Balázs Kornis: Brickell 2021

Student Bio

Hey readers, I am Balazs Kornis a sophomore finance major at Florida International University. I am planning on becoming an Investment Banker after graduating. I was born and raised in Hungary, in 2018 I moved to Maine to finish my high-school studies in the United States. I came to Miami 1,5 years ago to study at FIU and I immediately became fascinated with the cities diverse culture, a big difference from Maine. Once I saw the class on instagram stories of people it immediately caught my interest. Additionally I love traveling and trying the different types of foods, which in Miami there is no shortage of. I am also really interested in aviation and I would like to get my private pilot license and take a look at Miami form above.

Photo by Thwin Thet Su San / CC by 4.0

Geography

Google Maps Screenshot of Brickell

Brickell is a neighborhood of the City of Miami in Miami-Dade County. Brickell is located next to Biscayne bay just south of the Miami River. It extends down south to the Rickenbacker Causeway. Its western border is Interstate 95. It also Includes Brickell Key a small artificially made Island. It is almost entirely made of high-rise buildings for both commercial and residential use. It is often regarded as the financial district. These high-rise buildings make it feel more like Midtown Manhattan than Miami. It is almost entirely at sea-level making climate change a big problem for the neighborhood. Recently during heavy rain fall the pumps often had a really hard time to deal with the amount of water on the streets. A Google search shows the area to be 1.19 square miles however I could not find the source for this number. Since it is a neighborhood not a city there is no census numbers.

View of Brickell and Downtown from the Miami Rivers bank by Balazs Kornis / CC by 4.0

History

Portrait of Mary Brickell from the University of Florida

For 2000 years before the first Spanish ships arrived in South Florida, the area of Brickell was inhabited by the Tequesta who we know very little about. Once the Spanish left the Tequesta went with them to Cuba where they likely assimilated into the population. However there are multiple things they left behind like burial mounds and the Miami Circle. Once Florida became part of the United States Homesteaders moved down here like the Brickell Family. William and Mary Brickell had purchased the land known today as Brickell and Coconut Grove in 1871. They established a trading post to trade with the Seminoles and the Miccosukee who came down the Miami River from the Everglades. In 1896 Henry Flagler’s railroad arrived to Miami after Julia Tuttle who owned land on the northern shore of the river and the Brickells convinced Flagler. This caused the Brickell’s real estate developments to become more valuable. Shortly after Mary took control of the family business and successfully generated wealth from the land. (McCaughan)

Brickell in 1982 by Golden Dusk Photography

In the first half of the 20th century the lands the Brickells sold got became Millionaires Row. It got populated with mansions for locals and winter mansions for Northerners.One notable residents was James Deering builder of the Vizcaya Villa. In the 1950s and 60s during Miamis growth phase Brickell turned into a high density residential and commercial neighborhood and became Latin Americas financial center. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s the area started having the condo towers we see today, at the same time Brickell Key an Island made of the material dredged by Flagler to deepen the Miami River. Since then higher and higher towers have popped up increasingly spreading westwards where there is still developable land. (McCaughan)

Demographics

According to the Miami DDA’s 2020 estimate:

There is 21,598 full time residents. The median age is 33 showing that the neighborhood is rather young. 5% of residents are asian, 3% are black, 54% hispanic or latino, 44% white and 6% of another race. 29% of residents has a bachelor degree, 19% a masters degree, 10% a professional school degree and 3% a doctorate. There are 18,754 housing units and the median household income is $63,136.

According to Niche.com the median rent is 2,103 and the median home value is 452,059 both about double the national average. 67% of people rent and 33% own so it can be seen as more of a rental neighborhood for young people.

A sample listing for an apartment:

Screenshot from Zillow

Interview with a current resident:

Portrait of Antón Castellanos by himself / CC by 4.0

Antón Castellanos is a young public health consultant, who moved to Brickell about a year ago from New York for the pandemic. He is about to move back to New York. He fell in love with Brickell while visiting Miami since it looks similar to New York and other Northeastern cities.

What do you like about Brickell:

He mentioned that he really likes the location with the bay views especially at sunrise and sunset. He also really likes the mix of tall buildings and water. Besides that he likes the convenience of the neighborhood with many great restaurants within walking distance and the walkability.

What are somethings you do not like:

He said there is not many downsides to the neighborhood. He said that due to the pandemic people like him moved down here from the Northeast, causing rent prices to rise. He also mentioned that to go to a doctor you have to drive over to the Health District.

What do you think is the future of Brickell:

He mentioned that he think it will continue being a great neighborhood to young professionals single or couples. However it is not the best for families. He thinks it is a good place for people who want to live a comfortable and vibrant lifestyle. He thinks after the pandemic rent prices will go somewhat down.

Landmarks

Miami Circle

Miami Circle by Balazs Kornis / CC by 4.0

The Miami Circle has been built by the Tequesta as a ritual ground around 2000 years ago. It is located at the mouth of the Miami River on the Southern side. It is preserved today at the middle of a park. It was discovered by archeologist in 1998. Since 2009 it is a National Historic Landmark.  (“Miami Circle National Historic Landmark”) Some Native American Tribes still use it for rituals today. It is a great place to visit and think about how the Americas even South Florida were populated a long time before the Europeans arrival. It also shows that as inhospitable South Florida is people managed to thrive thousands of years before modern creature comforts have been invented.

Brickell Avenue Bridge

Tequesta Monument by Balazs Kornis / CC by 4.0

The Brickel Avenue bridge is a drawbridge over the Miami River linking together Downtown and Brickell. Besides being an important connection between the two parts of the city on Brickell Avenue which is part of US route 1, it has a monument about the Tequesta further highlighting the history of the area. The monument features a bronze pillar engraved to show the daily life of a Tequesta family. On the top of it is a statue of the Tequesta Warrior with a bow. It was created by Manuel Carbonell a cuban born Sculptor. (“Miami Circle National Historic Landmark”) Even though the statue is likely not accurate due to a lack of historical records in my opinion it is a great way of highlighting the mostly unknown history of the Tequesta and their connection to the area. It also serves as a good way to kill time while the bridge is raised to let a boat through.

Brickell Mausoleum

The Brickell Mausoleum by Balazs Kornis / CC 4.0

It is a mausoleum which originally served as the Burial site for the Brickell family. It is located in Brickell Park. It is a small structure in ancient greek style loose resembling the Parthenon in Athens. It features a facade with the world Brickell and what appears to be a family crest. It also has Corinthian style columns in the front. The inside used to house the family’s graves, however due to people breaking in for illegal activities the bodies have been moved to nearby cemeteries. Today it serves as a memorial for Mary Brickell and her family, who played an important role in the history of the area and the birth of Miami.

Green

Brickell is known for its densely located high-rise building however there are a couple parks located between them.

Brickell Park

It is located near SE5th and SE6th streets between Brickell Avenue and the Ocean. It is a rather small park, however it allows access to the shore. It is where the Brickell mausoleum is located. It also features a playground along with grassy areas and trees. It is a great way to get to the shore.

Brickell Park by Panorama Tower

Simpson Park

Simpson park by Daniel Di Palma form Wikimedia Commons

Simpson Park is located at the corner of SW 15th Rd and Miami Avenue. It is a natural preserve spanning over 8 acres in the heart of Miami. It is a hardwood hammock featuring native trees like gumbo limbos and strangler figs. It is the last remnant of the Brickell Hammocks and also one of the first conversation efforts in Miami(“Simpson Park”) 

Southside Park

Southside Park by Phillip Pessar from Flickr

It is located between SW 11th and SW12th streets next to SW 1st Avenue. It features a playground and a basketball course. It is also popular among dog owners. It has both a MetroRail and a Metro Mover station right next to it.

Transportation

Metromover by Joseph Madden from Wikimedia Commons

Miami generally is a city where having a car is must, however Brickell is an exception. It has stations for the both the orange and Green Metro rail lines allowing transit to Dadeland the Airport and Hialeah. Brickell also has its own Metro Mover line which connects to the downtown loop allowing for free easy transportation in the Greater Downtown area. Brickell also has great road access as it is near I95, the Dolphin Express way and the causeways to Miami Beach and Key Biscayne. Additionally Brickell has multiple companies of on demand E-Scooter rental providing an alternative to walking. It also is a great neighborhood for walking since there is plenty of things within walking distance.

Food

Brickell has countless restaurants of many cousins and styles. I have listed three which I think are rather unique.

La Mar

Picture of the view by Genavive A. retrieved from Yelp

La Mar by Gaston Acurio is a fine-dining restaurant in Brickell Key. It is located at the bottom of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. It serves Peruvian cousin like Ceviche among other things. Its location on Brickell Key allows diners on the terrace to enjoy a beautiful view of Brickell while eating and drinking their delicious food prepared by Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio. It is the best view I had at a restaurant in Miami.

Sugar

The view from Sugar by Natalie H. retrieved from Yelp

Sugar is a rooftop bar on top of the East Miami hotel. They serve some Japanese inspired dishes, however the drinks are in the focus there. It is on the pricier side and after 6pm only people over 21 are allowed in. Due to this I have not been able to visit however it being a rooftop bar in Brickell I would recommend going.

Gyu Kaku

Picture of the food by Balazs Kornis / CC 4.0

Gyu-Kaku is a Japanese Barbecue chain with a dozen location throughout America. I am including it into this guide do to it being unique to Miami. They serve a variety of beef, pork, poultry and seafood, which guest can cook on grill located on the table. Additionally they have plenty of tasty appetizers and side dishes. I would highly recommend it to groups since they have really good deals for combos where you could try a large variety of cuts.

Businesses

Brickell has a large variety of stores especially high-end ones.

Brickell City Center

Brickell City Centre by Phillip Pessar from Flickr

Brickell City Centre is a half indoor shopping-mall featuring many restaurants and shops from designer brands to more common ones. It also features an Apple Store. I think it is a great place to visit restaurants and do some shopping.

Mandarin Oriental

Mandarin Oriental Miami Exterior by Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group from Wikimedia Commons

Mandarin Oriental is a 5 start luxury hotel on Brickel Key, it is where the earlier mentioned La Mar restaurant is located. It has rooms overlooking either Brickell or Biscayne Bay allowing for amazing views. One night at the moment is around 520 dollars, however hotel prices in Florida are higher than usual at the moment. It is expensive but for someone who has money it is most likely a great place to stay at.

Tucandela

Tucandela is a nightclub/bar located in Brickell at Mary Brickell Village. I have personally never visited but my over 21 year old friends have said good things about it. They have a dance-floor and also feature table service. They play reggae-ton and other latin music genres. It is a great club for lovers of latin music.

Tucandela by Tucandela retrieved from Yelp

Summary

Overall Brickell is a busy vibrant neighborhood, with plenty of restaurants, bars, shops and other business. It somewhat resembles midtown Manhattan. The apartment prices are somewhat pricey but not as-much as New York or other cities. It is great place to go for a night out. For living there I would recommended to mostly to young people with a high paying job, in my opinion for families it is not the best neighborhoods since it is mostly just apartment buildings and not that many green spaces or family friendly things to do. I would recommend Coral Gables or Coconut Groove more for families who are willing to pay for the great location but want the convenience. Brickell is also one of the richest and most gentrified neighborhoods with more of a white population than other areas. In the future if climate change continues the way it is flooding would be a greater problem leading to the gentrification of other areas as it can already be seen in El portal and other higher up neighborhoods.

Citations

“2020 Miami DDA Demographics.” Miami DDA – Economic Development Miami – Tourism Miami | Miami DDA, Miami DDA, Dec. 2020, http://www.miamidda.com/wp-content/uploads/Miami-DDA-2020-Demographics.pdf.

“Living in Brickell.” Niche, 7 Feb. 2021, http://www.niche.com/places-to-live/n/brickell-miami-fl/. Accessed 24 Apr. 2021.

McCaughan, Sean. “The History of Brickell: Miami’s Manhattan.” The BIG BUBBLE Miami, 10 Oct. 2018, thebigbubblemiami.com/2018/10/09/the-history-of-brickell-miamis-manhattan/.

“Miami Circle National Historic Landmark.” Trail of Florida’s Indian Heritage, 5 Dec. 2017, http://www.trailoffloridasindianheritage.org/miami-circle.

“Miami Circle National Historic Landmark.” Trail of Florida’s Indian Heritage, 5 Dec. 2017, http://www.trailoffloridasindianheritage.org/miami-circle.

“Simpson Park.” Miami, http://www.miamigov.com/Residents/Parks-and-Recreation/Parks-Directory/Simpson-Park.

Balazs Kornis: Miami Service Project 2021

STUDENT BIO

Hey readers, I am Balazs Kornis a sophomore finance major at Florida International University. I am planning on becoming an Investment Banker after graduating. I was born and raised in Hungary, in 2018 I moved to Maine to finish my high-school studies in the United States. I came to Miami 1,5 years ago to study at FIU and I immediately became fascinated with the cities diverse culture, a big difference from Maine. Once I saw the class on instagram stories of people it immediately caught my interest. Additionally I love traveling and trying the different types of foods, which in Miami there is no shortage of. I am also really interested in aviation and I would like to get my private pilot license and take a look at Miami form above.

Photo by Thwin Thet Su San / CC by 4.0

WHO

As a class we have volunteered at Deering Estate to clean up a small island called Chicken Key. The Deering Estate used to be the home of Charles Deering who built it in 1927. Today the Area is used as a natural preserve on the shore of Biscayne Bay. It has multiple unique ecosystems some of which have become quite rare in Florida today, highlighting the importance of preserving this area. As a class a couple weeks before we had the chance to explore its unique nature mostly undisturbed by us humans except for the Marine trash in the mangroves which likely came from the ocean. It is very important to prevent this rare piece of nature from getting polluted with the trash resulting in the eradication of the native wildlife. The actual place we did the clean up was however Chicken Key a couple miles off shore, home to mangroves just like the coastline at the Estate. Its conservation is managed by the estate as-well.

WHY

I have never really did volunteering before. Until coming to Miami in 2019 I have not done a single hour of volunteering work outside of helping out with school events. I am part of a student organization named ALPFA where we do at-least one volunteering event a semester. Of these I have attended a charity store event and a Key Biscayne clean up. At the Key Biscayne clean up I realized how badly we treat our beaches here. While other less fortunate people from landlocked places can only dream of seeing a beach. I personally enjoy beaches and especially being in the water, I have always enjoyed swimming and feeling weightless while floating. Additionally I am a big fan of water-sports like windsurfing, sailing and wakeboarding. This makes it important to me to keep our beaches clean. Chicken Key was a beautiful secret jam with shallow waters where you could just float around all day. I would be very sad to see it fill up with trash. It is very lucky we are able to organize these regular clean up to remove all the marine debris.

Picture of Chicken Key and Biscayne Bay By Balazs Kornis / CC by 4.0

HOW

The event was organized by everyones favorite professor John William Bailly, with the help of Deering Estate. Who provided us with the Canoes we used and disposed of the trash we brought back. The clean up was organized for our Finding Miami class, additionally we had a couple people in need of service hours join us from other FIU Honors classes.

WHERE and WHAT

We were supposed to do the clean on the 2nd of April, however we had to reschedule to the 17th due to high winds. On the 17th a Friday while others were enjoying their rest we met at the Deering Estate at 9:45 changed into water-shoes had a quick briefing while I finished my sandwich and then after pairing up we were on the water in our canoes. After a couple minutes of figuring things out near the jetty, we headed to mouth of the Cutler creek, which we entered to see its shores lined by mangroves. This maneuver resulted in plenty of crashes, since most of us were still trying to get in sync with our partners. After this we headed to Chicken Key.

Picture of the Mouth of Cutler Creek By Balazs Kornis / CC by 4.0

It took us around twenty minutes to get to chicken keys souther shore, the we spent around five minutes getting to the Northeast side to tie up our canoes near a little campground which we used a base. Once everyone got their bags to the campground we started off by a run into the water to cool off and have some fun after the canoeing. The water there was beautiful and really shallowing allowing us to relax for 1o minutes. After that we were given trash bags and it was time to work. We started head out to find some trash. Unfortunately there was plenty, almost immediately i found a fishing net, which I placed in my trash bag. After finding a couple bottles and other smaller pieces of debris I found another net tangled up into a branch. It took some cutting with a knife to get it free. By the time I filled up my bag the professor had brought some canoes over to another part of the item allowing me to place the bag in there. Afterwards I headed back through the water to the camp ground during which I have seen some debris only accessible from the water. Once I got back to the camp ground I had my lunch and rested for a bit once everyone got back. After lunch we spent a little more time in the water relaxing.

Picture of the groups water run by Annette Cruz / CC by 4.0

Afterwards I made another run with a bag mainly through the water collecting things caught up in the mangroves. Among which was a buoy which likely got loose somewhere, later I reached the professor and the canoes, some of which already full with bags and bigger pieces like a mattress which was the home of some rats and invasive species. I took one of these canoes back to the campground to make it easier to load our personal bags back in. Just before that Professor Bailly showed us a mating pair of horseshoe crab a prehistoric species from the time of the dinosaurs. They actually have blue blood used in medicine to check for sterilization of vaccines. After moving back all the filled up canoes we spent a bit of time in the water before heading back. After the swim-break we got back into our canoes and started to head back to Deering Estate. Due to the strengthened wind we decided to head back on the shore side of the island. We had to spend the whole trip back in a head wind making rowing quite difficult. The trip back was at least 3o minutes longer and much more difficult. It was a big relief getting back to the docks and being on dry land. We unloaded quite a lot of trash first to the shore piling it up for a picture.

Picture of the group and the trash we collected by a Deering Estate employee / CC by 4.0

After the group picture we loaded it onto a truck which took it to a dumpster. After placing everything into the dumpster, we said goodbye to each other as this was our last class of the semester. Afterwards we headed back home where I took a desalting shower and had a goodnight sleep, and spent days tending to my sunburns.

WHEN

Screenshot of Community Service Hours by Balazs Kornis / CC by 4.0

SUMMARY

In the end this experience was quite rewarding. Chicken Key is a beautiful hidden gem, and I am glad we got to remove all the trash and debris. It also gave me the chance to see the problem of trash in our oceans and how it can destroy our beaches and natural wonders. The experience was exhausting and the sunburns are still there, but I would gladly do it again with more sunscreen next time. I would recommend the experience to everyone it can teach us a lot about how we treat our environment and put us onto the right path.

Balazs Kornis: Miami as Text 2021

Photo by Thwin Thet Su San / CC by 4.0

Hey readers, I am Balazs Kornis a sophomore finance major at Florida International University. I am planning on becoming an Investment Banker after graduating. I was born and raised in Hungary, in 2018 I moved to Maine to finish my high-school studies in the United States. I came to Miami 1,5 years ago to study at FIU and I immediately became fascinated with the cities diverse culture, a big difference from Maine. Once I saw the class on instagram stories of people it immediately caught my interest. Additionally I love traveling and trying the different types of foods, which in Miami there is no shortage of. I am also really interested in aviation and I would like to get my private pilot license and take a look at Miami form above.

Downtown as Text

Collage of Historic places in Downtown Miami, FL by Balazs Kornis / CC by 4.0

“Downtown as a History Lesson

By Balazs Kornis of Florida International University at Downtown, 22 January 2021.

Downtown Miami today is a busy places home to many business, high-rise buildings, government building and cultural places. However next to all of this are buildings, monuments, statues and even the remnants of a structure used for rituals by the original inhabitants of the Miami area.

Before the Spanish led by Ponce De Leon came to Miami in 1513, it was inhabited by the Tequestas who we know very little about, since most of them got wiped out by small pox they caught from the settlers. However they did leave somethings behinds. Most notably the Miami circle which is a remenats of a ritual place, still used by other Native American tribes today. They also left burial mounds along the mouth of the Miami River which today has been replaced with high-rise building during the construction of which many interesting archeological items got discovered.

Second big change in Miamis history happened after the United states moved into Florida and chased the Seminoles and Miccosukee into the Everglades. A man named William English brought his slaves to the Miami area, one of their houses can be still seen today in Lummus Park. Next to this house is the house William Wagner who came to Miami to be able to live with his Creole wife. Another important person in this time period was Julia Tuttle first of many important women in the history of the city. She and Mary Brickell another woman whose mausoleum is locates in Brickell park, persuaded Henry Flagler to bring the railroad down to Miami by sending him a box of fresh oranges after all the citrus up north perished in a freeze. This eventually led to the incorporation of the City of Miami and the creation of Overtown where they segregated the Bahamians who voted for incorporation. Flagler also built roads and canals facilitating the expansion of Miami westward. There is a statue of him commemorating his achievements in-front of the courthouse located in Downtown.

Third big change to downtown came in 1959 when Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba, which led to mass immigration from Cuba to Miami, to process the Cuban immigrants the Freedom tower was used this tower was built after a church in Sevilla Spain. This tower today represents freedom and hope to the Cubans in Miami. Next to the tower is a statue of a boy carrying a house on his back while walking on crutches, representing the children who their parents sent to Miami alone in-order for them to have a better life. Today the tower is used as museum by Miami-Dade College. Since then many other hispanics came to Miami and made Miami become a vibrant melting pot of cultures

Sources:

“City of Miami.” City of Miami – Official Website, archive.miamigov.com/home/history.html. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

Everglades as Text

Collage of The Everglades National Park FL. by Balazs Kornis and Thwin Thet Su San / CC by 4.0

“The Nature in our Backyard”

By Balazs Kornis of Florida International University at Everglades, 5 February 2021.

I have only lived in Miami for one and half years, before coming here I have heard about the Everglades, but in my mind it was just a barren swamp full of alligators. Right before I landed here in Miami for the first time the plane circled out to west allowing me to see how close the city the swamp really, I could see the lights of the city and then they just stopped there were no lights beyond a line just nature. At that moment I realized how the Everglades is right in Miami’s backyard.

I have went on an airboat tour before in Sawgrass, and drove on the roads crossing the Everglades even at night to listen to the Alligators, but it always felt like I was outside of nature just observing it from far away. When we stepped into the water on our tour at the double Cypress bowl, after the initial shock and confusion, I realized I truly was in nature. This nature exists independently from us besides the occasional sounds of a car driving by it felt like I was in a completely different place. I have never realized how many Cypress trees are there along with all the different kinds of vegetation and the many-many bird species. It was very interesting to listen to Ranger Dylan about all the species of flora and fauna, and also the challenges the Everglades faces in terms of pollution, global warming and Invasive species.

I was a bit disappointed over the lack of animals we saw on our adventure by I understood the unusually wet ending of the wet-season prolonged the higher water levels allowing the animals to spread out more. However seeing the cypress forest with all the smaller types of vegetation like the ferns growing on the trees, it was also interesting to see how the forest just ended and switched into a grassland. Even though we did not see animals besides birds and a couple of small fishes, we knew they were there the Alligator hole was clear evidence there were Alligators nearby. These Alligator holes are place were trees cannot grow because of the Alligators digging into the soil destroying the roots of tress and creating a deeper hole. Near it was also a island like structure which according the professor is where all the snakes live like the venomous Eastern Diamondback and Water Moccasin snakes along with the non venomous invasive Burmese Pythons which almost completely wiped out small mammals in South Florida. At the end of our slough slog we just existed out to the road which seeming just popped out of nowhere.

After our slog we headed to Anhinga Trail where we saw plenty of animals including multiple American Alligators sunbathing right next to the trail with parts of their body poking through the fence allowing us to come super-close to them presenting excellent photo opportunities. In the water there were plenty of waterlilies with birds diving down for fish in-between them presenting a different place compared to the cypress bowl where our slog took place. It was hard to comprehend how diverse the Everglades after it being just a barren swamp in my mind. Further along the trails boardwalk part we saw the Anhinga birds the namesake of the trail, sitting on top of a little structure, the namesake of the trail.

Returning home on the busy turnpike it was hard to comprehend how amazing this unforgettable experience was and how sharp the contrast is between the Everglades and the busy city. I would like to thank Professor Bailey and Ranger Dylan for this amazing opportunity.

South Beach as Text

Collage of Buildings Mentioned in the Article at Miami Beach FL, by Balazs Kornis / CC by 4.0

Art Deco in Paradise

By Balazs Kornis of Florida International University at South Beach, February 19 2021.

Living in Miami we take all the art deco buildings in Miami Beach for granted, while others travel here just to see them. I personally like more modern styles of architecture using a lot of glass, however my parents when they visited here were very impressed by it. Many other travelers share their interest in the Art Deco buildings at South beach.

Art Deco is one of the three main architecture styles in Miami Beach, next to Mediterranean revival and Miami Modernist also known as MiMo. It came to the United States and Miami in the 1930s after it was first demonstrated at an expo in Paris. (Encyclopedia Britannica) Unlike other styles like Mediterranean Revival, Art Deco does not try to be like something old but wants to be futuristic looking like a spaceship from early science fiction. Some of the characteristics of Art Deco are clean often rounded shapes, symmetric shapes, two dimensional statues and a lot of lines to make our eyes move around making the space fill bigger than it is. These lines are often also on the terrazzo flooring prominent in Miami beach. Even though the buildings are modern they sometimes use elements from older architecture like ziggurat like rooftops.

The modernism in the buildings can be seen in some of them resembling a radio or jukebox from the time. A good example of this is the Barbizon. Where the rounded shape and the two vertical lines in the middle give it a very futuristic style. Another thing which can be seen on the building is the so-called eyebrows between the floors which are supposed to provide shade to the windows. As many other buildings it has 3 floors, which is because the building code required an elevator for more than 3 floors, and they were very expensive at the time causing most buildings to be only 3 floors. First thing everyone notices at Miami Beach is the ocean which got incorporated in some of the building like the Colony Hotel. The rounded edges somewhat resemble a ship. It has a light blue coloring with darker blue accents, some of which just below the roof resemble a wave patter. The letters on the building have neon lights on the giving it a vibrant glow at night. Neon was a very popular technology back in the 30s. Another great example of Art Deco is the Break Water hotel where the neon was not spared, which we unfortunately were not able to see at night. The building uses a large number of lines showing making our eyes look around and a central tower making us look up another common theme on Art Deco buildings. A bit of an outlier building is the Clevelander Hotel which is an asymmetric L shape with a ground level pool, functioning as a party spot.

Miami beach’s word famous Art Deco architecture is something we should treasure and preserve by utilizing the building and renovating them to satisfy modern demands without destroying the architecture especially on the outside. Someone who has done a lot to preserve the buildings is Barbara Baer Caritman. The City of Miami Beach should honor her and the buildings legacy and work on preserving and keeping Miami beach as a cultural destination.

Sources:


Encyclopedia Britannica. “Art Deco.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 2 Feb. 2021, http://www.britannica.com/art/Art-Deco.

Deering Estate as Text

Collage of the Different Ecosystems at Deering Estate, Palmetto Bay FL, by Balazs Kornis / CC by 4.0

“Before Miami”

By Balazs Kornis of Florida International University at Deering Estate, March 5 2021.

When most people think of Miami they think of the sandy beaches, the skyscrapers and the mix of cultures, however just a couple hundred years ago before the spanish and the British arrived it was very different. The shoreline was full of mangroves instead of sand, most prominent trees were gumbo limbos and pine instead of the coconut palms we are accustomed to today. There was no sight of a big city just the Tequesta tribe living on the narrow strip of solid land.

The Deering Estate which is a natural preserve today can give the visitor a glimpse into what Miami looked like before civilization. It contains multiple different ecosystems like the Hardwood Hammocks, the Pine Rock-lands and the coastal wetlands with mangroves. Besides these its located next to the Biscayne bay aquatic preserve which also has its own ecosystems. One more important thing about the geography area is that it located on the strip of limestone which provides a dry place for humans and animals to live. This limestone cause the estate to be rather elevated compared to other parts of Miami. Limestone is really susceptible to erosion by water causing there to be caves and solution-holes. These solution holes are often filled with water luring animals in and then causing them to be trapped there. This allowed prehistoric predators like the sabertooth tiger to have an easy dinner since unlike the deers or other preys it can climb out.

The most prominent ecosystem on our hike was the hardwood hammocks which was mostly filled by the native gumbo limbo trees. These trees can grow incredible fast and are able to withstand hurricanes much better than non native species. Another interesting plant there were strangler figs which grow onto existing trees and end up strangling them leaving just a dead stump in the middle. Gumbo Limbos are actually immune to these because of their easily pealing bark strengthening their case of being perfectly adopted to this environment. These Hardwood Hammocks provide a lot of shade making this the perfect place for the early inhabitants of the area to live, there was area at the edge of the mangrove and the Hammocks were there were countless shell tools left behind by the Tequesta. They did not know how to use metals making shell tools their only option.

Beside the Hammocks the shoreline is inhabited by semi flooded mangrove forest. These mangroves are the original shoreline of Southeast Florida instead of the sandy beaches we see today. The Mangrove trees today became a rarity, which is a problem since they can protect the land from erosion and hurricane damage much better than the sandy beaches do. They also contain a mix of fresh and saltwater due to the meeting of the ocean and creeks like cutler creek. This makes the mangroves have a mix of aquatic life. One unnatural but interesting thing in the mangroves was the wreck of a small stolen plane, which was never reported likely because it was used by cocaine smugglers. On the other side of the mangroves is the Biscayne bay home to many species of bird, fish, sea mammals and many other aquatic creatures. We were able to see a group of Manatees near the jetty at the built out part of the estate.

The third ecological area is the Pine Rock lands which looked very “unMiami” in my opinion. It is a dry rocky are with towering pine trees with very little vegetation besides them. It is home to gopher tortoises which are native to the area. It was located on a higher elevation explaining the lack of water retention. It was a very interesting side of South Florida. When you hike there make sure to remember to look out for Poison Ivy.

The Deering estate is really great place to discover how Miami really looked like before the first colonizers arrived. The historic houses also give an insight into how the rich lived at the start of the 20th century. It is an experience I recommend to everyone who likes nature and hiking. They have really good pricing for student yearly passes also. Besides hiking the lawn and the jetties near the houses are a nice places to relax and have a picnic.

Vizcaya as Text

Collage of Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Miami FL, by Balazs Kornis / CC by 4

”Miami Life Before it was Cool”

Balazs Kornis of Florida International University at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, March 19 2021.

The Vizcaya villa was owned and built by James Deering the brother of Charles Deering who owned the Deering Estate. However he was rather different in his lifestyle and choice of housing. He lived a rather hedonistic lifestyle, in a highly decorated villa, with a garden which seems like a mini version of the gardens found in castles like Versailles in France or Schönbrunn in Austria, the latter of which I have visited in the past. With his hedonistic lifestyle he essentially lived the way Miami does now with the flashy cars and constant party before there really was a Miami.

This hedonism was already noticeable the second I drove through the gates on the little road leading to the parking lot feeling like the entrance to a mansion separated from the outside world. At the entrance there are two statues made of locally mined limestone, they were of Ponce De Leon the first Spaniard to arrive in Florida and Vizcaya the name sake of the villa who was a fictional person living in the area during early Spanish colonization. After the statues directly through the gate next to the inclined road leading to the house there were fountains on each side, in the Arabic style where only a little flowing water is used to make it look like mostly still water but still prevent algae. The trench used to mine the limestone from can also be seen where the original plan was to create a moat, but the porousness of the stone did not allow it. This moat plan is one of many “why not?” extravagant elements of the estate.

The house is built in a Mediterranean revival style in a square shape with a courtyard in the middle which is now covered with a glass roof but was not during Deering’s time. The roof of the house features red tiles just like in Spain or Italy. On the inside the house has many different European styles of decoration like Roman, Rococo or Baroque. After entering there was immediately a wine bath with a statue of Dyonesus the god of wine and ecstasy, basically the embodiment of modern Miami showing Deering lived the Miami lifestyle before it was a thing. The courtyard has many plants and decorations interesting of which were the caravelles in different forms either made from metal as a fountain decoration or a model just hanging from the ceiling. The caravelle was a type of ship used by the Spanish explorers. Some of the original windows in the Villa had stained glass like in Europe. Sadly we did not get to see the upstairs part due to renovations. Downstairs each room had its own style sometimes from a mix of styles or just one. One of the first rooms we visited had a cassette style ceiling with matching tiles below it circle under circle and square under square. Besides all the painting statues an interesting thing was a telephone room, which was a really rare addition to houses at the time. In another room there was an organ with a picture of Saint Mary on it, the only christian image I have seen in the house. The interesting thing about it was that it was cut in the middle to allow it to open up for tuning the organ. Besides art another hedonistic part was his serving and food prep room which had a cork wood floor so Deering would not hear the servants footsteps in the morning. It also had a dumb waiter allowing quick transport of food from the kitchen to the serving room. Deering also had a simple intercom system installed to allow simple communication with other parts of the house. On the outside of the house opening from the lower area was a pool to add to the extravagance. Outside the housing on the seafront there is a stone barge with decorations which serves as a wave breaker to protect the yacht which was parked behind it.

Besides the house there is extravagant garden giving more to the European castle style. One of the entrances to the garden area is an Arch de Triumph like the one in Paris. Most likely put there on a why not basis. It like many other things in the garden is made of limestone. The garden features these secret areas which allowed lovers to meet in secrecy perhaps even in Deering since there are rumors that he was gay. The garden features multiple little cave like hole some of which had shells decorating its roofs. The garden also had many ponds and fountains and also a mini maze further adding to it being a mini European castle garden. At the back end of the garden was a Venetian bridge like structure next to a canal with a dock like the ones in Venice. There was a secret door on the structure which was to hide the alcohol smuggled through the channel from the Caribbean and the Bahamas.

Overall the Vizcaya Villa and Garden are a really pretty places with countless pieces of art. The whole place and the ideas of James Deering while building the Villa is aligned with the hedonistic lifestyle people in Miami live today. So at the end of the day he lived the Miami life before it was cool.

Margulies as Text

Collage of Art Pieces at The Margulies Collection by Balazs Kornis / CC by 4.0

“Where Wynwood Started”

Balazs Kornis of Florida International University at The Margulies Collection, Miami, FL April 16 2021.

Everyone in Miami knows that Wynwood is the place to go for modern art. There is Wynwood Walls with its gigantic wall paintings and plenty of street art all over the neighborhood. However many people do not know that before most of that came the Margulies Collection opened bringing modern art to Miami. This Collection was opened by Mr. Margulies who actually just collected this art as a hobby. Today the museum features hundreds of pieces from his collection with a small entry free going entirely to charity and no fee for us students. The collection features every-type of art out there ranging from creatively displayed short movies to paintings, photographs, sculptures to even an installation using spices to add smell to the picture.

Since our Professor John Bailly is an artist himself he was able to arrange us a tour of the collection by Mr. Margulies himself. It was really interesting to hear his knowledge on the pieces there and modern art in general. Something which really stuck with me was him telling us that modern art for the most part does not always mean something and what it means to you is entirely dependent on your perspective on the piece. When entering the place some of the art we saw seemed rather random. One of those pieces was a lot of current and older flags from the Indopacific region. However what was really interesting about them that originally it was attached to a colony of ants which dug tunnels throughout the flags adding something extra to it. In another area there were short movies two of which in little rooms with a projector one of them showing the daily life of four different people side-by side in San Francisco allowing people to identify with the one closest to their life. In the other small rooms there was a short animated film on national anthem kneeling movement in the NFL in response to police brutality. Between those two rooms there was a very interesting piece made of a bunch of old small TV’s facing away from the door way by the artists request. It featured a bunch of videos of animals, to me it seemed peaceful and very interesting. There were also some abstract sculptures near that area which really did not make any sense, but according to Mr. Margulies one artist said that with abstract if you know what you are doing you are doing it wrong. In another part of the warehouse there was a elevator door which periodically opened to show a different group of people in this virtual elevator. There was also an interesting collection of photos of just average people and mundane places showing the lives of people around the world. Another interesting part was the Geheimnis der Farne and other collections by Anselm Kiefer, which very loosely related to the Holocaust and incorporated the poems of a victim of it. His other art pieces like the books with wings were also very interesting as well. Another interesting piece was a circle made of rocks by a British artists who often goes out on hikes and makes these in nature and most of the times no-one notices it is there. I also liked the super hero retirement home piece showing how superheroes would look like once they get old, it was really funny giving a contrast to some of the more dreary pieces. The most unique piece to me was a collection of hanging sacks with each of them having a different spice providing a smell element to the piece, which is something I have not encountered before.

Overall The Margulies Collection was a really interesting place which a lot of people do not know about while it is in the middle of Miami right next to the Art district. The collection was very diverse and interesting using all sorts of art forms both conventional and unconventional. I think everyone should visit, for students it is free and for others it is a small fee going to charity.