Springs. “Zoning Map”. https://www.miamisprings-fl.gov/planning/zoning-map

My Little Greek Deli. “A Taste of Greece In Miami Springs” http://www.mylittlegreekdeli.com/.

The Curtiss Mansion. “Community History”. https://curtissmansion.com/community-history/. Accessed 25 April 2021.

Viva 500. “Miami Springs.” https://vivafl500.org/cities/miami-springs/ Accessed 20 April 2021.

Ahdriana Amandi: Miami Service 2021

Bio

Ahdriana Amandi is a junior at the honors college at Florida International University and is majoring in Psychology. As a newly transferred student from Miami Dade College, Ahdri is excited to finish her last two years at FIU and is hoping to attend graduate school to become a college professor. Outside of academics, she enjoys roller skating, reading, and traveling.  Although she has spent most of her life in Miami, Ahdri is excited to learn more about her beautiful and historic city through this course.

Who

In early February, Professor Bailly sent us a message in the class group chat telling us that a person named Cesar Becerra was looking for help from some students. Cesar Becerra is a historian/adventurer who spends a vast majority of his time educating others on learning to appreciate the beauty of Florida and the rich history the land holds. He published his book Robert Is Here: Looking East for a Lifetime (Becerra, 2015). He is currently writing his next book that discusses Mary Brickell, one of Miami’s unaccredited founders.

Why

After reading the articles shared with the class, I became interested in reaching out to Cesar and assisting him with his project. My major is in psychology, but I personally believe that broadening my experiences and treating my education in a more interdisciplinary way will help me become a stronger and more experienced individual. My future decisions will depend on how extensive my horizons are and applying/experiencing things outside of my own interests and passions has allowed me to better understand the world and my place in it. Although working with Cesar was out of my major and personal career goals, taking “Miami In Miami” has sparked an interest of preserving Miami and helping someone whose passion is to preserve Miami history felt like an excellent way to make an impact.

Where & What

Because of the ongoing pandemic and Cesar constantly traveling, all of the work I did for Cesar was done remotely. He gave me a few options on what to research on. Since his book was about how Mary Brickell deserves recognition, he wanted help to look into whether other cities in the U.S. had founders that were unaccredited or heavily debated. I chose to focus on this part of the project, and I decided to work on Cleveland, Ohio and Chicago Illinois. On the 11th of February, Cesar gave me a script so I could email/contact historians and anyone else I could find to conduct a short interview on their respective founder.

I decided that I would start writing up information on the two cities I chose, and that I would eventually hear back from the people I contacted. While researching for Cesar, I learned such interesting information about the founders of Cleveland and Chicago.

General Moses Cleaveland is best remembered as the founder of Cleveland, Ohio. Despite only being in Cleveland for five months, am eight-foot bronze statue was erected in his honor by the Early Settlers Association of the Western Reserve on the 100th anniversary of his death. Cleaveland was one of the 36 founders in Connecticut Land Co., and was in charge of negotiating land rights with the indigenous people there, as well as leading expeditions in uncharted territories. Cleaveland supposedly promised the indigenous people their safety and gave them whiskey in exchange for exploring the Cuyahoga River (“Cleveland, Moses”, N.d.)

When you google “Chicago’s founder”, Jean Baptise Dusable’s name picture pop up as the first result. This, however, was not always the case. Author Lerone Bennet Jr. went as far as to call Dusable “the biggest secret of Chicago” in an in interview with WWTW. At the time of this interview, settler John Kinzie was considered to be the founder of the city, and even had a bridge, main street, and building named after him, and Jean Dusable and his family’s mark were nearly forgotten (“John H Kinzie”, 2021). Thankfully, due to work done by historians such as Lerone Bennet jr. and Dr. Christopher Reed, Chicago’s true founder now has a place in Chicago’s, and the United States’, history books.

During this time, I contacted over 10 organizations/Individuals in each city and included follow ups. Only one historical society answered me back, and their response was to check their database. It was frustrating to not be able to get in contact with anyone, and Cesar’s response to my reply was that it was not uncommon to have no one reach back out. It was ironic to think that the idea of the book is to encourage others to learn more about figures that help create their cities, but during this process I was unable to directly contact anyone, despite calling ad emailing. Thankfully, however, the information I found on the two founders was fairly detailed and I was able to turn in a paper about the two, which Cesar appreciated. Cesar was also in the process of writing other parts of the book and I was able to get a preview of the introduction, as well as the “behind the scenes” process of writing a book. It has been very interesting to see the process that many go through when they want to publish their writing.

Summary

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed working with Cesar during this process, and I am grateful that I was able to help contribute to Miami history. My only regret or thing that didn’t work was that as a full time student and employee this semester, it was difficult to find time to volunteer and I would’ve liked to dedicate more time to this project. Thankfully, however, Cesar was very accommodating, and the volunteering was extremely flexible.  Because I liked working with Cesar, I told him that I would like to continue to volunteer with him during the summer, and he even offered to pay me to help him with spreading the word about his book to different historical societies and organizations. I’m excited to see the book get published and released, and I hope that others are inspired to question the origins of their own cities.

Works Cited

Burr, Robert. “William and Mary Brickell – the Australian Connection”. 2020.     https://www.mpnod.org/events/william-and-mary-brickell-the-australian-connection/

“Cleveland, Moses”.  N.d. Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. https://case.edu/ech/articles/c/cleavelandmoses

“John H Kinzie”. (2021). Chicagology. https://chicagology.com/biographies/johnhkinzie/

Lepri, Katie. “Julia Tuttle May Not Be The Only Mother Of Miami. Could Mary Brickell Be One, Too?” 2019. https://www.wlrn.org/news/2019-03-07/julia-tuttle-may-not-be-the-only-mother-of-miami-could-mary-brickell-be-one-too

Ahdriana Amandi: Miami Service 2020

Image taken by Ahdriana Amandi/ CC BY 4.0

By Ahdriana Amandi of FIU at Chicken Key, 14th October 2020.

Student Bio

My name is Ahdriana Amandi and I am a Psychology Major at Florida International University and its Honor’s College. Although I have many hobbies, learning and working with a team is the center of everything I love. During my time at Chicken Key, I was able to be a part of a team and serve a bigger cause.

Who/How

Because of the Pandemic, finding a place that fit my schedule was a challenge. Many organizations were shut down or remote and were not seeking any new volunteers. Thankfully however, Professor Bailly and his Teaching Assistant Nicole Patrick were able to set up a cleanup day at chicken key, an uninhabited island off 1 mile away from the Deering Estate. Our class of 15 was finally able to meet up all together at the same time, and many of us brought our own gloves, bags, and masks in order to leave no trace behind.

Image taken by Ahdriana Amandi/ CC BY 4.0

Why

This volunteer opportunity was an amazing one to experience, especially because of the current of the world. Because of COVID, having to stay home all day has been extremely isolating and has caused many to experience anxiety and sadness. Throughout this time, however, there has been no one around to help clean up trash that piles up in the oceans, bays, and shorelines. Being able to both come together and help the environment is relevant to both my major and my personal interests. As a psychology major, the long-term effects of lockdown both interests me and worries me greatly and finding solutions and ways for people to cope is of the essence. At the same time, the duty I feel as a citizen of Miami who loves the environment and its nature, it is important to be a part of action that helps properly dispose of waste so that is doesn’t accumulate, harm the wildlife, or pollute the ocean any further.

Where & What

The class began at 10 am, and as we waited for everyone to get ready, we were all placed in pairs. People who had canoeing experience with people who had no canoeing experience. I was paired up with Claudia Martinez, an inexperienced but eager-to-learn individual. Soon after meeting each other, we were able to team up well and were one of the firsts to make it to the island. After arriving to the island, we soon saw that there was trash and a ridiculous amount of plastic everywhere. Once everyone arrived and tied up their boats, we began to scavenge and look for things we could take with us back to the Deering Estate to then throw away. Water bottles, sandals, and wrappers were the most common things we found while looking, and it was disheartening to see how much waste accumulates in places like these. When looking back at history, we often laugh and wonder how past generations used to do such ridiculous/ evil things. I wonder how they will look back on us and see how awful we were for using so much single-use plastic when there are other alternatives available.

Image taken by Ahdriana Amandi/ CC BY 4.0

After a few hours of work, we all stopped to have lunch and then we all jumped in the water. It was nice to be able to enjoy the day while also working towards a positive cause. It felt good to enjoy the day and the sun after making a small but meaningful impact. When we arrived back to the estate, we were able to fill over 7 canoes with garbage to then toss out.

Image taken by Ahdriana Amandi/ CC BY 4.0

When

Waiting on Verification

SUMMARY

Experiencing this day and having the chance to make an impact with a team was incredible and is something I recommend everyone does at least once in their life. When we were all finishing up, Professor Bailly told us about the importance of experiences and how they can affect our view on everything, and it made me remember John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt’s 1903 camping trip. During this trip, Muir, a mountaineer and environmental philosopher, convinced President Roosevelt to add Yosemite Valley to the Yosemite National Park (U.S. Department of the Interior). It took two people who experienced and loved the outdoors to protect and maintain it and is something everyone should be able to experience.

Within that same conversation, Professor Bailly also made us aware that many people have never experienced the ocean/bay because transportation isn’t the best and the price of parking can often be very pricey. This inaccessibility turns this gift of nature that should be shared with everyone into something that others own and control. It has made me think about the future of my city and how important it is to find solutions and ways to make nature accessible to all.

Citations

U.S. Department of the Interior. The Conservation Legacy of Theodore Roosevelt. 14 Februrary 2020. 12 December 2020.

Ahdriana Amandi: Homestead 2020

Ahdriana Amandi at Rubell Museum
Image Taken by John Bailly/ CC BY 4.0

Student Bio

My name is Ahdriana Amandi and I am a Psychology Major at Florida International University and its Honor’s College. Although my professional goals are to either become a College Professor or to pursue entrepreneurship, my first loves and passions are History and Art. Growing up in Miami has given me the chance to experience and enjoy both first-handedly. I chose to focus on the city of Homestead and its past, present, and future because this sleepy city has taken my heart more and more each time I visit.

Image Taken From CityofHomestead.com

Geography

Homestead, Florida is a small city packed with charm and history. Its coordinates are 25°28′16.28″N 80°28′5.24″W and it is recognizable to any South Florida native by its abundant farms and local businesses. This city is about 35 miles from the city of Miami, and 25 miles from the city of Key Largo. Many often stop to get a bite to eat before heading to the keys, and homestead natives often dread Friday mornings and Sunday nights because the highway to and from the keys becomes filled with cars and their boats trying to spend their weekends fishing, kayaking, or snorkeling or are either heading back home to prepare for the work week. It is a rural area, with a lot of agriculture but not as much as the Redlands, a nearby neighborhood. It is often hard to tell when you are in homestead, or have crossed through to the Redlands, or Florida city. These small areas do have their own history and landmarks but are often placed in the umbrella of the city “homestead”(“Homestead” 2011).

History

Up until the 19th century, the Tequesta and other natives called the Calusa lived in what we now know as Homestead. Although little is known of them today, it is thought that they did not live in the everglades but would often canoe through it as a means of transportation. Remnants of their existence still is prevalent in Homestead’s museums and parks.

Shortly after President Lincoln’s 1861 speech, the Homestead Act of 1962 allowed Americans to own 160 acres of land for a filing fee. This allowed former slaves, women and immigrants to become landowners and gave many the possibly to start new lives around the united states (“Homestead Act”). Many people came to south Florida because the area was fertile and the weather was warm year-round, which meant that farming was much more profitable here. The city then became named Homestead and was registered as Miami’s second oldest city when the railroad was built.  The town was officially registered in 1913 with a total of 121 people and 28 registered voters, as only white men who owned property could vote (History of our city”). It soon became the agricultural city that it is known as today and has had very little changes in the past 100 years. However, homestead has begun to catch the eye of many developers and businesses, as the cost of living is much lower than in other areas.

The City of Homestead allows visitors to download their “Homestead Then & Now” self-guided tour which showcases all the historical gems in the city, as well as their history.

Demographics

Image Retrieved on https://datausa.io/

According to the united states 2018 census, there are 68,000 people who live in the city lines of Homestead. The area is mostly Latinx and black population, with white Latinos making up over 58 percent of the population with 39,700 people and black people making up 18 percent with 12,700. The rest of the population are white non-Latino being 12.9 percent of the population with 8,850 people and other mixed races/identities. (“DataUSA:Homestead”). Homestead is home to the Homestead Correctional Institution and the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children, and I was unable to find if the numbers from the census also included these populations.

36.8 percent of people who live in homestead were not born in the U.S, and seventy-eight percent of the population has their citizenship. According to the census, about 65.6% of households speak other languages at home that aren’t English. The household income is 40k a year, which is lower than the Miami-Dade county average and lower than surrounding areas such as cutler bay (65k). 38% are homeowners and the median gross rent is 1,243.

More interesting information from homestead’s demographic is the large number of veterans, the majority who served in either Vietnam or the gulf wars. Homestead has 2,495 veterans, double the number than the average city, most likely due to the homestead base being located here (“QuickFacts”).

Landmarks

Historic Homestead Town Hall in 2020 in Homestead, Miami, FL. Ahdriana Amandi / CC BY 4.0

Historic Homestead Town Hall

The Historic Town Hall Museum was founded in 1994 by vice-mayor Ruth Campbell and holds many relics of Homestead’s past. The museum sits in the heart of downtown Homestead and is a quaint building that is easy to miss. Many of the buildings in this area are vacant but with the recent developments such as a new movie theatre and many restaurants, there is hope that life will come back to North Krome Avenue. Due to COVID, this historic landmark is sadly closed until further notice and like many organizations in the area, its future is unknown. Thankfully, however, its website is up and running and contains a plethora of information on the city of Homestead as well as pictures and other information about the museum.

Homestead speedway

The Homestead Speedway opened in November 24th, 1995, a few years after hurricane Andrew. The hopes of the developers were to help the city of homestead after the catastrophic storm that caused approximately 500 million dollars in damage. Since then, it has hosted multiple NASCAR cup Series, The Dixie Vodka 400, and other prestigious races. It has a capacity of 55,000 seats and brings revenue to the city when people come and stay for a weekend to watch the races (“Homestead-Miami Speedway”).

Photo by Kevin Valladares CC BY 4.0
Robert is here in Homestead, Fl. Ahdriana Amandi / CC BY 4.0

Robert is Here

I placed Robert is Here in landmarks instead of under food or businesses because although it is those things, It can also be considered a landmark for this community. Being located in Florida City, a neighborhood within Homestead, Robert is Here originally began as a fruit stand in 1959. Nowadays, however, it is a tourist destination that people from all walks of life come to visit to try exotic fruits such as persimmons, tamarind, jackfruit, guanabana, and many more. Their legendary milkshakes are also a big hit with many, and the 10-minute wait to get your hands on one is absolutely worth it. With COVID, Robert Is Here is currently open only through drive-thru, but visitors can enjoy the birds and petting zoo from a distance as they drive by. I personally love their red dragon fruit, guanabana milkshake, and my current favorite is their seasonal pumpkin milkshake mixed with mamey (it tastes just like sweet potato pie!) 

Green

losner Park Landmarks, 2020. Ahdriana Amandi / CC BY 4.0

Losner Park

Losner park sits in the heart of Downtown Homestead and is known for hosting multiple events during the year (Pre-covid, of course). It’s the smallest park in the area, but having an excellent location makes it a staple in the homestead community. When there aren’t events being held, however, the park gets quite dirty and beer cans, plastic bags, and more trash accumulates here. Thankfully, however, there have been talks of expanding the park to include more amenities and improve this gem. The park also has a sculpture dedicated to all American veterans and with Homestead’s large veteran population, is a well-loved landmark.

Mayor Roscoe warren municipal Park

The Roscoe Warren Park was built in 2010 and is the largest park in homestead. It has a lot of features, such as a playground, a soccer field, and a path that is smooth and excellent walking or for roller-skates, skateboards, or anyone else on wheels.

Unfortunately, many of the parks in homestead (including this one) requires cars, as transportation in the area isn’t the best. Many parks with amenities such as this one feel almost inaccessible unless you have a car, as it is far away from the more populated area of homestead.

The everglades

Everglades National Park Sign, 2020. Ahdriana Amandi / CC BY 4.0

The best park in homestead is inarguably the everglades national park. This national park is the 10th largest national park in the united states, expanding other 1.5 million acres long. When visiting the park, visitors have the chance to see a plethora of species, many of which are endangered and protected by law. Horseshoe crabs, black bears, Florida panthers, spoonbills, and many other creatures make this park their home.

“The  miracle of light pours over the green and brown expanse of saw grass and of  water, shining and slowly moving, the grass and water that is the meaning and the central fact of the Everglades. It is a river of grass.”

— Marjory Stoneman Douglas

Transportation

Losner Park Trolley Sign, 2020. Ahdriana Amandi / CC BY 4.0

Transportation in Homestead is difficult to navigate, and Is for the most part, inaccessible to its citizens. Over 60% of Homestead citizens drive themselves to work, 6 percent used public transportation and the other half either walked, used a taxi, or biked to work (“DataUSA:Homestead”). Due to Homestead being poorer than other surrounding communities, less money is placed on infrastructure and transportation. Aside from Downtown homestead, which is approximately a mile long, the sidewalks are worn-out or nonexistent throughout the area. Bus stops being far from each other and buses having inconsistent schedules may be the reason citizens don’t use public transportation as much as they could.

The city of Homestead, however, has recently included a downtown and east/west trolley that is free to citizens and circles around homestead in a way to help the transportation system. The city also offers a free ride during the weekend to the national parks in the area: the Everglades, Biscayne National Park, and Homestead Bayfront Park. Since the beginning of COVID-19, the trolley has an allotted 6-10am service for seniors to access Publix’s Special Senior Hours.

Food

La Cruzada

La Cruzada, 2020. Ahdriana Amandi / CC BY 4.0

La Cruzada is a quaint Mexican restaurant that is right across the street from homestead’s city hall. The décor gives the place a comforting feel, and their kind staff and fresh guacamole leaves every visitor with a positive impression. With a 4.3-star review on google reviews and almost 1,143 people raving about the quality of the restaurant, it is a must-visit location. The barbacoa and chorizo tacos and menudo are my personal recommendation when visiting this restaurant.

White Lion Café

The white lion café is so hidden, it is easy to miss it unless you are looking for it. They primarily serve American meals and fresh fish, and even serve their legendary 99-dollar PB & J sandwich that comes with a bottle of Dom Perignon. Like most restaurants, its kind staff and fresh dishes are what places it on this list of places to visit while in homestead.  

Sake Thai & Sushi

Sake Thai & Sushi Entrance, 2020. Ahdriana Amandi / CC BY 4.0

When people often think of homestead, they think of fresh Mexican food. Although there is plenty of that in this neighborhood, Sake Thai & Sushi fresh dishes and delicious appetizers are an absolute must-try. The service here is impeccable and their fresh ingredients make visiting this restaurant while visiting Homestead a great choice. I recommend ordering the monkey brains, sushi tacos, and tropical roll.

Businesses

Exit one Tap and brewery

Exit One Taproom opened their doors in 2018 and since then have created a fun and unique local spot that is a Homestead treasure. This shop offers craft beers at affordable prices, and the employees and its owners have excellent customer service. They have a gorgeous space and even offer outdoor seating.

Schnebly Winery and Brewery

Miami Brewing Co. Tanks, 2020. Ahdriana Amandi / CC BY 4.0
Miami Brewing Co., 2020. Ahdriana Amandi / CC BY 4.0

This location offers historical tours, wine tasting events, can be booked as a wedding venue, and is even the home of Miami Brewing Co., another location that has its own space and drinks. Schnebly’s is usually packed with people and during COVID, has been no exception. It is a pricey spot, but worth the visit and with multiple events constantly being held, Schnebly’s Winery and Brewery is definitely a spot that warrants multiple visits.

Mexico Market

1.49/Lb Tortillas!, 2020. Ahdriana Amandi / CC BY 4.0

When entering the small grocery store in the heart of downtown homestead, it can be overwhelming. You are immediately welcomed with the smell of tortillas and meat, and the pinatas adorn the ceiling of the large but overfilled store. Each aisle has rows of unique inventory: spices, candies, and drinks that aren’t common anywhere else in Miami are in stock here, and the affordable butchery and freshly sold tortilla ensures that this place is never empty. With a large population of homestead being Latino and a large majority of that population being Mexican, I feel that this store is representative of its community. If you stop by, be sure to buy some barbacoa and a pound of fresh tortilla, it is absolutely worth it.

Summary

Homestead, Florida is a great place to visit to escape the hustle and bustle of other Miami neighborhoods and enter a rural town with many beautiful aspects, as well as problems. Being one of the oldest cities In Miami-Dade, it can often feel forgotten and worn out. Many areas and neighborhoods are unkept. However, it does seem to be improving with time and I don’t believe the homestead that is today will be the Homestead people will know 20 years from now.

Citations

Britannica. n.d. 9 December 2020. <https://www.britannica.com/place/Homestead-Florida&gt;.

City Of Homestead. History of Our City. n.d. 9 December 2020. <https://www.cityofhomestead.com/264/History-of-Our-City&gt;.

—. Homestead Trolley. n.d. URL. 7 December 2020. <https://www.cityofhomestead.com/374/Homestead-Trolley&gt;.

CityofHomestead.com. “Homestead Then & Now.” 2018. PDF. 4 December 2020. <https://www.cityofhomestead.com/DocumentCenter/View/1892/Homestead-Then-and-Now?bidId=&gt;.

DATAUSA. Homestead,FL: Census Place. n.d. 4 December 2020. <https://datausa.io/profile/geo/homestead-fl/#demographics&gt;.

Douglas, Marjory S. and Robert Fink. The Everglades: River of Grass. New York: Rinehart, 1947. Book.

History.com. Homestead Act. 19 August 2019. 9 December 2020. <https://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/homestead-act&gt;.

National Parks & Services. Everglades. 9 September 2020. 5 December 2020. <https://www.nps.gov/ever/index.htm&gt;.

National Parks And Services. Hurricane Andrew (1992) . 30 May 2019. 4 December 2020.

United States Census. QuickFacts: Homestead city, Florida. 1 July 2019. 8 December 2020. <https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/homesteadcityflorida&gt;.

Wikipedia. Homestead-Miami Speedway. 8 December 2020. 9 December 2020. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homestead%E2%80%93Miami_Speedway&gt;.

Ahdriana Amandi: Miami as Text 2020-2021

Ahdri at Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois, 2019

Ahdriana Amandi is a junior at the honors college at Florida International University and is majoring in Psychology. As a newly transferred student from Miami Dade College, Ahdri is excited to finish her last two years at FIU and is hoping to attend graduate school to become a college professor. Outside of academics, she enjoys roller skating, reading, and traveling.  Although she has spent most of her life in Miami, Ahdri is excited to learn more about her beautiful and historic city through this course.

Deering as Text

Images Taken and Edited by Ahdriana Amandi (CC by 4.0)

“This Is Not Miami

By Ahdriana Amandi of FIU at The Deering Estate, 2nd September 2020

The words “This is Miami” stayed imprinted in my mind as professor Bailly led us through the Tropical Hardwood Hammocks and the Pineland Rocklands- two massively different ecosystems that thrive in Deering Estate’s Nature Preserve. Oolite paved the path we followed, and Gumbo Limbo, the copper trees that seemed to glisten in the sunlight, provided shade as well as a potential remedy for poison wood, which was never too far away.

On the other side of the Hardwood Hammocks were the Rocklands, an area that flourishes in fire. The sharp protrusions of the Miami Rock ridge often peaked through and the sinewy Florida Pine that creates flammable resin welcomes brush fires and suffocates any other plants that aren’t Poison Ivy or Saw Palmetto.

In between avoiding spiderwebs, solution holes, the poisonous plants, and the swarms of mosquitoes that laugh at visitor’s futile attempts to avoid getting bitten, it is hard to imagine that this area was before Henry Flagler, Julia Tuttle, William Brickell, Ponce de Leon, or even the Tequesta. I remember driving home after hiking nearly four miles and feeling absolute disbelief of what I had just experienced, and how our past remains only in small pockets of protected areas such as these.

I do not believe that what I experienced was Miami. What I experienced was something nameless and timeless, something ancient, something before and with the time of man. A relic that has survived our geological ancestors, the founders of our home, and will, in the right hands, outlive ourselves.  

South Beach as Text

Images Taken and Edited by Ahdriana Amandi (CC by 4.0)

“Untitled”

By Ahdriana Amandi of FIU at South Beach, 16th September 2020

When most people think of Miami, they picture Miami Beach; with its beautiful waters and incredible architecture, it isn’t hard to understand why. Our classroom for the day was here, and I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the sun I felt against my skin, the clear blue skies, and the salty breeze in the air that reminds me of my most precious memories of this place. This visit to South Beach, however, felt strange. Ocean Drive, a place that is always filled with music and laughter, was a ghost town. COVID-19 Lockdown and restrictions are still heavily set in place here, and Locations such as Mango’s, Havana 1957, and News Café were empty and/or temporarily closed. The tourists who used to flood these areas are no longer here and throughout our excursion, multiple hosts hawked our group down, offering us wildly low prices in order to get some business. Later, we visited Española Way and Lincoln Road Mall; the only sounds were those of our footsteps. Although the people who make this neighborhood come to life were not here during my visit, I look forward to seeing the people that make this place so vibrant again soon.

As we walked through the streets, Professor Bailly’s comments brimmed with insight of the architecture and the communities who have made south beach what it is. South Beach is home to the largest Art Deco collection in the world, and is easily identifiable by its bright, retro color schemes and Egyptian influence. Alongside Art Deco is MiMo and Mediterranean Revival.  The three designs differ wildly, yet all exist in harmony here. The existence of these three styles is representative of the cultural mosaic that is south beach.

Downtown as Text

Images Taken and Edited by Ahdriana Amandi (CC by 4.0)

“Visions”

By Ahdriana Amandi of FIU at Downtown Miami, 30th September 2020

It is difficult to imagine what stood before Downtown Miami’s iconic skyline and to fathom the amount of history a single place can carry. When thinking about it, the visions appear in my mind, and slowly disappear into the next. When arriving in front of the freedom tower, I can envision the Cuban exiles entering the port of Miami, escaping Castro’s wrath and lost everything. In front of the Brickell mausoleum, I see William and Mary Brickell, trading with the Seminole who had arrived and settled in the land years before their arrival, and ambitious Mary buying real estate and making plans to further the growth of their town. Entering Gesu Church, I remember the story of Don Pedro Menendez and his men forming a mission, Imposing their religion to a sickened Tequesta. When standing on the Miami Circle, I can see the capital of the Tequesta and its people, living and laughing, and the confusion that occurs when Ponce De Leon’s ships become within view, unaware of the impact that this encounter would have on this land.

Before showing us the untouched Tequesta burial site at the Deering Estate, Professor Bailly talked to us about our geographical ancestors and their importance. My mother is a Venezuelan first-generation immigrant, and my father is a second-generation Cuban. Never visiting either home country and never feeling “American” enough, I’ve always felt lost when it came to my cultural Identity. After viewing the fragments of history in downtown Miami, it is easy to understand why I feel unique in my cultural identity. We are a result of the geographical ancestry of this land: we are Miami.

Chicken Key as Text

Images Taken and Edited by Ahdriana Amandi (CC by 4.0)

“Canoes and Chicken Key”

By Ahdriana Amandi of FIU at Downtown Miami, 30th September 2020

There are memories that stay with us for our entire lives and visiting chicken key was one of those moments. Autumn is beginning to start in Miami and although the leaves don’t fall, the wind and cooler weather meant that the 14th of October was a perfect day to head into the water and begin our five-hour long class.

Our class arrived once again to Deering estate, only this time Professor Bailly told us that we must bring gloves and trash bags, and to prepare to row a mile to and from the unpopulated island of chicken key. The class was divided into groups of two, and classmate Claudia and I quickly worked together to row against the current and reach the island.

As we got closer, we began to see that this “unpopulated island” was beaming with life. We watched as pods of pelicans would fly up into the air and swoop back into the water and swallow a mouthful of fish. Fish would occasionally jump up into the air, almost as if they were giving us a show. after tying our canoes up, professor Bailly quickly ran towards the water, and soon after everyone followed.

This feeling of euphoria slowly diminished as I walked along the south side of the island and began picking up old shoes, plastic bags, and shards of glass. We were then told that the trash that ended up here was often debris that floated from Miami beach, an area that was 20 miles away.

I felt a connection to Deering Estate during our first excursion and this second visit only made my love for it grow even more. I’m so grateful that we were able to visit and help clean the island. This trip reminded me that my generation has our future in our hands, and I want to make sure that when I pass it along to the next generation, it will be better than when it was given to me.

Rubell as Text

Sleep, 2008. Oil on canvas 132″ x 300″. Images Taken and Edited by Ahdriana Amandi (CC by 4.0)

“Kehinde Wiley’s Sleep

By Ahdriana Amandi of FIU at the Rubell Museum, 18th November 2020

When you first see the piece from a distance, it is easy to mistake it for a photograph. Taking a step closer, however, allows the magical element that a painting has sets in. Kehinde Wiley’s classical but contemporary, peaceful but powerful masterpiece Sleep (2008) is breathtaking to see in person and leaves a lasting impression upon anyone who has the opportunity to see it. Your eyes are first drawn to the legs and white fabric that covers the subject’s mid-region. This painting is massive, and when looking at it you must take your time to observe and admire each section of the painting, it demands the attention of the viewer. I found myself taking only detail shots of the piece, as I found it to be better representative of the work. The muscles in the feet, the beautiful luminous skin, the lived-in tattoo and the subject’s face all depict a message of peace and serenity. Sleep has many characteristics that are common in Wiley’s work: a singular beautiful hero figure who is the focal point of the painting and is surrounded by vivid ornate flowers. Wiley’s decision to choose black (usually) male figures in his work challenges the stereotypes that black men face and instead gives them beauty and empowerment.  

The busy background but calm subject resonated with me. The clash of modern and classical represents the time it was created and how this era will be remembered in the future. There is a constant fight between old traditions and new ways and combining both in this mystical world that is this painting makes a bold statement that works well together.

Everglades as Text

Taken by Ahdriana Amandi (CC by 4.0)

“River of Glass, Not Grass”

By Ahdriana Amandi of FIU at the Everglades National Park, 23st of January 2021

It feels like I have stepped into liquid glass. Not painful, but rather a smooth and frigid feeling. As we continue to enter the dome, our bodies adjust. Our passionate and kind ranger is providing us information on the flora and fauna but I’m finding it difficult to focus- my mind is flooded with questions and curiosity. How does this part of the everglades benefit the rest of the area? How does the water flow, how does Florida rely so greatly in this park, and what are current and future legislation doing to protect and improve our landmark? How can we get more people to appreciate our beautiful river and what can we do to provide education on issues such as fishing, hunting, etc? What animals live here that are protected, endangered, or invasive? Questions that, as a psychology major, I often don’t have the time to stew over. The more time I spent having the chance to investigate and explore for myself, the more I yearned for knowledge I didn’t have. I felt this feeling of an outsider looking in, a stranger to this world.

Often in life, human beings have a habit of categorizing items in our world: good/evil, life/death. In the everglades, the lines of these category are blurred. The white, spindly trees that look dead and malnourished are actually the strong and though cypress tree. The trees that rot and fall create substrate for other parts of the forest as well as a stronger foundation for other plants to grow in its place. Lichen, a white-green item that looks like mold and periphyton, something that can only be described as an everglade booger supports the life of many micro organisms that help this ecosystem thrive.

After visiting the slough, we had the chance to eat lunch while a volunteer played one of his songs that he wrote about the everglades. It got me emotional when listening to his song because it was comforting to know that this place is loved by others, and how it is important for my generation to continue to fuel the curiosity and love for our parks and spaces.

Locust As Text

Taken by Ahdriana Amandi (CC by 4.0)

“Made by Dusk”

By Ahdriana Amandi of FIU at the Locust Projects, 3rd of February 2021

Made by dusk, an installation at Locust view projects, is an homage to Freya, the goddess of war and fertility. She is often depicted as a beautiful woman clad in white drapery and golden armor. A wooden arch opens to what feels like another world. When entering the installation, it feels like a modern take of an altar room; the goddess would certainly feel honored herself. Gold leaf covers the floor, looking like leaves in the autumn. On the east side, fifty paintings adorn the walls, some of them with golden circles painted on. It’s satisfying to let your eyes trace the patterns and see how many of the paintings connect with each other, and how some don’t.  On the North and South side of the rooms, two enormous canvas encompass the walls. Reminiscent of Rorschach paintings, they seem to space and distort each time you look away. I see skulls, cities, and people.

It’s difficult to reflect on this installation without the context in which I was able to view it. With more cases than ever, COVID-19 and the affects that it has had on my world stays on my mind. The warmth of being in Freya’s light reminds me of the hope that a story can instill. This dusk reminds and us of the resilience that surviving 2020 has given us, and the dusk tells us that it is always darkest before the dawn.

Bill Baggs As Text

Taken by Ahdriana Amandi (CC by 4.0),

“El Farito”

By Ahdriana Amandi of FIU at Bill Baggs Florida State Park, 17th of February 2021

I have lived in Miami for the majority of my life, and I can remember each visit to Bill Baggs park; or as most locals call it- El Farito. My mom would get me to wake up early so that we could find parking and a spot where the shade of the lighthouse would allow us to spend the entire day by the ocean without turning into chicharrones. Although I had visited the park many times, I have never stopped and wondered of the story of the white lighthouse that stands now as an iconic Miami Landmark, and unfortunately, very few Miami natives know the history that this land holds, and it starts as it usually does in Miami history, with our biological ancestors the Tequesta.

Our class started right outside the gates of the lighthouse entrance, Professor Bailly began class with telling us that the indigenous people of this land were nomadic and would come to Biscayne bay during different times of the year. We were read diary entries of missionaries and European explorers complaining of the humidity and the ungodly number of mosquitoes, it’s comforting to know that many parts of ancient Miami hasn’t changed. Our class was then told of the history of the lighthouse, one of the oldest structures that still stands and is functional. We were then told the story of Thompson and Carter, and the battle that took place at the lighthouse during the Seminole wars. As we walked, we pasted a painting that was printed next to the original lightkeeper’s home, and I felt a wave of shame surge over me. The painting depicts the Seminole as these “savages” even though they and other tribes were kicked out of their native land and being colonized; although what had happened here in 1836 was unfortunate, depicting these people as the villains of the story is untrue, and people who do not know the history of the park or of the lighthouse may see the indigenous people in a negative light.

It is incredible to me that throughout countless hurricanes, a battle, and a beacon of hope, this cultural piece of Miami still stands strong today. The lighthouse provides another reminder that history isn’t so black and white, and that although many parts of our city has heartbreaking history behind it, it is important to always seek the truth and never forget the past that our home has.

River of Grass As Text

Socially Distanced Pine, Taken by Ahdriana Amandi (CC by 4.0)

“Growth”

By Ahdriana Amandi of FIU at The Everglades National Park, 3rd of March, 2021

When visiting the Everglades, Ranger Dylan told us about the impact human beings have had on this land, and how the Everglades is an excellent example of human tampering/mismanagement. During our last visit, the class had the opportunity to go slogging in a cypress dome that was knee-deep in water and for the most part, untouched by most people. This visit, however, led us to the donut hole, an area that was once used to farm tomatoes, although you wouldn’t believe it unless you were told; the land looked barren and the limestone, which looked like overgrown pavement, doesn’t seem like it would be any sort of place to do such a thing. We eventually reached a solution hole, and inside there were hundreds of small fish swimming about.

As we stood at the edge of the hole, Ranger Dylan and Professor Bailly talked about the invasive species and plants that are currently damaging the everglades, as well as the recovery of the acres of land we were standing on. After spending an entire semester having the opportunities to explore the incredible Miami Landscape, it’s hard to believe that individuals would intentionally harm/disrupt Florida’s ecosystem. They then spoke about how the park has spent the past three years restoring this area, and how nothing on the land we were standing on was planted. About 100 feet away from us, two Florida Palm trees stood tall and proud, reminding us of the life coming back to this area.

We then left to another location of the park, and there we saw another plot of land similar to the donut hole we first visited. We were then told that this plot of land had been restored one year more than the one before, only this one was full of life, swamp, and birds. During our time here, we even had the chance to see a phalanx of Wood Storks soar above us, giving us an opportunity to appreciate these creatures up close.

 Learning about our past begs us to ask the question: how can we learn from the mistakes of our ancestors/ generations before us? What kind of impact do we want to leave for our loved ones, and what sort of actions can we take that support our want to improve ourselves and our Planet. Seeing the growth between these two areas remind me that there is a fighting chance for humanity and the rest of our ecosystem to grow and advance together, and that the earth, when given the chance, will do its best to restore itself. Bailly said it best when we visited Chicken Key. People need to experience landmarks and parks to love and feel the need to protect them. Having the chance to experience this place firsthand has flourished a passion to want to find ways to coexist with our environment, and help others gain love and appreciation for this land too.

Frost as Text

“Accumulate, Classify, Preserve”

By Ahdriana Amandi of FIU at The Frost Art Museum 17th of March, 2021

Acumulate, Classify, Preserve, Display features Roberto Obregon’s life work of his obsession with the rose, alongside with breaking apart constructs that are associated with the flower and creating new meaning. As you walk into the exhibition, the mural “Ene Eme y Ene De, 1994” depicts two figures who influenced him greatly- Norma baker, otherwise known as Marylin Monroe, and Marcel Du champ. Throughout his work, it is clearly shown that Obregon placed life and decay at the center of his work, and each rose felt as if I was looking at his fingerprints, images he left behind before passing away. In the exhibition, it feels that you can feel the delicacy and precision in each petal he plucked and numbered. His work felt dedicated to existence and the process of aging.

In his work, I felt his ability to turn this symbol of love into a symbol of life, decay, and the passage of time. His work also sparked a connection in my courses for my psychology degree and it reminded me of the value of enriching education with art. Conceptual art like Obregon’s  allows us to appreciate the process of creating meaningful work that amplifies discussions; Obregon’s art is a vessel, a way to take previous understanding and further connect it to other ideas.

This idea made me wonder, how would an engineer student view his work? A biology student? A communications major? All of these facets of learning are small pieces of humanity’s larger goal which is to further understand the world and each other.

Gables As Text

“The Biltmore”

By Ahdriana Amandi of FIU at The Biltmore Hotel Miami, 31st of March, 2021

The Biltmore, one of Coral Gable’s most iconic buildings, was built a year after the founding of the city in 1925 and has remained as a symbol of the city’s history and beauty. It was built by the founder George Merrick and it was used as a place to hold galas and events for the city. Individuals and families such as Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, and the Vanderbilts paid multiple visits to this hotel.  It is truly a beautiful building and worth the visit.

It is difficult to imagine that the building was used as a military hospital during the second world war, or that the University of Miami medical school was first started in the same halls. It is even much stranger to imagine it being abandoned for nearly 15 years. In my mind, all I could see were the famous figures of the 1920’s holding galas and beautiful people enjoying their afternoons by the poolside, or possibly visiting the speakeasy on the 13th floor.

Something that stood out to me when visiting was the inspiration taken from the Giralda, the Sevillian bell tower in Spain, and how both the Biltmore and the Freedom tower in Downtown, Miami were both inspired by this UNESCO world heritage site. When entering the building, there are clear Sevillian baroque inspirations from the building, as well as the Moorish influence from when the Giralda belonged to the Moors, and the beautiful ironwork and buildings that were handcrafted in Mexico, not even to mention the rococo architecture, Mediterranean influence, and the Bahamian’s stone masonry that we saw while walking throughout the building.

When visiting the hotel, I was reminded of how so few Miamians know the true history of our cities, and often write off Miami history as “unremarkable” and “forgettable”, when this belief is far from the truth. Exploring the halls and taking a step back in time while visiting reminded me of one of the very first things I learned while taking this course, which is that our city has always been a fusion of cultures and influences that when put together, creates that feeling of “Miami”. When we examine individual pieces of, it is easy for many to write off. It is only when you take a step back and examine Miami’s history as a whole, both the good and bad,  that you are able to fully appreciate and respect the beauty of our city.

Vizcaya as Text

“Tropical Paradise”

By Ahdriana Amandi of FIU at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, 14th of April, 2021

When you enter the music room in Vizcaya’s Museum and Gardens, it feels as if you have entered a music box. The ornate Rococo design entices the eyes to follow the curves and beautiful pastel colors. The space feels like and dreamy, and warm. Chalfin, the designer of the Vizcaya, once stated, “Someone seems to lurk here, wearing old creamy satin, looking into dim mirrors at strings of pearls and corals upon a narrow and corseted bosom, ready with facile musical sighs.” Its beautiful flowers and antique instruments left an impression on me, more so than the other rooms inside the Vizcaya Museum. Its beauty and playful feelings made me feel very happy, and I wanted to stay in the room for much longer. It’s difficult to take a picture of the room that would do it justice, as the energy that the room has is something that must be experienced in person.

When we learned about the creation of the home and James Deering’s plans of making it an homage to the Vizcaino’s who lived among the Tequesta. Although his home was far from the historical accuracies of the missionaries and the Miami natives, the spirit of owning a tropical paradise is very much alive In the home, and in the music room. Deering and Chalfin’s intentions when building and designing Vizcaya were to make it a place of enjoyment, as well as a collection of antiques.

I first visited Vizcaya when I was 12 years old, and I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. I did not know much about the history of Miami or Florida back then, so when I got to see a European influenced home, I was ecstatic. Coming to visit it once again, however, I had more time to enjoy and marvel at the building’s beauty and energy. This time I came to visit, I saw less of the European influence (which is still existent, of course) and I saw more of the Miami/Florida design. The home was built in a way to enjoy the Biscayne Bay breeze and ocean, and the garden was filled with native flowers and shrubbery that is meant to thrive in this climate. The stone that was mainly used in the home was limestone, which is Florida’s own beautiful and unique stone. The ability to mix things that were brought from other parts of the world and mix it with Florida’s natural beauty. This style of mixing different designs and using the Miami’s landscape and beauty is truly the essence of Miami.

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