Martyna Kwiatkowska: Kendall 2021

Biography

Photo by Ashley Nunez/ CC 4.0

 Martyna Kwiatkowska is a junior studying Economics with a certificate in German Language in Culture at FIU. She moved to Miami quite recently, in the Fall of 2015, therefore she still looks at Miami through a foreigner’s perspective. She is still adjusting to the cultural differences between Miami and Poland and this course has helped her understand the deeper culture that Miami offers. She’s lived in a few places around South Miami in the past 6 years, however she has worked in Kendall for over 4 years and has recently moved in the area, through this project she hopes to discover more about Kendall than she knew before. 

Geography

Map of Kendall on Google Maps/ Copyright 2021 Google

Kendall is located in the Southwestern part of Miami – Dade County. It does not have its own government or council and it is officially called a Census Designated Place. It has an area of approximately 16.3 sq miles and combines both urban and suburban structures. It has an altitude of around 13 ft above sea level.  It mostly consists of land mass, only 1.35% of its area is water. The landscape of Kendall consists mostly of suburban landscaping, including garden plants and scarce amounts of trees. This landscape is quite different from its native Pine Rocklands. Kendall has quite a rich natural area located in the Indian Hammocks Park, which contains an 32 acre natural preserve of the hardwood hammock. The community is very family- friendly, there is a big selection of schools, ranging from elementary to high school. The neighborhood has one fire station and the Kendall District Station of the Miami – Dade Police Department. The vibrant community consists of mostly residential buildings, alongside plaza’s filled with shops and restaurants. Kendall has quite a bit to offer, however due to its large area, it does require some exploring.

History

Kendall is relatively a new neighborhood in Miami. In 1850 the United States Congress passed the Swamp Land Act which allowed the state of Florida to claim wetlands west of Red Road (57th Ave), between SW 104th St and NW 7thSt. The State of Florida sold off parts of these lands to investors and developers. In 1883, an English investor, Sir Edward James Reed purchased 4 million acres of land between SW 104th St and SW 88th St for a price of one million dollars. The developer was the owner of the Florida Land and Mortgage Company, and the area was purchased under the firm. During the time of purchase, the area was mostly uninhabited, except for a Seminole tribe that lived just west of where Baptist Hospital stands today. The tribe was one of very few left after the Second Seminole War, since only 129 Seminole Indians lived in Dade County in 1900. In 1884, Henry John Broughton Kendall was appointed as one of the trustees to manage the land that the L&M company owned in Dade County. Henry was originally from Lima, Peru and served as the London Consul for Bolivia. He was also a trustee for many leading British firms, including the Railway Investment Company and the Farmer’s Loan and Trust Company (today Citibank). Mysteriously, there is little to no evidence that Kendall lived in South Dade during his years managing the land, but the area was associated with his name. Some people believe it might be due to his name on deeds and inspections in the area. However, Kendall did not begin developing into the suburban neighborhood it is now until the 1950’s, which mostly covered east Kendall and parts of Pinecrest. It wasn’t until later in the century that with the increasing population growth people moved westward and Kendall as we know it today was created. 

Demographics

As of the April 2020 Census, Kendall is home to 80,241 people. The neighborhood is predominantly White (87.5%), with a smaller Black or African American (3.4%) and Asian population (3.5%). Most people living in Kendall identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino (70.1%) and over 45% are foreign born. The median house cost is $382,400 and the median rent is $1,543. The average people per household is 2.77 since the suburb mostly consists of family homes. The median household income in 2019 was $73,612, which is just slightly above the national median ($69,560). The mean travel time to work is around 33 minutes. Most business in Kendall are minority owned (7,927 out of 12,802 total).

Interview with Major Vidal Chavez, a resident

Photo by Dulce Villaman/ CC by 4.0

Martyna: Good afternoon! Thank you for taking time out of your day to do this interview with me! Could you please introduce yourself?

Vidal: My name is Vidal and I’m a Miami resident from 1983 – 1989 and again from 2012 – present.

Martyna: How long have you lived in Kendall and what made you decide to move here?

Vidal: I’ve lived in Kendall since moving back in 2012. I decided to move to Kendall because of location near work and affordable house prices.

Martyna: Are there any places in Kendall that you often visit or could recommend to a visitor?

Vidal: Dadeland Mall. Town and Country Mall, various restaurants, and retail stores.

Martyna: I know you’ve lived in many different places during your service, how would you say Kendall compares to those places

Vidal: Kendall is a busy suburb, which really is an extension of Miami.

Martyna: Are there any negative parts of Kendall that you have experienced?

Vidal: Due to its dense population, traffic is the biggest negative.

Martyna: Do you think that Kendall would be a good representation of what Miami is to a foreigner?

Vidal: It’s a realistic representation of Miami, working, and middle class who are the workers bees of the city.

Martyna: Thank you So much for taking time out of your day again! Have a great day!

Landmarks

The neighborhood of Kendall is relatively young, therefore there are not many historical landmarks. However, there is quite a bit of hot spots, where residents like to enjoy their free time. Some include: The Shops of Town and Country, Dadeland Mall, Zoo Miami, Miami – Dade College (Kendall Campus), the Falls and Miami Cancer Institute. I have highlighted the most important that attract many visitors to Kendall.

Miami Dade College (Kendall Campus

Miami Dade College (Kendall Campus) by Martyna Kwiatkowska/ CC by 4.0

The Kendall Campus of Miami – Dade College has been serving students from all around Miami since 1967. It offers a variety of programs under 6 schools: Arts and Letters, Business, Entertainment Technologies, Computer Information Systems & Design Technology, Natural and Social Sciences and Education. The campus offers bachelor’s and associate degrees of both Science and Art, as well as Vocational Certificates. It is in the heart of Kendall at the block of SW 107th Ave and Killian Pkwy on a 185 – acre lot. The current president of the campus is Dr. Pascale Charlot. MDC and this campus in particular are a very vital part of Kendall, since it is the community college to many residents of the neighborhood, and it makes a college education accessible and affordable for many foreign and local students.

Dadeland Mall

Dadeland Mall is one of the biggest and busiest malls in Miami and South Florida. It’s building, located on Kendall Drive, by 826 spans over 1.4 million square feet. It is home to over 185 retail stores and restaurants. The mall features many higher – end stores, including Hugo Boss, 7 For All Mankind, Tesla, and Stuart Weitzman. The second floor is dedicated mostly to restaurants, and it features Kendall hot spots, Earl’s Kitchen + Bar, Texas de Brazil, and Aoki Teppanyaki. It also hosts 3 large department stores: Macy’s, JCPenney and Saks Fifth Avenue. Dadeland Mall was opened on October 1st, 1962, and it was dubbed “deadland”, since Kendall drive, which it is located on was called “the Road to Nowhere”. This approach changed quickly as Kendall developed rapidly in the following years. In the 1990’s Dadeland was the busiest shopping malls in the continental United States. It remains a thriving mall to this day.

Miami Cancer Institute

The Miami Cancer Institute is a cancer diagnosis and treatment center, part of the Baptist Hospitals Network. It is located down SW 88th St and, west of SW 87th Ave. The Institute focuses on molecular diagnosis, which allows for more targeted and personalized treatment plans, it is at a leader in cancer treatment and prevention in South Florida. It has been recognized multiple times for being one of “America’s Best Hospitals for performing Lung Cancer Surgery and Colon Cancer Surgery by U.S. News & World Report” (BaptistHealth.net). The hospital is focused on both cancer care for patients and research, it offers a variety of patient support services, including physical, spiritual, and mental. The Institute opened its doors on January 26th, 2017, and continues to serve hundreds of patients yearly from many countries worldwide. To support the needs of international patients, a Hilton Hotel with 184 rooms opened on the premise. The staff, led by Michael J. Zinner, M.D. (the Executive Medical Director) continue to look for a cure for this deadly disease every day, in the heart of Kendall.

Greenspaces

Kendall is a very family – friendly neighborhood, with most structures being single family homes, therefore residents tend to have a little greenspace right in their yard. However, the community is also enriched with many public parks, which can be used as a place of relaxation on rest days. During a typical weekend day, visitors can see families enjoying picnics in the outdoors, kids playing on playgrounds and people of all different ages participating in various sports. Parks are one of the few public spaces that a suburban town, like Kendall has to offer. I have highlighted some of the most vital greenspaces in the community. 

Indian Hammocks Park

Indian Hammocks Park is located along SW 107th Ave and SW 79th St and serves as the biggest park in Kendall. The Park grounds offer a variety of amenities, including 3 softball fields, 2 disc golf courses, 2 playgrounds, a 14,000 sq ft skate park and a 32 – acre nature preserve. The skate park was inspired by world renown skate parks and offers features that can be comparable to street skateboarding. The nature preserve covers a big part of the park and has many trails that allow visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of the hardwood hammock. The Park also serves as a great celebration spot for friends and families, it offers 5 covered picnic shelters and a live oak – canopied picnic deck, which can be reserved on the park’s website. Furthermore, during the COVID – 19 pandemic, the park grounds have also hosted a testing center. Indian Hammocks serves as a central natural area of Kendall and offers a plethora of outdoor activities for residents and visitors of the neighborhood alike. 

Snapper Creek Canal

The Snapper Creek Canal spans over the majority of Kendall, it is 12.3 miles long and ranges from 50 to 100 ft in width. The creek drains water from the Everglades into Biscayne Bay. There is quite a bit of flora growing around the canal and its slowly – flowing water is home to many types of fish and ducks. The canal is the deepest at its southeast end, in the Hardy Matheson Preserve in Pinecrest. It is the shallowest around its beginning, close to the intersection of the Turnpike and Highway 836. The canal provides the residents of Kendall with a piece of nature that flows in their backyard, and it is well known in the fishing community. Patrons have caught largemouth bass and butterfly peacock in the five, boat accessible lateral canals of the Creek and a small 7 – acre lake that it connects to. The Canal continues to attract avid anglers from around the country and provides residents with access to water, miles away from the coast. 

Snapper Creek from a backyard by Martyna Kwiatkowska/ CC by 4.0
Rock Ridge Park

Rock Ridge Park is a small neighborhood park by the Devonaire community of Kendall. It is relatively small, compared to Indian Hammocks Park, but its representation is important within the community. Before development, Kendall was mostly Pine Rocklands, the natural landscape has changed a bit since then, but Rock Ridge Park serves as a monument for what used to be. The Park is not a preserve, however the path around the park is surrounded by Sabal Palms, which are native to Florida (not the Pine Rocklands in specific). At the entrance of the park, visitors are greeted by crushed limestone, which is also native to Florida. As far as amenities go, the park has a big playground for parents and kids alike to enjoy some down time in the great outdoors.

Transportation

Due to Kendall’s suburban nature, the most used mode of transportation is car. It is difficult to get around without a personal motorized vehicle, however not impossible. Many residents commute to work, averaging about 33 minutes, the commute to and from downtown is made much easier by the Metrorail. There are two stops on the eastern border of Kendall: Dadeland South and Dadeland North, both offer parking for commuters from western areas of the community. The main road in the area is undoubtably Kendall Drive, a 4-lane road connecting US – 1 with major highways like 826 and the Turnpike.  There are a few bus lines that go through the neighborhood, along the major roads, including 71, 87, 88 lines. There are no designated bike lanes or paths throughout most of the community. Bikes do not serve as a primary form of transport. In hopes of better connecting Kendall to Coral Gables and Dadeland, two expressways: Don Shula Expy and 878 were constructed, which alleviated some flow of traffic from Kendall Drive. 

Food

The CDP Community of Kendall has much to offer in the aspect of food. The family – oriented neighborhood is filled with restaurants, ranging from large national chains, like Red Lobster and Outback Steakhouse, to quite a bit of local, both casual and higher – end dining experiences. A major restaurant hub and a popular meeting place is both Dadeland Mall and Downtown Dadeland, which offer a very wide range of restaurants in a prime location for the residents of the Greater South Miami Area. Here are some of the featured local – owned businesses, that everyone should visit.

Hole in the Wall

Hole in the Wall is a local – owned and founded Miami restaurant. Currently there are 4 locations in the southern Miami, each having a different restaurant “name”. The location I had the pleasure of visiting was called Hole in the Wall Grill by SW 117th Ave and SW 120th St. The locale has a very relaxed feel to it, with wooden walls, a large bar, and chalkboards with the drinks and specials menu. The restaurant did not offer table service and patrons had to order food at the bar, however this minor inconvenience did not stop a large amount of people from enjoying their delicious food. The local favorite is famous for its Happy Hour and Taco Tuesday’s ($1 tacos every Tuesday after 3pm). Conveniently, the Kendall location is in the same plaza as Arcade Odyssey, making the plaza a hotspot for outings with friends and family.

Address: 12055 SW 117th Ave Miami, FL 33186

Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant and Bar

For seekers of more elevated dining experiences, Chef Adrianne’s is a newly relocated retirant in the Shops at Town and Country. The restaurant was founded by world – famous chef Adrianne Calvo, who at age 22 created her namesake restaurant. It was rewarded many times by multiple magazines and newspapers, and it won the Reader’s Choice Award in the Miami New Time’s as the Best Restaurant. The menu offers a wide array of dishes, ranging from elevated fish sandwiches to specialty steaks. The locale also offers a Brunch Menu and a Happy Hour Menu for drinks and select appetizers. It remains a true popular spot for higher dining experiences in Kendall.

Address: 11715 Sherri Lane, Miami, FL 33183

Two Brothers Pizza

Two Brothers Pizza is a locally – owned Italian restaurant in the Shops at Town and Country. The owner, Tommaso Penza is of Italian origin and continues to use the same practices when making pasta as his family decades past. The restaurant is decorated in a manner that resembles the old – world Italian feel.  The menu contains a wide variety of Italian dishes, including different types of pasta, appetizers, seafood, chicken, veal, and pizza. Two Brothers upholds Kendall’s main value of being family oriented and family friendly and offers a kid’s menu for the youngest connoisseurs of Italian cuisine.

Address: 13740 SW 84th St, Miami, FL 33183

Businesses

Most businesses in Kendall are in plazas along major roads, like SW 88th St and SW 107th Ave. There is lots of demand, due to the large population of the area and the convenience of having services close to home. Most businesses in Kendall are also minority – owned making the conscious decision to shop local even more morally satisfying. It is a bit difficult to find great places in the neighborhood if one doesn’t know where to look and it can be very surprising what unseeingly unamusing plazas can hide. Some great businesses native to Kendall include Kendall Ice Arena, Arcade Odyssey, Sunset Feed and Supply, Super Wheels and many law and tax firms.

Super Wheels Skating Center
The entrance to Super Wheels by Martyna Kwiatkowska/ CC by 4.0

Super Wheels has been a vital part of Kendall history since 1987, when Stuart Cauff and Wayne Lippman opened the beloved skating rink. It was originally called Hot Wheels. The founders had a vision to bring skating into the neighborhood, by revolutionizing and perfecting the sport and pastime by combining it with disco music and lights. The old facility was destroyed during Hurricane Irene in 1999 and it wasn’t till Milda Wanna launched Super Wheels in 2009, that the roller rink was brought back to its old glory. The hopes and goals of the founders remain, and Super Wheels is a vital part of Kendall nightlife and social culture. The rink is known for it’s special “Happy Hour Deals” on different days of the week, including adult night, every Monday, and skating lessons a few times a week. It also offers bar drinks, food, and an arcade room.

Address: 12265 SW 112th ST Miami, FL 33186

Arcade Odyssey

Arcade Odyssey is an old – school arcade in the south – western tip of Kendall. The arcade was opened in 2011, however in the past 10 years it has become a landmark in South Florida. It draws visitors in with nostalgia or intrigue, depending on their ages. The nostalgic atmosphere makes anyone forget where they are or what they are going through and immerses them in a gaming experience like no other. There are dozens of consoles, ranging from vintage 1970’s and 1980’s to newer Japanese arcade consoles. The southern wall features a pinball wall, a favorite amongst older and newer generations. There is also an alcoholic drink bar and snack bar located within the premise. The tokens are relatively cheap, costing $1 per 3 tokens, and most consoles require from 2 – 3 tokens per game. It is a great, affordable way to enjoy some free time not far from home and combined with The Hole in the Wall’s Tuesday Taco Deal can be a very inexpensive way to get a taste of the best Kendall has to offer.

Address: 12045 SW 117th Ave Miami, FL 33186

Sunset Feed and Supply

Sunset Feed and Supply is a family – owned business with over 60 years of expertise in all things horses, pets, and cowboy essentials. Kendall West used to be a very prominent equestrian community since the days of Sunset Feed and Supply’s founding. This has changed quite a bit over the past few decades; however, the store’s business has remained booming as ever. The store now also specializes in grills and riding equipment, and it is especially busy during the holiday season. The local – owned business offers many promotions and deals for its loyal customers; it has even established a royalty program and offers impeccable customer service.

Address:  7650 SW 117th Ave, Miami, FL 33183

Conclusion

Although Kendall is a relatively new neighborhood in Miami, it’s vibrant culture and suburban amenities make it one of the best neighborhoods to live in Miami. The community consists of a vibrant mix of people, all with their own stories and origins, finding a home in the beautiful suburb. The many restaurants, parks, schools, and local businesses make this area one that’s perfect for raising kids, a bit removed from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the city. The CDP will surely continue to thrive in the future, however I can’t help to wonder how this rapidly changing community will look like in the next 20, 30 or even 50 years, I guess we’ll have to wait and see….

Sources:

“About Us: Miami Cancer Institute.” Baptist Health South Florida, https://cancer.baptisthealth.net/miami-cancer-institute/about-us#

“Contact Us.” Twobrothersite, https://www.2brothersrestaurant.com/contact-us

“Dadeland Mall.” Flashback Miami, 7 Apr. 2016, https://flashbackmiami.com/2015/12/10/dadeland-mall/. 

Hole in the Wall Florida. “Hole in the Wall Florida.” Hole in the Wall Florida, https://holeinthewallflorida.com/. 

“Hours/Direction/Pricing: Arcade Odyssey.” Hours/Direction/Pricing | Arcade Odyssey, http://www.arcadeodyssey.com/hdp.html. 

“In the Beginning the Birth of Kendall – Part 1.” Pinecrest Dental Center, 12 Dec. 2018, https://pinecrestdental.com/kendall-part-1/. 

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

“Kendall Indian Hammocks Park in Kendall, FL.” MiamiandBeaches.com, https://www.miamiandbeaches.com/thing-to-do/parks-recreation/kendall-indian-hammocks-park/23891. 

“Menu.” CHEF ADRIANNE’S, https://chefadriannes.com/menu/#. 

“Miami Cancer Institute Opens Its Doors: Newsroom: Baptist Health South Florida.” Newsroom, 21 Mar. 2017, https://newsroom.baptisthealth.net/press-release/miami-cancer-institute-opens-its-doors/. 

“Miami’s Choice for Animal Feed, Pet Supplies, Western Wear, Riding Gear & Hay for 60 Years.” Sunset Feed & Supply, 15 May 2021, https://sunsetfeed.com/. 

Online, Bass. “Snapper Creek Canal.” Bass Fishing – The Complete Guide. Voted #1 Freshwater Fishing Resource by Experts, 10 Feb. 2021, https://bassonline.com/fl/lakes/snapper-creek-canal/. 

“Schedule – Super Wheels Miami, Hours- 305-270-9386.” Super Wheels Miami, https://superwheelsmiami.com/schedule/

Services, Miami-Dade County Online. “Kendall Indian Hammocks Par.” Untitled Document, https://www.miamidade.gov/parks/kendall-indian-hammocks.asp

Services, Miami-Dade County Online. “Metrobus Routes & Schedules.” Miami, https://www.miamidade.gov/transportation-publicworks/routes.asp. 

Simon Property Group, L.P. and/or Its Affiliates (NYSE: SPG). “About Dadeland Mall.” Discover A Simon Mall®, The Mills® Or Premium Outlets® Shopping Center, https://www.simon.com/mall/dadeland-mall/about. 

U.S. Census Bureau Quickfacts: United States. https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045219. 

Martyna Kwiatkowska: Miami as Text 2021-2022

Martyna Kwiatkowska/CC by 4.0

My name is Martyna Kwiatkowska and I am Junior studying Economics in the Honors College at FIU. I have also completed my German language and culture certificate in the past year, I’m fluent in Polish and English and proficient in German. I am originally from Poland; however, I moved to the US in 2015. I love to explore, travel, and learn about anything and everything. Since I’m relatively new to Miami, I’ve always wanted to learn about its culture and history, when I moved here, the first thing that I felt was a lack in the amount of history I was surrounded with. Warsaw, the city where I’m from has hundreds of years of history and I remembered all the school field trips I’d take to museums and places of great historical importance. Through this course, I hope to learn about the history and culture of this city, that I now call home and I hope to be positively surprised throughout this course.

Downtown as Text

Martyna Kwiatkowska/CC by 4.0

Diversity? No diversity?

by Martyna Kwiatkowska of FIU at Downtown Miami, 01 September 2021

Martyna Kwiatkowska: Miami as Text 2021-2022

On September 1st, we took a trip to downtown Miami, a quite mysterious place, that I have indeed visited a few times in the past, but I honestly did not know how we would fill the 5 hours we had allocated for this class. I came in completely blind and left intrigued by the rich history and culture that these square blocks entail.

With my cultural background, I always saw Miami as an extremely diverse mix of people from all parts of the world. When we met up at government center, in the middle of the chaos, that is exactly what I saw. The combination of people in poverty, the government officials entering and exiting the buildings, a vaccination center right in the middle and chickens running all around was just that; chaos and diversity. I was surprised to find out that the first Jewish and female mayor of Miami Dade was currently serving in office. It made me feel empowered and happy that a person from a minority background was elected to high office.

Martyna Kwiatkowska/CC by 4.0

The whole perception of Miami being inclusive of diversity was undermined when we went to our next destination, an old slave house, right in the middle of the city. First, I was surprised that an old building like that even stood here, and the history behind it made it so much more intriguing, but it left me a bit confused about my view of Miami from 20 minutes ago. I hoped for horrible things that occurred in this house to be part of the times, in which the home was constructed. And that this part of both American and potentially Miami history was long gone. I gained some hope, when we learned about William Wagner, an immigrant who built a house for the family he formed with his French creole wife. But this was a story like not many. Although heart warming, Julia Tuttle, also a very powerful woman of her time, created modern Miami, with the help of no other than Henry Flagler.

Martyna Kwiatkowska/ CC by 4.0

A big statue was constructed right in front of the courthouse to commemorate a man who historically built the railroad to make Miami a part the country. This man has done a lot for Miami, perhaps this city wouldn’t be what we know it as today without him, but he also brought quite a bit of segregation to the city. He was the creator of what we know as over town, an impoverished community, predominantly black that faces oppression and isolation from the rest of the city in part because of this man. He created this neighborhood to separate the African Americans in the community, so more white people would feel comfortable coming down. Putting a big hurdle on the diversity of the city, or at least how visitors perceived it.

With the times changing, this social oppression of minorities slowed down a bit. In the future generations, Miami became an even more diverse city as Cubans would flee the crisis going on in their home country and inhabited Miami. This city has become a hub for many south and central Americans who fled their countries in search of freedom and prosperity. However, equality and diversity are two different things, and unless every community feels empowered to prosper in a city, they will not work to further expand this diversity.

The rollercoaster of deep contemplation I was taken on during this trip was a very impactful one, we finished the trip in the history Miami museum, that further explained typically Miami instances, like the boats of migrants from Cuba or typical instances that were happening all around d the country, at the time being like an old train cart, that only allowed the colored people to ride in the back. I concluded that all of this diversity vs no diversity was a matter of individuals. It all depends on the individuals that live and lead the city. But it also is important for us to realize this gift and charm that this city has and work hard to support the minorities that need our support to grow and further diversify our Miami. The imagine of Miami is different in everyone’s eyes, mine was completely different back in Poland, but it also changed the more acquainted I got with the city, this trip around downtown changed it once again. I can only imagine that people from different parts of the city or different time periods in the city’s history perceive it, but I for sure want to learn at least a bit about their points of views.

Train Wagon from Miami by Martyna Kwiatkowska/ CC by 4.0

Overtown as Text



Overtown by Martyna Kwiatkowska / CC by 4.0

Going Through Changes

By Martyna Kwiatkowska at Overtown Miami, September 15th 2021

September 15th we took a trip to Historic Overtown, located just North of Downtown. After catching the metro a bit late, I realized just how far this area was from where I lived. I’ve actually never visited Overtown before this excursion, however I heard many, mostly negative things about it. Since the beginning of this course, I was hoping to be surprised and that’s exactly what I experienced during this excursion. 

I never thought of Miami as a city with a rich history, since it is relatively new, compared to the places I’ve visited and lived in. However my obsession with nostalgia and history was entertained, when we visited the old churches in Overtown and Hialeah Park. The Lyric theatre was the first place that left me in awe, learning that many famous soul and jazz singers performed there since the beginning of the 20th century was a big surprise, since I had always thought of Mami as almost uninhabited before the 30’s, 40’s when A/C was invented. The next two stops we made were Greater Bethel and Mt. Sinai Church, both of which were established the same year as the city of Miami was charted. The people working at the churches were very knowledgeable about the history of the establishments, and even mentioned their personal encounters with people that I’ve only ever read in history text books like Martin Luther KIng Jr. They both also described their personal experiences with Overtown and how the area has changed since their childhoods, they say the place that they called home transformed within the last 50 years, from a thriving African American community to a newly developed and gentrified one. 

Bethel Church (left) and Lyric Theatre (right) by Martyna Kwiatkowska/ cc by 4.o

We also made a stop at Jackson Soul Food, a vital part of the community, trying Soul Food and catfish for the first time,  which made the whole experience even more immersive. The people of Overtown were all very welcoming and were happy to share their history with all of us wherever we went. They also shared their frustration, with being pushed away by developers from their neighborhood. 

Hialeah Park by Martyna Kwiatkowska/ cc by 4.0

Later on we took the metro even further to Hialeah station, by Hialeah Park and once again I was amazed. I’ve actually never heard of the place before and seeing the beautiful neo mediterranean architecture and such a grand building reminded me of Europe. I enjoyed finding out about the rich history of the place, from when the building and race track was built, all the famous guests that have visited it and also the fact that the Flamingo, a sure symbol of Miami, was created from the many flamingos living inside of the track. I was saddened a bit by the fact that Hialeah Park does not have any more horse racing, and it’s far from it’s days of glory, but I was glad that the owners still keep it up and have plans for further development of the land. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screen-shot-2021-09-26-at-11.23.37-pm.png
Development Approaching by Martyna Kwiatkowska/ CC by 4.0

During this trip, I realized that Miami is full of history, but the huge focus on development and progress of the city can overshadow and destroy it’s historic places. There are few history museums in the city and soon enough, these churches of Overtown or the Lyric Theatre might fade away in history as the people that care about these places slowly die out. Progress and improvement have always been very vital parts of Miami culture, from the huge plastic surgery market that allows people to improve their physical traits to the constant development and construction of new buildings and highways. And dozens of communities, hundreds of landmarks and most importantly thousands of people were affected by this constant focus and change. It is important to protect national landmarks and communities, especially the underprivileged like Overtown, just like the owners of Hialeah Park are trying to do. I believe the legislature should push for more funding for preservation, instead of development, since a city with more landmarks attracts more tourists and makes its citizens feel more connected to the culture and history and fight for injustice that many communities have had to and are enduring.

Vizcaya as Text

Vizcaya from the gardens by Martyna Kwiatkowska/ CC by 4.0

Artificial Beauty

by Martyna Kwiatkowska at Vizcaya on October 13th, 2021.

Our excursion to Vizcaya occurred on a very sunny and hot morning. We were immersed into the world of James Deering from the moment we met at the entrance to the property. We soon found out that the entrance that we took was actually the back entrance, which used to be just a dirt road through the tropics, the important guest were usually greeted at the much fancier entrance from Biscayne Bay by boat. The entrance, the villa and even the gardens are all built in the style of Italian Renaissance and Baroque villas that James Deering visited on his voyages to the Old Continent. However, the construction of Vizcaya began in 1914 and ended in 1916, decades after the renaissance. This simple fact, led my mind to consider that everything I was going to see was not as dated as it seemed to be.

Vizcaya from the garden (left), Vizcaya from the back entrance (right) by Martyna Kwiatkowska/ CC by 4.0

Vizcaya is often seen as one of the most historical places in Miami, and due to young nature of the metropolis, it is in fact one of the oldest structures standing in Miami to this day. James Deering hired Paul Chalfin and Diego Suarez and F. Burall Hoffmann to design and build the summer home and the gardens. The beauty of the property is undeniable. Hundreds of people take wedding and quinceañera pictures in the beautiful grottos and detailed, man – made and maintained gardens. Each of the rooms is decorated in a different style, some examples include the French and the Rococo rooms. Both contained the principle elements of the old styles. However, upon closer observation of the rooms, there’s some sort of inconsistency. There is lots of random pieces of art that seem out place. When building in a style that is dated and, but it only seems respectful to be educate oneself on the historical meaning and value of the many objects that make up the villa. An example of this is busts of Roman Cesars that are not labeled and they just serve a decorative purpose. Other items include a Spanish rug, that was created for a catholic leader by Muslim artists that were granted asylum in exchange for continuous work in Spain after the Muslims were expelled from the nation. The piece of work that clearly shows James Deering’s lack of respect for cultural value was a historical painting of the Virgin Mary that was cut in half and served as a cover for organ pipes which appearance the millionaire was not fond of.

Organ with cut painting of Virgin Mary (left) and old Spanish rug (right) by Martyna Kwiatkowska/ CC by 4.0

It is clear that James Deering tried imitating an educated world – traveler, however failed to do so, when he utilized his money to purchase items that were valuable without potentially knowing why. After long contemplation, I realized the beauty was artificial, because that’s all that the creator of Vizcaya was concerned with. Although the building was beautiful, it was built in the land of the Tequesta, by Bahamian workers of Coconut Grove with no concern for their cultures. Deering was known to be mostly concerned with the finer things in life, like hosting lavish parties and enjoying the money his family had accumulated to the fullest. There were many nods to this throughout the mansion, including a beautiful pool, a statue of Backus (the Roman God of wine and pleasure) at the entrance and many lavish dining sets.

Backus (left), Vizcaya French garden (middle) and Vizcaya from the water (right) by Martyna Kwiatkowska/ CC by 4.0

This approach reminded me of Miami as a city, constantly focused on change and improvement with no consideration for history. James Deering purchased art, marble and even fountains from Europe, stripping them of their historical and cultural importance, just because he enjoyed the aesthetics. Miami is a city which is not built with nature in mind. From the layout of the city, to the insufficient conservation of nature like the everglades through constant westward expansion, living an organic life is quite difficult. Although artificial beauty is still beauty, it will never touch the hearts of observers like real beauty can.

South Beach as Text

Three Art Deco Hotels on Lincoln Road by Martyna Kwiatkowska/ CC by 4.0

Backyard Paradise

by Martyna Kwiatkowska at South Beach on November 3rd, 2021

When people picture Florida, they see beautiful sand beaches, palm trees, art deco and a year – round dream vacation spot. Miami Beach hosts over 3 million tourists annually, and around 40,000 people live on Miami’s barrier island. However, what we see now is not what the Spanish saw when they first arrived. A barrier island is one that provides protection from the ocean currents and winds, Miami Beach’s mangroves did just that, until they were all cut down to make space for its current infrastructure. Carl Fisher was the visionary behind the Beach’s current appearance. When he arrived in Miami in the 1920’s, he thought of it as the perfect vacation spot for him and his millionaire friends from the Northeast. And although Miami Beach, or Ocean Beach (since that was the name it previously had) was already a weekend spot of reunion for the culturally diverse community of Miami, Carl Fisher saw more potential for development. Unfortunately, he did not believe that his friends and other wealthy Americans would visit the island if it was inhabited by people of color, and he continued Flagler’s segregation policies on Miami Beach. Black Miamians were unfortunately not allowed to relax on Miami Beach like they had for years before and they were pushed to Virginia Key, which had the only “colored” beach in the city at that time.

The Breakwater (left) and Along Lincoln Road (right) by Martyna Kwiatkowska/ CC by 4.0

The trend of creating artificial beauty was continued in Miami Beach, as it started with the Deering brothers, that built residences with no consideration for the natural and historical landscape of Miami. This trend also led to a creation of an particular architectural style: Art Deco. As we ventured around South Beach, we walked past buildings of different pastel colors, from pinks and light yellows to blues. Most of these buildings followed the rules of Art Deco, including the rule of threes, that made sure that the building’s façade had 3 distinct parts, three windows and a maximum of 3 stories. Art Deco buildings were inspired by the futuristic appearance of home appliances and spaceships. Miami Beach has an impressive collection of these homes, and due to their unique appearances, they are famous worldwide and a accumulate millions of dollars in revenue from tourism. This protects them from destruction and acquisition by developers.

Sunrise on South Pointe Beach on November 10th, 2018 by Martyna Kwiatkowska/ CC by 4.0

The constant development and focus on progress in Miami can surely be seen on the beach, however due to unfortunate position of the island below sea level, with the constant sea level rising, the billions of dollars spent on investment in multi – story skyscrapers will potentially be lost. However, for the time being, Miami Beach will surely remain one of the most visited places in the United States. 

Deering Estate as Text

The Pine Rock Lands South of Deering Estate by Martyna Kwiatkowska/ CC by 4.0

A Connection to the Past

by Martyna Kwiatkowska at Deering Estate on November 10th, 2021

I’ve been familiar with Deering Estate since 8th grade when I first moved here from Poland. It was very close to my middle school and was the endpoint of the first 5k run that I completed, a place where I trained my cat how to walk on a leash and a place of refuge when life would get too hectic. There has always been something that kept making me come back to the dock. However, I wasn’t aware of the secrets that the woods in the estate were hiding. I would have never thought that a place that I felt familiar with was the location of an active archeological site and a vital part of Tequesta culture and lifestyle. 

Biscayne Bay from the “People’s Dock” (January 18th, 2019) (left) and Masha on a morning walk at Deering Estate (March 16th, 2019( (right) by Martyna Kwiatkowska/ CC by 4.0

Deering Estate derives its name from Charles Deering, a wealthy American that purchased the land and the Richmond Cottage (that was a hotel previously) for a winter home. However just like his brother James, that built Vizcaya, Charles was inspired by European architecture and culture. He took painting classes in Europe and was educated in art. The Richmond cottage, a wooden house, therefore, was not a safe space to store and display his art, so the millionaire built a renaissance revival home out of concrete. Deering made sure to hide a wine cellar below the home, which was locked with safe doors during prohibition. The land owned by Deering was almost untouched and surely, the millionaire was not aware of all the secrets that mangroves were hiding.

A 15-minute walk from Deering’s estate, a group of teenagers found a solution hole, that soon became a vital archeological site that helped us understand our geographical ancestors. Archeologists found remains of Paleo – Indians and various extinct animals at the site that date back to 10,000 years ago. The experience of going through a narrow path through Florida nature and standing at the site of a burial ground of people from thousands of years before my time, made me somehow feel connected with the now extinct tribe.

Hardwood Hammock Forest (left) and the Miami Rock Ridge (right) by Martyna Kwiatkowska/ CC by 4.0

 On the opposite side of the residence, we walked along the Miami Rock Ridge, which was a pathway 33ft above sea level that allowed the Tequesta to travel by foot along the shore. We were walking in the tribe’s footsteps, until we reached a creek, a dump site. The Native Americans used shells in many various forms as their tools, due to their durability, to this day, they remain one of the only things left behind by the extinct tribe. The Miami Rock Ridge further led us to a burial mound of the Tequesta. It is believed that around 18 people were buried under shells and sand that formed a mound. However, unfortunately the tribe had become extinct with very little documentation about their rituals, lifestyle, and traditions. We can only imagine how life looked like for the Tequesta from the tools that they used and the remains that have been recovered. 

“A Fresh Water Walk” (left), Mangrove Shore (center), Ridges in a tree (right) by Martyna Kwiatkowska/ CC by 4.0

Deering Estate is one of the few places that lets us see how Florida was before the modern industrialization. The public areas like the People’s Dock and the estate itself remain important locations for tourists and locals alike. However, the real beauty is behind the fences, where 7 different natural habitats meet, the only left remains of two extinct tribes are found and endangered mangroves serve as a sanctuary for fish hatchlings and crashed planes alike. 

Rubell Museum as Text

Narcissus Garden by Yayoi Kusama captured by Martyna Kwiatkowska/ CC by 4.0

A First Look at Contemporary

by Martyną Kwiatkowska at Rubell Musum on November 24th, 2021

Contemporary Art has never been anything I knew how to enjoy and even understand. My perception of this art style was quite uneducated, and I believed that anyone could make a random piece of “Art”, call it contemporary art, put a price on it and sell it for millions of dollars. My view changed drastically after experiencing the art at the Rubell Museum. Words that really stuck to me where the ones of Professor Bailly: “Contemporary Art reflects contemporary issues”. This shifted my approach towards this art style and opened my mind to enjoying its nonconventional aspects. 

The Rubell Family Collection is in the Allapatah neighborhood and the building’s modern and kept up exterior, does not quite fit in within the impoverished community. The entrance to the gift shop leads patrons through a hidden garden of sorts and an upscale restaurant is located at the end of the short path. We were warmly greeted by the ticket clerks and as we entered the museum, we were exposed to the first artwork Narcissus Garden by a Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. The 700 stainless steel balls show us our reflection and pave paths into different exhibition rooms. Later, on our tour, we also had the pleasure of experiencing two “Infinity Rooms” that the artist is known worldwide for. We experienced the rooms individually and the 30 seconds we each had allotted in the room, might seem like not that much but it was more than enough time to be completely immersed in the art. Both the art works used light and reflection to create art an environment which the patrons conceived they were part of.

The Rubell Family started collecting art that they were passionate about 54 years ago and were visionaries of what art would look like in the 21sth century. They built many connections with artists that have now become world renowned before they were acknowledged for their works. In 1993 however, they wanted to share their collection and opened a museum in Wynwood. In a city that has been known for its constant chaos and reinvention, it was only suitable for Contemporary Art to thrive, since although the Deering brothers tried to implement it, renaissance artwork never belonged. Just like the Rubells, the gallerists of Art Basel in Switzerland saw Miami as a perfect place for this type of artwork to thrive in and brought the festival over to the city in 2002. Between the family opening the museum and Art Basel becoming a big part of the culture, Miami became a place where Contemporary Art thrives, and Miami Art Week brings in millions of tourists each year. 

I hope to continue discovering the beauty in Modern Art in the future, what I admire about the seemingly simple and disorganized artwork is the meaning that each part of it has. I could spend hours looking at one piece of artwork and interpret its infinite meanings. Some artworks that really stood out to me were those of Cajsa von Zeipel, a Swedish artist that creates commentaries of modern humans and in her exhibition at the museum, she focused on influencers and the dark side of having an occupation that many people envy. The widespread and international aspect of contemporary art, allows it to speak to anyone and everyone will surely find an art piece they enjoy looking at and relate to.

Untitled as Text 

Untitled photographed by Martyna Kwiatkowska/ CC by 4.0

An Art Fair

On one hot Wednesday afternoon, I found myself in the middle of Miami Beach, just a few days before Miami Art Week. After visiting the Rubell Museum the previous week, I had was excited to see what this show would have to offer. What I quickly realized is how little I knew about the industry of art itself and meeting many different gallery owners and artists, gave me an idea of how this enigmatic industry works. 

The fair itself was in a big white tent in the middle of South Beach. It was quite surprising to me that thousands of dollars’ worth of art were stored right next to the water and sand. From my experience, art was usually kept in temperature-controlled museums made of sturdy concrete and protected by multiple security systems. Untitled did not look so from the outside, but on the inside, it resembled any other art museum or gallery I have ever seen. But considering how unexpected contemporary art can be, the location of the fair was quite fitting. 

From the moment we stepped in we were immersed in the chaos and commotion of the event. The fair hosted over 145 international galleries, each booth had something different happening, my eyes had trouble focusing on just one piece of art. We had the pleasure of speaking to local and international gallery owners. One of the most impactful conversations that I recall was one with Gallery1957, based in Ghana and United Kingdom. The representative explained to us how she works to empower aspiring artists from an often-overlooked continent – Africa. She focuses her career on travelling to different countries across the continent and finding artists, who’s art she sells at international trade shows, including Untitled, where she sold all the pieces she was presenting. She also explained to us the prolonged process of sending artwork overseas and the costs associated with it. This made me realize the difficulty all the artists in the tent had to surpass and how much demand there must be for contemporary art. The fact that sellers pay so much money to sell the art means that they are comfortable enough in the trade that they are willing to take the risk. 

A great benefit of visiting Untitled was also getting to hear the interpretations of the works through the artist’s perspectives. Contemporary art is known to be quite unconventional, and every person might interpret it in different ways. There is no proper way to understand what a piece means, since it is meant to inspire people in the ways that are meaningful to them. However, it is always a pleasure hearing the artist’s inspiration and interpretation of a wok, that they have thoughtfully created. A very impactful art collection we got to experience was the works of Arleene Correa Valencia, a Mexican born artist, who was inspired by her father’s love and sacrifice. Valencia created a set of portraits that represent the unconditional love immigrant parents have for their children and the extreme dedication and sacrifices they must make to provide a better future for their kids. The pieces were interactive, and they had many hidden meanings and ways to look at. The whole group was left in complete awe after experiencing the significant art that the artist presented.

Untitled Miami showed me yet another way to look at Contemporary Art and the business that is the art industry. It is full of novelty and chaos, but it is also filled with deeper meaning and understanding the struggles and experiences of people worldwide. I hope to see many other fairs, like Untitled soon, and perhaps attend Art Basel. The inspiration that flows through artists is nearly infinite and I hope to experience more of their greatness in the future.

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