Leonella Santillan: Miami Beach 2021

Student Bio

Hello, my name is Leonella Santillan, I am an international student about to finish my bachelor’s at Florida International University. My main dream is to become a lawyer, and therefore, I am always determined to learn more to attain my dream. I am from Ecuador and came to the United States when I was 14 years of age.  This study will focus on Miami Beach, which is one of the cities in Miami. 


Miami Beach is a tourist mecca with more than 7 miles of shores, three golf courses, 20 parks, world-class art, music, restaurants, nightlife, and shopping. It is also a lively, economically active, and residential neighborhood (Park et al., 164). Miami Beach is a trendsetting arts and culture center for tourists from all over the country, actors, and local people alike, a community of only 7.1 miles between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Miami Beach provides tourists and locals with various facilities to enjoy, from café, clubs, and retail at South Beach’s Ocean Drive, Lincoln Road, and Washington Avenue to International Collins Avenue and Middle Beach Restaurants and North Beach neighborhoods.


“Sunny Florida” epitome is Miami Beach, home to some of the wealthiest and famous Americans. The island town offers lovely sandy beaches facing the North Atlantic waves from Lummus Park to South Beach. According to Carson, the area combines lifestyle, heritage, and the arts in an excellent way (pg5). Miami Beach is a Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States coastal resort. On 26 March 1915, it was incorporated. The town is situated on natural and human-made barrier islands that isolate the beach from Miami’s mainland town from the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay.


Age and Population Demographic

Interview of Monica Garcia

Leonella: Hello Monica, can you introduce yourself and mention what kind of work you do?

Monica: “Hello, my name is Monica Garcia, and I am a Model. I have lived in Miami Beach area for 2 years.”

Leonella: Why did you choose to live in Miami Beach?

Monica: “I chose to live in Miami Beach because it is full of activities to do, also because I am close to the ocean and my favorite part of Miami Beach are the beaches”

Leonella: How would you describe the Miami Beach residents?

Monica: “I describe them as nice, fun and entertaining”

Leonella: What is your favorite aspect of Miami Beach?

Monica: “The beaches and the amazing skyscrapers that are hotels.”

Leonella: If someone you knew were to come to Miami Beach, where would you take them?

Monica: “I would take them to the beaches, and parks because I would like for them to fall in love with the views that Miami Beach has to offer.”

Leonella: If there was something you could change about Miami Beach, what would it be?

Monica: “Honestly nothing, living on Miami Beach has been so amazing since every time I would wake up I would see the amazing view of the oceans and the skies”

Cultural Roots

Miami Beach’s population speaks only English, 28.26 percent, while the other languages speak 71.74 percent. Spain, which is spoken by 56.30 percent of the population, is the majority group’s non-English language (Fallon et al., pg 67). Miami Beach, FL’s five major racial groups, are white (37, 6%), white (Hispanic), others (Hispanic) (15,6%), Black or African (Non-Hispanic) (3,0%), and Asian (Non-Hispanic) (3,0%) (Miami Beach) (1.55 percent). FL speaks non-English, and 72.8% are US residents.

Income Level

Miami Beach has an annual family income of $106,818 and a poverty rate of 14.00%. Median leasing prices are around $1,396 a month in recent years, and average housing costs are around $459,000, as indicated by Sadri et al., pg (169). Miami Beach is median for 41.4 years, for men 40.8 years, and women 42.6 years. 107.0 males are eligible for every 100 females.


I. Museums

Gardens and Vizcaya Museum The lavish winter residence of the industrialist of the 1920th century, James Deering, was located on 28 acres of the national historic landmark. Built-in 1916 and built around the central courtyard, the mansion has 34 rooms (Zebracki et al., 2269). The Vizcaya project wanted over 1,100 employees and artisans, many of whom came from Europe, to guarantee design authenticity.

The Renaissance Italian villa is full of a remarkable array of European furnishings and decorative arts from the 15th to the 19th. There are lovely fountains, swimming pools, and sculptures in the grounds and garden. An ornately carved barge with females is a breakwater at the base of Biscayne Bay’s steps (Revell et al., 1940). There’s also a fun children’s museum in Miami, which is in a vibrant and imaginative building with a space of over 56,000 ft. Miami’s children’s museum is an exciting location for children. Entertaining interactive displays seek to cater to the interest and imagination of children. Fourteen thematic galleries concentrate on the arts, music, environment, networking, and four outdoor exhibitions offering children the ability to play and enjoy outdoors.

II. Monuments

One of the common monuments recognized in Miami beach is Freedom Tower. Freedom Tower is one of the most striking structures on the Bay of Vice versa. Built-in 1925, the skyscraper is one of the oldest in the US’s Southeast and has been the Miami Daily News headquarters for many years (Zebracki et al., 2261). Its name derives from the fact that it was used to treat hundreds of thousands of Cuban refugees who arrived in the 1960s. It is also a monument to Cuban immigration and is also used as a museum of modern art.

Charles Deering is the former site of a 444 acres’ estate that protects the habitat and marine hardwood tropical Rocklands, mangrove trees, salt marsh, and a coastal dune island threatened by a global extinction (Ann Conyers et al., pg 283). The Richmond Cottage, which operated as a hotel and historical buildings dating back from 1896 to 1922, and an American Indian burial ground from 1500, is listed under the Cutler Deering Estate National Register of historic places. Cutler’s Charles Deering was a dealer of art who collected a large number of Old Masters’ works along with his brother James. Here are some of his paintings on display, Deering himself also painted. The Artist Village is now an important cultural hub with services for performers and artists on the farm.

III. Historical landmarks

This memorial is especially effective even for a Holocaust piece. Its main component is the Sculpture of Love and Anguish, an immense, oxidized bronze arm with several Auschwitz selected because it never came out of the camp. With more than 100 sculptures (Wdowinski pg 7). Terrified camp inmates spread over the sides of their arms, attempting to secure their loved ones, including girls, only to later see them massacred, while underneath lay figures of every generation in different poses of pain—a spot where a feeling of the history will come from Miami Beach Holocaust Memorial. Many visitors to Florida visited the memorial (Park et al.,170). The Jews in the Nazi hand have a famous legacy, but it is possible that the next generations will not be aware of the Holocaust. In 1984 several Holocaust survivors fittingly entered the remembrance of the over six million Jews who the Nazis murdered to set up a permanent monument in Miami. This small group of survivors of the Holocaust set up a committee responsible for constructing the monument. The group was renamed the Holocaust Remembrance Committee and registered as a non-profit private body.

Green Parks

The 32-acre green area of the Bayside Marketplace is Bayfront Park on the east side of Biscayne Boulevard. The park features many unique sculptures and monuments. The electronically controlled Pepper Fountain is one of its special characteristics. The Challenger Memorial, which commemorates the Challenger spacecraft crew, and the Light Tower, an amphitheater used for musical events of all sorts, and a playground for children are other highlights. Locals come here mostly to stroll or to run along paved paths.

The Miami Zoo has over 3,000 wildlife, of which 40 are endangered species. In comparison to conventional zoos, animals are clustered in a forest with other creatures that usually coexist and are housed in conditions close to their natural ecosystems (Houston et al., pg 14). The feeding of the giraffe is one of the most delightful encounters in the zoo. Children will be shocked when these gentle giants with their long necks reach out to pluck a treat.

The bird sanctuary, the animal park, and the botanic garden are Jungle Island. In tropical forest environments, parrots and other native bows ride; others are participating in regular displays. A major part of the draw is large mammals, including lions, baboons, alligators, tortoises, monkeys, and orangutans. The gardens contain approximately 2000 different types of tropical plants, including helicons.


I. City buses

Metrobus runs more than 95 routes and almost 1,000 buses covering 41 million miles annually, which is a huge deal. Hop one of the metro buses routes that are not serving city areas with the Metro, such as Miami Beach, Key Biscayne, Homestead, Fort Lauderdale, or the Florida Key, if you can’t get there by Metro (Shafer et al., 11). Three hundred sixty-five days a year, in Miami-Dade County, the Metrobus system provides service. Miami-Dade County bus service services every major retail, leisure, and cultural center and major hospital and schools, planned to connect with Metrorail and Metro Metromover.

II. Metrorail

Metrorail is like the monorail, a 25-mile rail line of two platforms. It’s a quick and cheap way to get you all way through the city center to South Miami from Miami International Airport (MIA). You can easily get to the Civic Center in Jackson Memorial Hospital, Hialeah, Miami-Dade northwest, with access to the Tri-Rail/Metrorail transfer station in Brower’s and Palm Beach counties.

III. Metromover

Metro mover is ideal for tourists to Downtown Miami or to discover the most famous attractions in Miami. The Metromeas is a quick place to visit near the American Airlines Arena, home to the Miami Heat, and various famous concerts; Maurice A. Ferré Park, home to the Pérez Art Museum Miami and the Frost Science Museum; and the Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts district.

Food places

Joe’s Stone Crab

Joe’s has been, over the years, a multimillion-dollar company, being branded Restaurant Business’ second-largest independent restaurant in the US. Although Joe’s provides a wide range of fresh seafood and steaks to cleanse great bits of flesh with full-time fish and butchers, it is the stone crabs that draw buyers worldwide (Shafer et al., 12). The claws are eaten with the mustard sauce of this restaurant, which is why many generations enjoyed their birthdays, birthdays and commitments, and just a Thursday night at Joe’s. The restaurant now has minimal reservations, and its outdoor dining space has been extended.

La Sandwicherie

Situated in an alley off 14th Street, this french counter restaurant does not look like much of it, but it has some of the finest southern sandwiches. The sandwich is based on Crispy, flaky French bread. From there, you can add a selection of sandwich builders such as ham, turkey, roast beef, salami, and Swiss cheese to your option of meat, cheese, and a mixture of these, and even more exclusive euro-friendly options such as Camembert, fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, saucer sec or potato/duck pâté.

South Beach Planta Beach

This plant-based paradise is a fascinating, tropically inspired restaurant for celebrities, influencers, and the sexiest Miami soul that serves vegan food, which also carnivorously shrinks (Zebracki et al., 2270). The menu is comprehensive and culinary with amazing inventive recipes, such as Ahi watermelon nigiri, tots of cauliflowers melt in the mouth, an omnivore-inspired meat enthusiastic pizza, and a savory burger. Pair your dinner with a new juice drink, and don’t hesitate to order a light dessert ice cream in revolving aromas.


Miami is still known more for its beaches than for its businesses but, according to WalletHub, the Magic City is one of America’s best locations for a small business. Miami was 14th out of 180 US cities on the Personal Finance Website. The rankings were based on 19 main metrics, from five-year company survival rates to office room accessibility.

Restaurants Business

Company restaurant in Miami Beach is one of the business prospects. Due to the high population existing and tourists to this city, there is a tendency to develop restaurant services. In this situation, companies must ensure that a well-established approach aims to make the food they produce special and delicious (Carson et al., pg15). Beaches flourish with food, for example. Many who come would like to taste everything from local cuisine to foreign dishes. Thanks to its ethnicity, local food can be a perfect connector and establish a relationship with consumers. Shacks with decent comfort and a range of recipes for food help you stand out. But you have to worry about the competition here because it’s enormous. It is also necessary to have a sector as a special attraction. You have to run offers and sell them successfully.

Accommodation huts

Accommodations are also a key business that does well in Miami beach. This is the hospitality sector’s backbone and is a significant feature that tourists consider before they arrive. One can range from comfortable to modest, depending on the price and availability (Park et al., 172). It’s a long-term enterprise that needs time, and it doesn’t take visitors overnight. Clean structures and accommodating workers contribute to the market growth with good service practices.

Photo booths

The photo booth is also a well-established business in the Miami Beach neighborhood. They still promise businesses everywhere now. That is the photo booth market. Cute slogans and one-liner with an enchanting background on the beach will spiral into money-making for everyone. Picture boots create enjoyable moments fed by a responsive layer of memories with selfies around the world.


This following information proves that Miami Beach has a diversity of cultures, businesses, history landmarks, and transportation.  As you can see, Miami Beach is very popular, well known, and entertainment neighborhood of Miami that is why tourists from all over the world come to Miami to visit Miami beach.


Park, Kwang‐Soo, Yvette Reisinger, and Hyun‐Jung Kang. “Visitors’ motivation for attending the South Beach wine and food festival, Miami Beach, Florida.” Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing 25.2 (2008): 161-181.

Carson, Ruby Leach. “Forty Years of Miami Beach.” Tequesta 15 (1955): 3-28.’

Sadri, Arif Mohaimin, et al. “Hurricane evacuation route choice of major bridges in Miami Beach, Florida.” Transportation research record 2532.1 (2015): 164-173.’

Fallon, Kathleen M., Qing Lai, and Stephen P. Leatherman. “Beachgoer’s recognition of rip current hazard at Miami Beach, Florida.” Ocean & Coastal Management 165 (2018): 63-70.

Sadri, Arif Mohaimin, et al. “Hurricane evacuation route choice of major bridges in Miami Beach, Florida.” Transportation research record 2532.1 (2015): 164-173.

Zebracki, Martin. “Urban preservation and the queerying spaces of (un) remembering: Memorial landscapes of the Miami Beach art deco historic district.” Urban Studies 55.10 (2018): 2261-2285.

Revell, Keith D. “From Urban Citizens to Ocean Liners: Miami Beach Hotels and the Enclosure Movement, 1935-1955.” Journal of Urban History (2020): 0096144220904950.

Zebracki, Martin. “Urban preservation and the queerying spaces of (un) remembering: Memorial landscapes of the Miami Beach art deco historic district.” Urban Studies 55.10 (2018): 2261-2285.

Ann Conyers, Zella, Richard Grant, and Shouraseni Sen Roy. “Sea level rise in Miami Beach: vulnerability and real estate exposure.” The Professional Geographer 71.2 (2019): 278-291.

Wdowinski, Shimon, et al. “Increasing flooding hazard in coastal communities due to rising sea level: Case study of Miami Beach, Florida.” Ocean & Coastal Management 126 (2016): 1-8.

Park, Kwang‐Soo, Yvette Reisinger, and Hyun‐Jung Kang. “Visitors’ motivation for attending the South Beach wine and food festival, Miami Beach, Florida.” Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing 25.2 (2008): 161-181.

Houston, James R., and Robert G. Dean. “Beach nourishment provides a legacy for future generations.” Shore and Beach 81.3 (2013): 3-30.

Shafer, Dee Naquin. “Miami Beach: ASHA’s 2006 Convention.” The ASHA Leader 11.8 (2006): 10-12.

Leonella Santillan: Miami Service Project 2021

Hello everyone, welcome to my blog! My name is Leonella Noemi Santillan Zavala, I was born and raised in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and I moved to the United States of American in Miami Florida when I was 14 years old. I am a dedicated and hardworking honors student, majoring in International Business at Florida International University after finishing my bachelor’s degree I would like to continue my master’s degree at law school at FIU since I want to become a lawyer. Living in Miami has been a great opportunity for me, but I have never explored the city, this is why I decided to volunteer at nonprofit organization and state park so I could learn more about this beautiful land that has to offer.


Bill Baggs State Park provides beaches, canoeing, hiking, bicycle trails,  water fun | South Florida Travel Writers Group

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I volunteered for a nonprofit organization that is called the Deering Estate and the State Park that goes by the name of Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. Since it has been a year that we have gone through with Coronavirus, it has been so complicated to volunteer for nonprofit organizations or beach cleans up, and state parks why you may ask? Personally, for me has been complicated to find the time to volunteer and do my community service hours since now I have to go to school and work when at the beginning of the pandemic everyone was working and studying remote which means you could work and study from home. I am glad that this pandemic is almost over, it has been a year since everything started and I am grateful to God because no one that I know of die or got sick. I am grateful to have John Bailly as my professor since he was the one that organized the clean-ups for Chicken Key and Bill Baggs, along with his teaching assistant Nicole. Without their help, it would have been impossible for me to find organizations to volunteer. 

The two places that I volunteered were at The Deering Estate and Bill Baggs State Park, these two organizations their main goal is to preserve the nature that Florida has to offer and to protect it at all costs. The Deering Estate is a nonprofit organization that is in charge of preserving the environment, as also preserving the museums and historic landmarks that come with it. This nonprofit organization has so much to offer since visitors could do and perform many activities such as canoeing, walking, hiking, meditation, a setting background to take beautiful pictures, exploring animals and plants, visiting the museum, clean-ups, and many more activities. Chicken Key is part of the Deering Estate, Chicken Key is a small island located inside the Deering Estate territory. This small island has been polluted by residents or tourists that had littered at the ocean or came into the island. The Deering Estate organizes environmental cleanups for this island since it has to be preserved. The Bill Baggs State Park is a State Park that provides visitors breathtaking views of the beach and its lighthouse, picnic tables, fishing platforms, and boat camping.


Helping the community and making a positive impact in the world and society has been and always will be my biggest aspirations in my life. Since I was little I will always believe if you want people to change the world or make a positive impact on someone’s life you have to always respond with kindness because you never know what that person has gone through or the problems that she or he has. I also believe that every single human is here because for a purpose to either teach, help, make a positive change, and advise.  Helping people has been one of my biggest and best qualities, my parents always taught me to help those who are in need, and to give those who don’t have any. One of my goals is to finish school and get a job in which I get paid more than enough so I could create and build my nonprofit organization that can make a positive impact on the community and around the globe. The positive impacts I would like to do are educate those who can’t have a normal education, support victims of domestic abuse, give shelter to those that lost their homes or never had one, help people get a job, and feed those who can’t afford to have food. I would like to help, thrive and make a change in the community and I know that there are people that would like the same. 

Volunteering at the Deering Estate and Bill Baggs State Park made me feel so connected with nature by making a positive impact, nature projected positiveness and kindness into my life. Volunteering at these places took me out of my comfort zone, fight my fears, and doing stuff I have never done in my life such as canoeing into an island and learn how to use a shovel.


The opportunity to volunteer at the Bill Baggs State Park that is located at Key Biscayne as part of our Miami in Miami Honors class, my classmates and I helped the rangers with whatever they needed some students had to shovel sand, others had to pick up trash, pick up some seaweeds, etc. When we finished, we got the chance to enjoy the amazing salty water as a reward for our hard work. The Chicken Key cleanup at the Deering Estate which is located on Biscayne Bay was organized by professor John Bailly for students to obtain community service hours since it is required by FIU Honors college and a requirement for a class. To go to Chicken Key, we needed any type or method of water transportation and the Deering Estate provided Canoes for us to arrive at Chicken Key. The Deering Estate also provided trash bags for the group since we needed bags to pick up the trash that was located on the land or around it.


For the Chicken Key clean up all the students must be at 9:45 am at the Deering Estate, as we waited for everyone to arrive, we had to use the restroom before since there are no bathrooms on the island, and students had the opportunity to change into their water wardrobe. For this specific clean up all students have to be distributed into groups of two since it was one canoe for two people. The majority of the students that attended this cleanup have experience in canoeing since they have done it before or had participated before on the Chicken Key cleanups. Since we were an odd group, I had to go with two people in one canoe.  When we were going to the island, I was paired with my classmate called Esmeralda and a girl named Lorena, both of my canoe partners were fun to talk to and I enjoyed their company. I know Esmeralda since we have been in the same class for almost a year, Lorena I did not know her too well since it was the first time, I met her, but she was the sweetest and kind person I have ever met.  On our way to the island, it was hard for us since the current would take us and we would be apart from the group, what made it more difficult was that there were three people in a two people canoe but we ended up making it. When we arrive on the island my classmates and I had to pick up any trash that was located or around the island. The second time that I volunteered there was not as much trash as the first time I volunteered at the Chicken Key. As in for the time when I volunteered at the Bill Baggs State Park, we had to help the rangers at the beach with shoveling sand, picking up trash, and many more actions.



Helping the community is very important since it helps you to connect with society, you can become an active member of your community, and you can also make a positive impact on the world. Volunteers can also help students or members of the community by networking, discover new talents and passions, challenge yourself, you can learn also more about the community, organizations, or yourself. I am extremely grateful to these organizations to open up the doors for us to do a positive impact on the community, professor John Bailly and Nicole Patrick made it all possible for us to engage with nature and the world.

Leonella Santillan: Miami Service 2020

Hello everyone, welcome to my blog! My name is Leonella Noemi Santillan Zavala, I was born and raised in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and I moved to the United States of American in Miami Florida when I was 14 years old. I am a dedicated and hardworking honors student, majoring in International Business at Florida International University after finishing my bachelor’s degree I would like to continue my master’s degree at law school at FIU since I want to become a lawyer. Living in Miami has been a great opportunity for me, but I have never explored the city, this is why I decided to volunteer at nonprofit organizations so I could learn more about this beautiful land.


I volunteered for two nonprofit organizations that are called the Deering Estate and the Bakehouse Art Complex. During this pandemic it was complicated to find an organization that you could volunteer, many organizations were shut down and not looking for volunteers. Thanks to Professor John Bailly and his helpful teaching assistant Nicole that organized the Deering Estate clean up and also informed students that could volunteer at the Bakehouse Art Complex. 

The Deering Estate like I mentioned is a nonprofit organization that preserves the cultural assets of a historic site, this facility consists of museums, preserving the environment, and activities such as hiking, canoeing, exploring animals and plants. The Deering Estate also organizes environmental cleanups for the chicken key it has been littered by residents or tourists that pollute the island. The Bakehouse Art Complex is also a nonprofit organization that helps artists by recognizing their ability to shape, reflect, and transform our world. This organization provides the opportunity for the community to participate, inspire, collaborate, encourage one another to be part of changing the world. 


My aspirations for this life are to be able to help the community, environment, or make a positive impact in the world. I believe that we are here on this earth to help, thrive, prosper, and make a change. I still have hope that there are still good people in this world that are willing to make a positive impact on the community, when I was a little I always told myself that I am going to work so hard so I could make a lot of money and with that money be able to create a foundation that could help those who are in need, people that have gone through rough situations, and provide education for those who can’t. Volunteering in these two nonprofit organizations made me feel so connected with the community, making a positive impact, and projecting positiveness and kindness to the world. By also volunteering in these organizations I also got to experience things I have never done in my life it took me out of my comfort zone. I am beyond grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of these experiences, I will always keep and remember them in my heart.


The opportunity to volunteer for the Chicken Key clean up on Biscayne Bay located at the Deering Estate was part of our Miami in Miami Honors class, professor John Bailly organized this clean-up for students to obtain community service hours since most organizations were shut down and not looking for volunteers because of the coronavirus that is happening all over the world. The Deering Estate provided canoes because to arrive at the Chicken Key we need canoes as a method of transportation and trash bags were provided too since we needed bags to pick up the trash that was on the land. The opportunity to volunteer at Bakehouse Art Complex was promoted by Nicole Patrick, which is the teaching assistant, she always helps us and inform us organizations where we could do our community service hours since it is required for the class. The Bakehouse Art complex is an open exhibition were more than 100 working artists showing their art, Lauren Shapiro was the organizer for the clay workshop art. Lauren Shapiro was hired by the Bakehouse Art complex to be the artist for these amazing masterpieces of clay and also she was in charge for the whole project.


For the Chicken Key clean up all the students must be 10 am at the Deering Estate, as we waited for everything and everyone to be ready we were distributed into groups of two for each canoe and it consisted of one person that has experience in canoeing with another person that had no idea experience in canoeing. I was paired with my classmate that name is Andre Cospin, he had experience in canoeing I also got to find out that he used to compete in Canoe Sprint. I got lucky that I got paired with him, I was that student that did not have enough experience in canoeing. For this environmental clean-up, my partner and I had to pick up any trash that was contaminating the island, a lot of our classmates picked up a lot of trash such as barrels, plastic containers, shoes, bottles of glass, and many more. We would also have to explore the island in our canoes to try to go to different sides of the island to pick up trash.  For the clay workshop, I had to be there at 3 pm at the Bakehouse Art Complex, once I got to the show room the organizer and artist of this art which is Lauren Shapiro showed me how to create coral reefs mold out of clay. This art consisted of intake pieces of clay and spray the coral reef mold for the clay not to be stuck into the mold, once I had a bunch of pieces of clay made by the mold of a coral reef I would have to take glue and glue the mold to the surface. 



 Doing these community service hours made me realize how important is to do community service since it provides students or residents with the opportunity to become an active member of their community and how it could make a positive impact on society not only that but it could also have a lot of positive effects on students by helping them develop skills, networking, making long-lasting relationship and allowing them to improve the quality of life of others. I am eternally grateful to these organizations, professor John Bailly, and Nicole Patrick since none of this would have happened without their motivation and support.

Leonella Santillan: Coral Gables 2020

Student Bio

Hello my name is Leonella Santillan, I am an international student about to finish my bachelor’s at Florida International University. My main dream is to become a lawyer, and therefore, I am always determined to learn more to attain my dream. I am from Ecuador and came to the United States when I was 14 years of age.  This study will focus on Coral Gables, which is one of the cities in Miami. 


Humans have created homes in several diverse ecosystems and grouped them into towns, states, regions, and nations, each of which has its interest. The shift in patterns in human migration patterns has contributed to a radically different human geography from that of centuries ago. Coral Gables is found in South-East, Florida, in Miami-Dade County (Sheskin, 19). It was from a nucleus of 65 hectares (160 acres) of citrus and farming lands in his family that Georges Merrick built the property, calling it the coral-rock house and gables. It is a well-planned residential city, renowned for its stunning square, streets, and exclusive villages of the Mediterranean theme. 

      Source: http://www.city-data.com/city/Coral-Gables-Florida.html

The Biscayne Bay and outside waterways are six miles (10 km), can be navigated on small vessels. Coral Gables is the headquarters of the University of Miami that makes a significant contribution to the economy of Miami, tourism is important as well, and the City is a regional center. Area highlights include the tropical Fairchild Garden and Merrick’s museum boyhood home. 


In 1925, Coral Gables had a distinct view of the City and its founder, George Merrick. After the home he grew up, Merrick named Coral Gables, a calcareous exterior and roof-fitted. The houses and buildings establish a seamless and unprecedented esthetic around the City with its textured walls and tiled roofs since it was one of the early planned cities of Florida(Rodulfo et al.,76). Since 1998, in Coral Gables’ historic Biltmore Hotel, Gable Stage is producing quality theater performances covering themes and concepts important to the ethnic culture of South Florida. In addition, Gable Stage won the Ruth Forman Award for big advances on the South Florida stage, a coveted theater award for South Florida with over 200 nominations. In January 2016, Joseph Adler, Production Artistic Director of the local arts funding organization People Engaged in Arts, was considered Champion of the Arts.

Many pilots and technicians of the Navy were trained and housed at Coral Gables during the Second World War. Coral Gables is also known as South Florida’s Fine Dining Capital. The town of Coral Gables has eleven resources listed in the National Historic Places Register, one of which is sometimes referred to as National Historic Places (Patricios et al., 13). The building was built using the native political calcareous stone in what was known as the Mediterranean Revival. When George Merrick started to design and build Coral Gables, he saw it as a Mediterranean-inspired unified town. The City Hall style is a good example of the time in which elements of Spanish, Moorish, and Italian architecture are mixed and have been in line with the Mediterranean values of Merrick. 


  1. Population 

Coral Gables is Florida’s 59th largest City and the 768th largest in the United States and has a population of 51,503. Currently, Coral Gables has grown by 0,49% each year and has increased by 10.10% since its previous census recorded 46,780 in 2020 as a city. With a density of 3,984 inhabitants per square mile, the field of Coral Gables stretches to more than 37 miles Daly (8). Coral Gables averages $168,659 in family earnings, a poverty rate of 7.5%. The median cost of renting is 1,583 dollars a month; the median valuation of the house is 795,600 dollars in recent years. Coral Gables is a middle-age with 39.8, 38.2, and 41 for men and women. 94.1 males are present for every 100 females.

Coral Gables residents have a median age of 39.8 years. Hispanic (55.8 percent), led by White (38.3 percent), and Schwarze are the major racial and cultural coral gables (4.1 percent). The Coral Gables residents had a net household income of $100,000 in 2018 (Choi 43). Slightly more than the households of Horizon West ($99,823) and Waukeenah ($98,125) did Coral Gables. Yet 7.5% of the people of Coral Gables remain in poverty.

Interview of Auriks Wong

Leonella: Hello Auriks, can you introduce yourself and mention what kind of work you do?

Auriks: “Hello, my name is Auriks and I am a Artist. I have lived in Coral Gables for 5 years.”

Leonella: Why did you choose to live in Coral Gables?

Auriks: “I chose to live in Coral Gables because it is quiet and is a safe area for me and my family.”

Leonella: How would you describe Coral Gables residents?

Auriks: “I describe them very quiet, respectful and clean”

Leonella: What is your favorite aspect of Coral Gables?

Auriks: “The houses and the historical landmarks”

Leonella: If someone you knew were to come to Coral Gables, where would you take them?

Auriks: “I would take them to the Coral Gables Museum since it celebrates the civic arts of architecture, urban design and planning, sustainable development and preservation of the      architectural, cultural and environmental.”

Leonella: If there was something you could change about Coral Gables, what would it be?

Auriks: “Honestly nothing, every time I wake up, I feel so lucky to live in a neighborhood like this”


I. Historical landmarks 

Alhambra Plaza at Coral Gables (121 Alhambra Cir, Coral Gables, FL 33134)

Several historical landmarks, such as Coral Gables Alhambra, have been located in Coral Gables. Merrick required a variety of portals to access the City when George Merrick designed Coral Gables. They remembered medieval gates in Europe and were supposed to illustrate that Coral Gables were different from the City around them. It’s at the door to the Alhambra. They are built of local stone and are equipped with benches.

Denman Fink designed all the Mediterranean style portals to Coral Gables. Denman Fink was an illustrator in painting and magazine. The Venetian swimming pool and the Alhambra Water Tower were planned, and the doors (Lin 130). Merrick worked for the City of Coral Gables as an artistic advisor. I have looked at the gate closely, and after cutting some weeds, I can see the seal attached to a D and a G. It was so awesome to see his label on the door. Since he was not a trained architect, the final sign off is made by the architects Phineas Paist and Walter De Garmo. The door is so lovely as  I liked to look at all the nuanced details. The bougainvillea is partially protected. It is easy to picture a princess in the Medieval period perched on her primeur’s seat.

II. Museums 

Coral Gables Museum at Coral Gables (285 Aragon Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33134)

In a historical coral stone house in the heart of Coral Gables, you can visit the Coral Gables Museum. It commemorates the City’s arts, urban planning, architectural, environmental and cultural growth and conservation. Exhibits, Saturday morning tours, special activities, and programs complement the Museum’s services, weekly bike, and Sunday morning Lin 134). The Coral Gables Merrick House in Coral Gables, Florida, is a historic house situated on 907 Coral Way. Designed initially as George E. Merrick’s childhood home, he is the founder of Coral Gables. It was added to the Register of Heritage Places, and since then, the City of Coral Gables has regained its appearance in 1925 and is open for visits twice a week to the public

III. Monuments

 Segovia Traffic Circles at Coral Gables (2401 Segovia St, Coral Gables, FL 33134)

There is also a famous public art and architectural building with Segovia Traffic Circles Sculptures. Coral Gables is famous for its various 1920s squares, doors, and springs. This is why I find it so fascinating to see the inclusion of new works of art. All modern must harmonize with George Merrick’s stunning features in constructing the City. Two traffic circles along Segovia Street were approved for construction by the City in 2014. The artists and sculptor Alice Aycock from New York designed them Lin 137). The first works of public art since George Merrick’s life were added to the two installations. The works are created from over 4,000 metal objects and influenced by the flowers. There are two separate sculptures. The Biltmore sculpture is smaller and has two styles for flowers. The sculpture Coral Way is built to illustrate a flower that floats in the wind. More than 180 entrants were reviewed before Aycock’s concept was chosen by a jury.

Mixed reviews of the flowers have been received from the visitors visiting the City. Most claim that contemporary architecture does not complement the City’s appearance. Several residents have attempted to withdraw the sculptured but have not obtained enough ballots. Any criticisms are that the sculptures are not Mediterranean and that since the sculptures were placed in place, collisions have risen in traffic circles Hadlow ET AL., (167). Others lament that they do not even pick their buildings’ color, but without consultation, the City has changed away from the City’s Mediterranean look. Despite the complaints of those residents who do not care for contemporary art in the Mediterranean arrival in the 1920s, the City has agreed to preserve the sculptures.


Coral Gables Wayside Park at Coral Gables (5710 Sw 35TH St, Miami, Fl 33155)

Coral Gables Parks and Recreation focuses on offering recreation facilities and resources to Coral Gables residents and visitors, encouraging development, socialization, healthy involvement, and family participation. The aim is to provide outstanding service and tailored programming, extraordinary parks, and projects, which serve community needs. The City consists of various parks, which makes the City be a more habitable place in Miami. Ingraham Park, Coral Gables Wayside Park, and Matheson Hammock Park consist of the major parks located in the City 

 The park creates a well-established recreational environment for the visitors and, therefore, attracts most of the people on weekends and holidays. Urban parks offer numerous ecological services that are of benefit to city-dwellers’ well-being and are often seen as a natural way to solve many urban environmental concerns Chaulagain et al., (5). However, for each type of park flora, the type and volume of ecological resources differ even throughout the park. The park offers various services such as well-designed benches, bicycle racks and thus creates a good environment to recreate the visitors. Besides, the park also offers a drinking fountain, fitness equipment, thus creating a memorable experience for the visitors. The other services that the park offers consist of picnic tables, walking paths, and water features.  


 Transport is a vital aspect of sustainable growth. The Coral Gables Sustainability Division plays a vital role in providing safe roads for cars, bikes, pedestrians, and bus drivers. The primary areas serving the entire metropolitan area of Coral Gables include heavy rail rapid transportation, shuttle, electronic guides, roads, two major airport areas, and Fort Lauderdale International Airport and seaports. The three-county bus networks serve the entire urbanized area, including Miami-Dade Metrobus and Broward County Transit, and Palm transport Rodulfo et al.., (77). Census and statistics on ridership indicate that Miami is the most commonly used to transport any city in Florida, as nearly 17 percent of Coral Gables routinely use public transport compared to some 4 percent of commuters in the metropolitan area of South Florida. Miami-Dade Metro, currently the main mass transport system in Florida, runs most public transports in Coral Gables. The reality that as regards planning, Coral Gables is a big challenge for urban planning and efficient mass transport, with most of the lowly contrasted medium-density growth scattered across the City, is one of the most stretched and car-dependent metropolitan areas in the United States.


Swine Southern Table & Bar at Coral Gables (2415 Ponce de Leon, Coral Gables, FL 33134)

In Coral Gables exist several areas that provide world-class eateries. While the City Beautiful saw a boom in fine dining choices recently, the Coral Gables restaurant scene remains consistent. The famous Swine restaurant is now gone in the Southern style, but it has a rather popular AdLib restaurant, which has the preferences of chef Norman Van Aken and pastry whiz Hedy Goldsmith. Coral Gables, once a power lunch destination and a food bite in the best pools of Miam after a flurry, is now just as popular with boozy brunches as its dynamic, happy hour scene (Choi, 21869). There are several options for group dining and degustation menus in the Coral Gables restaurants and some of the finest food in the area. Eating house is a restaurant, for example, where conventional dishes become healthy and enjoyable food to enjoy. Some cuisine, like kiddie’s typical dirt cup, is playful, while others like mushroom tartare and pasta carbonara, are serious and exquisite. Almost six years after the food scene became famous, Eating House demonstrates that it remains powerful. Bookings are also difficult, and tables are rarely vacant.


Biltmore Hotel at Coral Gables (1200 Anastasia Ave, Coral gables, FL 33134)

More than 150,000 new companies in Coral Gables open their doors each year. Launching a company is an exciting undertaking that requires careful planning. The location is one of the first and foremost factors. The Coral Gables economy involves domestic and foreign firms but is unusual in other areas of Florida because seasonal changes do not affect them. Town civic facilities, extraordinarily high quality of living, natural and architectural elegance, easy access, responsible development, and a diversified economy are perfect areas to invest domestically and globally. Biltmore Hotel and Venice’s swimming pool are big regional sights Patricios et al., 919). It is to the south of the National Park Biscayne and the west of Everglades National Park. The hotel business has been noted to do well due to the best amenities that are located in the City, thus attracting more tourists. For instance, most of the tourists spend their holidays in this City. The transport business is also a favorable business that does well in the City. This is mainly due to the high population level, which ensures that the transport sector is well represented in the City. 


The study found out that Coral Gables is a diverse neighborhood that has well-represented geography. The existence of unique landmarks also ensures that the City is more attractive among the tourist. Besides, the City has a well-established transport system that ensures proper transportation services among the people. Besides, the existence of a better business environment ensures that the economic productivity of the City is well established. This favors the high diversity level among the city members in the City. However, low agricultural practices are carried out in this region, which may affect the expected food security. 


Chaulagain, Suja, Jessica Wiitala, and Xiaoxiao Fu. “The impact of country image and destination image on US tourists’ travel intention.” Journal of Destination Marketing & Management 12 (2019): 1-11.

Choi, Phil M., et al. “Social, demographic, and economic correlates of food and chemical consumption measured by wastewater-based epidemiology.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116.43 (2019): 21864-21873.

Daly, Nicholas. The demographic imagination and nineteenth-century City. No. 97. Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Hadlow, Richard Bryce. “The City Of Coral Gables v. Wood, 305 So. 2d 261 (Fla. 3d Dist. Ct. App. 1974).” Florida State University Law Review 4.1 (1976): 163-170.

Lin, Jan. “HERITAGE, ART, AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT IN MIAMI’S OVERTOWN AND LITTLE HAVANA.” The Power of Urban Ethnic Places. Routledge, 2010. 127-184..

Patricios, Nicholas. “Phineas Paist and the Architecture of Coral Gables, Florida.” Tequesta 64 (2004): 2-26.

Rodulfo, Raimundo. “Smart City Case Study: the City of Coral Gables Leverages the Internet of Things to Improve Quality of Life.” IEEE Internet of Things Magazine 3.2 (2020): 74-81.

Rodulfo, Raimundo. “Smart City Case Study: the City of Coral Gables Leverages the Internet of Things to Improve Quality of Life.” IEEE Internet of Things Magazine 3.2 (2020): 74-81.

Sheskin, Ira M. “Coral Gables, Florida 33 124.” Geographical Dimensions of Energy 5 (2012): 19.

Leonella Santillan: Miami as Text 2020-2021

Description. Photo by NAME (CC BY 4.0)

Hello everyone! My name is Leonella Santillan and I was born and raised in Ecuador, I moved to Miami, Florida 6 years ago. I am an international student at Florida International University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in International Business. After I graduate I will be going to Law school since I want to become an attorney of the state of Florida, since I was little I always tried to argue my way out of things and defend my point of view. I am so blessed to be in this country and try to obtain as many as opportunities I could obtain. One of my desires is to become a professional and be able to help those who need starting a foundation. One of the reasons I took this class is because I would like to learn more about Miami since I love where I live.

Deering Estate as Text 

Description. Photo by NAME (CC BY 4.0)

The Deering Estate is a protected environmental and historical preserve located on the edge of Biscayne which you have the everglades on your left side and on your right side the Atlantic Ocean merged with the Caribbean Sea. Visiting this environmental preserve, I felt very relaxed and connected with nature something I haven’t felt for a while due to the pandemic going on. This treasure of land has a different type of ecosystems around which you felt like you were in three or four different places as the walk goes by, my favorite parts during this amazing trip were when crossed over the water to go back to the entrance, the water felt so refreshing and pure. Another favorite moment was that we got to see the cultivation of each tree such as pinecones, avocados, and many more. One of the moments I also enjoyed it was when we got to see wildlife species such as birds, butterflies, and spiders. This rich land also has a history behind it I remember the professor talking about an ancient burial that on top of it there was an oak white tree. I enjoyed visiting this place I got to experience the wonderful things that the world provides.

South Beach as Text

Rooms full of neon lights

By Leonella Santillan of FIU at South Beach, 16th September 2020

When most people come to Miami, they want to go to South Beach because of its beautiful sand, water, views, architecture, and museums, etc.  Choosing Miami In Miami honors class was the best decision of my life since I have been living in Miami for six years and I have never visited or got to experience knowing South Beach. Professor John Bailly taught us everything that we could obtain knowledge from the beautiful place called South Beach that is located due east of Miami city proper between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Visiting this part of Miami felt kind of strange like if something was missing and what it was missing is that south beach was empty, usually is always packed with full of tourists but this time was empty and the reason why this beautiful place that is always has been full of tourists or residents is that due to the coronavirus. A lot of restaurants were either closed down, out of business, or desperate for clients to come in and enjoy a tasty plate of food, and even giving discounts or promotions for people to come in. 

During this excursion, I learned how Miami Beach or South Beach holds such an amazing culture, history, and architecture. As we were walking professor Bailly explained to us what type of architecture ocean drive or south beach holds, this beautiful two-way street it obtains one of the largest Art Deco collection in the world, and is easily identifiable by its bright, retro color schemes and Egyptian influence. Hotels are inspired by MiMo and Mediterranean Revival. I fell in love with South Beach since is such a magnificent place where you could enjoy the architecture and have the beach next to it. During this excursion, I also felt like if I was in a movie since some movies are filmed in South Beach.

Downtown Miami as Text

Area full of long tall buildings

By Leonella Santillan of FIU at Downtown Miami, 30th September 2020

Downtown Miami is an area full of skyscrapers, malls, cultural institutions, sweeping bay views, and hidden places that tourists or residents could explore. Downtown Miami is Miami’s epicenter since you have access to the beach, airport, malls, and many more. Tourists all over the world come to Miami Downtown since is rich in a diverse and variety of cultures. Downtown Miami consisted of the middle class, and wealthy neighborhoods. This area of Miami is a mix between luxury and urban architecture and that is the reason why a lot of people are interested. 

Downtown Miami is always going to be full of residents and tourists since it is a place where people work, visit, or plan activities. This area of Miami is full of buildings where you can be impacted through their history, architecture, food, recitals, concerts, and many more. Professor Bailly took us to see the Adrienne Arsht Center, which is a performing arts center that hosts concerts, recitals, operas, and shows. Another location that we were able to experience was Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum, this is a science museum with an observatory and planetarium. The last place that I fell in love with was the History Miami this is a museum where it has a huge collection full of exhibits of art. 

Downtown Miami is one the places which I fell in love with the first time I came to Miami, I remember the lights of the buildings, the bridges of the turnpike, and those enormous skyscrapers. Living in Miami has been an amazing experience because there still too much history, activities, architecture, gallery exhibitions where you could learn from or feel inspired.

Deering Estate – Chicken Key as Text

Living Waters

By Leonella Santillan of FIU at Deering Estate, 14th October 2020

Living all these six years in Miami I have felt like an unknown resident of this wonderful land, today I have experienced something magical and special during this cleanup I had time to connect with my wonderful classmates and make memorable experiences for life. By being on this island it made me reflect on how one should be able to enjoy life, I felt so connected with nature and got over my fears of something that I have never experienced in my life. This magical land full of mangroves and species was so wonderful, one of my favorite moments was when all of my classmates were swimming and connecting. I got to experience and to see a hermit crab for the first time in my whole life, I felt so grateful to be alive by being on this island the waters were full of life, peace, and love.

This cleanup made me realize how nature is so important and to take care of it, to try not to contaminate since that is a gift that has been given to us but for us to enjoy it, we must take care of it before it is too late. Humans have been come so careless when it comes to nature when it should be the opposite, this land was full of plastic and trash because we humans contaminate the earth instead of recycling or reuse the plastic or glass, this little excursion opened my eyes to how we should care about the earth and take care of it so our future generations could experience these moments that I got to experience or witnessed.  

Bakehouse as Text

“Body of clay mold of life”

By Leonella Santillan of FIU at Bakehouse, 28th October 2020

The Bakehouse Art Complex is a nonprofit organization that supports and values the artist’s perspectives on how to perceive, reflect, and make an impact on the community. Being in the complex inspired, encouraged, and taught me how the world can be united by art. This project of art made of clay was meant for people to support, help each other, and to bring awareness to the destruction of the coral reefs life on the sea. This art project is conducted by Lauren Shapiro a local artist and was funded by grants or organizations.

This art consisted of putting a layer of clay into molds made of coral reefs such as shells, clams, or snails but before inputting the lay of clay into the mold we would have to spray some vegetable oil into the mold for the clay not to stick into the coral mold. After, when we have a bunch of models, we will have to paste it in the shape surface, and we will have a piece of art.

In my opinion towards this project, I felt very connected to mother earth meanwhile molding the clay since the clay comes directly from the earth. Molding these pieces of clay felt peaceful and distracted from the noisy world, I am grateful that I had to be a part of an amazing project that is going to make a positive impact on the world or the community.

Rubell as Text

 “The way to the heart is with art”

By Leonella Santillan of FIU at Rubell Museum, 18th November 2020

 Rubell Museum is one of the biggest private contemporary art collections in North America located in Miami, Florida. These magnificent pieces are full of history, meaning, and emotions. Visiting this museum, I felt as I was back in time experiencing and reliving those periods of moments, these arts make you feel that you are in a travel machine going back through time and you try to understand how was the artist feeling, concerned, or going through.  This museum holds famous pieces because the Rubell’s were scooping pioneering works from the likes of Keith Haring, Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, and Jeff Koons.  The Rubell Museum exhibits paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos, and rooms that have an environment full of art such as The Infinity Room which is one of the many Yayoi Kusama’s works.

            I admire the work of these artists that made such delightful and meaningful pieces, some of them were even restricted from doing art, other needed to show the pain or the feelings that they were going through and some of them also felt the need to express how some races were perceived or portrayed in society. With some pieces, I felt connected or inspire but in others it just made me feel sadness or pain. One of the works that inspired me and made feel connected was the Infinity Room by Yayoi Kusama, this piece of work amazed me by how the mirrors and the balls can make you see through another dimension. Since because of the pandemic situation we could only admire the room for 30 seconds and then exit, I desired that I would have stayed longer for me to experience the meaning of the artist and what she was thinking when she created this marvelous art.

Everglades as Text

The Everglades the Abundant Wildlife

By Leonella Santillan of FIU at the Everglades National Park, 20th January 2021.

The Everglades is one of the largest remaining subtropical wildernesses and is also a unique natural region treasure located in the southern portion of the United States of Florida.  This ecosystem is preserved and protected by the U.S Congress since 1934, when this was authorized Congress stated to preserve this tropical ecosystem and that includes everything that lives within it. 

The everglades are very well known because of their biodiversity that contains the nine distinct types of ecosystems that have been identified within the park such as cypress, freshwater slough, and marl prairie, coastal lowlands, mangrove, hardwood hammock, pinelands, estuarine and marine. On the Everglades, 39 native Florida species are in extinction, which is protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973.

Visiting the Everglades has made me questioned how this ecosystem full of life is still being kept alive? Since the majority of Miami is crowded filled up with buildings, residencies, parks, parking lots, etc. Going to the everglades has been a unique experience, when I stepped on those rich wetlands, I felt a weird sensation of fear since I used to think an alligator or a snake would come or attack me but actually, it was the complete opposite of these species are very unbothered, and friendly. Stepping into mold water I saw how much wildlife is alive, seeing the cypress trees and the flowers that would grow around it, I felt amazed at how there is still life in our world and that we should protect it at any cost. Another fun fact I learned from ranger Dylan is that the everglades are responsible for supplying drinking water for more than 8 million people. Now, I could say that the Everglades is an amazing ecosystem that is going to blow your mind with the variety and diversity that this place has. I would advise anyone to visit this unique beautiful ecosystem, it is such as unique blow minding experience.

Wynwood as Text

Art that is full of Gold

By Leonella Santillan of FIU at Wynwood, 3rd February 2020.

Wynwood is a trendy, free, and artistic neighborhood located in Miami, Florida. Wynwood is most known for being an entertainment district, with artwork, restaurants, bars, clothing stores, dance venues, among other retail options. This neighborhood of Miami welcomes people from all ages, classes and races.  It was once dominated by the garment district and crime in the 80’s, but remerge into an oasis for the young, creative, and innovative minds of tomorrow. All residents, tourists can enjoy some of the best bites at the wonderful restaurants in the Wynwood Art District like Wynwood Diner. There are also tons of art galleries and street art to admire and photograph to capture memories of your visit.

Professor John Bailey took us to Mette and Locus Projects this localization is a sanctuary for artist to develop ideas freely and give them the time and the space and funds to push their idea to their fullest capacity. In this sanctuary the artist Mette Tommerup spoke about her new large-scale installations, made by dusk that she felt inspired by the Nordic Goddess, Freya, the untamed goddess of love, war, beauty, gold and transformation. These exhibitions reflect an atmosphere of warm glittering golds evoking diminishing rays of sunlight and smoky grays as the infiltrating night. The artist was trying to provide experiences of reflection, connection, and restoration where visitors can avail themselves of the healing potential. 

Bill Baggs as Text

Land filled with histories

By Leonella Santillan of FIU at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, 17th February 2021

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is an important beautiful historical land that is located in Key Biscayne, Florida. This park was designated as a National Underground Railroad Network Freedom Site, as runaway slaves within the 1800s met on the confidential island waiting to board ships to require them to safety within the British Bahamas. In 1825, a lighthouse was built, today the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County. This lighthouse’s purpose was to serve as a navigational aid. To arrive at the top of this lighthouse you will need to take 109 steps, but this is a climb that is worthy of your time since it will reward you with a beautiful breathtaking view. This park was named after the nominated Novel Prize, an advocator for the preservation of natural landscapes which is Bill Baggs. This powerful citizen left a mark by becoming an early opponent of the Vietnam War, by restoring many landscapes, and by being one of the newspaper editors who campaigned for civil rights for African Americans during the 1950s to 1960s. 

 Bill Baggs State Park contains a lot of recreational activities that tourists and residents can do such as snorkeling, fishing, swimming, hiking, kayaking, bicycling, boating, and wildlife viewing. I enjoyed visiting this park and one of my favorite moments was when my classmates and I sat down on the concrete by the ocean to enjoy and eat our lunch. The ocean breeze immersed me with its purity, relaxed, calm atmosphere which was something unexpected but very much needed it. I also got the opportunity to connect with the wildlife, there were raccoons and we got the chance to feed them. My classmates and I also connected with the rangers that preserve the park, the rangers told us how they love to work in this preserved land and how it has allowed them to work with something they love which is nature. 

In other words, this trip was an amazing opportunity for me since I got the opportunity to perform or do activities I have never done in my life. I felt like nature was fulfilling some empty spaces that needed to be filled inside my soul. This historic land tells you who are the real heroes, fighters, and survivors even though some of them have been forgotten but let’s remind one and another since they have given their whole life to protect one and another, and the ones that preserve this natural magical land.

River of Grass as Text

Carpe Diem

By Leonella Santillan of FIU at Everglades National Park, 4th March 2021

 The Everglades National Park welcomes us again to learn more about the history of the everglades, this will be the second time I have visited this rich land. Never in my life, I would think that I would be experiencing the everglades, these experiences that I have lived are memorable for the rest of my life. 

At the beginning of this field trip ranger Dillion and professor, John Bailly took my classmates and me to a solution hole. Solution holes are pits in karst that formed in the past when sea level and the water table were lower than present levels. Solutions holes provide winter dry-season refuge for aquatic animals and provide repopulation source for species upon reflooding of the marsh during the following summer wet season. In one solution hole, I saw a different kind of species of fishes and a diversity of animals. Ranger Dillion also explained how the everglades used to be an agricultural site that farmers would grow Brazilian pepper, tomatoes and how they used to struggle growing vegetables in that type of rocky soil. Brazilian pepper is one of the most widespread and powerful invasive species in the Florida everglades. On the everglades, there was also a military installation where the missiles would be kept for self-defense and emergency situations to protect our beautiful nation. At the end of our journey professor, Bailly took us to see Florida wetlands in the everglades, these wetlands felt like moist soil, slimy and gooey mud.

 This was such as scary experience but at the same time it was such an enjoyable moment, I have been living in Miami for six years and I never got the time to experience it. This class has taught me how Miami can have so much history, and how many activities you can do or go to. I have felt connected with nature since the beginning of this class, and it has made me be more “Carpe Diem” of how you only live once, how you should live life to the fullest, and try to enjoy it as much as you can.

Frost as Text

Inspirational Rooms

By Leonella Santillan of FIU at the Frost Art Museum FIU, 17th March 2021

 The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum is located at Florida International University on the Modesto Maidique Campus. This museum contains nine galleries which five of which has a natural light, an art storage, a lecture hall, and some public spaces. This museum exhibits work from the university’s permanent collection, temporary exhibitions, and current educational programs.

 The museum footprint and massing have a geometrical response to the L-shaped site. Framing the university’s Avenue of the humanities, the building is angled around a lake and preserves an oversized Ficus tree. The solid style of angles and curves is clad by very pink-gray Chinese granite that glistens within the Florida sunlight. A three-story glass atrium forms a transparent gate between the campus and the wonderful lake.

The galleries are grouped in threes, giving curators flexibility within the display, lighting, and scheduling. within the five galleries with skylights, the museum can exhibit works in UV-filtered daylight. An array of enormous, custom-designed “petals” control light levels and a spread of colors, preferentially scattering natural light to display walls. All exhibition spaces, archives, art storage, and mechanical equipment are above the underside floor, protected against flooding, and prepared to withstand hurricane-force winds.

 I am amazed at how FIU students have a museum within their campus, this university has given us many opportunities to grow as  opened many doors to students to become professional, and to be able toobtain a degree. I am proud to mention that I am a student at Florida International University, and it has been an honor to be able to study at this amazing, and flourishing university.

Coral Gables as Text

Miami's Iconic Biltmore Hotel - Clutch & Carry-On

The Hotel where legends stayed”

By Leonella Santillan of FIU at The Biltmore Hotel Miami, 31st March 2021

Visiting Coral Gables was so beautiful since it is full of boulevards, mansions, hotels, museums, buildings, romantic parks, little boutique stores, stores full of art, wedding stores, and many historic landmarks. I do not go to Coral Gables because I am from Kendall but every time, I would visit it, it was because of a brunch, to eat in a restaurant with my friends, or other reasons. My favorite thing about going to Coral Gables is when I go to the parks, or when I walk by the boulevard and see those little cute stores and boutiques that are either selling art, wedding dresses, or handicrafts. Once I had a really bad experience visiting this neighborhood of Miami, and why you may ask? It is because one day my best friend and I  were at Coral Gables eating some ice cream and walking down the main avenue and when we were going back home my best friend made almost an illegal turn and immediately three cops came at us thinking we were drunk and that we almost could have caused an accident but we didn’t. I thought the cop was going to give us a ticket, but he didn’t he understood we weren’t from the neighborhood and that it was an honest mistake that we were not trying to cause a crash. Coral Gables can have many pros than cons and one of the cons is that there are cops everywhere and for that reason, you have to be careful paying attention  Even if you make the smallest mistake you could get a ticket but what I learned from it is to make sure where you turn right or left since in most of the streets you can’t turn right or left but Coral Gables has given me so many happy moments and going with my classmates and professor Bailly was one of my favorite moments to be more specific one of the most things that caught my attention and that I enjoyed was when we visited The Biltmore Hotel. I learned many fun facts or information about this hotel during our field trip. The history that his hotel has is very interesting such as what is most famous for, who built it, what type of architectural style has, and more information. 

The Biltmore Hotel is a National Historic Landmark and one of the most luxurious hotels in Coral Gables, this hotel is located at 1200 Anastasia Ave, Coral Gables Florida. The Biltmore Hotel was designed by Weaver and Schultze, this historical landmark was built in 1926 by George Merrick and John McEntee Bowman.  The architectural style of this hotel has a Mission, Spanish, Revival, Italian, and Renaissance structure. One of the most remarkable structures from this hotel is the tower since it was inspired by the Giralda, the Giralda is a medieval tower of the cathedral of Seville.

The Biltmore Hotel is well known because the person who built it is the founder of Coral Gables which is George Merrick. This hotel is famous because it hosted and still hosts the most elegant and luxurious charity events, galas, fashion shows, presidents and famous people have stayed at the hotel, for its golf tournaments, it also has been used as a background in many movies or television, and the last reason is that it has an enormous and the largest pool. 

Learning history about this hotel was very interesting especially since the one who built it was the founder of Coral Gables, and how he made an amazing impact on this neighborhood in Miami Florida. I just enjoyed learning about this hotel because I saw the meaning that has behind it, I told myself that one day I might stay at the presidential suite since it is one of the most prestigious rooms that this amazing hotel has.

Vizcaya as Text

Pursuit of Pleasure”

By Leonella Santillan of FIU at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, 14th April 2021

The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens was the residency of a businessman named James Deering, the Villa Viscaya is located in a neighborhood in Miami – Florida, the address is 3251 South Miami Ave in Coconut Grove. This National Historic Landmark has an Italian Renaissance garden, native woodland landscape, and a historic village filled with original furnishings, and artwork.  This villa was constructed in 1914, the design partner was Paul Chalfin. Paul Chalfin was commissioned by James Deering, his mission was to scour all over Europe to find the finest furnishings, antiques, and paintings for this hedonist villa.

Inside this villa is decorated by carved mantels, fresco ceilings from Tuscany and France, marble floors, stained glass doors, gold objects, paintings, gold mirrors, sculptures, and many more European antiques. Outside this villa contains the Italian Renaissance formal gardens, a pool, and a stone breakwater barge that was constructed over 100 years ago. This breakwater barge has a purpose to break the ocean water and for the protection of the mansion, this stone barge is a piece of work art since it is filled with mermaids in the shape of stones at the bow, on top and stern of the barge. 

Visiting this museum was magnificent since I step into the location I was amazed by the landscape, sculptures, and waterfalls around it. This villa made me realized how hard James Deering worked for him to want that lifestyle, he was a very hedonistic person since he believed happiness can be found in pleasure. In the majority of the sculptures you could interpret that he was a very sexual human some people believe that he was a homosexual since he never got married, or dated a woman, he indeed loved kids but he didn’t have any. 

This was one of my last field trips from this class, and I could state that this class has been one of the most wonderful, inspirational, educational class I have taken at Florida International University. I am completely grateful to our dear professor John Bailly and our teaching assistant Nicole Patrick. Taking this class would make you fall in love and connect with nature, your background roots, architecture, museums, and art like the same way I did.  

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