Ashley Sanchez: Miami Springs 2021

STUDENT BIO

Photo by Brittney Sanchez // CC by 4.0

Ashley Sanchez is a Cuban American fourth-year student at Florida International University who was born and raised in Miami, Florida. She graduated with an Associates in Arts degree from Miami Dade College in 2018. After receiving her AA degree, she transferred to FIU in pursuit of a Bachelor of Science degree in Rehabilitation and Recreational Therapy. She is currently in the FIU Honors College and is part of the Pre-Therapy Students Association. She has also competed in several intramural sports at FIU including human foosball, volleyball, and kickball. She will begin applying to different graduate programs in the upcoming year to further her education in pursuit of becoming an Occupational Therapist. Ashley has a passion for adventure, sports, dancing and loves to spend quality time with her family and friends.

GEOGRAPHY 

Image taken from Google Maps

The city of Miami Springs was created 95 years ago in 1926 and it is located in Miami-Dade County on the east coast of Florida. “Miami Springs is located at 25°49’20″N 80°17’22″W (25.8223200, -80.2895000)” (Mapsofnet). The city lies at 7 feet/2 meters altitude and its density is 1,769 Pop. per km² as of 2020. The city is in a very central area, “Located ‘in the heart of it all,’ Miami Springs is bordered by Miami International Airport, the City of Hialeah, the Village of Virginia Gardens and the Town of Medley (About Miami Springs). The 2.9-square-mile, triangular-shaped city has an intriguing history and has flourished over the years without losing its “small-town” feel. The city offers its community a large array of “…family-oriented civic amenities, including parks, racquetball and tennis courts, golf course, municipal pool and new community center and theater” (About Miami Springs).

Photo by Ashley Sanchez // CC by 4.0

HISTORY

Miami Springs was originally known as the “Country Club Estates” and started with a population of only 128 residents. The city’s name was changed to Miami Springs because of the natural springs that were once located in the area. Miami Springs was the 5th municipality to incorporate after the City of Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, and Hialeah. The city played a role in the history of aviation in South Florida since it served as the location for Glenn H. Curtiss and James Bright’s flying school. It is no coincidence that today the city of Miami Springs is located near the Miami International Airport which is the primary airport serving the Miami area (History of Miami Springs).

Photo by Ashley Sanchez // CC by 4.0

Access to plentiful fresh water that could be found on the Miami Springs Golf Course property was a draw to City of Miami. As a matter of fact, “The freshwater wells found on the golf course provided the first organized water supply system for the City of Miami. Before that, residents relied on individual wells.” Understandably, the Miami Springs Golf Course plays an integral role in the history of the city—especially since it was the first one built in all of Miami-Dade County. The golf course is still in use today and has hosted many renowned events like the Miami Open and even community events like local tournaments and its annual fireworks show in celebration of the Fourth of July. An interesting fact about the golf course is that it was the first golf course in Florida to allow Black individuals to play (History of Miami Springs).

DEMOGRAPHICS

According to the United States Census Bureau, Miami Spring’s 2021 current population consists of 13,859 people (United States Census Bureau).  Much of the population consists of women (53.7%) and persons 65 years and over (19.4%). The predominant races in the city are White (94.7%) and Hispanic or Latino (76.7%). Being that Miami Springs house prices are amongst the most expensive in all of Florida, the median household income is $61,795. There are 308 veterans living in the city and 52.8% of residents are foreign born persons (United States Census Bureau). 

INTERVIEW WITH GABRIELLA PEREZ (A MIAMI SPRINGS RESIDENT)

Gabriella Perez (Miami Springs interviewee) // CC by 4.0

Ashley: “Hello, please introduce yourself.”

Gabriella: “Hi, my name is Gaby Perez. I’m from Miami Springs, Florida. I study Business Analytics at the University of Norte Dame. I was born in Miami Beach, Florida but I went to school at Blessed Trinity Catholic School from the time I started Pre-K until I was 5 years old when my parents decided to move to Miami Springs.”  

Ashley: “How would you describe Miami Springs?”

Gabriella: “I would describe Miami Springs as a family-friendly city. From my experience, families will move to Miami Springs when they are starting to have kids and stay there until they’re old. And this happens for multiple generations. Some of my best childhood memories are events I would go to with my family hosted by the city of Miami Springs. For example, every year they have a Fourth of July parade where they have a lot of fun events and free food. I took swimming lessons as a kid in the Miami Springs Recreation Center and played soccer in the local soccer league.” 

Ashley: “Have you noticed any differences throughout the years you have lived in Miami Springs?” 

Gabriella: “I live in front of the Miami Springs Golf Course and every year they host a Fourth of July fireworks show. Ever since my family and I moved to Miami Springs, we have made it a tradition to invite family and friends to watch fireworks in our front lawn. Something I’ve noticed as I’ve grown older is that every year, this event has become more and more popular which, in turn, has demanded for more security personnel and regulations regarding parking. I think that this is a trend that speaks for Miami Springs as a whole because I know that home prices have gone up throughout the years which is a resemblance of the fact that the city is no longer a ‘hidden treasure’ and people are now starting to discover it.” 

Ashley: “Name something you don’t necessarily like about the city.”

Gabriella: “I think that Miami Springs is located in somewhat of a weird spot in the city, given that it’s a family-friendly town. It is located near the airport and 36th street which are both very hectic. Not to mention, the crime rate especially on 36th street is decently high and Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center is located minutes from Miami Spring’s town center. I remember having to go on lockdown when I went to school at Blessed Trinity Catholic School because someone escaped from that prison. I think all this is ironic since the city is known for its family-friendly atmosphere.”  

LANDMARKS

Miami Springs is home to its very own Miami Springs Historical Museum which just recently had its grand opening on the first weekend of November. “The MSHMuseum focuses on the life of Glenn Curtiss, the Curtiss/Bright communities, and the commercial aviation industry of Miami” (Miami Springs Historical Society and Museum). The museum hosts three special exhibits called Wings/Memories of Eastern Airlines, Country Club Estates Becomes Miami Springs, and Battlecreek. The new museum is open every Saturday in the month of November for just a few hours in the middle of the day and limited timed entry tickets are required due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo by Ashley Sanchez // CC by 4.0

The Glenn H. Curtiss Mansion and Gardens is another important historic landmark in the city of Miami Springs that cannot go unspoken.  It’s hard to miss this prestigious landmark that is located in the golf course grounds. The Pueblo Revival-style Mansion is part of the National Register of Historic Places and was once owned by Glen H. Curtiss. Glen H. Curtiss was known as a great aviation pioneer. “Now managed by Curtiss Mansion, Inc. on behalf of the City, this architecturally unique venue is available for private rentals for meetings and celebrations of life’s milestones. The mansion has also become a central and welcoming gathering place for many local community groups and a variety of free or reduced admission events that are open to the general public” (Glenn H. Curtiss Mansion and Gardens).  

Photo by Ashley Sanchez // CC by 4.0

Lastly, another historical landmark worth mentioning is the Clune-Stadnik Building that is also part of the National Register of Historic Places. This building is “The only surviving structure from the original ‘civic center’ envisioned by Glenn Curtiss” and “…has survived hurricanes, floods, fires, burglaries and buy-out attempts” (Clune – Stadnik Building). In the beginning years of the establishment, it was owned by the Curtiss-Bright Company and used for office spaces of the company’s chief engineer Daniel Clune and local small businesses. Today, it is known as the Miami Springs Pharmacy and it still houses private offices on the second floor. Interestingly enough, although the property was converted into a drug store, the exterior retains its original appearance (Clune – Stadnik Building). 

GREEN

Miami Springs has its very own dog park called the Bark Park located on 599 Quail Avenue. This is an “off-leash” dog park that welcomes all dogs to roam around freely and enjoy the outdoors. The park has many amenities to offer for both the dogs and their owners. There are benches situated around the park for owners to relax while they let their dogs enjoy themselves in either the small dog area or the large dog area. “This dog park is a favorite spot within the Miami Springs community, and many people claim that the park is well-maintained, quiet, and in a convenient location” (Miami Springs Bark Park). 

Prince Field is one of the 3 beautiful parks the city of Miami Springs is home to. Located on 343 Payne Drive, the park has several amenities to offer to the community. It is home to the Miami Springs Golden Hawks Tackle Football team as well as the Miami Springs Area Little League. Three of the park’s amenities include a football field, two baseball fields, and a playground (Prince Field 343 Payne Dr.).  

The Miami Springs Golf Course and Country Club is one of the city’s most visited spots. This golf course attracts both local and traveling players of all skill levels. The 18-hole course features 6,755 yards of golf and was designed by Thomas ‘Tubby’ Martin. As previously mentioned, this golf course has a rich history that plays a distinctive role in the city’s development (Miami Springs Golf & Country Club). The idea to construct a golf course was brought up by members of the Miami Coconuts Golf Committee because they did not have a clubhouse nor course to play on. “At the meeting in the spring of 1922 the Miami Coconuts decided that if Miami was to continue to grow as a resort center, facilities should be provided for the entertainment of thousands of guests who come to Miami” (Miami Springs Golf & Country Club). After many meetings and shortcomings because of the lack of money in the budget to construct the course, the Miami Springs Golf Course became Dade County’s first municipal golf course in 1923 (Miami Springs Golf & Country Club). 

Gabriella Perez at the Miami Springs Golf Course & Country Club. Photo by Ashley Sanchez // CC by 4.0

TRANSPORTATION

It is fairly easy and quick to get to Miami Springs from almost anywhere in South Florida since it is centrally located. The city itself even has its own transportation system called the City Bus which is a free MS/VG shuttle bus. The shuttle bus has stops in Hialeah and even offers a complimentary service to the airport from the E.B. Hotel (Free MS/VG Shuttle). If you want to use public transportation to get to Miami Springs, you can either use the bus or the subway. Stops closest to the city include; “…Westward Dr & Albatross St; N. Royal Poinciana@Oriole Av; W 3 St & Palm Av Hialeah; Okeechobee; Hialeah Market Station” (Moovit). The city, however, is easily accessible through car and even offers many parking options that do not require any sort of payment.

FOOD

Crackers Casual Dining is a family-owned restaurant in the heart of the city that serves Southern dishes with a Florida twist. This restaurant is unique since it offers its guests the option of sitting indoors, outside under the Chicken hut, or even in their beautiful back garden. The garden is especially worth mentioning since it “…offers an al fresco feel with wild flowers and garden knick knacks for the eclectic touch” (Crackers Casual Dining). The restaurant offers lunch, dinner and brunch and their menu consists of a variety of options ranging from burgers, sandwiches, tacos, and soups. One of their most popular appetizers is their Fatty Fries which are french fries topped with freshly made gravy, cheese, and bacon (Crackers Casual Dining).

Photo by Ashley Sanchez // CC by 4.0

My personal favorite restaurant in Miami Springs located around the Circle is called Harvest Moon Gourmet Bistro. This restaurant serves a variety of healthy food options including natural juices, salads, smoothies, melts, gyros and sandwiches. The restaurant takes pride in “…providing the healthiest, fresh and delicious food since 1997” (Harvest Moon Bistro). Their Caesar Chicken Melt is especially worth mentioning because, in my opinion, it is their best menu item. It comes with chicken and Caesar dressing on top of melted mozzarella on a piece of flat pita bread. 

Photo by Ashley Sanchez // CC by 4.0

Airport Cafe & Liquors is a full liquor store and restaurant located right behind the Miami International Airport. The family-owned place is unique to Miami Springs and is recognized as one of Miami’s best hidden gems. It has been open since 2007 and its known for its “…friendly atmosphere, ambiance, and quality service” (Airport Cafe & Liquors). The restaurant opens early to attract early bird customers and has a unique blend of menu items from a Central American Breakfast plate to a typical all-American breakfast plate.  

Photo by Ashley Sanchez // CC by 4.0

BUSINESS

The Glam Cult is “An intimate and chic aesthetic studio space, that creates a comfortable atmosphere for the client who wants the ultimate private experience. We offer a unique personal beauty experience where services are never double booked and the client receives the individual attention they deserve” (The Glam Cult). Located in a very secluded spot on the second floor of the Clune-Stadnik Building, the Glam Cult offers waxing, eyelash lifts, and skincare services.

Springs Dental is a dental clinic run by two dentists by the names of Dr. Legon and Dr. Navarrete. This dental clinic is known for providing optimal oral care for the community of Miami Springs and offering many different services “…from simple regular check-ups to cosmetic dental veneers, to complex full-mouth implant placements” (Springs Dental). 

Animal General Hospital offers many pet services to its local community to ensure pet owners are satisfied with the hospital’s job in caring for their pets and keeping them healthy. It is a locally owned practice and provides extensive services that include, “General medicine, vaccinations, laser surgery, EKGs, radiology, endoscopy, and dentistry” (Animal General Hospital). Dr. Tom Campbell was the founder of the hospital and Dr. Kelly Murray is now the main veterinarian.  

SUMMARY

Photo by Ashley Sanchez // CC by 4.0

The city of Miami Springs is home to many locally owned businesses, outdoor spaces, and historical landmarks. The ambiance of the quaint and tranquil community make it a great place to raise a family considering its many family-friendly amenities. The history behind the city make it an integral part of the overall history of Miami-Dade county. 

The city does a good job in maintaining a small-town feel by hosting a variety of local events that keep their community united. The Circle Theater at 33 Curtiss Parkway in Miami Springs plays a large role in bringing the community together. The Circle Theater hosts events sponsored by different organizations, churches, schools, and businesses that bring individuals from all over the city to gather in community. 

Whether you’re stopping at the Miami Springs Golf Course & Country Club for a chance to get a hole-in one or trying out Cracker’s Casual Dining’s Fatty Fries, Miami Springs does not disappoint. Its central location attracts individuals from all over South Florida and its close proximity to the airport makes it a convenient location to visit if you are not a local. 

Works Cited

Ashley Sanchez: Miami Service 2021

STUDENT BIO

Photo by Brittney Sanchez // CC by 4.0

Ashley Sanchez is a Cuban American fourth-year student at Florida International University who was born and raised in Miami, Florida. She graduated with an Associates in Arts degree from Miami Dade College in 2018. After receiving her AA degree, she transferred to FIU in pursuit of a Bachelor of Science degree in Rehabilitation and Recreational Therapy. She is currently in the FIU Honors College and is part of the Pre-Therapy Students Association. She has also competed in several intramural sports at FIU including human foosball, volleyball, and kickball. She will begin applying to different graduate programs in the upcoming year to further her education in pursuit of becoming an Occupational Therapist. Ashley has a passion for adventure, sports, dancing and loves to spend quality time with her family and friends. This is her Miami Service Project.

WHO

This past October I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Deering Estate doing a Chicken Key Cleanup. The Deering Estate is located on the east coast of Florida near the Palmetto Bay area and serves as a historic site and museum. It is known for preserving the 1920’s era Miami estate of Charles Deering. Chicken Key is about one mile northeast of the Deering Estate, which is where we began our canoeing excursion. The island “…was formed by the deposition of quartz and limestone sands by ocean currents” and “An 1899 survey by S. H. Richmond recorded a maximum elevation of three feet above sea level” (Deering Estate Natural Resources).

Miami in Miami Chicken Key Cleanup October 6 2021. Photo by Deering Estate staff // CC by 4.0

WHY

I took this opportunity as a chance to give back. Although it didn’t relate to my major, volunteering has always been something I am passionate about. As someone who wants to work in the healthcare field in the future, my passion is to give back to others and in turn, to our community. Canoeing and being out in the water is something I have always enjoyed doing, and now I can add beach cleanups as another hobby on my list of interests because I enjoyed every minute of it.

Photo by Oscar Roa // CC by 4.0

HOW

I was given this amazing opportunity to participate in the Chicken Key Cleanup because I am enrolled in the course Miami in Miami. This course allows me to learn about the historical, social, and cultural identity of Miami in a complete immersive way.

It was an adventure from the minute my classmates and I arrived at the Deering Estate. While we made our way to the island, we took many photos and shared stories. It was a great way to bond and experience the outdoors. Although we were uncoordinated at first, we were able to find our rhythm and be one of the first groups to arrive at the island—not that it was a race or anything.

Doing a beach cleanup was something that I had been wanting to do for a while and being able to experience it with my classmates, while getting educated by Professor Bailly, was incredible. It definitely made me realize just how oblivious I was to the amount of debris that makes its way into our waterways and how it poses such an immense threat to marine life.

WHERE AND WHAT?

Our class started off with a debriefing given to us by Professor Bailly at The Deering Estate Boat Basin. We stood by the shoreline, canoes in front of us. We were then asked to get in pairs of two or three and choose a canoe.

Photo by Ashley Sanchez // CC by 4.0

We got to canoe into an area where the mangroves almost entirely blocked the entrance-way, yet, left enough room for us to paddle through it. As we paddled through the mangrove forest, branches with beautiful leaves reached over the water and tree branches poked at us almost as if they were asking for our attention. We learned about the importance of the mangroves to the ecosystem—how they help reduce hurricane impacts, provide shelter for many different marine organisms, and lastly, how their branches serve as nesting areas for birds. 

Photo by Afifa Fiaz // CC by 4.0

Once we made it to Chicken Key, we docked the canoes by tying them to nearby mangrove trees and settled down in what looked like an outdoor campfire pit. From the minute I got off the canoe, I realized the amount of debris that was floating around the shoreline. Minutes after putting down our belongings, we rushed into the freezing water and then, had our lunch. Once we finished our meals, we each took a bag or two and split up to pick up as much debris as possible.

Photo by Afifa Fiaz // CC by 4.0

It was saddening to see the amount of bottle caps, styrofoam, glass, plastic, and bottles scattered around the island. Since I was mostly focusing on picking up the smaller items, I was only able to fill up one bag. The smaller objects are sometimes the most dangerous since the marine animals tend to think the items are food and they will swallow it. Before it was time to head back, we all got to meet and hold Mr. Krabs, one of the island’s hermit crabs.  

Photo by Afifa Fiaz // CC by 4.0

WHEN

Registered and Approved Hours on myhonors

SUMMARY

There are some things that worked and some that didn’t. One thing that didn’t work at first, which I previously mentioned, was our paddling coordination. Another thing that didn’t go as I had planned it to was that I first picked up two trash bags to fill up, however, I was only able to fill up one. I definitely underestimated how much time it took to look for the small pieces of debris. I kept looking around at my classmates, discouraged, thinking I wasn’t trying hard enough. But, I had to keep reassuring myself that I was making just as much of an impact. What worked is how, collectively, we were able to fill up a substantial amount of biodegradable bags filled with debris that would have otherwise been harming the island and its marine life. Also, we were able to load the bags into a pickup truck and unload them into a dumpster where they would no longer be in harm’s way.

Even though it may seem like we are not making a big impact, each cleanup contributes to an overarching mission. Professor Bailly showed us a picture of what the island looked like before the cleanups and there were piles of debris all over. It was disheartening and eyeopening to see how careless we can be with the beautiful habitat we were created for. The habitat that is and always has been home for us from the beginning of time.

Not only did Professor Bailly give us the opportunity to do the cleanup, he was able to lecture throughout the experience. Knowledge is power and being able to learn about Chicken Key, the mangroves, Biscayne Bay, etc. will hopefully encourage us as students to educate others. This is an experience I will never forget and I hope to be back soon on Chicken Key collecting more debris.

Photo by Ashley Sanchez // CC by 4.0

Works Cited

Miami hiking trails: Beautiful parks in Miami for exploring. Deering Estate. (2021, September 17). Retrieved December 1, 2021, from https://deeringestate.org/miami-hiking-trails-parks/.

Ashley Sanchez: Miami as Text 2021-2022

Photo by Brittney Sanchez (CC BY 4.0)

Photo by Brittney Sanchez // CC by 4.0

Ashley Sanchez graduated with an Associates in Arts degree from Miami Dade College in 2018. After receiving her AA degree, she transferred to Florida International University in pursuit of a Bachelor of Science degree in Rehabilitation and Recreational Therapy. She will begin applying to different graduate programs in the upcoming year to further her education in pursuit of becoming an Occupational Therapist. Ashley has a passion for adventure, sports, dancing and loves to spend quality time with others. Although she was born and raised in Miami, Florida, she is eager to become a tourist in the city she has grown to love and be able to see it from a different perspective. She is ready for all the adventures that are yet to come. This is her Miami as Text.

Downtown as Text

Photo taken by Ashley Sanchez // CC by 4.0

“Modernization or Culture Loss?”

by Ashley Sanchez of FIU at Downtown Miami, 08 September, 2021

Miami is such a unique city with an incredible history, yet, not a lot of people know much about it-not even locals who were born and raised in the city. I am one of those locals who was born and raised in this urban center that many individuals from all kinds of cultures call home. In order to get to know Miami’s roots, Downtown Miami is a great way to start since it is considered the “…history center of Miami”(“Greater Downtown Miami”).

It comes as no surprise that, since it is coined the “history center” of Miami, there are many well-preserved historic buildings and sites that are accessible to the public; some of which include the Freedom Tower, the Miami Circle, Miami Dade County Courthouse, English Plantation Quarters, and many more. These sites all represent a different part of Miami’s intriguing history and deserve to be preserved for generations to come. However, there are several sites that have been transformed, modernized, or even wiped out.

The city’s developers have been so preoccupied with the modernization of the city, that they have turned their backs on the different places and treasures that made a huge impact on making Miami what it is today. An example of this is the trolley service. The trolley played an integral part in Miami’s transit system history. The trolley era unfortunately came to an end in 1940 when “…the last Trolley Car entered its barn at Southwest Second Street and Second Avenue for the last time” (“History of the Trolley in Miami”). Although we have a modernized version of the trolley system today, it does not compare to the streetcars that once busied the streets of Miami benefitting communities, tourism, and preventing urban congestion.

Works Cited

Admin, P. B. (2020, September 29). History of the trolley in Miami. Miami History Blog. Retrieved September 17, 2021, from https://miami-history.com/history-of-the-trolley-in-miami/.

Wikimedia Foundation. (2021, June 20). Greater downtown Miami. Wikipedia. Retrieved September 17, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_Downtown_Miami.

Overtown as Text

Photos taken by Ashley Sanchez // CC by 4.0

“On Wednesdays, We Wear Pink”

by Ashley Sanchez of FIU at Downtown Miami, 22 September, 2021

On a gloomy Wednesday afternoon, I had the privilege of visiting Hialeah Park along with my other classmates and Professor Bailly. It was our last stop of the day. We had been getting off and on the Miami-Dade County Metrobus all morning walking through the streets of Overtown and visiting historic churches. However, visiting the historic racetrack in Hialeah was what really stood out to me.

I had never heard of Hialeah Park before Wednesday’s class. I have always thought of Hialeah as just the place where most of my friend’s grandparents live, including mine. I would have never guessed that such a historic gem known for its wide variety of entertainment options was located in such a secluded area in the center of Hialeah, Florida. As I walked through the property, I couldn’t help but feel like I was transported back to the 1920’s, visiting the racetrack alongside my wealthy family. Sitting in the stadium seats that looked out into the racetrack where horses once competed, I felt as if I could hear crowds of people chattering and passionately yelling to show their support for the horse they had placed their bets on. Climbing the steps that led out unto the balcony with the arches seemed like I was walking into a movie set. It overlooked the beautiful gardens and the stables which were located towards the back of the property. 

Although the gloomy clouds made the picturesque gardens look almost colorless, there was one color that could not be missed. The pink accents that were visible all throughout the property—on paintings, tarps, railings, and on the color of the flowers. Almost every time I would look in a different direction, the pink color would catch my attention. I figured the significance of the pink color was to represent the flamingos which were kept in the infield of the racetrack. However, I tied it into another significant part of the history of Hialeah Park. 

Diane Crump was the first woman jockey to compete against men in a horse race. As anyone could imagine, this caused a lot of turmoil and many of the male competitors were opting out of the race hoping that she would no longer want to race. This, however, did not stop her from wanting to compete. It must have been incredibly hard for her to stay in the competition since many people would yell things like, “Go back to the kitchen and make dinner!” and “You’re never going to win!” They would also throw items at her which caused her to need a police escort for the race and even while she competed, the men would try to drag her back. She is a great example of a strong female that did not stoop down to the societal expectations of a woman. She fought to be heard, seen, and compete.  

Vizcaya as Text

Photos taken by Ashley Sanchez and Afifa Fiaz // CC by 4.0

“Dona Præsentis Cape Lætus Horæ, et Linque Severa”

by Ashley Sanchez of FIU at Vizcaya, 24 October, 2021

A Roman poet once said “Dona præsentis cape lætus horæ, et linque severa” which translates to “Gladly enjoy the gifts of the present hour, and banish serious thoughts”. I believe this quote perfectly encompasses the ambiance and spirit of the Vizcaya estate on Biscayne Bay. The Vizcaya property is now owned by Miami-Dade County and used as a museum which also showcases its alluring gardens behind the estate. The estate had once belonged to a wealthy man by the name of James Deering. Mr. Deering’s character was anything but ordinary and his taste in architecture very distinct. There were no two rooms alike and his tendency to showcase his wealth was a common trend throughout the main house. 

Mr. Deering only wanted the finest home features and appliances to impress his guests. For example, the main houses’ kitchen, which is located on the second floor, is equipped with one of the earliest “ice boxes” which today would be considered a refrigerator. The kitchen also features a dumbwaiter which functions as a food elevator. He commissioned some of the most prominent artists around the world to create works for his villa including statues and murals located throughout the property. Lastly, he made sure to have one of the first in-home electric telephones that was held in its own private room. 

As previously mentioned, the recurring theme of the property pays tribute to the location of the villa, that is, Miami, Florida. Miami is known for its parties and entertainment and Mr. Deering really incorporated that into the landscape and architecture of the villa. For example, the property features a beautiful pool grotto and a music room. The stunning garden in the back also features a section where there is a maze and a small theatre that was used for entertainment. Lastly, towards the back of the garden, atop the garden mound sits the casino, or “little house”, which was used for parties.

South Beach as Text

Photos taken by Ashley Sanchez // CC by 4.0

“Toaster Ovens and Rocket Ships”

by Ashley Sanchez of FIU at South Beach, 3 November, 2021

Miami’s Art Deco History District is one of Miami’s most visited locations by tourists all over the world. This famed district which runs alongside the beach is home to several restaurants, boutiques, hotels, and night clubs. The streets are lined with iconic buildings that have incredible and unique architectural designs some of which include the Versace Mansion, The Clevelander, and News Café. The buildings located on Miami Beach along Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue and Washington Avenue, will transport you back to the retro era with their bright pastel colors and neon lights-not to mention, if you look hard enough, they look like toaster ovens and rocket ships. Although we walked the streets of this beautiful area in the morning when it was less crowded, you can still feel the sense of high energy and good spirits from the individuals walking or biking past us blasting their feel-good music. No matter the time of day, this district epitomizes Miami’s lifestyle which is one of its most attractive features. 

The history of South Beach is not as lively and welcoming as the ambiance of this district, however. Although it is not commonly talked about or even mentioned, its important to mention how the origins of what we now call South Beach should be attributed to the Bahamians who built it. These African American individuals were treated like they were barely human beings only because of the color of their skin. The way that they were dehumanized and segregated was something that was unfortunately very common at the time. Over the years, South Beach has actually transformed itself into a place where individuality and differences are celebrated. I wish that this was the case back then when those individuals were treated unjustly, but, that goes to show how much we have grown as a society and we have been able to look past our physical differences.

The Deering Estate as Text

Photo by Professor John Bailly // CC by 4.0

“Put on Your Water Shoes”

by Ashley Sanchez of FIU at The Deering Estate, 17 November, 2021

This past week we were transported back in time—back to the 1800’s, 1900’s and as far back as the 1400’s. The Deering Estate is home to one of the richest and extensive history in all of Miami that dates back as far as 10,000 years ago. Not only were we transported to another era, my classmates and I kept mentioning how we felt almost as if we had used a teleport to travel to another part of the world. We were no longer in the Miami we knew for its beaches, palm trees, and night life. It was interesting and ironic, though, because as we walked through the Deering Estate Nature Preserve, you could see houses a few miles away and hear the busy streets nearby. 

The Deering Estate is located in the Village of Palmetto Bay and is on the shores of Biscayne Bay. This place was already familiar to my classmates and I since we visited the Deering Estate when we did the Chicken Key Cleanup. However, we had no idea back then that we would come back and experience the Estate in a totally different way. The Richmond Cottage, which is located in the grounds of the Estate, was the home where S. H. Richmond and his family lived and a few years later, it was transformed to one of the first inns in Miami. Individuals who worked on Flagler’s railroad would stay there. Soon after, Charles Deering purchased the property to use as a winter home. 

It was incredible to be transported back in time to the Prohibition Era and walk into the hidden wine cellar Mr. Deering kept hidden. From the front porch of the Stone House, you can get a clear view of the Boat Basin that has a bitter history. The Boat Basin was built by Afro-Bahamians who lost their lives building it in a tragic accident that occurred in 1916. As they were drilling the rock, dynamite exploded beneath them killing 4 and severely injuring 5. Although this was a disheartening accident, there is no plaque or remembrance of any kind on behalf of the Afro-Bahamian workers who lost their lives. This is the sad truth in many cases throughout Miami where Afro-Bahamians are not given credit or even mentioned at all for the immense work they did to build this city.

Lastly, my favorite part of the day was when Professor Bailly said, “Put on your water shoes”. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it definitely was not to be walking in waist-deep water slough slogging. We got to walk through the mangroves while trying not to trip over the branches or twist an ankle with the many holes. It was exciting to experience this and we even got to see a plane (called the Cocaine Cowboys Plane) that crashed into the mangroves in the 1990’s. 

Again, I was taken back when I realized that I have been living in Miami all my life and I had never known that I was just minutes away from one of the coolest archeological preserves Miami has to offer. I have come to the conclusion that this is a recurring theme with this class and I’m eager to see what else Miami has to offer and surprise me with. 

The Rubell Museum as Text

Photos taken by Ashley Sanchez // CC by 4.0

“Contemporary Art: pushing the boundaries of traditional art forms and redefining what art is”

The Rubell Museum is an art museum located in Miami, Florida in the Allapattah neighborhood. The museum is home to a wide range of contemporary art pieces from artists all around the world. The museum was started by Don and Mera Rubell and their son, Jason Rubell, recently joined the team. The public museum opened its doors fairly recently on December 4th, 2019. The museum features 53,000-square-feet of galleries, with 65% dedicated to long-term installations and 35% to special exhibitions (About Rubell Museum).

Thanks to The Rubell Museum staff, my classmates and I had the special privilege of visiting three of Yayoi Kusama’s interactive installations. All three installations provide the viewer with a transformative experience and allow them to view art from a totally different perspective. The first installation that is accessible to the museum’s guests at no extra charge is the Narcissus Garden. This installation is composed of 700 stainless steel spheres that create a route for museum guests to travel through the main entrance of the museum. The second installation we visited is called Infinity Mirrored Room—Let’s Survive Forever. Only one guest at a time is allowed to experience the room that is filled with more stainless steel spheres and mirrored walls. I felt like I was in a house of mirrors, the traditional attraction at carnivals, yet, this time I wasn’t looking for the way out. On the contrary, I wanted to stay in the interactive art room for as long as possible, enjoying the moment. Lastly, we visited Kusama’s last installation in the museum named Where the Lights in My Heart Go. This room also only allowed one guest at a time and was completely dark except for little lights that resembled a starry night sky. The mirrored walls in this installation also created an illusion that there were an infinity amount of mirrors all throughout the room (Yayoi Kusama).

One artist I found particularly interesting was Jeff Koons. Over the years, Koons has been able to be recognized as a successful artist in the contemporary art world. His work has brought about criticism and controversy because of their uniqueness and obscurity. My personal favorite of his works is the piece called New Hoover Convertible. Koons transformed an ordinary household appliance into a work of art exhibited in a world-renowned museum. The New Hoover Convertible consists of an out-dated vacuum cleaner in an illuminated plexiglass. That’s it. Yet, it makes the viewer recognize that: 1) anything can be considered “art” and, 2) sometime in the future, people will see that vacuum cleaner and think it’s an interesting artwork of the past—just like we thought that of the Tequesta tools.

What qualifies as “art”? Is there a standard to what is beautiful? Who establishes what can and cannot be considered “art”? How can Leonardo de Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night be compared to the artworks that are considered “masterpieces” today in the contemporary art world? All these questions rushed through my mind as I walked through the many different exhibits The Rubell Museum has to offer. The museum made me realize, like Professor Bailly said, that if anyone ever criticizes contemporary art for not qualifying as “art” because “Anyone could have done that”, the response they should receive is that “But, they didn’t”.

Works Cited

About Rubell Museum. Rubell Museum. (n.d.). Retrieved November 28, 2021, from https://rubellmuseum.org/about-us/about-rubell-museum.

Yayoi Kusama. Rubell Museum. (n.d.). Retrieved November 28, 2021, from https://rubellmuseum.org/exhibitions/2021-22/2021-yayoi-kusama.

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