Lemuel Fernandez: South Beach 2021

Student Bio

Photo by Annette Cruz/ CC by 4.0

Hi! My name is Lemuel Fernandez, and I am a Junior at Florida International University studying Biological Sciences. I was born in Cuba but raised in Miami.  My goal in life is to become a Physician Assistant and give back to a community that has given me so much. Through Finding Miami, I hope further to understand the history of this extremely diverse city in order to adequately provide quality healthcare to its residents in the future.


Map of South Beach

South Beach is located in Miami-Dade County in South Florida. It encompasses the southernmost part of the City of Miami Beach, from South Point Pier up to Collins Park (21st street). The east coast of South Beach is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and to the west is Biscayne Bay. A short drive over the McArthur Causeway gets to you the City of Miami where you can find popular attractions such as the Perez Art Museum and Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. As well as the Adrienne Arsht Center and Bayside Market Place.


Collins Avenue Circa 1941. media storehouse.com CC by 4.0

Before becoming the tourist destination that it is today, South Beach was an uninhabited barrier island. Full of mangroves, it protected mainland Miami from hurricanes and storm surges. The Tequesta tribe established their city at the mouth of the Miami River and would periodically sail to the barrier island to escape the mosquitoes but never made the barrier island a permanent settlement. In 1870, Henry Lum bought the island from the federal government for 25 cents an acre. The island was covered in mangroves on one side and a beach on the other. The middle was full of water which resembled a swamp.

After a failed attempt to build a business on the island, Henry sold the land to John Collins, a farmer from New Jersey. Collins used the land to plant exotic species such as mangoes and avocados. His main priority was clearing out the mangroves and filling it with soil to build an avocado orchard. He exported his produce via ferry to the mainland and ship them to the North using Henry Flagler`s railroad. As roads began to be built across the country and automobiles became more and more popular, Collins realized that if he wanted to transform the island into a bustling tourist location, he would need a bridge that would connect South Beach to mainland Miami, but he could not do this alone.

On his first trip to Miami in 1910, Carl G. Fisher discovered the island for the first time and saw its potential. He helped finance Collins` bridge that connected the island to the mainland, and he got 200 acres in return. His dream was to turn it into a vacation destination that could be used by him and his friends in the automobile industry. In 1915, with help from the Loomis brothers, Fisher and Collins began to lay out their plans to turn the island into a resort town. After the bridge was complete and the mangroves were cleared out, Carl Fisher began his development of Miami Beach by building a hotel called The Flamingo. Here prospective residents could live while their mansions were being built. Fisher built his own Bayfront mansion shorty after. He also built a casino, tennis and polo fields, and a second hotel, The Nautilus. In the hopes of attracting residents, he advertised the growing city as “paradise for sale.” He placed ads in the newspaper and on billboards in Times Square, New York.

In 1925, Fisher had transformed the barrier island into a thriving city. Land began to dramatically rise in value and building permits were costly. Americans from across the country began buying property and South Beach had become the resort city that Fisher dreamed of. Despite how successful South Beach had become, the time of prosperity was short-lived. In 1926, the “Great Miami” hurricane tore its way through Miami Beach, Downtown Miami, Coral Gables, and went out into the Everglades. The hurricane destroyed the McArthur Causeway and damaged countless homes. In 1929, the stock market crash further devastated the area and Fisher`s businesses. Fisher was forced to sell his Miami Beach mansion and passed away shortly after at the age of 65. A memorial of Carl Fisher was created in a park on Alton Road. Fisher transformed a barrier island into one of the most sought-after vacation destinations in the world.


South Beach is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the Miami area. With a population around 3,500, the average household income is $257,349 and the median home value is $699,200. Despite the high average household income, South Beach has a poverty rate of 4.96%. 96.6% of the population is white, 1.6% of the population is Hispanic, and 1.8% is mixed. The median age of South Beach residents is 69 years. Due to the high volume of tourism on South Beach, cost of living is significantly higher than in other parts of South Florida. This leads to a segregated community as only the rich and famous are able to afford the high prices. For example, gas on South Beach is about $3.80/gallon while the average gas price in South Florida is about $2.75/gallon.

In order to learn more about South Beach, I had the pleasure of interviewing Santiago De La Torre, a South Beach resident. While we were talking, he spoke about how South Beach has not changed much since he moved here around 20 years ago. Spring breakers still come on a yearly basis and increase traffic which is already a problem. He mentioned how even though it seems fun to live in a tourist destination, it can be kind of annoying around certain times of the year such as spring break because visitors come, and many leave the beaches full of trash which destroys the natural environment. He mentioned how he rides his bike or walks around the island to get around. Parking can be hard to find at certain places and he mainly uses his car when he must go back to the mainland.


Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU

Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU. Photo by Lemuel Fernandez/ CC by 4.0

The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU comprises two historic buildings in South Beach which served as synagogues for the first Jewish congregation on Miami Beach. When Jews began to move to South Beach in 1913, they were not allowed to live north of Fifth Street. For that reason, the area south of Fifth Street became a Jewish ghetto and the earliest synagogues on the island were built in this neighborhood. Founded in 1927, Congregation Beth Jacob was the first congregation to build a synagogue in 1929. The primary building contains stained glass windows, Art Deco chandeliers, marble bimah, concrete relief panels on the exterior, and a copper Moorish dome on the top. This building served as the center of the South Beach Jewish community until 1986. In 2005, the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU purchased both buildings and undertook a restoration project to preserve the historic site.

Art Deco District

Historic Art Deco Buildings; The Leslie and The Carlyle. Photo by Lemuel Fernandez/ CC by 4.0

With over 800 historic buildings, South Beach contains the largest concentration of Art Deco buildings in the country. Due to the work of the Miami Design Preservation League and women like Barbara Baer Capitman, Art Deco buildings can be purchased but the historic architecture must not be altered in any way. The Miami Design Preservation League conducts daily guided walking tours of the district so that you can experience the beauty firsthand. You can easily spot an Art Deco building by looking for the ten aesthetic characteristics that are commonly used: the law of three, white facade and pastel-colored highlights, ziggurat rooflines, curved edges, “eyebrows”, porthole windows, relief art, glass bricks, terrazzo floors, and most importantly, neon.

The Betsy Poetry Rail

The Betsy Hotel Poetry Rail. thebetsyhotel.com CC by 4.0

As a great supporter of the arts, The Betsy Hotel in South Beach decided to create a poetry rail instead of having a boring metal rail. The Betsy Poetry Rail contains poems from authors who in some way contributed to the identity of Miami. One of its featured artists is Richard Blanco. Richard Blanco is an American poet who read the poem “One Today” at Barack Obama’s second presidential inauguration. Born in Madrid, he and his Cuban-exile family moved to the United States. He was raised in Miami, studied at Florida International University, and was the youngest, first Latino, immigrant, and openly gay writer to serve as an inaugural poet.


South Point Park

South Point Park, looking towards Fisher Island, and the Downtown Miami skyline. Photo by Lemuel Fernandez/ CC by 4.0

South Point park is a must when visiting South Beach. On the southernmost tip of South Beach, South Point Park features unparalleled views, none of which you can find anywhere else in the country. At the end of the park is South Point Pier, a photo op where you can see the beach, Fisher Island, Port of Miami, and Downtown Miami. As the cruise ship capital of the world, you can see cruise ships sail in and out of the Port of Miami through government cut. This park is a great place to take a walk with your family and just take in the sights. South Point Park also features a water play area for children, and a workout area for adults.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas Park

Marjory Stoneman Douglass Ocean Beach Park. Photo by Lemuel Fernandez/ CC by 4.0

Located on Ocean Drive and 2nd Street, Marjory Stoneman Douglas Ocean Beach Park, offers a wide range of activities for South Beach residents and visitors. The park is designed for children ages 2-5 and 5-12, with shaded play areas with rubber surfacing. The play equipment includes climbing and upper body components, as well as swing sets. The park is open every day, Sunrise to Sunset. The park offers beach access and public restrooms. The park is named after an American journalist and author who was a strong advocate for the preservation of the Everglades; helping make Miami what it is today. The park also incorporates “Ocean Beach” into its name as the City of Miami Beach was incorporated as the City of Ocean Beach.

Lummus Park

Lummus Park looking towards the walking trails. Photo by Lemuel Fernandez/ CC by 4.0

Located along Ocean Drive at 6th, 9th, 11th, and 13th Street, Lummus Park offers a variety of activities for teens and older. The park is open every day, Sunrise to Sunset and contains several restroom locations. Less than 100 ft from the beach, the park contains direct beach access and several beach wash stations. The park features workout equipment at three distinct locations along Ocean Drive, a pavilion shelter, and around 18 sand volleyball courts. At 6th Street, you can find multiple health beat stations over rubber surfacing for support. At 9th Street, also known as Muscle Beach South Beach, you can find beach wellness equipment made by the outdoor fitness company My Equilibria, which offers twelve distinct features to help users build strength, power, agility, and stamina. The park also features concrete paths along the beach for those who choose to bike, walk, or run. The park serves as the host to several events year-round, including concerts, marathons, and fitness competitions.


As can be expected from a major tourism destination, South Beach is plagued with traffic. With one main entrance to South Beach (McArthur Causeway), you might find yourself getting stuck in traffic on your way back and once you are on the island there not many backroads you can take to try and avoid traffic.


CitiBike docking station on Ocean Drive. lincolnroadmall.com CC by 4.0

CitiBike is a bike rental/sharing system in Miami. It is a fun, easy, and convenient way to get around. The bikes are solar powered and locked into a network of stations where you can dock the bike after you are done using it. CitiBikes are available for use 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. To use CitiBikes all you have to do is unlock the bike from any of the multiple stations, ride and explore the city, and return the bike to whichever station you’d like. CitiBike is a great way to explore the city without having to deal with traffic.

Miami Beach Trolley

Miami Beach Trolley. miamiandbeaches.com CC by 4.0

The Miami Beach Trolley is another form of transportation on South Beach. It offers free transportation that connects the entire beach. The trolley runs every 15 to 40 minutes and operates seven days a week. The Miami Beach Trolley is another efficient way to explore the city.


Ocean Drive near Versace Mansion (Villa Casa Casuarina). Photo by Lemuel Fernandez/ CC by 4.0

If you don’t like any of the above options, walking is always an option. Walking on South Beach may be preferred by some because it offers another perspective. Walking allows you to see things that you otherwise could not if you were driving, riding the trolley, or biking. Walking on South Beach just got better as Ocean Drive was recently closed to motor traffic. This allowed restaurants to expand their outdoor dining and allows pedestrians to walk iconic famous Ocean Drive taking in the sights of the Art Deco District and the beach without having to worry about getting hit by cars.

Overall, the transportation system on South Beach is very efficient and offers you multiple options so that you can choose whichever best fits your needs.


Bacon Bitch

Photo from Bacon Bitch IG: @baconbitch CC by 4.0

As we all know, social media is a very useful tool for getting information to millions of people in a short amount of time. If you frequent on TikTok, there is a good chance that this restaurant has popped up on your “For You Page” at one point or another. Speaking from personal experience, the second I heard about this restaurant I knew I had to try it; and all of this thanks to a 30 second tiktok. Located on 10th street and Collins Ave, Bacon Bitch is a breakfast and brunch restaurant founded by Chris Viso. Chris got his inspiration for this sensational restaurant from his childhood. When he was young, he would have a bacon, egg, and cheese croissant from his neighborhood bodega before going to school. This inspired him to create a restaurant that did not just serve breakfast food, but rather gave you an experience you would never forget. This was achieved with a menu that is both visually appealing and exciting to the taste buds. Instead of a traditional greeting, when you walk into Bacon Bitch you are welcomed with a “HEY BITCH!” adding to the experience and the Bacon Bitch culture. The restaurant has now become one of the best breakfast/brunch experiences in Miami, attracting both locals and tourists. I highly recommend you visit whenever you have a chance, it really does live up to the hype. By the way, you should try the OG, it’s amazing! Make sure to follow Bacon Bitch on Instagram (@baconbitch) to catch a glimpse into what they have to offer.

Havana 1957

Skirt Steak with a side of Moros. havana1957.com CC by 4.0

As indicated by its name, Havana 1957 strives to give you an immersion into Cuban cuisine and an experience that allows you to relive the glory and glamour of old Cuba in the 1950s (Havana 1957). The restaurant’s theme “Un Dia En La Habana” is keeping with the restaurant’s  decor and menu. Its decor features vintage Cuban memorabilia that will have your grandparents relive their youth. In keeping with the theme, classical Cuban music is played in the dining room from artists like Celia Cruz, Benny More, Willy Chirino, and several others. Renowned chef Juan Luis Rosales crafted a menu that incorporates fresh ingredients and the flavors of authentic Cuban cuisine that adds to the experience of “Un Dia En La Habana”. Havana 1957 is located on Ocean Drive and 14th street and is open daily from 9 AM to 12 AM. Havana 1957 is a must if you are ever in South Beach. I suggest you order the “Churrasco A La Cubana”, it is delicious.

Joe’s Stone Crab

Joe’s Stone Crab Legs. joesstonecrab.com CC by 4.0

Located on Washington Ave and South Point Dr, Joe’s Stone Crab is one of the earliest restaurants established in South Beach. Joe Weiss opened a small lunch counter on Miami Beach in 1913, two years prior to the establishment of Miami Beach as a city. In the beginning, Joe’s Stone Crab was ran as a family restaurant. He would do the cooking and his wife Jennie would run the fining room. Notable guests include Al Capone, The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Joseph Kennedy, Edgar Hoover, and several others. The restaurants signature dish is Stone Crab and is served with mustard sauce.


News Cafe

News Cafe, 8th street and Ocean Drive. Photo by Lemuel Fernandez/ CC by 4.0

Since its opening over three decades ago, News Cafe has been an iconic landmark of Ocean Drive. In 1988, Mark Soyka opened the cafe/newsstand on Ocean Drive and immediately caught the attention of locals and tourists. At the time, online news was not a thing, and it was difficult for immigrants to stay up to date on the current events back in their home country. The News Cafe allowed them to purchase a newspaper from their home country and stay updated, not to mention enjoy a delicious breakfast in the meantime. Apart from tourists and locals, the News Cafe was also frequented by celebrities. The most notable of them, designer Gianni Versace. Each morning, Gianni would walk to the cafe from his mansion on Ocean Beach to pick up a newspaper and then return home to enjoy breakfast. It was on his way back home from the News Cafe that Gianni was murdered by Andrew Cunanan on the steps of his home. The cafe was open 24/7, providing refreshments to those coming back from the beach, or just an afternoon pick me up for those coming home from work. Unfortunately, the News Cafe has been temporarily shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decline in tourism and the effects of the stay-at-home orders halted the income of the cafe, and like many other businesses, it was forced to shut down due to lack of funds. The pandemic has been devastating for businesses across South Beach and the Miami area. Businesses like the News Cafe that have been a staple for the surrounding community have not been able to operate for over a year and unfortunately, their future is now uncertain.


Interior of Lincoln Theater/ H&M. Photo by Robin Hill. shulman-design.com CC by 4.0

Another business in South Beach worth mentioning H&M. Particularly the location in the Lincoln Road Mall. Located inside the old Lincoln Theater, H&M converted the 1936 theater into retail space. This allowed new businesses to be introduced to Lincoln Road Mall while preserving the history of South Beach. In 1936, the Lincoln Theater first opened its doors to the community as a cinema. After being vacant for several years, the New World Symphony bought the property in 1990 and renovated it to its former glory. In February 2010, after the New World Symphony had moved to its current location, the theater was converted into retail space, and H&M moved in. Instead of tearing down the theater to build a store, the historic building was instead converted to meet the needs of today while showing respect to its long history. Where you used to see seats for the guests, you now see racks of clothing, while preserving the iconic floors, mezzanine, and ceiling.


Interior of CAMEO Nightclub. cameomiami.com CC by 4.0

In keeping with the South Beach party mood, CAMEO Nightclub promises to give you an experience you’ll never forget. Located on Washington Ave and 14th Street, Cameo is in the heart of South Beach and at the center of South Beach nightlife. Cameo features performances from top artists, DJs and has celebrity guest appearances every other Friday and Saturday. With two stories, two dance floors, various bars, Cameo proves to be one of the best locations on South Beach to enjoy a special occasion with friends and family.


Since its inception, South Beach has been all about luxury and party. If not for Fisher, who dreamed of turning a mangrove filled barrier island into a resort city, Miami Beach would not have become what it is today. However, South Beach is not just all about party, it is also rich in culture that sometimes gets overlooked. From the Jewish Museum of Florida to the Art Deco District, Betsy Poetry Rail, and the Holocaust Memorial, there is meaningful history everywhere you look. As a city, there are various things that South Beach did right. Partnering with CitiBike, My Equilibria, Health beat, to incorporate outdoor activities to the lives of their residents and establishing effective public transportation. They also preserved Art Deco buildings which is a main tourist attraction as the largest concentration of Art Deco buildings in the country. Although South Beach seems like paradise, there are also some downsides. Due to its low elevation, flooding is very common in the city and can be a major inconvenience when you are trying to get around during the rainy season. Tourists can also be considered a downside of South Beach as it can be a nuisance for residents during the Spring Break and Summer seasons. Overall, the positives outweigh the negatives and South Beach maintains its party culture. Making it a dream destination for people around the world.

Works Cited

“Art Deco Historic District in Miami Beach: South Beach, FL.” MiamiandBeaches.com, http://www.miamiandbeaches.com/thing-to-do/attractions/art-deco-historic-district/2116. 

“Authentic Cuban Restaurant in Miami Beach, Florida.” Havana 1957, 12 Feb. 2021, http://www.havana1957.com/. 

Bacon Bitch, http://www.baconbitch.com/. 

“The Betsy Poetry Rail: Where Public Art Meets Poetic Inspiration.” Https://Www.thebetsyhotel.com/, 17 Sept. 2020, http://www.thebetsyhotel.com/journal/the-betsy-poetry-rail-where-public-art-meets-poetic-inspiration. 

“CAMEO Miami Nightclub: Venue Rental: South Beach: Hip Hop.” CAMEO Nightclub, 12 June 2020, cameomiami.com/. 

Citi Bike Miami, citibikemiami.com/. 

“Citywide Free Trolley.” City of Miami Beach, http://www.miamibeachfl.gov/city-hall/transportation/trolley/. 

Doss, Laine. “Iconic South Beach Restaurant News Cafe Boarded Up.” Miami New Times, 4, 20 Jan. 2021, http://www.miaminewtimes.com/restaurants/news-cafe-gianni-versaces-ocean-drive-favorite-has-closed-temporarily-11803152. 

Florida International University – Digital Communications. “Historic Buildings.” Jewish Museum of Florida | Florida International University, jmof.fiu.edu/about/historic-building/index.html. 

“Free Transportation Around Miami.” MiamiandBeaches.com, http://www.miamiandbeaches.com/plan-your-trip/transportation/free-transportation-around-miami-and-beaches. 

“Joe’s Stone Crab Home.” Home Page Joe’s Stone Crab, http://www.joesstonecrab.com/. 

“Lincoln Theatre/ H&M – Shulman + Associates: Design · Architecture Interior Urban Graphic.” Shulman + Associates | Design · Architecture Interior Urban Graphic, http://www.shulman-design.com/lincoln-theatre. 

“The Man Who Built Miami Beach .” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 14 July 2015, http://www.pbs.org/video/wlrn-film-shorts-man-who-built-miami-beach/. 

Munzenrieder, Kyle. “100 Years: The Dark and Dirty History of Miami Beach.” Miami New Times, 4, 21 Oct. 2019, http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/100-years-the-dark-and-dirty-history-of-miami-beach-7552169. 

“Parks And Recreation.” City of Miami Beach, http://www.miamibeachfl.gov/city-hall/parks-and-recreation/. 

“Race and Ethnicity in South Beach, Florida (Unincorporated Place).” The Demographic Statistical Atlas of the United States – Statistical Atlas, statisticalatlas.com/place/Florida/South-Beach/Race-and-Ethnicity. 

“Richard Blanco.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation, http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/richard-blanco. 

“South Beach, FL.” Data USA, datausa.io/profile/geo/south-beach-fl/. 

“South Beach, Florida Population 2021.” South Beach, Florida Population 2021 (Demographics, Maps, Graphs), worldpopulationreview.com/us-cities/south-beach-fl-population. 

Lemuel Fernandez: Miami Service Project: Chicken Key

Student Bio

Photo by Annette Cruz/ CC by 4.0

Hi! My name is Lemuel Fernandez, and I am a Junior at Florida International University studying Biological Sciences. I was born in Cuba but raised in Miami.  My goal in life is to become a Physician Assistant and give back to a community that has given me so much. Through Finding Miami, I hope further to understand the history of this extremely diverse city in order to adequately provide quality healthcare to its residents in the future.


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteering opportunities have been scarce. As a Pre-PA student, shadowing opportunities have been unavailable as most healthcare professionals have been using Telehealth or are unable to bring students into their practice due to the inherent risk of exposure for patients and staff. Fortunately, my class and I were able to volunteer with the Deering Estate and with the help of Professor Bailly and our TA Annette Cruz, we were able to participate in a unique experience and help clean up Chicken Key. This opportunity was very meaningful because it not only gave us an experience that many Miami residents don’t have a chance to experience, it also gave us a chance to help the environment. During the pandemic, because humans have been distancing in public and home whenever possible, life has returned to various places around the world. In Venice, canals became clear enough to see the marine life swimming around. In California, a coyote was walking around the streets of San Francisco. We need to be mindful of how our activities are affecting the ecosystem around us and take care of it, at the end of the day, it will come back to affect us too. This project allowed my class and I to make a small, meaningful difference by picking up debris on Chicken Key. At the end of the activity, we removed over ten trash bags full of plastic, glass, rubber, and even brought back a tire. Our effort may have saved an animal’s life.


Chicken Key is an uninhabited barrier island in Biscayne Bay, about one mile offshore from the Deering Estate. As a barrier island, it is prone to receiving countless amounts of ocean debris from nearby cities, especially South Beach. As a tourist destination, South Beach generates tons of waste, some of which is not disposed of properly and floats away to nearby areas such as Chicken Key. With spring break just ending, this excursion to help clean up the island was more important than ever. Not to mention it was a great way for us to disconnect from our daily lives and just take a minute to enjoy the outdoors and clean up at the same time. It was a win-win situation for us and the environment. As a Biology major, volunteering to clean up the environment was immensely important because if not removed, ocean debris can affect the ecosystem on the island and put the lives of countless animals at risk.

Where & What

At ten AM on the day of our excursion, my classmates and I, accompanied by our Professor and TA, set course for Chicken Key. As you look towards Chicken Key from the yacht turning basin at the Deering Estate, it seemed as if it would take us a full day to kayak out there. When I first got on the kayak, the first thing I though off was this is crazy. I wouldn’t classify myself as a confident kayaker; my only experience with kayaks had been on the beach in shallow waters, barely 10 feet from the shore. Our destination this time was about one mile into Biscayne Bay. I really thought that for sure I was going to be the first one to crash into the mangroves due to the current or wind. To my surprise, the water was not deep at all. Although there was a light breeze, the water was as still as glass, which made navigating towards the island a breeze. As we got closer to the island, I noticed how clear the water was; you could see the floor of the bay with ease, which definitely helped with the fear of encountering various marine species that call the bay their home. Undisturbed by man, the Watters surrounding Chicken Key were crystal clear. Unfortunately, the inside of the island told a different story.

Although Chicken Key is uninhabited by humans, the current coming off of South Beach carries countless of ocean debris towards the island. With spring break just ending, the amount of plastic and other debris on the island was plentiful. As expected, we found multiple pieces of plastic, glass bottles, liquor bottles. One thing that I was not expecting to find was shoes. I found several shoes and sandals, but never found the second shoe to complete the pair. Other classmates and I also found deodorant bottles, empty sunscreen cans, and even a tire; how it got there, nobody had a clue. After our search for trash was complete, we had a picnic and took a break to swim. The cold water felt great after spending time picking up trash.

As we made the journey back to the Deering Estate, we discovered a new path, one different from the way we arrived. We passed by an area in which sharks and manta rays frequent. Unfortunately, due to the low tide, we were unable to encounter any. We then made our way towards the channel that Charles Deering dredged in order to bring his yachts to his house. There, the water was deeper, waves got larger, and it became harder to steer the kayak. When the group finally reached the beginning of the channel, we took a break from paddling and allowed the current to bring us back in. Laying on a kayak and letting the current drag you was a very calming experience. It allows you to reflect on what really matters and forget about any problems which you may have. When we reached the estate, we unloaded our trash bags, took our kayaks and canoes out of the water, and stored them in their proper location for others to enjoy.


Pending Verification


Overall, the Chicken Key experience was amazing. Although public excursions are not being led due to COVID, I would recommend anyone to go whenever they get a chance. It truly is an experience that many people do not have a chance to do even if it is in their own backyards. We have developed so many areas around Miami that it really is amazing being able to go to an uninhabited island which has never been developed. It gives you a glimpse to what South Florida was like and would have been like if we had not torn down mangroves and built our cities over them. The only negative thing that came out of this was that I got sunburned. My face, arm, and legs were as red as a tomato and even began to peel, but it was still worth it. Aloe vera was my best friend for about a week, but just make sure to take extra sunscreen and reapply while you are on Chicken Key. Most importantly make sure that any trash that you generate while on Chicken Key is brought back with you; you wouldn’t want to contribute more debris when the mission is to clean it up.


Miami Museums: Miami Historical Sites: The Deering Estate. deeringestate.org/. 

Lemuel Fernandez: Miami As Text 2021

Photo by Annette Cruz/ CC by 4.0

Hi! My name is Lemuel Fernandez, and I am a Junior at Florida International University studying Biological Sciences. I was born in Cuba but raised in Miami.  My goal in life is to become a Physician Assistant and give back to a community that has given me so much. Through Finding Miami, I hope further to understand the history of this extremely diverse city in order to adequately provide quality healthcare to its residents in the future.

Downtown as Text

Photo by Lemuel Fernandez/ CC by 4.0

“More than Meets the Eye”

By Lemuel Fernandez of FIU at Downtown Miami, 22 January 2021.

For many people, when they hear the word Miami they automatically think about the beach, spring break, unpredictable weather patterns, and luxury. Few people actually take the time to learn the history of this cultural melting pot, to walk through its streets and experience the real Miami. Being nicknamed “the mother of Miami”, Julia Tuttle was one of the biggest advocates for the incorporation of the City of Miami. Tuttle was the one that got Henry Flagler to extend his railroad down to Miami which catalyzed the development of Miami from a desolate area to the major city that it is today. The diversity and versatility of Miami can be seen in the Plantation Slave Quarters found in Lummus Park. Termed the “Long Building”, it served as slave quarters, army barracks, a post office, a courthouse, and a tea room/social club.

As a common theme throughout the United States, Miami features a past which has been “white washed”. Unknown to most, Henry Flagler did not just bring a railroad to Miami. Once he successfully got the city to be incorporated, largely thanks to his male employees, Flagler segregated his African American employees to “Colored Town”, what is now known as Overtown. Part of Miami`s problematic past also involves the Tequesta people. What is now known as the “Miami Circle” was previously known as the hub of their city. This is where they congregated on a daily basis and where they first saw Ponce De Leon sail in through Biscayne Bay, we now use it as a dog park. On the north side of the Miami River, we constructed a hotel where the Tequesta used to bury their loved ones. By keeping all of this history hidden, we are bound to relive it. History is meant for us to learn from our mistakes so that they do not happen again.

Everglades As Text

Photo by Lemuel Fernandez/ CC by 4.0


By Lemuel Fernandez of FIU at Everglades National Park, 05 February, 2021

Although it is in their own backyards, most Miami residents have never been to Everglades National Park. Personally, after living here for over 15 years I have only visited the national park three times. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, Everglades National Parks offers countless activities to spend your day interacting with nature and appreciating the natural world. Slough Slogging in particular allows you to walk through the River of Grass and experience something that not many people do in their lifetime. When you first begin slogging, you quickly notice that the water is colder than you expect. Your attention then shifts to the fact that while the water is clear, it is murky in the path that you are walking. This may terrify you because at first you do not know if you are stepping on a log or on a snake. However, as you spend more time in the water, you become more comfortable moving around as you realize that animals really do not want to be near humans and just want to be left alone. One piece of information that I will share with you based on personal experience, try walking as close as possible to the tree trunks as the farther you are from the trees, the deeper the water is.

One of the more popular trails in the national park is the Anhinga Trail. The trail allows you to walk through a sawgrass marsh in wish you can see alligators, turtles, and many different types of birds. The trail starts at the Royal Palm Visitor Center and is a little under 1 mile long. Fun fact, the trail actually sits on what was the main road of the Royal Palm State Park. Before Everglades National Park and Royal Park State Park, the land was owned by Henry Flagler in hopes of building his railroad through the Everglades and out to Cape Sable. Once people became aware of the countless benefits that the natural ecosystem of the Everglades provides the people of Miami, the land was given to the government for the inception of Royal Palm State Park after push from Mary Mann Jennings and the Florida Federation of Women’s club. Just another example of how women shaped Miami and its surroundings into what it is today.

South Beach As Text

Photo by Lemuel Fernandez/ CC by 4.0


By Lemuel Fernandez of FIU at South Beach, 19 February, 2021

Miami Beach has become one of the most sought-after vacations for people all around the world. When standing at South Point Pier and looking at down the beach, it is impossible to imagine how this land used to be full of mangroves and largely uninhabited. The Tequesta tribe would sail out to the island to escape the mosquitos in the mainland but kept they kept their primary residence at the mouth of the Miami River. While on his first trip to Miami Beach in 1910, Carl G. Fisher fell in love with the island and recognized its potential. He dreamed of making it a perfect vacation destination for his friends in the automobile industry.

With the development of South Beach came segregation. In order to increase the population of the now City of Miami Beach, Fisher worked to attract Jews to live on the island. The reason for this is because they were not black, and they had money to spend. Jews were only allowed to reside south of fifth street and many businesses used “Gentiles Clientele Only” in their marketing to attract white customers and assure them that no Jews would be there. Fifth street became the main road into south beach, serving as a physical divide between the white and Jewish population living on the island.

As a common theme throughout South Florida, Miami Beach would not be what it is today without women. Barbra Baer Capitman, founder of the Miami Design Preservation League, fought for the preservation of the historic Art Deco district and was a fierce activist in her community. Barbra began to campaign for the preservation of Art Deco district as many investors began to buy the long-neglected buildings and constructing buildings that had nothing to do with the history of Miami Beach. Barbra believed that if we did not protect those buildings, then the true history of Miami Beach would be lost. Because of her, Miami Beach has become one of the biggest travel destinations in the world as many tourists travel from all over the world to see the Art Deco buildings that Barbra fought so hard to protect. Yet again another example of how women (badass women as Professor Bailly says) shaped Miami into what it is today.

Deering As Text

Photo by Lemuel Fernandez/ CC by 4.0

“Hidden Gem”

By Lemuel Fernandez of FIU at Deering Estate, 05 March, 2021

As I walked into the nature preserve at Deering Estate, the first thing I thought was, this is not Florida. Everywhere you would turn, you would only see grass and trees. We have essentially wiped out most of the natural flora in South Florida in order to build our homes, schools, and shops and there are only a few places in which the naturally existing trees in this area have been protected. The Deering Estate contains around six ecosystems with over 120 acres of Pine Rocklands and is actively protecting and preserving other ecosystems that are vital to our survival in South Florida. Among its various ecosystems, the estate also features mangrove forests which serve as a barrier between hurricanes and our cities. When a hurricane hits South Florida, mangroves reduce the impacts of waves, storm surge, and winds. Mangroves also serve as a habitat for fish in Biscayne Bay and absorb toxins in the water which helps reduce the concentration of harmful chemicals in Biscayne Bay.

Alongside the natural beauty in the nature preserve, the Deering Estate also features two historic homes, the Richmond Cottage and the Stone House. The Richmond Cottage once served as a small inn south of the developing city of Miami. As an advertisement, a poster would hang on the wall of the Inn which read “Connected to Miami” which at the time was a special thing considering travel from Miami to Cutler (where Deering Estate is) was around two days due to the difficult topography. The Richmond Inn served as a place where people who were in the business of Henry Flagler Railroad could sleep while in town. Soon after the Inn closed, Charles Deering bought the property and used it as his winter home. While in Europe, Deering purchased a Spanish Villa named Maricel which was used as his main residence. During the war, Deering was not able to return to his Spanish retreat and decided to rebuild it on his winter estate in South Florida. Deering then built the Stone House, a three-story Mediterranean Revival overlooking Biscayne Bay. Interestingly enough, Deering never built a kitchen in the Stone House and only used the one found in the Richmond Cottage. Deering also built a boat turning basin so that he could park his boats (Barbee and May-y-cel). Both the boat basin and the stone house were constructed by Afro-Bahamian workers which were often injured on the job and would lay on the floor dying because there was no way too get them medical attention until the following day.

Vizcaya As Text

Photo by Lemuel Fernandez/ CC by 4.0

“A Palace in the Mangroves”

By Lemuel Fernandez of FIU at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, 19, March, 2021

As you begin to towards the main house at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, you are welcomed by a row of trees and beautiful fountains that are meant to mirror the heavens at night. From here, you can catch a glimpse of the North end of the house, through the courtyard, and out to Biscayne Bay. Despite being built many years ago, Vizcaya embodies Miami culture; luxury, and picture perfect. On a typical visit to Vizcaya, you can encounter at least one teenage girl taking her quinceanera photos, or a couple taking their engagement photos. In our own homes, it is customary to hang pictures of your family by the front door so that visitors can get a glimpse into the residents. For example, if you are Christian, you may have a cross by the door, letting visitors know that this is a Christian household. When you first walk into the main house, you are greeted by a sculpture of Dionysus, the god of wine and ecstasy. James Deering placed this sculpture at his front door so visitors would immediately know who he was and what his house was intended for.

In 1912, James Deering bought about 100 acres of land from Mary Brickell and began to design a villa which was to be built in the middle of the mangroves. In 1914, Deering began construction on the villa and celebrated its completion with a Christmas Day party in December of 1916. Since its completion, the villa has been known for its parties. Similar to Versailles Deering built small cavelike structures in the gardens where people could have secrete rendezvous. When Versailles was built, it was very restricted who you could interact with. You had to stay in your social class and could not interact with those above or below you. The gardens is how people would meet up in secret. James also incorporated the gardens at Versailles in his property. Gardens which were carefully manicured as to look unnatural and to give a sense that he could control nature.

Margulies at Text

Photo by Lemuel Fernandez/ CC by 4.0

“The Heart of Wynwood”

By Lemuel Fernandez of FIU at The Margulies Collection at the WAREhOUSE, 16, April, 2021.

Now known for culture and art, Wynwood was once a Miami inner city neighborhood built for the working class. In the early sixties, Cuban immigrants arriving to Miami were moving to Wynwood. This was at a time where it was safe enough for children to be carelessly playing on the street. Unfortunately, as we have seen across Miami, gentrification plays a big role into why an area is the way that it is today. When I-95 was proposed, the wealthy white neighborhoods did not want a big highway running next to their homes and I-95 was ultimately built through Wynwood and Overtown. Wynwood began to be neglected, until art moved in and revitalized the neighborhood. One of the pioneers of the Wynwood art scene was Martin Z. Margulies.

Before being one of ARTnews Top 200 Collectors, Martin Z. Margulies was previously a real estate developer. He began his collecting career by acquiring several Contemporary Art pieces, buying photography, video and installation art from the United States and Europe. In 1998, Mr. Margulies began to look for a place to house and exhibit his growing collection. In 1999, the Margulies Collection at the WAREhOUSE opened in Wynwood. The space comprises 50,000 square feet of contemporary art. The collection comprises well renowned artists such as Sol LeWitt, Willem de Kooning, George Segal, Anselm Kiefer, and several others. The Margulies Collection has donated several of its art pieces to several institutions in Florida such as Florida International University, University of Miami, the Lowe Arts Museum, and has multiple pieces on loan at museums around the world. In keeping with its commitment to education, admission to the warehouse is free for students of the state of Florida. As the warehouse is fully funded by the Martin Z Margulies Foundation, the admission fee charged to visitors is donated to the Lotus House, a shelter for homeless women and children in Miami. The Warehouse closes for the summer and cycles its display pieces before reopening. During Art Basel, admission to the warehouse is highly regarded as people in the art world come from all over the world to see the Margulies Collection and its priceless contemporary art pieces. One piece of art that stood out to me was “Hurma” by Magdalena Abakanowics. The piece includes 250 figures made out of burlap and resin. The 250 figures are all ambiguous in nature, this represents the crowds arriving at the death camps during the Holocaust. The figures are faceless, symbolizing the dehumanizing nature of the concentration camps.

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