ASC See Miami Fall 2020: Monica Barletta


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Monica Barletta at the Artechouse, picture taken by Jorge Villarreal

Monica Barletta is a sophomore in the Honors College at Florida International University. She is currently a Biology major on the Pre-med track and hopes to attend the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. Outside of school, she enjoys creating art and spending time with her friends and family.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens


Miami’s Metrorail route, Image taken from the Metrorail’s official website

Located in at 3251 South Miami Avenue in the present-day Coconut Grove neighborhood, The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is just one of many estates that James Deering had owned throughout Miami. The estate overlooks Biscayne Bay, and is conveniently located just 10 minutes from the Vizcaya station at the Metrorail. Originally 180 acres of shoreline mangrove swamps and tropical forest, the estate now consists of 50 acres composed of the formal gardens and a native “hammock”.

Vizcaya Entrance, Photo taken by Monica Barletta


The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, formerly known as Villa Vizcaya after the northern Spanish province of Vizcaya (meaning Biscay), features a main house, ten acres of formal gardens, a rockland hammock, and historic village. It was commissioned by James Deering in 1912 to be built as his winter home. Vizcaya was inspired by the baroque Villa Rezzonico-Borella in Bassano del Grappa.

            James Deering (1859-1925) along with his brother, Charles, and his father, William, built one of the largest corporations in American, the International Harvester Company. By the end of the 19th century, the company had grown tremendously in value and turned the Deering family into one of the richest families of the time. James Deering decided to retire and move to South Florida after being diagnosed with pernicious anemia. His doctors recommended sunshine and a warm climate to recover. Deering’s interests included sailing and plant conservation, which greatly contributed to the design of the estate.          

            After being introduced to artistic director Paul Chalfin in 1910, they almost immediately began their plans to construct the European style winter estate. Francis Burral Hoffman, Jr. was hired to be the main architect to design the mansion after one of Deering’s trips to Italy. Diego Suarez was later hired in 1914 to construct Vizcaya’s gardens.

            James Deering died in 1925 on board the steamship SS City of Paris. The Villa Vizcaya was passed onto his two nieces who eventually sold it to Miami-Dade County to be open to the public in 1955.

Photo taken by Monica Barletta


The mission of the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is preserving the former estate of James Deering to engage the local community. The goal of this museum is to educate its visitors on the art, history, and environment within the estate.


Transportation and Parking

            The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is located at 3251 South Miami Avenue, Miami, FL 33129.

            Free parking is available to all visitors in the two parking lots: the main lot located on the east side of South Miami Avenue and the Vizcaya Village parking lot on the west side of South Miami Avenue.

            As part of Vizcaya’s environmental initiatives, visitors are encouraged to use the following public transportation services:

  • Metrorail
  • Exit at Vizcaya station.
  • Cross US 1 on the pedestrian bridge.
  • Continue in the same direction, along 32nd Road, to South Miami Avenue.
  • Cross SW 32 Road and proceed to the South Miami Avenue crosswalk at Vizcaya’s Entrance Drive.
  • Cross South Miami Avenue and follow pedestrian routes to Vizcaya’s Admission Booth.
  • City of Miami Trolley
  • Using the City of Miami Trolley App, take the Brickell Route to stop #39 on a Northbound trolley, or stop #15 on a Southbound trolley. (If coming NB, cross South Miami Ave). Then follow pedestrian routes from South Miami Avenue to Vizcaya’s Admission Booth.
  • Citi Bike Miami
  • A Citi Bike station is located at Vizcaya at the intersection of South Miami Avenue and SW 32nd Road. 
  • Ride Share Drop-off and Pick-up
  • Ride share drop-off and pick-up should enter the Entrance Drive on South Miami Avenue. Visitors can be dropped off and picked up in the Piazza where Admissions is located. 

COVID-19 Museum Guidelines

Visitors and staff must adhere to the following regulations:

  • Visitors and staff must wear facial coverings at all times. Those without a mask will not be permitted entry, except children under age 2 or those who have trouble breathing due to a chronic health condition.
  • Masks must be tied at the back of the head or looped around the ears.
  • Social distancing of 6’ must be maintained, except for those who self-identify as a family and may visit the property in a group of under 10 people.
  • Frequent touch surfaces will be regularly wiped down throughout the day.
  • Restrooms will be cleaned at least every 2 hours and an attendant will be present who monitors that only individuals or individual family groups use them at a time.
  • Narrow paths in the house and gardens will be restricted to one-way foot traffic.
  • Vizcaya’s Café and Shop is currently closed.
  • The second floor of the main house is currently closed.


Vizcaya is open to the public Thursday through Monday Admission is available from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Visitors may enjoy select areas of the first floor of the Main House until 5:00 p.m. and the gardens until 5:30 p.m.


Due to COVID restrictions, tickets are no longer sold at the door, they must be purchased online.

* On select days, a limited-time discount is offered while the second floor of the Main House remains closed.

Admission prices:                                  Regular Prices      Discounted Pricing*

Adults (13 and over):                                    $22                           $18     

Child (6-12):                                                   $10                            $8

Children (5 and under):                              Free                    Always Free

Visitors using wheelchairs:                      $10                              $8

Military veterans and active duty: Free                      Always Free

Discounts and Partnership

  • Golden Ticket – Vizcaya Museum and Gardens along with the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs offers free tickets to the arts for seniors of Miami-Dade County
  • Culture Shock– Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is a proud partner of the Culture Shock Miami program. With the purchase of one $5 ticket for a 13-22 year old, a second $5 ticket can be purchased for someone of any age to accompany them.


*Member tickets are free with online tickets

Members enjoy exclusive benefits including:

  • Free daily general admission for one year to the Main House, the gardens and special tours of the Vizcaya Village.
  • Discounted daily admission for guests.
  • Complimentary audio and guided tours of the Main House.
  • Exclusive digital announcements and updates.
  • Access to exclusive member events.
  • Discounted admission to special programs throughout the year.

 Membership Levels

  • Individual: $70 for 1 Year or $130 for 2 Years

All the above-listed benefits for one person.

  • Dual: $90 for 1 Year or $170 for 2 Years

All the above-listed benefits for two people.

  • Family: $125 for 1 Year or $240 for 2 Years

All the above-listed benefits of membership for one or two members and up to four children age 17 years and under.

  • Family and Friends: $175 for 1 Year or $340 for 2 Years

All the above-listed benefits of membership for one or two members and up to two guests plus up to 4 children or grandchildren of the member (17 years of age or younger).

  • Preservationist: $250 for 1 Year or $475 for 2 Years

All the above-listed benefits of membership for one or two adults, plus:

  • Two guest passes
  • Preservationist members may opt-in for Family-level benefits to include up to four children age 17 and under.
  • Conservator: $500 for 1 Year or $950 for 2 Years

All the Preservationist-level benefits of membership, plus:

  • Two additional guest passes (four total).
  • Admits two members and two guests, or one member and three guests with each visit to Vizcaya Museum and Gardens during regular operating hours.
  • Conservator members may opt-in for Family-level benefits to include up to four children age 17 and under. 


Vizcaya’s Stone Barge

Stone Barge at Vizcaya, Photo taken by Monica Barletta

One of the most famous works of art in Deering’s collection is the Stone Barge sculpted by Alexander Calder that sits in the water in front of the Main House. This Barge is a breakwater that was designed in the shape of a boat. Mythical Caribbean creatures were carved on the outside of the boat. When it was first completed, it contained fountains, a latticework pavilion, and even trees. Over the years, the Barge has deteriorated, and guests are no longer allowed onto it.

The Statuary Walk Sculptures

Garden Statues at Vizacaya, Photo taken by Monica Barletta

The garden on the estate is filled with many Italian sculptures made from Vicenza and Istrian stones imported from Italy. These statues are from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Filippo Barigioni, known for creating the fountain in front of the Pantheon in Rome, was the architect that designed some of the statues from Deering’s collection.

The Last Supper

The Last Supper, photo taken from Vizcaya’s Official website

This painting was made by Johan van Collen in the 16th century and depicts Jesus Christ at the Last Supper. This piece is part of a collection acquired from Claire Mendel. Since there is not much known about the provenance of this collection, there is research being done to determine if this piece was stolen during World War II by Nazis. It is currently up for display at the Main House.


The Happy Days in Egypt exhibition, Photo taken from Vizcaya’s official website

The “Happy Days in Egypt” exhibition is currently being displayed in the entrance hall. This exhibition depicts James Deering in several different mythological tales. The exhibition was on display several years ago and has recently been brought back. In 1912, James traveled to Egypt and collected watercolor cards that documented his trip. These cards are believed to be created by his brother, Charles Deering.


The Vizcaya Museum has many new events organized each and every month. Some of the many events that the museum hosts include:

Vizcaya Village Farmers Market: Each Sunday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, the Vizcaya Village Farmers Market is open rain or shine. This is a free community event in which visitors can foods and products from local vendors while exploring Vizcaya’s historical farm and village.

Vizcaya Late: The museum hosts certain days in which it stays open for extended hours, closing at 8:00 pm. The event allows visitors to see the Main House and gardens at night and provides activities and experiences that change each month.

Spotlight Discussions: The museum chooses certain works of art to have spotlight discussions on each month in which visitors can chat with staff about the artwork.

VISITOR: Interview with Arlene, a sophomore at Miami- Dade College

Photo of Interviewee Arlene, Photo taken by Monica Barletta

Q: What made you come to Vizcaya today?

A: I’ve never actually been here before and a lot of people have told me good things about this place. My mom took her wedding pictures here and they came out really pretty so I wanted to take some pictures to post on Instagram in the same places.

Q: Did this place live up to your expectations?

A: I think it kind of exceeded my expectations, I had no idea that this place would be so beautiful.

Q: What was your favorite area or piece of art?

A: I would say the fountain out in the garden is my favorite. It has a great view of the garden, it’s just a really nice area to sit and look around. I took some really nice pictures there too.

Q: Would you ever come back?

A: I’m not sure, this place is really beautiful but it’s kind of expensive especially for a college student like me. Maybe I’ll come back in a few years, but I feel like I’ve seen everything I need to see in this visit.

PORTRAIT: Interview with Joseluis, Security/ Ticket check at the front entrance.

Q: When did you start working here?

A: I got this job almost two years ago.

Q: What is your favorite part of the job?

A: I love working here, my favorite part would be that I get to just stand here and look at the art all day. That’s one of the things that drew me into working here, I’ve always thought that this museum was one of the most gorgeous places in Miami.

Q: What was your favorite area or piece of art?

A: My favorite part of this place is probably the inside of the mansion. The whole thing is beautiful, if you haven’t yet I recommend walking down the halls and looking at each of the rooms.

Q: Has COVID affected anything here?

A: Yes, one of the main things is that we do not allow as many people on the property as before that’s why you have to buy your tickets online now. Once the ticket sales have reached a certain point for the day, they don’t sell anymore. I guess it’s a good thing that there are less people. It’s easier to keep an eye on everything that’s going on and for you, you guys can take better pictures.


The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens perfectly preserves Deering’s vast art collection, making it feel as if you are stepping back in time. Deering’s interest in collecting art is what makes the estate such an interesting place to visit, he incorporated so many art styles from different periods into decorating. The museum does well to fulfill its mission to engage and educate its visitors on the art, history, and environment within the estate. The only problem I have with the museum is that the price of admission is expensive and deters many people from coming to visit. Regardless, this museum is one of the most beautiful spots to visit in Miami and is somewhere that every Floridian should visit at least once.


“Happy Days In Egypt.” Vizcaya, 14 Aug. 2020,

“James Deering.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Dec. 2020,

Kidd, Laurence. “A Brief And Fascinating History Of The Vizcaya Villas.” Culture Trip, The Culture Trip, 12 Aug. 2016,

Matt & Andrej Koymasky – Famous GLTB – James Deering,

“Online Catalog.” Vizcaya, 16 Oct. 2019,

“Recovering Lost Nazi-Era Artworks.” Vizcaya, 29 Oct. 2019,

“Statuary Walk Sculptures.” EverGreene, 28 Apr. 2020,

“Vizcaya Museum and Gardens Volunteer Opportunities.” VolunteerMatch,

“Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 2 Dec. 2020,

“Who Was James Deering?” Vizcaya, 21 Oct. 2019,

ASC Service Project Fall 2020: Monica Barletta

Student Bio

Monica Barletta at the Artechouse, picture taken by Jorge Villarreal

Monica Barletta is a sophomore in the Honors College at Florida International University. She is currently a Biology major on the Pre-med track and hopes to attend the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. Outside of school, she enjoys creating art and spending time with her friends and family.

Using Art To Raise Awareness


The Bakehouse is a studio that houses many different artists, each working on their own projects to improve the community through their art. Among those artists is Lauren Shapiro, who began the art project called “Future Pacific” in order to bring awareness to the dying of coral reef systems. Shapiro, partnered with marine ecologist Dr. Nyssa Silbiger, use the help of the local community to teach them about the importance of coral reefs and how they are impacted by human activity. This semester I decided to complete my service hours at the Bakehouse Art Complex to continue working on Lauren Shapiro’s Future Pacific art installment.


I thought it was important to volunteer in something that I am passionate about. I decided to volunteer in working with Future Pacific because I believe the message Shapiro is communicating through her artwork is something that should reach more people. As a biology major, I have learned about the importance of protecting our planet and this project resonated with me. I have also lived in Florida my entire life, so I know that coral reefs are such a huge part in our economy and even protect against many environmental factors.

Another reason I chose to volunteer with this project is because I have always enjoyed making art, especially creating sculptures. It is something that I take pleasure in whenever I have free time as a way to destress. I thought this would be a cool and unique experience, being part of such a large-scale art project is something that not many people can say they have done.


I learned about this volunteer opportunity through my professor for my Art Society Conflict Honors class, John Bailly. For one of our class meetings, we spent the day working with Shapiro at one of her mold making workshops. I had such a great time working on this project with my peers and looked into signing up to help with this project again one day. Professor Bailly had sent out an announcement that Shapiro was looking for more volunteers on a certain day in order to help with the project and I saw this as the perfect opportunity to complete my art service requirement.


Photo by Monica Barletta

The day our class originally came together for the first mold making workshop was October 7th, we spent about two and a half hours making the coral figures and placing them on the structure. The day I volunteered was a little different than when our class met. I signed up along with two other students from my honors class for the slot on October 29th from 2-6 pm.

We got there a little early and were led to our own table in the studio that had many different coral molds and pounds of clay waiting on it. Shapiro gave us a short explanation to show us the process of how to make the clay sculptures and gave us the freedom to choose the colors and style of coral we wanted to make. We spent about the first 3 hours filling trays with hundreds of the small clay corals we made. As the day went by, we decided to have more fun with it and make it as creative as we could. We spent the last hour placing all of our clay sculptures on the foundational structures and organizing them around each other, so they fit in best. Lauren had given us a bucket filled with a watered-down clay paste to use when attaching the corals which I had gotten all over myself at the end of the day. Although I ended up covered with clay, I really enjoyed myself working on this project, it allowed me to work together and connect with my classmates while learning more about a topic that is very important to me.



In essence, my experience volunteering for the Future Pacific project for Lauren Shapiro was a very unique experience that I’m lucky to have been a part of. Not only did I have a great time creating the clay corals, but I was also able to speak with Shapiro about this art project and she was able to teach me so much more about the reefs. This volunteer opportunity was perfect for me because it mixes together two subjects that I am very passionate about: science and art. This is a great way to educate the local community on the importance of reefs, especially in Florida. This is a topic that I believe more people should inform themselves on, I hope that this project influences others to go out and do their own research like it inspired me to do.

            I thought it was very creative that Shapiro made this a hands-on activity for people to participate in as a way to spread a message and bring awareness to such an important issue. After being inspired to research this topic further, I learned that Coral Reefs are a huge part of the economy and bring in about $3.4 billion each year, as well as support around 36,000 jobs in just Broward and Miami-Dade County. They also act as buffers against storms and floods which is extremely important in Florida to protect us against hurricanes. Human activity has caused our coral reef ecosystems to die at an increasing rate. Climate change, pollution, and physical destruction are the main contributors to their deaths. Learning this information, I was inspired to find ways that I can help protect our reefs and I have tried to incorporate some of the tips to protect them I learned into my life. The loss of these reef systems would be devastating to Florida, which is why we have to be more environmentally conscious and do everything we can to save them.

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Image taken by Monica Barletta


“About Us.” BAC,

“Florida’s Coral Reefs.” Florida Department of Environmental Protection,

“Future Pacific.” Lauren Shapiro,

US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “NOAA CoRIS – Regional Portal – Florida.” NOAA Coral Reef Information System (CoRIS) Home Page, 29 June 2009,

Monica Barletta: Miami as Text

Monica Barletta at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Monica Barletta is a sophomore in the Honors College at Florida International University. She is currently a Biology major on the Pre-med track, and hopes to attend the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. Outside of school, she enjoys creating art and spending time with her friends and family.

Monica Barletta at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Deering as Text

“The Influence of Cultures at Deering”

By Monica Barletta of FIU at the Deering Estate, 9 September 2020

The Deering Estate is a 444-acre plot of land containing some of Miami’s oldest pieces of history that can still be viewed today. This estate’s background dates back to the late 19th century when the first house on the property was built by the Richmond family. The property was later turned into an inn for travelers until 1915 when it was purchased by Charles Deering.

Deering was a very wealthy business owner who made his money from creating farming tools, but more importantly, he was an avid art collector. Deering’s interest in art is what makes this building such an interesting place to visit, as he incorporated art styles from so many different cultures throughout his estate. Built in 1922 from concrete and limestone, the second house on the property became known as the Stone House. This house is what stood out to me the most during my visit because of the way aspects from many different cultures can be found in the art and architecture.

Stone House – Deering Estate, Photo taken by Monica Barletta

The outside of the building is made from limestone, which is found in Florida, but is created in a Spanish style to look similar to his house in Spain. Features of Islamic architecture can also be seen around the house from the dome-like arches of the windows to the sea-shell mural on the ceiling. Inside of the Stone House, Deering’s collection of art is displayed, vases from China, stained glass panels from France, and Catholic statues from Spain are some of the many pieces he acquired from around the world. The way all of these small things are taken from so many cultures and come together is what makes the house so intriguing.

Deering Estate, Photo taken by Monica Barletta

South Beach as Text

The Versace Mansion”

By Monica Barletta of FIU at the South Beach, 23 September 2020

The Iron Gates at the Versace Mansion

Bringing in over 23 million tourists annually, South Beach is considered one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world. Ocean Drive owes its huge success to Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace, who completely redefined this street’s culture.

The history of the Versace Mansion dates back to the 1930s, originally called La Casa Casuarina, it was built for Alden Freeman to be a replica of Christopher Columbus’s son’s house. The house was converted into an apartment building following Freeman’s death and remained that way until Gianni Versace came across the building and immediately fell in love with it. Versace had planned to attend his sister’s boutique opening in Bal Harbour and continue on to Cuba but cancelled his trip after visiting South Beach. He purchased the apartment building along with the properties next door and spent million in renovations, creating the renowned Versace Mansion.

Buildings on Ocean Drive

 Once Versace moved into his new home, tourists and celebrities from all around the world came to Ocean Drive, hoping to catch a glimpse of the designer on his morning walk to the famous News Café. Through the designer’s South Beach inspired clothing collections and photoshoots, the area became famous and transformed from a community of drug addicts and retirees to a huge tourist attraction.

The steps on which Versace was shot

Sadly, in 1997, Versace was shot by the serial killer, Andre Cunanan, on the steps of his home returning from the café. Although Versace only lived in his mansion for a short 5 years, he completely revitalized South Beach and its culture. His influence still remains today, as the Versace Mansion is the third most photographed home in America and the area around it is now known for its accepting and lively environment.


“A Historical Look at the Versace Mansion.” CR Fashion Book, CR Fashion Book, 2 May 2019,

Goldberg, Carrie. “You Can Spend a Night In Gianni Versace’s South Beach Mansion.” Harper’s BAZAAR, Harper’s BAZAAR, 28 Mar. 2018,

Bakehouse as Text

“Using Art to Raise Awareness”

By Monica Barletta of FIU at the Bakehouse, 7 October 2020

Florida is home to many coral reef systems that benefit us in a variety of ways. We depend on our reef systems for income and protection. People come from all over to visit Florida’s reefs as they provide a home for a diversity of beautiful animals and plants. These reefs are a huge part of Florida’s economy, bringing in about $3.4 billion each year and supporting 36,000 jobs in Broward and Miami-Dade County alone.

Clay corals that have been applied to the sculpture

Coral Reefs do more for Florida than just bring in money, they also act as a buffer against storms and floods. For the past few years, coral reefs have been dying at an alarming rate due to climate change, pollution, and physical destruction. The loss of these reef systems would be devastating to Florida, which is why we have to do everything in our power to help protect them.

Art can be used as a way to spread a message and bring awareness to an important issue. Lauren Shapiro at the Bakehouse has been creating an exhibit that allows the local community to engage and learn more about reefs. The workshop involves creating clay structures from silicone molds of coral skeletons and reef animal bones that will be applied to the structure. The artists also give lectures while everyone works in order to educate the participants on why protecting the reefs are so important and how to help protect them.

Lauren Shapiro with her sculpture
Monica Barletta at the Bakehouse workshop

This art project is very unique because it brings together science and art to bring awareness to corals reefs. This topic may not be very interesting to some people but making this a hands-on activity that brings the community together is getting people to understand the importance of reefs.


“Florida’s Coral Reefs.” Florida Department of Environmental Protection,

US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “NOAA CoRIS – Regional Portal – Florida.” NOAA Coral Reef Information System (CoRIS) Home Page, 29 June 2009,

Rubell Museum as Text

“A Hidden Meaning”

By Monica Barletta of FIU at the Rubell Museum, 21 October 2020

Mera Rubell speaking to the morning class

The Rubell Art Museum is home to many beautiful pieces that each tell their own story. One of the paintings that caught my eye was Peter Haalley’s Two Cells with Circulating Conduit. This piece stood out to me because as simple as it is, it has a very deep message that I did not notice until it was pointed out to me.

Two Cells with Circulating Conduit by Peter Halley

While at first glance, it just looks like two squares that are connected at two points, the actual meaning of it is much deeper. The boxes are meant to represent the way everything in life is a repetitive pattern. People fall into familiar routines until life just becomes a repetition of the same events such as constantly taking the same road to work and back home each day. If you take a step back and look at the piece as a whole, the way the boxes connect form what looks to be like a prison and the lines look like the prison bars holding them together.

What is also very interesting to me are the materials used in this painting. The background and lines are painted using acrylic paint, but the orange and black boxes are made of the textured material that make up the popcorn ceiling. The painting was created in 1987, and popcorn ceilings were very popular among American households at the time. At this time, materials like this were considered unorthodox to be used in artwork, but Halley used this in order to represent 1980s culture and the repetitive cycle of urban life.

While usually paintings this simple do not catch my eye, the message the artwork conveys is cleverly portrayed. I was fascinated with how Halley uses simple geometric structures to symbolize the confinement within our own lives to say that we are all trapped in a prison of our own making.

Mirror room at the Rubell Art Museum
Sleep by Kehinde Wiley

Deering Hike as Text

The History Preserved in The Mangroves by Monica Barletta of FIU at Deering Estate on November 4, 2020.

Photo taken by Monica Barletta

Deering Estate is a historic site that is known for the preserved history that it contains. Visiting Deering is like traveling back in time, as the site holds many objects and buildings that are perfectly conserved. Even after already visiting the estate once before, there was still so much more to see going through it a second time. Instead of touring the inside of the Richmond Cottage and Stone House, this time we hiked through the nature trails.

Photo taken by Monica Barletta

Hiking through the Deering Estate is a unique experience because there are many different habitats that one can walk through. In this trip we were able to experience the beautiful tropical forests and pine rock lands, but my favorite part was walking through the mangroves. Besides the fact that it offered us protection from the relentless mosquitos, we came across plenty of cool things that have been preserved for years.   

Before even stepping into the water, we found remnants of shells that could have been used as tools by the Tequesta, which were the Native American tribe that lived there even before any of buildings had been on the property. Seeing these shells was very interesting to me because the same shells we held in our hands could have been used thousands of years ago.

Photo taken by Professor John Bailly

The most fascinating thing we encountered during our trip was the crashed Cocaine Cowboys Plane. The history of the wreck was that a few “cowboys” stole the plane from a nearby airport in order to transport cocaine but encountered difficulties and crash landed. The plane crashed into the mangroves of Deering Estate sometime during the 90s and has been there ever since. I loved being able to see and touch this relic that had the mangroves growing through the plane.

Downtown as Text

“The Miami Circle” by Monica Barletta of FIU at Downtown Miami on November 25, 2020.

ASC class at The Miami Circle taken by John Bailly

Downtown Miami is known to be the heart of the city, containing some of Miami’s most popular destinations from the American Airlines Arena to the Perez Art Museum. Before Miami became the city that it is today, this area was home to the Native American Tribe called the Tequestas.          

There are plenty of structures and artifacts throughout Miami that the Tequestas have left behind, but one of the most notable ones was the Miami Circle. This archaeological site was discovered in 1998, and its approximate age is between 1,700 to 2,000 years old. It is thought to be the capital of the Tequesta civilization, as well as a site for trading and ceremonies. This structure is composed of 24 holes arranged into a perfect circle that have been carved into the limestone ground holding many artifacts from tools to animal bones.

            Despite living in the Downtown area for almost 6 years, I was never taught about the rich history behind the area before this class. While most other history classes would not cover the darker side of Miami’s history, Professor Bailly did not hold back. Attending this lecture made me realize just how much public-school education whitewashes the history of Miami that is being taught to its students. Although there are a few signs placed around the area to indicate the Tequestas had lived in the area first, that is still not enough. Miami Dade’s education system should work better to educate about the true history of the city even before it was colonized by the Europeans.

Sign at the Gesu Church

            The true history of Miami is a lot darker than we learned in history class. Not only was the city built using slave labor, but the Native Americans were run off of their own land and left to die out. This may not be the proudest moment of our history, but that does not mean that we should hide it.