Jared Johnson: Miami Service 2022

Student Bio

Photo of Jared Johnson. Taken by Shae J./ CC by 4.0

My name is Jared Johnson and I am a 21-year old senior at Florida International University. I grew up and spent most of my life in Georgia but moved to South Florida in 2019. I am majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Business Administration. After graduation, I want to work in cybersecurity while continuing to expand my online businesses.


I volunteered at the Deering Estate to perform a Chicken Key cleanup. However, due to the winds, I was unable to perform the cleanup because we were not able to canoe out to the island. Instead, I did a mangrove land cleanup. Deering Estate is a nature preserve located in southeast Miami-Dade county. It was originally built by Charles Deering in the 1920s, and was bought by the state of Florida in 1986. It is now a historic site listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While the house still contains some of the artifacts that Deering placed inside, a large amount was donated to the Art Institute of Chicago. The Deering Estate now offers tours of the house and property as well as hosting different events throughout the year. The mangrove forest is right on the edge of the water and is basically a forest in water. This is one of the natural conservation areas managed by the Deering Estate.

Deering Estate bay. Photo taken by Jared Johnson./ CC by 4.0


This volunteering opportunity was part of the Miami in Miami course at FIU. This also was the last class of the year, so it was important to do something significant.  This cleanup excursion was organized and set up by the professor of Miami in Miami, John Bailly. Even though the mangroves seemed to have less trash than when I volunteered to clean up Chicken Key, there was still a noticeable amount present. In order to preserve the mangrove forest and the wildlife that is there, the Miami in Miami students spent a day collecting as much trash as possible. Picking up trash does not necessarily relate to my major, which is Computer Science. However, that does not mean that opportunities like this are not beneficial. After spending so much time in front of a computer, it is very refreshing to connect with nature and gain a different perspective. While picking up trash is not necessarily a specific interest of mine, I do enjoy doing whatever I can in my power to take care of the environment.

Destroyed trail in mangrove forest. Photo taken by Jared Johnson./ CC by 4.0


Honestly, this opportunity was not what I was expecting at all. I was prepared to perform a cleanup on Chicken Key, similar to what was done last semester. However, due to winds, the Deering Estate would not allow us to go out on the water, so it was decided that we would perform a cleanup of the mangrove forest instead. The mangrove forest had a boardwalk going through it, however, it was destroyed in a hurricane. Trash was littered throughout the area surrounding the destroyed boardwalk. Walking far through the mangroves, soon you would not hear any human sounds, only the sound of the wind blowing through the trees along with the quiet sounds of nature. Looking around, you could see the pieces of trash everywhere. It was noticeably out of place in an area that is supposed to be a nature conservation.

Spider found while cleaning up. Photo taken by Jared Johnson./ CC by 4.0

Where & What

On April 20, 2022 both sections of the Miami in Miami class were supposed to canoe out to Chicken Key to pick up trash that had been building up on the island. Professor Bailly organized this through Deering Estate, which owns the island. However, on the day of the cleanup, the winds were too high and the Deering Estate did not let the class go out on the water. So instead, the class performed a mangrove forest cleanup. The mangrove forests are forests that are growing in the water, resembling a barrier or transition between seawater and dry land. Because of this, walking through them can be somewhat challenging since you’re walking through mud at times. The class was given two bags each for the purpose of collecting the trash items found in the forest. For the next couple hours, the classes walked through the forest and tried to collect as much trash as possible. Since the boardwalk was destroyed, I had to be careful when walking around it due to the old nails scattered around the wood. While I was looking for trash, I focused more on small pieces of plastic since this is what is most dangerous for the environment. Because of this, I never completely filled up my bag. Afterwards, I ate lunch by the water and then helped move the bags of trash to the dumpster and emptied them out. 



Pile of trash bags. Photo taken by Jared Johnson./ CC by 4.0

Overall, I feel that this cleanup opportunity was a success, in spite of not having been able to do the Chicken Key cleanup. As soon as I found out that we were not going to be able to go out on the water and do the Chicken Key cleanup, I was very disappointed and did not think that we would end up doing anything worthwhile. This ended up not being the case. Even though there seemed to be less trash in the mangrove forest than Chicken Key, for whatever reason, there was still an abundance of noticeable trash to pick up. There were some challenges also, such as having to navigate through the maze of spider webs. It seemed like everywhere I turned there would be another spider web that I had to dodge or go around. The farther in the forest I went, the larger the spiders became. 

The last time I did a cleanup at the Deering Estate, I had forgotten to bring sunscreen and got a really bad sunburn. After that, I said that I would never make that mistake again. However, upon arriving at the Deering Estate for this cleanup, I realized that once again, I had forgotten to bring sunscreen. 

Once again, performing a cleanup at the Deering Estate was a very rewarding experience and allowed me to connect to nature in a way that I normally would not do. Furthermore, being the last class meeting of Miami in Miami, it must be said that the class as a whole has been an unique, eye opening experience for me. From slogging through the everglades to attending Art Basel on South Beach, these have been experiences that I will never forget.

Jared Johnson: Kendall 2022

Picture of Jared Johnson. Photo taken by Shae J./ CC by 4.0

Student Bio

My name is Jared Johnson and I am a 21-year old senior at Florida International University. I grew up and spent most of my life in Georgia but moved to South Florida in 2019. I am majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Business Administration. After graduation, I want to work in cybersecurity while continuing to expand my online businesses.


Kendall City Limits. Photo taken from Google Maps./ CC by 4.0

Kendall is an unincorporated census-designated area in Miami-Dade County. It is a large suburb of the greater Miami Metro Area and it is bordered by US-1 on the East, the Turnpike on the west, Snapper Creek Canal on the North, and the Cutler Drain Canal on the South. Kendall contains a lot of residential communities, however, it is noticeably more urban than other surrounding areas, such as Pinecrest. In spite of being more urbanized, there are still plenty of foliage and parks which gives Kendall more of a natural atmosphere.

Kendall Natural Landscape. Photo taken by Jared Johnson./ CC by 4.0


The land that is currently considered to be Kendall was purchased from the State of Florida by the Florida Land and Mortgage Company in 1883. It was named after the director of Florida Land and Mortgage Company, who was Henry John Broughton Kendall. Development of Kendall was really slow in the early 1900s. There was a growth boom in the early 1920s and subsequently in the 1960s and 70s. Since Kendall is not incorporated, it does have specific boundaries in which it is assigned as a CDP. However, whenever someone referred to “Kendall” it would generally refer to the various neighborhoods and communities encompassing it. In the 1950’s, “Kendall” referred to the areas in and around present-day Pinecrest. Since then, areas referred to as “Kendall” have consistently shifted West until you get to the current boundaries used today. (“Kendall, Florida”)


Kendall has a population of 80,241 residents, as of 2020. There are 18.2% of residents that are under 18 years, 63.1% that are between 18 and 64 years old, and 18.7% that are 65 and older. Kendall is made up of 53% of the population being female and 47% being male. It is a mostly white community with 87.5% of the population being white, with 22.6% being non-Hispanic white. 

The median household income level is $73,612. Comparatively, the median household income of Miami-Dade county is $51,347 and the state of Florida’s is $55,660. This shows that Kendall is a middle class community making slightly more than the state and county median income levels. However, it is not as high as some areas surrounding Kendall, such as Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay. (“U.S. Census”)


The Falls Shopping Center

The Falls Shopping Center is a 55-acre shopping center located on the southeast side of Kendall. This shopping center has more than 100 restaurants, stores, and cafes. The Falls has many tropical plants and foliage, along with numerous waterfalls placed throughout the complex. This, along with their diverse range of stores, makes The Falls a commonly visited tourist destination. The Falls Shopping Center can be easily accessed by car and has plenty of accessible parking. However, it also is easily accessible by public transportation, having a bus stop right on the property. (“About The Falls”)

The address is: 8888 SW 136 St., Miami, FL 33176 

Rockdale Pineland Preserve

The Rockdale Pineland Preserve is a 39-acre Pine Rockland ecosystem located between US-1, SW 92nd Ave, and SW 144th St. Pine Rocklands are considered to be globally imperiled ecosystems that only occur in Miami-Dade County, The Keys, and some parts of the Bahamas. More than 20% of the plant species in the Pine Rocklands cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Miami-Dade used to be covered by over 180,000 acres of Pine Rocklands, and as of 1996, only 2% of the Pine Rocklands remained. This was first discovered by Miami-Dade County in 1985 and was soon thereafter placed on the list of conservation lands available for purchase. The Deltoid Spurge, an endangered plant species, was discovered on the preserve and solidified its status as a preserved land. Due to this, the land cannot be used for development. (“Rockdale Pineland”)

The address is: SW 152nd St, Miami, FL 33176

MDC Kendall Campus

Miami-Dade College Kendall Campus is located on a 185 acre chunk of land and has been open and enrolling students since 1967. MDC Kendall Campus offers Bachelor’s degree, Associates degree, college credit and vocational certificate programs, and Continuing Education and professional development opportunities. In addition to academic opportunities, MDC has galleries for artists in Building M for them to display their works. Fred Shaw Plaza offers a cultural experience, including comedy shows, live music, and poetry readings. MDC Kendall also offers a state of the art Fitness and Wellness Center, equipped with an olympic sized pool, strength and cardio equipment, and athletic fields outside. (“MDC Kendall Campus”)

The address is: 11011 SW 104th St, Miami, FL 33176


Kendall Indian Hammocks Park
Kendall Indian Hammocks Park. Photo taken by Matt Horter./ CC by 4.0

Kendall Indian Hammocks Park is a park and recreational complex with a 32-acre nature preserve, two Disc Golf courses, one nature playground featuring a variety of playset for children, exercise fitness zone with free equipment for all, and a skate park featuring multiple ramps and platforms for people to use. The park also has other services that are not free to the public but can be accessed with a charge. This would include three softball fields, five covered picnic areas that can fit up to 100 people. This includes nine tables, water and electricity access, and BBQ grills. They also have a picnic canopy that is covered in Oak trees, comprised of 11 tables that can fit 100 people. Kendall Indian Hammocks Park also has an Action Sports Plaza, which is a 14,000 square foot outdoor concrete plaza and can be used for skating. (“Kendall Indian Hammocks Park”)

The address is: 11395 SW 79 Street, Miami, FL

Snapper Creek Park

Snapper Creek Park is located on the North end of Kendall near the Snapper Creek canal, in a quiet neighborhood off of 88th St. Snapper Creek Park is one of the smaller ones in the area, but it contains a small playground for children and a walking trail that covers the perimeter of the park. Multiple benches are located around the park with trees covering the bench for shade on a warm, sunny day. (“Snapper Creek Park”)

The address is: 10280 SW 80th St, Miami, FL 33173

Rock Ridge Park

Rock Ridge Park is located on the West end of Kendall near the Turnpike, right off of SW 117th Ave. This is a small to medium sized park compared to nearby sites, but contains plenty of amenities suitable for making it worthwhile for those nearby to stop by. Rock Ridge Park contains a walking path that goes along the perimeter and through the center of the park, with foliage and palm trees lined along the walking path. The park also has a large playground in the center with benches located not too far away so parents can keep an eye on their children playing. Rock Ridge also has easily accessible parking spaces, so parking should not be an issue. (“Rock Ridge Park”)

The address is: 10810 SW 117 Avenue, Miami, FL



Taking a car is usually the most common form of transportation found in Kendall. Almost every place in Kendall is accessible by car and it is the easiest form of transportation. Unlike more dense areas, such as downtown, there is usually always parking accommodations at whichever destination in Kendall. The roads are easy to navigate and follow a numerical grid pattern. However, as with most places in Miami, there will be heavy traffic and congestion during rush hours. This causes significant delays and makes alternate forms of transportation more desirable. 


Like most places in Miami, Kendall has lots of bus stops throughout the town. If someone does not wish to take a car, taking a bus is usually the secondary preferred mode of transportation. Kendall has dedicated bus roads that travel along US 1 and go to various areas throughout the city. The city buses are easy to access, cheap, and available to everyone. 


Kendall also has points of access to get on the metrorail. On the north end of Kendall, there is the Dadeland South metrorail station. This is the southernmost station on the metrorail and connects Kendall to Downtown Miami, and the airport. 


Biking is a less common form of transportation in Kendall, but still possible if done carefully. Not everywhere is easily accessible by biking since there are not always dedicated cycling lanes like you would find in other parts of Miami.


Siam Dragon Asian Bistro

Siam Dragon Asian Bistro is located in the Greenery Mall right off of 88th St. and next to Palmetto Expressway. Siam Dragon has a wide assortment of Chinese, Japanese, and Thai dishes. However, they are most well known for their Chinese dishes. On the inside, it’s a fairly small establishment with authentic looking decor along the walls. The hours Monday-Thursday are from 11AM until 10:30PM, Friday is from 10:30AM until 10:30PM, Saturday is from 12PM until 10:30PM, and Sunday is from 3:30PM until 10PM. (“Siam Dragon Miami”)

The address is: 7748 N Kendall Dr, Miami, FL 33156

Tacos and Tattoos

Tacos and Tattoos is a family owned restaurant business located on the West end of Kendall near the Turnpike off of Killian Parkway. Tacos and Tattoos is an establishment which boasts ‘food and culture’ as their atmosphere. They feature a multitude of art works by local artists all along the walls and throughout the restaurant. As stated in the name, they specialize in tacos, but have many other items on the menu as well such as quesadillas, steak dishes, burritos, fajitas, and more. The hours Monday-Thursday are from 12PM until 11PM, Friday and Saturday are 12PM until 12AM, and Sunday is 11AM until 10PM. (“Tacos and Tattoos”)

The address is: 11790 SW 104th St, Miami, FL 33186

Naruto 88 Bistro

Naruto 88 Bistro is located on the North end of Kendall off of SW 88th St, and is known for their Japanese cuisine and unique atmosphere. Some of the items offered at Naruto 88 Bistro are Salmon Roll, Nigiri, Hamachi Roll, Stir-fried Pork Udon, Katsu Pork Poke Bowl, and a variety of ramen dishes. In order to make it a more immersive experience, the interior of the restaurant is full of Naruto and other anime decor. The staff is also dressed in attire notable from the anime Naruto. The hours Monday-Friday are 12PM until 10PM, Saturday and Sunday are 11:30AM until 10PM. (“Naruto 88 Bistro”)

The address is: 10471 N Kendall Dr, Miami, FL 33176

Unique Businesses

Arcade Odyssey

Arcade Odyssey is located in southwest Kendall, off of SW 117th Ave. It opened in 2011 and is the only arcade of its kind in all of Miami-Dade county. Arcade Odyssey offers a wide assortment of different arcade games and activities. Some of these include rare imported classic and retro arcade games, new fighters and shoot em’ ups, and a multitude of pinball machines. Along with being an arcade, Arcade Odyssey is also a LAN center and Esports arena, possessing a large variety of consoles. They are the only arcade in the world that offers streaming directly from the arcade machines. In addition, they carry a large selection of imported snacks and drinks. The hours are Monday-Thursday from 2PM until 12AM, Friday from 2PM until 2AM, Saturday from 12PM until 2AM, and Sunday from 12PM until 10PM. (“Arcade Odyssey”)

The address is: 12045 SW 117 Avenue, Miami, FL 33186 

Kingslayer Cards

Kingslayer Cards is a very small establishment located in a warehouse district off of SW 87th Ave, that specializes in selling rare trading cards. They mainly operate via their online store, which has processed over 10,000+ orders; however, their physical location is open for walk-ins to view their collection. Occasionally, various tournaments are hosted at their physical store, with the schedule posted on their webpage. The hours Monday-Friday are from 4PM until 10PM, Saturday from 2PM until 10PM, and Sunday from 2PM until 8PM. (“Kingslayer Cards”)

The address is: 8705 SW 129th Terrace, Miami, FL, 33176

Asian Mart

Asian Mart is a small Asian grocery store located on the west end of Kendall, off of SW 88th St. They offer a wide variety of authentic foods, ingredients, spices, and other items. The prices offered are reasonable for the quality and the shelves are always stocked with whatever someone might be looking for. The hours Monday-Friday are from 10AM until 8PM, Saturday from 10AM until 9PM, and Sunday from 10:30AM until 8PM. (“Asian Mart Kendall”)

The address is: 11614 N Kendall Dr, Miami, FL 33176


Kendall is an unincorporated census designated area in the Miami metro that contains a lot of residential areas. When people think of Kendall, the residential areas are usually what comes to mind. It does, however, have more urban areas than surrounding areas. Due to higher urban density, Kendall has many busy roads and highways that make it more difficult to use alternate modes of transportation, such as walking or biking. It also experiences significant heavy traffic during rush hours of the day, which can make traveling by car even less desirable. However, Kendall has lots of unique places to eat and businesses to visit, which makes the poor transportation easy to overlook.


“About Tacos and Tattoos: Food and Culture.” Tacos and Tattoos, https://tacosandtattoos.com/about-us/.

“About The Falls.” Discover A Simon Mall®, The Mills® Or Premium Outlets® Shopping Center, https://www.simon.com/mall/the-falls/about.

“Asian Market.” Asian Mart Kendall, https://asianmartkendall.negocio.site/.

“Dade County – Environment – Rockdale Pineland.” Miami-Dade County, https://www.miamidade.gov/environment/endangered-pine.asp.

“Kendall Campus.” Miami Dade College, https://www.mdc.edu/kendall/campus-information/default.aspx.

“Kendall Indian Hammocks Park.” Miami-Dade Gov, https://www.miamidade.gov/parks/kendall-indian-hammocks.asp.

“Kendall, Florida.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Feb. 2022, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kendall,_Florida#History.

“King Slayer Cards.” King Slayer Cards, https://kingslayercards.com/.

“Naruto 88 Bistro.” About Us, https://www.naruto88bistro.com/.

“Rock Ridge Park.” Miami-Dade Gov, https://www.miamidade.gov/parks/rockridge.asp.

“Siam Dragon.” Siam Dragon Menu – Miami, FL Restaurant – Order Online, https://menupages.com/siam-dragon/7748-n-kendall-dr-miami.

“Snapper Creek Park.” Miami-Dade Gov, https://www.miamidade.gov/parks/snapper-creek.asp.

U.S. Census Bureau Quickfacts: Kendall CDP, Florida. United States Census Bureau, 1 Apr. 2020, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/kendallcdpflorida.

“Welcome to Arcade Odyssey.” Best Arcade Bar in Miami South Florida| Arcade Odyssey, http://www.arcadeodyssey.com/.

Jared Johnson: Pinecrest 2021

Picture of Jared Johnson. Photo taken by Shae J./ CC by 4.0

Student Bio

My name is Jared Johnson and I am a 21-year old senior at Florida International University. I grew up and spent most of my life in Georgia but moved to South Florida in 2019. I am majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Business Administration. After graduation, I want to work in cybersecurity while continuing to expand my online businesses.


Pinecrest city limits. Photo taken from Google Maps/ CC by 4.0

The Village of Pinecrest is a suburban-style neighborhood located southwest of Miami. It is bordered by Kendall to the west, Palmetto Bay to the south, Coral Gables to the east, and South Miami to the north. Pinecrest is mainly residential consisting of standalone houses with some urban shopping areas closer to US-1. One of the defining features of the village is the high concentration of really old trees and foliage present throughout the entire town. Often, it is easy to forget you are actually in Miami when traveling around Pinecrest. Being a mostly residential community, there are a number of parks and greenspaces throughout Pinecrest.

Pinecrest natural landscape. Photo taken by Jared Johnson at Veterans Wayside Park/ CC by 4.0


The Village of Pinecrest started in the early 1900s as an area outside of Miami that Henry Flagler used as a staging area, when he was constructing a railroad down to the Florida Keys. During the 1930s, the area started to grow due to the Parrot Jungle. The Parrot Jungle and Gardens was a tourist attraction and brought in visitors from around the world. In the 1950s and 60s, there was a lot of development of single family ranch homes. By the 1990s, the area experienced rapid growth and, because of this, Evelyn Langlieb Greer and Gary Matzner started a movement to incorporate the area. The Village of Pinecrest was not officially incorporated until March 12, 1996. Greer was elected the first mayor of Pinecrest. In 2004, Matzner was the next mayor to be elected following Greer. (“History”)


The Village of Pinecrest has a population of 19,155. There are 25.8% of residents that are under 18 years, 58.6% that are between 18 and 64 years old, and 15.6% that are 65 and older. Pinecrest is made up of 48.9% of the population being female and 51.1% being male. It is a mostly white community with 87.7% of the population being white, with 43.1% being non-Hispanic white. 

The median household income level is $156,875. Comparatively, the median household income of Miami-Dade county is $51,347 and the state of Florida’s is $55,660. This shows that Pinecrest is an upper middle class community making three times the average income than both the state and county. (“U.S. Census”)

Interview with Matt Killian

Photo of Matt Killian. Photo taken by Ryan Gilbert/ CC by 4.0

Jared: Hey Matt, thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions. First off, please introduce yourself.

Matt: No problem, my name is Matthew Killian and I am a 21 year old college student studying Biology.

Jared: Okay Matt, so the first question is how long have you lived in Pinecrest?

Matt: I have lived in Pinecrest for 6 years.

Jared: What are your general thoughts on the neighborhood?

Matt: Overall, I would say that it’s a pretty nice place to live. It’s fairly quiet and safe which is important when picking a good place to live. It is basically a suburb though, so you are going to have to drive to go anywhere or to do any activities.

Jared: What is something that you like about Pinecrest?

Matt: I really like the quiet and natural atmosphere that’s found throughout Pinecrest. I also like the size of the property lots, as most places I’ve seen around Miami have small yards.

Jared: What is something that you dislike about Pinecrest?

Matt: It can be pretty far from certain events and takes a while to drive, especially if you are leaving during rush hour. That is probably my biggest complaint about the area.

Jared: Would you recommend Pinecrest to anyone looking to move to the Miami area?

Matt: Well, honestly it would depend on what they are looking for in a place to live. Whether they want to directly live in a city or not. But, just in general, I would recommend it.

Jared: Okay, thank you again for your time.


Pinecrest Gardens

Pinecrest Gardens is a reasonably priced walk-through park on the corner of Southwest 111th Street and Southwest 57th Ave. This was the original site of the Parrot Jungle, which was what brought people to Pinecrest in the early 1900s. Inside the garden, you are free to walk around and admire the plethora of different flora and fauna, bring children to play in the playground and splash-n-play, or watch the different animals that are there. The prices for entry are listed on the Pinecrest Gardens website.  (“Pinecrest Gardens”)

The address is: 11000 SW 57th Ave, Pinecrest, FL 33156

Veterans Wayside Park

Veterans Wayside Park is a small greenspace right off of US Highway 1 and between Southwest 79th Ave. Though not too big, this peaceful park has a lake in the center with an active water fountain. There are plenty of large trees surrounding it, providing shade on a sunny day, which makes it an ideal spot to come relax on a warm summer day. There are multiple benches placed throughout the park where you can sit and relax while watching the various wildlife that roam this park. (“Veterans Wayside Park”)

The address is: 11111 SW 79th Ave, Pinecrest, FL 33156

St. Louis Catholic Community
St. Louis Catholic Church entrance sign. Photo taken by Jared Johnson/ CC by 4.0

St. Louis Catholic church is an important religious landmark located relatively in the center of Pinecrest. This church was founded in 1963 by Bishop Coleman F. Carroll. St Louis consists of a main worship building surrounded by smaller administrative buildings. It also has an attached Covenant school. St. Louis states that they are open and welcome to all. (“St. Louis Church”)

The address is: 7270 SW 120th Street, Pinecrest, FL 33156


Coral Pine Park

Coral Pine park is located on the north end of Pinecrest off of Southwest 104th Street. This is a nine acre park with six tennis courts, a recreation center, and a spacious green area. There are fields for outdoor games and outside tables behind the recreation center for relaxing in the outdoor air. There are also plenty of large trees overlooking the fields that will provide shade on a sunny day. (“Coral Pine Park”)

This park is located at: 6955 SW 104th St, Pinecrest, FL 33156.

Suniland Park

Suniland Park is located towards the south end of Pinecrest off of US Highway 1 and Southwest 128th St. This park is 10 acres in size and its main attraction is the baseball and football fields, along with the recreation center with basketball courts. There is also a dog park located on site along with a small playground for kids. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have set up a vaccination site at the park as well. (“Suniland Park”)

The address is: 12855 Pinecrest Pkwy, Pinecrest, FL 33156.

Evelyn Greer Park
Entrance to Evelyn Greer Park. Photo taken by Jared Johnson/ CC by 4.0

Evelyn Greer Park is located off of US Highway 1, one block north of Suniland Park. This is a 10 acre park that has baseball and football fields on the outside, with basketball courts inside the recreation center. This park has a small playground for children and is also home to Leslie Bowe Hall. (“Evelyn Greer Park”)

The address is: 8200 SW 124th St, Pinecrest, FL 33156.



The majority of residents use cars to travel around Pinecrest. On the west border, Pinecrest has US 1 which is a highway giving access to the majority of commercial areas located in Pinecrest. Like most of Miami, the Pinecrest roads follow an easy to navigate grid pattern with access to all residential areas. Traveling by car is usually the preferred method of transportation around Pinecrest, but due to heavy traffic during certain hours of the day, other transportation options need to be considered.


Cars are not the only means of transportation in Pinecrest. If you do not own a car or simply wish to not drive through heavy traffic, Pinecrest offers public transportation called Pinecrest People Mover. The People Mover has northern and southern routes, as well as different schedules for middle and high schools, traveling all throughout Pinecrest. It also has connections to the Metrobus if one wishes to travel beyond Pinecrest.


If you do not want to be beholden to the heavy traffic that the Miami area is known for, Pinecrest also has plenty of bike lanes and bike accessible routes. It is not an uncommon sight to see people riding a bike past cars and buses stuck in traffic. Most places in Pinecrest are within a reasonable distance to be reached by bike in a timely manner. There are also some recreational bike trails throughout Pinecrest.


Apizza Brooklyn

Apizza Brooklyn is located on the north end of Pinecrest off of US Highway 1. It can be hard to find due to being located in a large commercial plaza. Once inside, the rustic and old fashioned interior catches the eye. This creates the atmosphere of an upscale, family owned restaurant. Apizza Brooklyn serves mainly Brooklyn-style pizzas, but also has a wide assortment of other Italian foods and pasta dishes. (“Apizza Brooklyn”)

The address is: 9515 S Dixie Hwy, Pinecrest, FL 33156.

La Boulangerie

La Boulangerie is located on the southern end of Pinecrest, in the commercial plaza across the street from Evelyn Greer Park. La Boulangerie is a French artisanal bakery with latin influence. It originated in the Miami area and has been in business for over 20 years. They are known for their croissants and other baked desserts, but they offer various entrees as well. Their combination of light, earthly colors and a vintage-industrial style, creates the perfect atmosphere to enjoy a quiet breakfast or lunch. (“La Boulangerie”)

The address is: 8283 SW 124th St, Pinecrest, FL 33156.

Malanga Cuban Cafe

Malanga Cuban Cafe is also located on the southern end of Pinecrest, near La Boulangerie and directly next to US Highway 1. This is a small family owned establishment that has a wide selection of Cuban food. They are best known for their Pan con Lechon, however, they offer many different pork dishes.  Different Cuban expressions are painted along the walls of the cafe. If the limited indoor seating is full, they offer outdoor dining with a view of Evelyn Greer Park across the street. (“Malanga Cuban Cafe”)

The address is: 12313 S Dixie Hwy, Miami, FL 33156


Pinecrest Wayside Market

The Pinecrest Wayside Market is a local produce and small grocery store. They are known for their uniquely delicious strawberry shakes. Inside this store, you will find much more than just produce. Different spices, smoothies, drinks, and healthy snacks line the shelves. They also carry desserts, such as pies, that you can order on the spot and enjoy at one of their outdoor tables. This is located on the east side of Pinecrest right off of SW 57th Ave.

The address is: 10070 SW 57th Ave, Pinecrest, FL 33156.

Hirni’s Wayside Garden Florist

Hirni’s Wayside Garden Florist is located on SW 57th Ave, near the Pinecrest Wayside Market. This small, family owned shop has been in business for over fifty years. They sell all sorts of different flowers including, but not limited to, Spring, Tropical, and Exotic. They also sell for special occasions, such as birthdays. Along with flowers and bouquets, they also sell goodie items for gift and fruit baskets. (“Hirni’s Wayside Garden Florist”)

The address for this is: 9950 SW 57th Ave, Pinecrest, FL 33156

Daily Bread

Daily Bread is a Middle East and Greek market as well as a restaurant. This is a family-owned business with a unique concept that has been open since 1978. As you walk in, you will see a counter like you would find in a fast food store on the right. On the left, there are rows of small shelves similar to what you would find in a grocery store. The shelves are filled with a plethora of different greek and middle eastern spices and ingredients. On the other half of the store you will find huge menu screens consisting of delicious Greek and middle eastern cuisines. (“Daily Bread”)

The address is: 12131 S Dixie Hwy, Pinecrest, FL 33156.


The Village of Pinecrest is a suburban, mostly residential, community with some commercial centers along US highway 1. Overall, the community is quite safe and the crime rate is lower than the national average. However, due to the high cost of living, many people will be unable to afford to live in the area; as shown with the high median household income. Throughout all of Pinecrest, there are lots of trees and foliage giving the community a more rural and natural feel. However, the rush hour gridlock that Pinecrest experiences can take away from the natural and green atmosphere the community strives for. Because of this, the Village of Pinecrest needs to focus on ways to reduce the volume of cars, such as investing in more public transit and bike lanes. Although, the rush hour traffic is not nearly as bad in Pinecrest than other parts of Miami. Since Pinecrest is a suburban entity, Pinecrest has a litany of delicious and unique places to eat throughout the community, along with plenty of parks to enjoy the outdoor air.


“About Us.” Hirni’s Wayside Garden Florist, https://hirnisflorist.net/about-us/.

“Adom :: St. Louis Church :: Main.” ADOM :: St. Louis Church :: Main, https://www.miamiarch.org/CatholicDiocese.php?op=Church_531417225062_main.

“APIZZA BROOKLYN.” APIZZA BROOKLYN Resto + Vino, https://apizzabrooklyn.com/.

“Coral Pine Park.” Village of Pinecrest, https://www.pinecrest-fl.gov/government/parks-recreation/parks-and-facilities/coral-pine.

“Evelyn Greer Park.” Village of Pinecrest, https://www.pinecrest-fl.gov/government/parks-recreation/parks-and-facilities/evelyn-greer.

“History.” History | Village of Pinecrest, https://www.pinecrest-fl.gov/our-village/history.

“La Boulangerie.” La Boulangerie Boul’Mich – About Us, https://laboulangerieusa.com/aboutus.php.

“Malanga Cafe: Pinecrest – Miami, Florida: Gourmet Cuban Cuisine.” Malangacubancafe, https://www.malangacafe.com/.

“Middle East Kitchen + Market.” Daily Bread, 2 Dec. 2020, https://dailybreadmiami.com/.

“Pinecrest Gardens.” Visit Us | Pinecrest Gardens, https://www.pinecrestgardens.org/venue/contact-us.

“Pinecrest People Mover.” Village of Pinecrest, https://www.pinecrest-fl.gov/our-village/public-transportation/pinecrest-people-mover.

“Suniland Park.” Village of Pinecrest, https://www.pinecrest-fl.gov/government/parks-recreation/parks-and-facilities/suniland.

“U.S. Census Bureau Quickfacts: Pinecrest Village, Florida.” United States Census Bureau, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/pinecrestvillageflorida.

“Veterans Wayside Park.” Village of Pinecrest, https://www.pinecrest-fl.gov/government/parks-recreation/parks-and-facilities/veterans-wayside.

Jared Johnson: Miami Service 2021

Student Bio

Photo taken by Shae J/ CC by 4.0

My name is Jared Johnson and I am a 21-year old senior at Florida International University. I grew up and spent most of my life in Georgia but moved to South Florida in 2019. I am majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Business Administration. After graduation, I want to work in cybersecurity while continuing to expand my online businesses.


I volunteered at the Deering Estate to perform a Chicken Key cleanup. Deering Estate is a nature preserve located in southeast Miami-Dade county. It was originally built by Charles Deering in the 1920s, and was bought by the state of Florida in 1986. It is now a historic site listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While the house still contains some of the artifacts that Deering placed inside, a large amount was donated to the Art Institute of Chicago. The Deering Estate now offers tours of the house and property as well as hosting different events throughout the year. 

Chicken Key is owned by the Deering Estate and is one of the many nature preserves located on the property. This is an uninhabited island located about 1 mile off of the shore in Biscayne Bay. It is home to plenty of wildlife and is untouched by development.

Canoes before the cleanup. Photo taken by John Bailly/ CC by 4.0


This volunteering opportunity was part of the Miami in Miami course at FIU. This cleanup excursion was organized and set up by the professor of Miami in Miami, John Bailly. Even though Chicken Key is an uninhabited island, it is still prone to a buildup of trash. In order to preserve the island and the wildlife that is there, the Miami in Miami students spent a day collecting as much trash as possible. Being a computer science major, this does not in any way relate to it. However, that does not mean that opportunities like this are not beneficial. After spending so much time in front of a computer, it is very refreshing to connect with nature and gain a different perspective. While picking up trash is not necessarily a specific interest of mine, I do enjoy doing whatever I can in my power to take care of the environment.


This was a very unique opportunity and one that was very fulfilling. I had never been on an uninhabited island before, much less helped to restore the natural ecosystem. From the moment I stepped into the canoe, I was in awe of nature and how peaceful it felt. From the sound of the wind in my ear and the paddles hitting the water, to the mangrove forest we canoed through. Then I got to Chicken Key and saw an island untouched and undeveloped by humans. Well, that is what it was supposed to be had it not been for the endless trash littering wherever I looked. It was very disturbing to see that even places that are supposed to be remote and desolate have not escaped the disaster caused by humans.

Canoeing to Chicken Key. Photo taken by John Bailly/ CC by 4.0

Where & What

On October 6, 2021 both sections of the Miami in Miami class canoed out to Chicken Key to pick up trash that had been building up on the island. Professor Bailly organized this through Deering Estate, which owns the island. We all met at the dock at 10am to gather our equipment and get in our canoes. After all our canoes were in the water and we started heading to the island, Professor Bailly had us take a detour through part of the mangrove forest. After an hour of canoeing, we all made it to Chicken Key and tied our canoes to the island. From the moment I stepped foot off the canoe, the amount of trash that had built up was astonishing. For the next 2 hours, the entire class picked up as much trash as possible and filled up multiple black trash bags. Most of the trash I collected consisted of bottle caps and plastic bottles; however, there were some obscure items found. We found what seemed to be a relatively new ramp to a dock that was floating while stuck on some roots. After we cleared out the roots we attempted to pick it up and take it back to the trash pile but it was too bulky. Someone had also found a random, green flag abandoned on the island that seemed to be hand-made. After we were done picking up trash, we loaded the trash bags onto our canoes and made our way back to the Deering Estate. 


Approved volunteer hours


Disposing of trash after cleanup. Photo taken by Jared Johnson/ CC by 4.0

Overall, the volunteering opportunity was very successful. However, some things did not go as smoothly as planned. Before we even started canoeing to Chicken Key, there were not enough canoes for everyone to go in pairs of two. Since a handful of canoes had to have three people inside, not only was there less room for the trash bags, but it also required more coordination for paddling. I was in a three person canoe and there were times when we would end up turning 180 degrees unintentionally. Canoeing back to the Deering Estate was even more of a challenge. Everyone was tired from a long day and, in addition to that, the wind seemed to be working against us. 

While it was enjoyable to be outside and immersed in nature, I had forgotten to bring sunscreen. With the wind blowing while we were canoeing to Chicken Key, I did not realize until it was too late and ended up getting the worst sunburn that I can remember. This is a mistake that I plan to never make again.

While picking up trash, I focused more on searching for and picking up small items rather than larger ones since they are easier to miss. At the end of the day, I only had filled a single bag. But, since smaller items are more damaging to the environment, I was satisfied with the result. I feel that this cleanup excursion went very well and it was rewarding to be able to do my part in restoring nature, even if only temporary. I absolutely would do this again and look forward to my next opportunity. 

Jared Johnson: Miami as Text 2021-2022

Photo taken by Shae J./ CC by 4.0

Jared Johnson is a 21-year old senior at Florida International University. He is majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Business Administration. After graduation, he wants to work in cybersecurity while continuing to expand his online businesses.

Downtown as Text

Mouth of the Miami river. Photo taken by Jared Johnson/ CC by 4.0

“Desecrated Land”

By Jared Johnson of FIU at Downtown Miami, 08 September 2021

When people think of Miami, they might think of it as a place with endless packed beaches, or a place with expensive luxury condos and constant nightlife, or an immensely diverse city with many cultures coming together. However, very few people take a moment to reflect on what Miami used to be, and the culture of the natives, before it was developed into an urban center.

The Miami River was the source of life for the different natives that used to inhabit the area over thousands of years. As Miami became more and more urbanized, lots of the culture was lost and, in its place, tall, ominous structures were erected. However, a few artifacts are left standing today to acknowledge their impact on the community. Standing on the bridge looking around I can imagine the small communities and Tequesta tribes that used to live there. On the south side of the river, I can even see remains of an ancient village, called the Miami Circle. 

As I cross the river and enter Brickell, there is a nearby landmark which used to be the tomb of the Brickell family, who were known for bringing wealthy landowners down to Miami in the early 20th century. Directly next to it is a luxury condo building which was built on an ancient Tequesta burial mound. It is quite fitting for the tomb of the Brickell family to be next to a desecrated burial ground, representing a common theme throughout much of US history where wealthy landowners would forcefully remove natives from their land.

From now on, every time I cross the Miami river and see all the luxury high rises, I am reminded of the native tribes and the land that was stolen from them.

Overtown as Text

Greater Bethel Methodist Church. Photo taken by Jared Johnson/ CC by 4.0


By Jared Johnson of FIU at Overtown, 22 September 2021

All too often, people have stereotypes or preconceived notions about places without ever going to experience it for themselves. Overtown, like many other places, exists due to a history of racism and segregation. It was originally founded as a place where black people were forced to live because Flagler did not want to bring his railroad if Miami was not segregated. It was then named Colored Town. However, if you look beneath the surface, it is much more than that. It was once a cultural center for black musicians and performers, as well as the front lines of the battle for civil rights in the 1960s. 

I had the honor of visiting two historic churches in Overtown, Greater Bethel and Mount Zion, and hearing different perspectives from members of these churches. They spoke about their relation to the church and their own personal experiences. They recalled memories of their childhood about what the church was like and the important role it played in the community. The church was central to organizing events in the community and provided a place for people to come together and support each other in times of difficulty. They also served as community strongholds against civil injustice, having had Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders speak at these churches. 

Over the years, development has encroached on the town and displaced many people from their homes. From condos to roadways, the landscape of Overtown has changed from when it was a thriving community and cultural center. One of the memories recalled by a member of Mount Zion was when I-95 was under construction. The state decided to have it go directly through Overtown and gave Mount Zion the option of either having the church itself torn down or have the pastor’s house torn down. She explained that having the pastor’s house directly next to the church was important for people to gather and feel more connected to the church. Having it torn down did not only make some people feel less connected, but it also displaced the pastor and his family. 

After listening to the stories and experiences of the two guest speakers from the churches, I now have a much better understanding and appreciation for Overtown, and the role that the churches played in support for their community. In a decade or two, these two historic churches may be some of the only monuments left, in a sea of condos and commercial buildings, representing the importance of the community in Overtown. 

Vizcaya as Text

Vizcaya Overlooking the Garden. Photo taken by Jared Johnson/ CC by 4.0

“Nothing and Everything”

By Jared Johnson of FIU at Vizcaya, 20 October 2021

Miami is known for many things. One of its most well known qualities, for better or worse, is that it is a place where people go to display erroneous amounts of wealth, where humility is nowhere to be found. Vizcaya is a Miami landmark which captures both nothing and everything at the same time. Finished in 1914, Vizcaya was constructed to serve as the estate of James Deering, a very wealthy businessman at the time. From the moment you walk into the courtyard, it is evident that Vizcaya is a very different historical site in that it does not reflect the history of the local area. In fact, some could say that it has set the tone of Miami for a century.

As soon as you enter the back garden, you are met with Roman style arches, seemingly unfit for a mansion in the tropics. Deering was advised to not have symbols of battle on the arches since Vizcaya was in no way related to war. However, Deering had the money and liked the style of the arches, so he incorporated it anyway. This illustrates a common theme in Miami, if you have the money and can do something, you should. Upon entry into the mansion, it became clear that the out of place arches were no fluke. Each room had a different theme and design, ranging from an open concept courtyard with tropical plants to an east-Asian themed bedroom. Deering did not have a family of his own to hang portraits on the wall. So in place of this, he hung portraits of children and people whose name was Deering, but there was no relation. There was no single style or theme to be found anywhere in Vizcaya, other than wealth and indulgence itself. 

I feel that Vizcaya, in all of its magnificent glory, truly encapsulates the stereotype that many people have of Miami. That alone makes Vizcaya a true Miami landmark.

South Beach as Text

South Pointe Beach. Photo taken by Jared Johnson/ CC by 4.0


By Jared Johnson of FIU at South Beach, 3 November 2021

South Beach is a place that is known throughout the world for having a massive party scene and nightlife. While it does have these things, it is also much more. South Beach is a place with a dark history, tourists from all over the globe, and world famous architecture styles. 

Originally, Miami Beach, and Miami itself, were small communities where everyone knew each other and there was no widespread segregation. When Flagler came down with the railroad, segregation quickly followed. Shortly after, Carl Fisher started buying up all of the land to turn Miami Beach into a tourist destination where only white people were allowed to live. Fisher’s development ended up destroying the mangrove forest on the island which led to all sorts of environmental problems. 

As Miami Beach endured multiple development booms, three main architectural styles emerged over the decades. Mediterranean Revival, Art Deco, and MiMo are the main styles you will encounter walking around South Beach. Each style is very unique and distinct. Mediterranean Revival style is known for tile roofing, stucco walls, and window grilles. This was already present in Miami at the time, as seen in Vizcaya. Art Deco is the style that Miami Beach is likely most known for. This style consists of geometric shaped buildings, white facades with pastel highlights, and glass bricks. Architects of this era wanted to shape buildings to resemble machines from the future. The third, and most recent, style is MiMo. This is a modern style consisting of lots of glass windows and curvy architecture. 

Personally, Art Deco is my least favorite of the three different architectural styles. However, I can appreciate its presence in Miami Beach as one of the only areas with such a high concentration of Art Deco buildings.

Deering Estate as Text

The Original Cutler Road. Photo taken by Jared Johnson/ CC by 4.0

“Natural Miami”

By Jared Johnson of FIU at Deering Estate, 17 November 2021

The Deering Estate was built by Charles Deering in the 1920s to serve as his personal estate. It now serves as basically a nature preserve where it essentially represents a time machine to what Miami would have looked like had it not been developed. It consists of 8 different ecosystems, home to a plethora of wildlife. The ecosystems in Deering Estate are: Salt Marsh, Beach Dune Chicken Key, Remnant Slough, Tropical Hardwood Hammock, Pine Rockland, Submerged SeaGrass Beds, Deering Estate Flow-way, and Mangroves. 

The most notable ecosystems that we walked through were the Pine Rockland and the Mangrove forest. One thing that I thought was absolutely fascinating was the fact that the trees in the Pine Rockland actually require forest fires in order to preserve their ecosystem. This could prove to be problematic when you have this ecosystem in such close proximity to urban areas. So the entities managing these ecosystems have had to perform controlled fires, sometimes spanning for miles. The mangrove forest caught my attention just because it was so different from what I had been used to seeing most of my life. There is very little solid ground and it is essentially a forest growing in brackish water. Inside the mangrove forest we found a plane from the 1980s that had crash landed, presumably used in drug trafficking. 

The Deering Estate also houses many burial grounds for ancient tribes, some dating back at least 10,000 years. We were able to visit an archaeological site that is believed to be a burial ground and, due to privacy concerns, a site that less than 500 people had been able to visit. This was an experience that was hard for me to wrap my mind around. 

Over the years Miami has evolved significantly, but the land preserved by the Deering Estate has remained unchanged. Everyone should take the time to visit and understand what the land really looked like, before it was taken hostage by development.

Rubell as Text

Jared in Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room. Photo taken by Jared Johnson/ CC by 4.0


By Jared Johnson of FIU at Rubell Museum, 24 November 2021

The Rubell Museum gives us an alternative perspective on art. This institution is owned by the Rubell family who collects modern art. Modern art is defined by works of art created in the last 30-50 years. The aim of this genre is to have people develop a connection to the works of art in a way that is not possible for older works, due to a difference in lifestyle and values.

This museum contains a number of modern works that caught my attention. The three that stood out to me the most were Yayoi Kusama’s two Infinity Rooms and Cajsa von Zeipel’s influencer sculptures. From the moment I entered the dark Infinity Room, I felt like I was floating in space with stars all around me. This allowed me to connect with this work in a way that I would not have with traditional art. The light Infinity Room made me feel the opposite, but had a similar impact. From the moment the door opened, the bright, white lights made me feel like I had traveled to some kind of afterlife. These two Infinity Room exhibits offer a unique experience while complimenting each other with their opposite environments. The piece of art that I connected with the most happened to also be the one that was the most difficult to look at due to the grotesque nature of the sculptures. Cajsa von Zeipel’s influencer exhibit accurately represents the mindset of our modern society. The exhibit figures were constructed out of silicone and symbolize the skewed perspectives we are often given on social media. The physical representation of the sculptures depicts the essence of society at its core, when all of the filters are removed.

The Rubell museum is an invaluable addition to the art scene in Miami, offering a different perspective that allows people who live in the modern era to connect with art in a way that would not have been possible before.

Untitled as Text

Bradley McCallum’s “Of Light”. Photo taken by Jared Johnson/ CC by 4.0


By Jared Johnson of FIU at Untitled, 01 December 2021

The Untitled Art Fair is a highly exclusive event in the art world, where galleries from all over the world are put on display. The aim of Untitled is to sell the works of art, so naturally, this event attracts wealthy people from all over. Untitled is an event that has modern art on display which, similar to the works at Rubell, is intended to allow people in the modern day to connect with the works in a different and unique way.

Attending Untitled Art was a very unique experience because I was not only able to see plenty of modern art, but I was also able to observe the atmosphere of a commercial art fair. This event naturally attracted plenty of wealthy people, so at times I felt very out of place. However, the point of coming to Untitled was not to fit in with the crowd, but to look at and connect with the various works of art on display. 

There were multiple works on display that I found interesting, but one caught my eye more than the rest. The piece of art was by Bradley McCallum and is called “Of Light”. Although I saw it after class had ended, it was still one of the pieces that I most connected with. This piece of art was a collage of pictures depicting different events of 2020, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the George Floyd protests. There was also unique lighting going throughout the pictures to enhance the visual experience. At the top, there was a red neon line that represented the 7-day moving average of COVID cases for the United States. Anyone who lived through the unsettling events of 2020, and acknowledged reality, will be able to connect with this piece of art. 

Although it was overwhelming at times and I felt out of place, just being able to attend the Untitled Art Fair and look at all the various works of art was a fascinating experience.

Everglades as Text

Anhinga Trail at Everglades National Park. Photo taken by Jared Johnson/ CC by 4.0


By Jared Johnson of FIU at The Everglades National Park

The Florida Everglades is a unique ecosystem not commonly found in other parts of the world. The Everglades was originally formed because excess water would cause Lake Okeechobee to flood to the south and the water flowed down. Over time, as humans began to develop the land, the flow was reduced significantly. This resulted in more available land but damaged the ecosystem. Recently, there have been extensive restoration projects undergone at the Everglades in order to restore the natural flow. 

Slogging through the Everglades was very unique as I was able to experience terrain and wildlife that I would not usually encounter. As soon as we stepped off the main road, the water instantly encompassed everything. However, the water was unexpectedly clear due to the high concentration of Seagrass. The Seagrass maintains water quality by trapping particles within their leaves. They rely heavily on sunlight so once we entered the Cypress Dome there was significantly less Seagrass. The Cypress Dome is a cluster of Bald Cypress trees that grows taller towards the center of the dome and shorter as you approach the edges. Something interesting about the Bald Cypress tree is that it is one of the few trees in South Florida that actually loses its leaves in the winter. This creates a wintery environment, found in many other parts of the country, that South Florida lacks.

My first Everglades slog, and immersing myself in the Everglades in general, was an enriching excursion that allowed me to experience a lesser known aspect of South Florida. This will not be my last time walking through the Everglades, and experiencing everything it has to offer.

Coral Gables as Text

Pool outside the Biltmore Hotel. Photo taken by Jared Johnson/ CC by 4.0


By Jared Johnson of FIU at Coral Gables

Coral Gables is widely known and thought of as a wealthy suburb of Miami with low crime and high quality of life. This would make it an ideal place to live for those who can afford to do so. We had the opportunity to visit and learn about multiple historical locations around Coral Gables, such as the Museum of Coral Gables and the Biltmore hotel. However, the history of Coral Gables is often overlooked or altered by those trying to depict a better picture of the city.

Coral Gables was founded by George Merrick in 1925, however Merrick started planning in 1921. It was designed with the Mediterranean Revival architectural style including stucco finishing and clay tile roofing. Merrick got his inspiration from James Deering’s Vizcaya, which was just recently built at the time. His goal was to sell plots of land to wealthy northerners, but since most of the plots were just empty land, he had to persuade people somehow. Merrick constructed an elaborate office building to walk people through and then had them stay in the luxurious Biltmore hotel in order to close the deal. 

Like much of Miami development at the time, Coral Gables was built by Bahamian labor under poor working conditions. Looking around the Coral Gables Museum, there were multiple references to the Bahamians, but it was glamorized. The writings in the museum failed to accurately depict the substandard working conditions. Instead they would refer to them as “working with” or “working alongside” George Merrick in order to construct the city. There were multiple images of wealthy individuals in Coral Gables with Bahamian laborers in torn clothing standing in the background. This depicts the reality of the situation, when you have citizens who are treated as second class.

Coral Gables is a beautiful city with exquisite architecture; however, looking beneath the surface, it has a troubling history. The history of Coral Gables should be acknowledged, not forgotten or erased, because this is the only way to move past it and honor those who had suffered.

River of Grass as Text

Walking through the Everglades. Photo taken by John Bailly/ CC by 4.0


By Jared Johnson of FIU at The Everglades National Park

The Everglades is one of those places that every time you go, you find an experience completely new and different from the last visit. That was my experience when venturing into the Everglades this time. Rather than solely slogging through the Cypress Dome, we were able to hike deep into the Everglades and explore two very different aspects; one manmade and another natural.

Before the Everglades was reclaimed by the federal government and made into a national park, it was used as farmland. Most of the structures were plowed down during the reclamation and restoration project, leaving few traces of manmade influence in the Everglades. However, a few structures were left standing. We got to visit a very small structure in the woods that is believed to be for feeding deer. It was built around the same time as Vizcaya and the architectural style was Mediterranean Revival. The second structure was just a cement block shell with no roof, and is believed to be a farming structure back when the Everglades was used for farmland. 

On our way to the cement structure, we walked through vast marshy plains. Looking around, it was here I realized how insignificant mankind is in relation to nature. There were no roads, cars, or modern structures in sight, just open land. I was able to imagine what life was like before modern advancements in civilization. When people could become engulfed in the wildlife and the sky above, with the wind blowing an oncoming storm closer and closer. 

Having already visited the Everglades previously in this class, I was wondering how this Everglades excursion would be different, if at all. However, it truly was a unique experience being able to connect and immerse myself in the land and nature in a way that I was able to appreciate both manmade civilization and raw nature.

Wynwood as Text

Will Ryman’s “Situation Room”. Photo taken by Jared Johnson/ CC by 4.0

“The Modern Era”

By Jared Johnson of FIU at Wynwood, 10 March 2022

Miami’s Wynwood and the Design District are known for their art scene, specifically contemporary art. We visited the Margulies Collection and the De La Cruz Collection. Both places contained many interesting works of contemporary art. The ones catching my interest the most were Will Ryman’s “Situation Room” and George Sanchez’s “La Bendicion.” Both of these pieces of art make statements about our modern society today. The ability to have works of art reflect modern issues is something that I find fascinating about contemporary art.

Will Ryman’s “Situation Room” is a charcoal sculpture depicting an image from the White House situation room in 2011 when Osama bin Laden was killed. This work of art depicts how wars in the modern era are now fought by people wearing suits behind a computer screen, far removed from the battlefield. It also reflects that, because of this new way of fighting, a select powerful few can bring death and destruction to many individuals with the push of a button, while showing indifference about the consequences. This work of art caught my attention because it immediately reminded me of Russia’s current invasion of Ukraine; where a single man from his secure bunker could bring destruction and economic ruin to both countries over the course of a few days.

Georgia Sanchez’s “La Bendición” was a unique work of art where he reconstructed a French house originally built in 1927 and placed it underneath the I-395 highway. I was initially intrigued due to the sheer absurdity. However, the more I thought about it, I realized that George’s house underneath the highway was a literal representation of what the Interstate Highway system did to so many neighborhoods around the country. Specifically Overtown in Miami, where the construction of I-95 obliterated houses and displaced neighborhoods.

Both Will Ryman’s “Situation Room” and George Sanchez’s “La Bendicion” are just two works that are part of a larger collective of contemporary art that can be found throughout all of Wynwood and the Design District. Contemporary art is something that I find fascinating and that makes Miami truly unique, allowing one to view art which reflects modern issues. I look forward to being able to visit more contemporary art collections in the future.

Key Biscayne as Text

Cape Florida Lighthouse. Photo taken by Jared Johnson/ CC by 4.0


By Jared Johnson of FIU at Key Biscayne, 16 March 2022

Key Biscayne is the southernmost key off Miami Beach, at the mouth of Biscayne Bay. It is a popular tourist destination for its clean beaches and clear water, but also because of its rich history. It is home to one of the oldest buildings in Miami-Dade County, which is the lighthouse at the tip of the key. Ponce de Leon named the area that is currently Bill Baggs State Park, ‘Cape of Florida’, which is where the Cape Florida Lighthouse gets its name.

The Cape Florida Lighthouse was constructed in 1825, however, it was extensively damaged shortly after, due to a war with the Seminoles. Contrary to how history is often taught, the capture and destruction of the lighthouse during the Seminole War was a calculated and carefully planned military operation. The Seminoles aimed to send a message to the United States government after the annexation of Florida. They were not going to let their land be taken away from them without a fight. They set fire to the lighthouse and shot arrows into the top windows, effectively capturing the structure. 

Something much less talked about was the use of the lighthouse and the island of Key Biscayne as a meeting place for the Underground Railroad. The island of Key Biscayne would often be used by people looking to escape to the Bahamas, which was under British control at the time. This was known as the Saltwater Railroad. In 1821 alone, over 300 people escaped through Key Biscayne to travel 107 miles to the Bahamas. However, after the lighthouse was constructed, it provided too much light to the area. This made it significantly more difficult for people to escape undetected. 

Key Biscayne is a beautiful island with a fascinating history that is, unfortunately, often overlooked or overwritten. I fully intend to return and explore whatever this island has to offer.

Coconut Grove as Text

Bahamian Cemetery in Coconut Grove. Photo taken by Jared Johnson/ CC by 4.0


By Jared Johnson of FIU at Coconut Grove, 30 March 2022

Coconut Grove is an area in Miami that is rich in history, and is where many of the original builders of Miami are laid to rest. Coconut Grove was known for its thriving Bahamian community and architecture resembling the Bahamas. It is also home to The Barnacle, which is the oldest home in Miami-Dade that is still in its original location. 

The Coconut Grove Cemetery is one of the most notable historical areas. This is where most of the Bahamians, who were the constructors of early Miami, are buried. One of the first things that is notable about this cemetery is that all of the caskets are not buried in the ground, but are instead visible and raised above the ground. This cemetery is home to a unique type of headstone, called anthropomorphic stone, and is not found anywhere else in Miami-Dade county. 

The Barnacle is the oldest home in Miami-Dade county, which has not been moved from its original location. It was built in 1891 by Ralph Middleton Munroe. Ralph was an important early settler of Coconut Grove, but unlike other notable names in Miami’s history, he did not not have much wealth. He came to South Florida originally due to his wife’s illness, as he assumed the warm climate would help her more than the cold climate of the Northeast. Ralph then remarried to Jesse Wirth and had two children. Due to the need for more space, Ralph decided to add a second floor to his house. However, since he liked the design of the roof so much, he used railroad jacks to raise the whole house in order to build a first floor beneath it. 

Coconut Grove is an area with immense historical value, and unlike other parts of Miami, was founded by people with more humble backgrounds. This demonstrates the value of what can be accomplished when people come together as a community. Due to this, it should always be preserved as a key part of Miami’s history.

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