Brittney Sanchez: Miracle Mile 2021

Photo of Brittney Sanchez. Photo by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

Hello! My name is Brittney Sanchez. I am a junior at Florida International University, in the beautiful city of Miami. I have an Associate in Arts degree in Pre-Recreational Therapy and I am currently in the Honors College pursuing a bachelors degree in Physical Education: Sports and Fitness. I love to explore, travel, and learn new things. For this reason, I knew that John W. Bailly’s Miami in Miami class was the right fit for me. Being homeschooled gave me the opportunity to travel to many places, but this class has shown me that I do not have to travel far to learn about unique cultures, see fascinating landmarks, and immerse myself into adventurous experiences. For my Ineffable Miami project I chose to explore a beautiful area in downtown Coral Gables called Miracle Mile. Learn more about this sought-after destination below!

Photo of Miracle Mile sign. Photo by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0
Screenshot of Miracle Mile on Mapquest. Photo by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

Miracle Mile is at the heart of Coral Gables, Florida, United States. It is a relatively small area that spans about 0.5 miles. Miracle Mile is bordered by two main streets to the west and east sides. Lejeune Road (SW 42nd Ave.) lies to the west of Miracle Mile, and Douglas Road (SW 37th Ave.) lies to the east of Miracle Mile. Unlike these streets, many street names surrounding Miracle Mile do not have numerical values, they are simply known by their Spaniard names. For example, Andalucia Avenue, which is south of Miracle Mile and Aragon Avenue which is north of Miracle Mile. The halfway point of Miracle Mile is another famous street known as, Ponce de Leon Boulevard. Although this four block strip only takes up a small portion of Coral Gables, it fits in perfectly with the upscale element that Coral Gables is known for. 

Photo of Miracle Mile. Photo by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0
Photo of Mr. and Mrs. Miracle Mile. Photo by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

According to the Coral Gables Museum’s website, “The story of Coral Gables’ signature street, Miracle Mile, is one of leadership, resilience, and adaptation.” It all began in the 1920s when George Merrick, the well-known real estate developer, established Coral Gables. After the Great Depression, many more individuals and groups helped establish the Mile. Two of these visionaries were George K. and this wife Rebyl Zain. George is known as the “Father of Miracle Mile” because he began purchasing land in 1937 and put his plan into action to create an outdoor mall in the heart of Coral Gables. This brand new idea of an outdoor shopping mall was quickly spreading throughout the nation, and many young developers and business owners took advantage of this opportunity. In 1944, Albert Friedman and his wife Rose Freidman, also known as “Mr. and Mrs. Miracle Mile,” opened their business on Coral Way along with J. Baldi, Sam Weissel, and Caroll Seghers. They all formed the Miracle Mile Merchants Association and they turned the wide open streets of Coral Gables and help renamed it to the now-famous, Miracle Mile in 1955. 

I N T E R V I E W:

Photo of Nick Portu. Photo by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

Although there is no demographic data for Miracle Mile, I interviewed Nick Portu, a nearby resident and frequent visitor of Miracle Mile. 

Brittney: What is your favorite aspect of Miracle Mile?

Nick: “My favorite aspect is the ability to walk around and see a diverse culture.”

Brittney: How would you describe Miracle Mile?

Nick: “I love Miracle Mile because it has rich historical roots and there are many things to do. There are many elite restaurants and stores due to high rent. Miracle mile draws people in from all over, from the city of Coral Gables, city of Miami, and even tourists from all over the world.”

Brittney: Where is your favorite place to eat?

Nick: “Hillstone. They have the best burgers, steaks, and mashed potatoes in Miami.”

Brittney: If someone you knew were coming to Miracle Mile, where would u take them?

Nick: “I would take them to eat at Hillstone, then we would go get ice cream at Häagen-Dazs, then we would shop at the Men’s Wear House, and we would end at Doc B’s for dinner.”

Brittney: What is your favorite thing to do at Miracle Mile?

Nick: “Before the pandemic, my favorite place to go was the Millers Ale House. I would get beers and watch sports with my friends, but unfortunately this restaurant has been shut down due to the current pandemic.”

Brittney: What is your least favorite aspect of Miracle Mile?

Nick: “Definitely the parking.”

Brittney: How do you wish to see Miracle Mile in 5 years?

Nick: “In 5 years, I hope Miracle Mile will continue being as successful as it is now and add more restaurants that can add more reputation to the Mile.”

Photo of Coral Gables City Hall. Photo by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

Coral Gables City Hall (405 Biltmore Way, Coral Gables, FL 33134)

Although there are no major landmarks in Miracle Mile due to its small surface area, there are many historical landmarks surrounding it. Among these historic sites is the Coral Gables City Hall located on 405 Biltmore Way, Coral Gables. This huge 3 story building is at the beginning of Miracle Mile. It is truly majestic, and some may even say it looks like a castle. Its architectural style is a mix of Mediterranean with vegetation from Miami. Standing in front of the building is a tall bronze statue of George Merrick. He can be seen standing in  contraposto, holding a scroll with his left hand, and carrying a jacket over his right shoulder.  

Photo of Coral Gables Museum. Photo by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

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

Slightly North of Miracle Mile lies the small Coral Gables museum. It was built in 1939 but it re-opened in 2010. Many people do not know that this museum is actually located in the old Police and Fire Station of Coral Gables. There used to be a courtroom, jail cells, offices, living quarters for the firefighters, etc. Today, it’s unique LEED certification plays a big part in the green city initiative. Visitors are invited to explore this museum and much of its original building design which include Cuban tile floors and walls, concrete flooring, and coral rock walls.

Photo of First Church of Christ, Scientist. Photo by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

First Church of Christ, Scientist (410 Andalusia Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33134)

Slightly West of Miracle Mile lies the First Church of Christ, Scientist on Andalucia Avenue. It is a Christian church that hosts services on Sunday and Wednesday. It also has a reading room that is open Monday- Saturday, 11am – 3 pm and Sundays from 11 am- 12 noon.

Much like many other areas in Miami, Miracle Mile does not have many green spaces. The layout of the street leaves no room for green spaces, and plenty of room for buildings and paved roads. However, palm trees line every road, and there are many large trees that provide shade and a nice breeze for people walking through the outdoor mall.

Merrick Park (405 Biltmore Way, Coral Gables, FL 33134) and Coral Gables City Hall (405 Biltmore Way, Coral Gables, FL 33134)

The only two notable spaces of grass are in front of the Coral Gables City Hall and a small park called Merrick park between Andalucia Avenue and Biltmore way. Although this area simply serves as a meager green space throughout most of the year, during the holidays, it is transformed into a small Christmas themed park with a looming Santa structure facing Miracle Mile.  

There are many modes of transportation that can be used in Miracle Mile. These include using a car, motorcycle, trolley, shuttle, bike, scooter, and obviously, by walking. 

Car / Motorcycle- There are always many cars and motorcycles trying to park or drive down Miracle Mile. Miami is known for its chaotic traffic, and Miracle Mile definitely lives up to this fact. If you plan on going to Miracle Mile, make sure you know how to parallel park and you have plenty of time to find parking.  Although there are parking spaces on the Mile, they are usually full, and visitors may have to find parking in the nearby streets. All of these parking spaces are metered and end up being very costly, if you plan on staying for the entire day.

Coral Gables Trolley – According to Miami Dade’s Metrobus Route website, “The City of Coral Gables provides this service. Douglas Road Metrorail Station, Merrick Park, Miracle Mile, Ponce de Leon Blvd, Flagler Street.”

Freebee shuttle – This free shuttle runs everyday from 10 am to 10 pm. If you’d like a ride, you simple download the Freebee app that is accessible through the App store or Google play store and order a ride through there. This green on-demand shuttle service runs through all of Coral Gables and it is a great way to ride around Miracle Mile.

Bike/Walking – Miracle Mile has enlarged sidewalks that allow many people to stroll down the street with ease. Although there is plenty of space to walk, bike, or hop on a scooter, it wasn’t always like this. About a few years ago, they remodeled the street, and expanded the sidewalks and reduced the amount of parking space. With the new parallel parking, Miracle Mile has a much wider and ample space for avid shoppers to peruse many boutiques.

Scooters – Bird electric scooters are available to rent all over Miracle Mile. To rent the scooter, you need to find one, download the free app, and register as a new rider. According to the Coral Gables website, “Cost is $1 to unlock a new ride, plus $0.15 per minute. Bird requires all riders be over the age of 18, and encourages everyone to wear a helmet while riding. They will send any rider who requests one a free helmet.” They are fairly easy to ride, but you must watch out for people walking, as it can be easy to crash if there are many people on the sidewalk.

Photo of K.A.O. restaurant. Photo by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

K.A.O. Sushi and Grill (127 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, FL 33134)

K.A.O. is an Asian inspired restaurant in Miracle Mile. It is known for its meats, fish, and most importantly, sushi. I have eaten at this restaurant many times, and my favorite dish is the Teriyaki Pork Medallions. These medallions will melt in your mouth. Their menu has many different options and to start off, everyone is served a miso soup shot when they’re seated at their table. K.A.O. offers many different discounts, such as ladies night specials, happy hour specials, and more. They’re relaxing and elegant ambience fits in perfectly with the Miracle Mile atmosphere. Although it might seem like a relatively small area at first, this restaurant expands further back to allow room for a large maximum capacity. This space allows them to host many events such as monthly salsa and bachata dance nights.

Google’s Review: 4.6 Stars

Brittney’s Review: 5 Stars

Salumeria 104 (117 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, FL 33134)

If you are looking for authentic Italian food, Salumeria 104 is the right place to go. This restaurant on Miracle Mile is always packed with hungry customers throughout the entire day. According to Salumeria 104’s website, “Salumeria 104 is a rustic, trattoria-style restaurant serving signature salumi dishes, and traditional home-made Italian classics.” They have great service and even better food. Their plates are expensive, but they are also very abundant. My favorite dish is the Tagliolini. This dish consists of shrimp and pasta with a hint of lemon zest and pistachios. It is absolutely mouth-watering!

Google’s review: 4.6 Stars

Brittney’s review: 4.8 Stars

Photo of P.Pole Pizza. Photo by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

P. Pole Pizza (279 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, FL 33134)

P.Pole pizza offers an endless variety of options. This personalized pizza place is similar to Subways. You choose your favorite dough, then you choose your sauce as the base, and then the toppings. They prepare and bake the pizza right in front of your eyes! Their unique approach to pizza makes it a great addition to Miracle Mile. It is affordable, unique, and delicious.

Google’s Review: 4.7 Stars

Brittney’s Review: 4.8 Stars

Photo of Miracle Theatre. Photo by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

Miracle Theatre (280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, FL 33134)

The Actors’ playhouse at the Miracle Theatre was established in 1988 by Dr. Lawrence E. Stein. According to the Actors’ Playhouse website, it”…is the largest self-producer of critically acclaimed dramatic and musical theatre for adults and children in South Florida. The private nonprofit organization presents a full season of Mainstage and Children’s programs and extensive educational outreach and community service.” They are known for showing contemporary and classic live theater productions and offering educational and outreach programs for both adults and children of all ages. They have also won many awards and other distinguished honors throughout the years.

Photo of Gables Coin and Stamp Shop. Photo by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

Gables Coin and Stamp Shop (82 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, FL 33134)

This small department store in the middle of Miracle Mile surely stands out among the many high-end boutiques. It was founded in 1967 by Mr. John Albright and still serves many costumers today. They sell coins and bills from the U.S. as well as many distinct coins from other countries, such as Asia, Australia, Africa, Middle East, South America, North and Central America, and Europe. They also buy or sell jewelry, watches, and diamonds.

Photo of Spy World. Photo by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

Spy World (96 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, FL 33134)

The Spy World shop is another store that stands out in Miracle Mile. This store is packed with technology for safety and security. They have 27 years of experience and their mission is to help protect customers’ homes, family, and businesses with their safety technology. They offer a wide variety of products such as hidden cameras, bug detectors, recorders, GPS trackers, and more. They even have unique items that people usually only see in Crime TV shows or movies.

Miracle Mile is well known for attracting visitors from all over the world to its prestigious boutiques, high-end restaurants, and quality shops. There is something to do for all ages. Its relaxed and leisure environment is perfect for a day full of shopping and dining with your family, while its bustling nightlife ambiance is perfect for a night out with friends or a romantic date with your significant other. There are also many events that take place on the Mile such as weekly farmer markets, the Eggstreme Egg Hunt in March, the Pumpkin Patch in October, and the Holiday Tree Lighting in December.

I have been to Miracle Mile many times, whether it be to study at Barnes and Nobles with friends, or simply passing by the busy streets of Miracle Mile on my way back from work, but creating this Ineffable Miami project has given me the opportunity to truly appreciate this part of Coral Gables. Much like many things in life, I easily take for granted the beauty of Miracle Mile. It amazes me that many people pay hundreds of dollars to simply travel to this prestigious outdoor shopping mall, and I have the opportunity to drive through Miracle Mile almost every single day. I hope that Miracle Mile continues to thrive so that I am able to show my future kids the history that lies in such a beautiful place like Miracle Mile.

C I T A T I O N S:

Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre. About Us. Retrieved from

Coral Gables. Bird Launches Scooter Option in Coral Gables. Retrieved from

Coral Gables. (2015, September 29). Retrieved from

Gables Coin and Stamp Shop Since 1967. Retrieved from

Metrobus Route. Coral Gables Trolley. Retrieved from

Miracle mile: The evolution of a street. (2018, December 19). Retrieved from

Salumeria 104. Retrieved from

Spy World. Spy World Miami. Retrieved from

W., A., P., S., E., F., U., A., & V., J. (n.d.). Downtown coral GABLES & Miracle mile 220 Miracle Mile Miami, FL shopping centers & malls. Retrieved from

Hugo Marin: Miami as Text

Hi everyone, My name is Hugo Marin and I am a Finance major attending FIU Honors College. I am a Miami local and have lived here for all 21 years of my life. I grew up in an Ecuadorian household because both sets of grandparent came from Ecuador, during my parents high school years, in search of a better life. I feel very blessed to grow up both as an American and as an Ecuadorian. These dual cultures were extremely easy to integrate into Miami because of the strong hispanic presence in our city. I love to wakeboard, surf, travel, and explore. Having seen most of Miami all my life, I am excited to take a different approach and see my city in a new light.

DOwntown miami as text

“More Than Meets the Eye” By Hugo Marin of FIU at Downtown

Downtown Miami, the heart of my city, my home. Coming into this guided tour I was not expecting much. I thought that I could learn little Easter eggs here and there about downtown. However, I was blown away by how much I did not know about areas that I have passed by a million times before. The city has such a rich and diverse history that was never really taught to me in schools. The only way to learn this information is to be an active learner and go out into the world.

Going out into the world is something that has been taking away from us because of the pandemic. So, it was great that I got the opportunity to get to do so with FIU. I thought it was funny that my first in person class in almost a year wasn’t even in an actual classroom. We first met up at the government center at the “Dropped Bowl with Scattered Slices and Peels”. I had not been inside the government center since the 2013 Miami Heat Parade. Although, I have passed by that street plenty of times, I’m embarrassed to say that I always thought that was just an abstract art piece. This was the start of a trend of things that I’ve seen but never taken the time to appreciate and learn what they actually are. From there we made our way towards the underpart of the highway by the new skate park. From prior knowledge, I already knew how the highway devastated the African American community in OverTown. When the highway was being built the community was forced to split causing many business and people to leave the area. What I didn’t know was, what that devastation meant in reality. To actually be there to experience the constant noise of cars, the smell of CO2, and the homeless crisis that’s happening there opens your eyes to the extent of damage that the highway has caused.

One of the things that stood out to me on this tour, was the history of the Tequesta or the lack there of. It was very sad to find out how little we know about Miami’s true native population. We learned about how most were killed by disease and then forced out of the strip of livable land. What made this worse was how their history was erased time and time again. For example, Flagler instructed his railroad workers to build over and discard a Tequesta burial site. Then later on, a building was constructed over a center of their civilization. This center, known now as the Miami circle, is located next to where the fresh water from the Miami river meets the salt water of the ocean. Most recently the Whole Foods in downtown was built over a Tequesta site and the archeologist were given barely any time to conduct research.

The most memorable part of the tour was when we gathered at a Miami’s Lummus Park and discussed the history of plantations in the south. The buildup of that discussion, to the final reveal of there being a fully intact slave quarters right behind us, was unlike anything I ever experienced in school. It was amazing to see a building with such a rich history just sitting in a random park in downtown. This is when I realized the importance of this type of learning that cannot be replicated in a classroom. Even if I read the info sign about Fort Dallas on my own, it would have not sparked this type of invested curiosity. I have never been so excited to pass on the things I learned in class to my family and friends.


“How it Was Supposed to be” By Hugo Marin of FIU at Everglades

Miami is renowned for its beaches and sunny blue skies. You would think that this city is very in touch with nature, but unfortunately that is not the case. Many people from Miami live the “salt life” because of how close we are to the ocean but Miami’s true nature has been lost. Other than the occasional park, Miami is mostly streets, houses, and buildings. If you want to see how Miami was supposed to be without human intervention you have to go out west to one of the largest national parks known as the Everglades.

I have visited the Everglades numerous times before with family and friends. Usually when I have come we go to the main visitor centers like the Anhinga trail. Sometimes we come at night to get the best view of meteor showers. I have never visited the park like this though. To be able to go of trail and actually go into the everglades was an experience I will never forget. The activity we did was know as Slough Slogging. We parked our cars of the main road and proceed to enter what is called the Double Dome. A dome is made up a bunch of cypress trees that concentrate at the to give it a dome shape. As the cypress trees age there roots dig up more of the soil creating very deep spots at the center of the dome. These spots can have water all the way up to your shoulders. It was exciting and scary to be shoulder deep in the same water as alligators. Although, our ranger assured us that we had nothing to worry about as they were more scared of our big group and were probably long gone before we got anywhere near them. I still had the chance to see other wildlife like birds, lizards, spiders and a Florida Gar.

The whole Slough Slogging experience was easily my favorite part of the whole day but what I enjoyed the most about the slough slogging were three instances where I felt like I was truly connected to the land. The first instance was when the ranger told us to have a moment of silence and just listen. Since we were in a big group the silence was a huge change to the noise we were making before. Once we all quieted down I was able to hear the wind swaying the trees, the birds calling one another, and the splashes of water. Not only was I able to hear more clearly but I was also able to feel more clearly as well. I could feel the slow rush of the water around me and the sunlight making its way through the trees. The next instance where I felt connected to the land was when we made it all the way to the other side of the the Double Dome. Being on the other side of it you could truly appreciate its scale and beauty. It felt like an accomplishment to be out in the wilderness having successfully gone through the Double Dome. The final instance was on our way back where we were encourage to go of on our own. This instance felt like the moment of silence tenfold. The water was crystal clear when you went of on your own. This was when I was able to see more wildlife as well and could appreciate everything more. Although when I noticed all the wildlife I was seeing I got worried about seeing an alligator and quickly made my was back closer to everyone else.

There was a point when we talked about how other places have such rich history and culture because of the land that they live on. Miami isn’t as old as other places, but since we have this shared land and experience culture can be cultivated from this. Like how a poet that comes to do Slough Slogging by herself, creates poems from her experiences here. This experience is Miami.


“The Most Diverse 450 Acres In Miami” By Hugo Marin Of FIU at Deering Estate

This trip to the Deering Estate has been the one that has surprised me the most so far. This is because this trip was was not what I expected to see at all. I was expecting to go to an Estate. In my mind an estate is when a rich person has a mansion with a lot of land that’s usually well taken care. In the entrance of the estate this preconceived notion of mine was true. It was a beautiful mansion with a Mediterranean type of architecture. The landscape was very well groomed and taken care of. Behind the mansion was a picture perfect set up of palm trees on either side of a man made canal, overlooking the ocean. This estate was so beautiful its a no brainer why there was a wedding being set up there on our visit. The mansion itself was also very well kept and was like a blast into the past with its interior design style and preserved kitchen, bedrooms, and prohibition era alcohol vault. Although this was all super cool and the history of this place was fascinating, none of this was completely un expected. What I didn’t expect was our 7 mile hike into various ecosystems that are also on the estate.

At the start of our trip here, we left the well groomed land up to a gate that normal visitors usually aren’t allowed to go past. Here we were instructed to put on our bug spray as we waited for one of the workers to come open the gate for us. This gate gave me Narnia or Bridge to Terabithia vibes as it felt like we were fully transported into a new world. On our hike we came across six different type of ecosystems that were being conserved on the property. The six ecosystems we came across were the Hardwood Hammock, Salt Marsh, Pine Rocklands, Mangrove Forest, Sea Grass Beds, and Slough Creek Habitat. I was amazed how every mile or so we were in a completely new and unique ecosystem that was very different from the previous one. What amazed me the most was the rock ridges, caves, and cliffs that we saw because I didn’t expect that to be found in South Florida. Its crazy to think that all of these ecosystems can be found just a couple miles of US one .

Vizcaya as text

“Money, Party, Art” By Hugo Marin of FIU at Vizcaya

Even though I have lived in Miami all my life I have never been to Vizcaya. My parents have always told me to go there which is why I was very excited for this trip. Upon arriving there I was greeted by lost of Greek statues in the entrance and a roman archway. These are the type of things you would find in a museum in Europe but they were just chilling here in Vizcaya. At the entrance of the mansion we are greeted by the Greek God of wine and pleasure. This theme of pleasure and luxury is one that is constantly thrown at your face while going around the property. This property reminded me of the Great Gatsby and the extravagance of that mansion and party life in the early 1920s. Although I think Vizcaya might have the Great Gatsby beat.

The house itself was uniquely designed in that the rooms all flowed into each other and the “outside” seamlessly connected to the “inside”. Each room was just filled with so much art it all looked like it was supposed to be in a museum. My favorite room was the courtyard in the center of the house that connected all the rooms together. Unfortunately, when we went there was a lot of construction happening outside so we couldn’t really appreciate the fake boat that was built in the water that’s purposes was to break the waves from hitting the yachts that would park there. The Vizcaya Gardens were beautiful it had mazes, fountains, statues, and a canal were guest would come on their boats. This whole place looks like someone wanted to create the greatest party house ever. I can only imagined what it would be like to have gone to one of the parties hosted here.


“One of Wynwood’s First” By Hugo Marin at The Margulies

It was really cool that the final trip we took was to an art collection. Last time i went to an art museum was at PAM over three years ago. I’m not really a huge art person but it was very cool to have this experience. What I found most fascinating was Martin Z Margulies the owner of this private collection. The story of him goes that he wasn’t very much into art, he mostly enjoyed sports and only bought an art piece for his girlfriend. Years later his girlfriend is a sports reporter and he is ne of the largest private art collections. The reason that he does this is not to horde art but rather to share it with the public and to meet new and interesting people. I was very jealous when I found out he was there early in the day for the other classes I would have very much liked the opportunity to get to meet him. He was one of the first to open an art collection in Wynwood before Wynwood became what it is today. I’m glad that has given back to the community with the center for women and children because one of the main things against Wynwood is that the area has become gentrified and is hurting the locals that used to live there.

This type of collection had one of my favorite types of art which is contemporary art. I like contemporary art because its not conventional art and really makes you think. At the same time though contemporary art can mean nothing and just be fun to look at. The four pieces that stood out to me were the T.Vs with the animals playing, the Last Supper, the sacks, and the elevator on the wall. The T.Vs with the animals playing was super fun to look at because of how it humanize the animals and you can see all different types of animals just having fun. The last supper one was interesting to me because it shocked me, being a catholic I found it slightly offensive and the shock value that it provided me was something that I found interesting. The sacks were fun because I have never experience an art piece that’s main focus was the use of scent. Finally the elevator one was one of my favorites because of how random it was and I could only imagine how awkward it must have been to film. I will definitely return to this collection with friends and family because of how affordable this collection is to see, everyone in Miami should go check it out.

Angelo Gomez : Hialeah 2021


Photo by Angelo Gomez (CC by 4.0)

Hello everyone, my name is Angelo Gomez. I’m nineteen years old and born here in Miami of Colombian descent. I’m currently a junior at Florida International University majoring in Political Science and Journalism. I am interning as a reporter for the South Florida Media Network at FIU. I enjoy learning new things and concepts. I speak Spanish and English, with a little mix of Italian and Portuguese here and there. I love to travel even though I don’t do it often enough. I’m a huge Marvel and Star Wars geek, a history nerd, and a soccer enthusiast.


Nestled in the geographical center of Miami-Dade County, there is no shortage of neighboring towns surrounding the city of Hialeah. They include Miami Lakes to the north, Hialeah Gardens to the West, Medley and Miami Springs to the south, and Opa-Locka, West Little River, Gladeview, and Brownsville to the east.

The city’s southern borders are mainly delineated by Okeechobee Road and by Amelia Earhart Park and FL State Road 916 (also known as NW 138th St) to the north. Hialeah’s urban geography is box and grid-like, while the neighboring towns of Miami Lakes and Miami Springs have differing street layouts more typical of suburbs.

Hialeah’s “main street” is considered 49th street, where the Westland Mall and Palm Springs Mile shopping plaza is located. Miami Dade College’s Hialeah Campus is also located on 49th street. Hialeah’s iconic JFK Library and Milander Park and Stadium are located across Red Road.

Hialeah is notorious for its lack of green space. In a study released by WalletHub, was ranked with the lowest percentage of green space in the entire country. Another study by WalletHub ranked Hialeah as the sixth-worst city in Recreation and parks.

A quick glance at the neighboring Miami Springs or Miami Lakes depicts more lakes and canals, and green spaces such as parks, golf courses, or pastures.


Early map of Hialeah (Photo in public domain)

Hialeah was developed by Glenn Curtis and James H. Bright and incorporated in 1921. The name “Hialeah” is a native indigenous term that means “high prairie.” During the city’s early years, the Hialeah Park and Casino was the city’s central attraction that brought visitors from all across the United States. During the 1920s until the beginning of the Great Depression, Hialeah blossomed into a tourist destination with a strong economy.

Intersection between Palm Avenue and County Road (Photo in public domain)

Traditionally, Hialeah has been a blue-collar city, home to the working class. Most of the workers of the Hialeah Park and Casino settled in the new city due to its cheap property value and short distance. The first homes developed in Hialeah were built off of County Road (now known as Okeechobee Road) and Hialeah Drive (First Street) with Palm Avenue. The city’s first homes, post offices, and shops were located around this area.

Following the 1926 Miami hurricane and the Great Depression, Hialeah experienced a post-war boom during the mid-century onwards. Led by iconic city mayor Henry Milander, who now has a park and stadium in the city named after him, he guided the city through an economic boom for more than three decades. According to the Miami Herald, the mayor offered tax incentives for businesses and industries to settle in Hialeah which payed off for the city. Likewise, the city experienced a population boom since its incorporation, growing at one of the fastest rates and being the sixth-largest city in the state of Florida.

Since the 1960s, there has been a great influx of Cuban exiles and Hispanic residents into the city of Hialeah. Many families fleeing from their former countries landed in Hialeah because of its inexpensive prices and joined the working community.


Hialeah is notorious for its Hispanic identity, and most notably for its Cuban population. These perceptions are largely true since the city’s population is 94% Hispanic and 73.37% Cuban. Hialeah is considered to be the largest population of Cuban residents in the entire United States. Policies such as the Cuban Adjustment Act and the “wet foot, dry foot” policy have facilitated Cuban exiles and refugees to settle in Miami and get their legal status. Thus, much have flocked to Hialeah to be surrounded by their culture. In a city originally founded by white settlers and pioneers, Hialeah has undergone a profound transformation.

Other demographic statistics show that 92.14% of the population speak Spanish primarily at home, and nearly 7% of the population speak English at home. Of the nearly 237,000 population, 74.3% of residents were born outside of the country and only 65.8% of residents are U.S. citizens, significantly lower than the national average. Hialeah is dominated by a Hispanic, foreign-born population. The city is considered the #2 city where Spanish is most spoken in the entire United States, behind Hialeah Gardens.


Balladares posing in front of a Burlington logo in Hialeah. (Photo by Leslia Balladares CC by 4.0)

What is your name and how long have you been living in Hialeah?

Hi, my name is Leslia Balladares and I have been living in Hialeah for about eight years.

What do you love about your city?

I love everything about my city, except traffic which is the worst.

How do you get around?

I don’t have a car so I get around everywhere through Uber for now.

What is your favorite restaurant?

My favorite restaurant is absolutely Los Ranchos Steakhouse near Westland Mall.


Hialeah Park and Casino

Built originally in 1922 by Glenn Curtis and James L. Bright, the Hialeah Park and race track served as a track for grayhound races and betting. Soon, it opened to horse racing and betting. Following the Miami hurricane of 1926, it was rebuilt and redeveloped into the new “Hialeah Park and Casino.” This is the most iconic landmark in Hialeah, and one of the most historic places in Miami, being one of the earliest recreational sites. The city’s website names “the Kennedy family, Harry Truman, General Omar Bradley, Winston Churchill, and J.P. Morgan” as some of the more popular figures that visited the place. In fact, Winston Churchill is quoted saying the place was “Extraordinary!” The site remained very popular throughout the later decades of the twentieth century and was reopened in 2013 with a casino and reintroducing quarter horse racing.

Hialeah Park and Racetrack (Photo in public Domain)

JFK Library

Photo by Angelo Gomez (CC by 4.0)

The John F. Kennedy Library on 49th street is the main campus of the Hialeah public library system. With its colorful murals surrounding the building, it is an attractive site to visit in Hialeah. There are often new murals and artwork outside the building, including a portrait of President John F. Kennedy and a trojan solider. The library offers a unique and extensive collection of Hialeah history. The site is a voting location during local and national elections.

Leah Arts District

Photo by Terrence Faircloth (CC by 2.0)

The Leah Arts District is a sector in Hialeah dedicated to public art and offering local artists “affordable living / work spaces while promoting art and culture,” according to the city’s website. Opened in 2015, stage festivals and public displays of art are organized to promote the up-and-coming art scene and artists that reside within the eccentric neighborhood. It is Hialeah’s unique take on public art similar to Wynwood and South Beach, but with its own local taste.


Despite being listed as one of the worst cities for Parks and recreation, Hialeah offers a variety of small parks and green areas to visit.

Amelia Earhart Park

Photo by Angelo Gomez (CC by 4.0)

Amelia Earhart park is a 515-acre park in Hialeah which offers a wide variety of activities, such as biking, walking trails, soccer fields, extreme water sports, fishing piers, and picnic shelters. Amelia Earhart is one of the larger parks in Miami-Dade County available to Hialeah residents. The park is named after famous pilot Amelia Earhart since the former Miami Municipal Airport (now Opa-Locka Airport) nearby was her final appearance and goodbye before disappearing over the Atlantic.

Milander Park

Photo by Angelo Gomez (CC by 4.0)

Milander Park is a 19.2 acre park, aquatic center, arts and entrainment venue, and stadium located on 49th street in Hialeah. The site has multiple basketball and baseball fields for recreational use. Additionally, there is a playground for children to use. The venue is used to display art exhibits and to host special events. The Ted Hendricks stadium is used for a variety of sporting events for different high schools and host the semi-professional soccer club Miami United.

Garden of the Arts

Photo by Angelo Gomez (CC by 4.0)

Garden of the arts is small, open-air art display inside of a green park in Hialeah. This passive park consists of murals, sculptures, monuments, and a small amphitheater where guests can roam and walk around while admiring the artwork on display. According to their website, the City of Hialeah built this green park through he county’s Building Better Communities Bond Program.


Like the rest of Miami-Dade County, Hialeah is dominated by cars as the primary mode of transportation. According to DataUSA, the majority of households in Hialeah have two or three cars. The major highway that passes through the center of Hialeah is the Florida 826 (Palmetto Expressway). The Florida Turnpike is nearby to the west and the Gratigny Parkway is accessible at the northern boundary, connecting Hialeah commuters to both I-75 to the west and I-95 to the east. Likewise, the Okeechobee Road delineates the city’s southern border and is accessible by taking the I-595/FL State Road 112 westward until it ends at Okeechobee Road near the Miami International Airport.

The city also offers public transportation, the Hialeah transit system. The buses run on two separate routes – the Marlin and Flamingo routes. The city’s website lists a full fare as $2.25 or a full monthly pass for $60.

Likewise, there are several public transportation options offered by Miami-Dade County that are accessible in Hialeah. The Metrobus offers many routes that connect or pass by Hialeah that are operational daily. The MetroRail has multiple stations in the city, such as the Tri-Rail/MetroRail, Okeechobee, and Hialeah stations. In the Miami Station, Amtrak trains and Tri-Rail trains are accessible to residents. Finally, the Tri-Rail has two stations within the city: in the Tri-Rail/MetroRail station and the Hialeah Market station leading to the airport.


Molina’s Ranch Restaurant

Photo by Angelo Gomez (CC by 4.0)

This restaurant opened in 1982, and has become a popular site among locals. This restaurant serves traditional Cuban food and cuisine familiar to much of the restaurant’s customers. Their website credits celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Celia Cruz, Frankie Ruiz, and others that have visited their restaurant.

Morro Castle

Photo by Angelo Gomez (CC by 4.0)

Morro Castle is a small, family-owned restaurant that have been in business since 1966. According to the Miami New Times, “… family-owned Cuban cafeteria Morro Castle has been Hialeah’s source for good, affordable bistec de palomilla, tostones, and moro.”

Polo Norte

Photo by Angelo (CC by 4.0)

This restaurant has become a popular restaurant chain in South Florida. Known for their delicious Cuban pizzas, the original Polo Norte opened in Hialeah, before branching out to other locations across Miami. The restaurant offers a diverse menu of Cuban pizzas with different topics, Cuban sandwiches and paninis, and other entrée menus with Cuban flare.


Ibiley Uniforms

Ibiley Unforms is one of the major uniform retail stores for schools across Miami-Dade public schools. Visiting the Hialeah store in early August, one can find long lines of parents purchasing their children’s uniforms for the upcoming school year. Ibiley Uniforms was founded by a immigrant Cuban family living in Miami after escaping the Castro regime.


One of Hialeah’s most popular stores, the Valsan department store on W 4th Avenue has become a local shopping hub. Their commercials have become a mainstay on Spanish television through their funny commercials and its popular jingle.

Farmacia Cali

Farmacia Cali is a small Colombian pharmacy off of West 60th Street that offers over-the-counter medicines and ailments for customers.


To conclude, Hialeah is a fascinating city in the heart of Miami-Dade County. Often ridiculed and joked about, Hialeah is a working class community made up of Cuban exiles, immigrants, and hard-workers. Many Hialeans are proud of living in their city and wear it as a badge of honor. Despite the city’s faults, there is a special culture within the city as one of the country’s few Hispanic immigrant enclaves.

CITATIONS Hialeah. n.d. Web Site. 15 April 2021.

DataUSA. Hialeah, FL. n.d. Web Site. 20 April 2021.

Herring, Chloe. Miami Herald – Turns out Hialeah is actually the least diverse US city. 21 February 2017. Newspaper. 19 April 2021.

Lipscomb, Jessica. Why Is Hialeah Always Ranked the Worst City for Everything? 16 January 2019. Newspaper. 20 April 2021.

Miami Herald Archives. What did Hialeah used to look like? Here is a peek through the time machine. 4 November 2019. Web Site. 19 April 2021.

Miami New Times. Molina’s Ranch Restaurant. n.d. 23 April 2021.

Molina’s Ranch Restaurant. n.d. 23 April 2021.

Polo Norte. About Us. n.d. Web Site. 23 April 2021.

The City of Hialeah. Milander Park Recreation Center. n.d. Web site. 23 April 2021.

WalletHub. Best & Worst Cities for Recreation. 2 July 2019. Web Site. 20 April 2021.

—. Cities with the Best & Worst Public Transportation. 10 September 2019. Web Site. 19 April 2021.

Wikipedia. Hialeah, FL. n.d. 20 April 2021.

Linabel Armas: Homestead 2021


Photo by Hugo Perez (CC by 4.0)

Greetings! My name is Linabel Armas Alduncin and I am currently a junior in the Honors College at Florida International University. I am majoring in Political Science and International Relations with the goal to attend Law School after I graduate. I was born and raised in Cienfuegos, Cuba and moved to Miami, FL about six and a half years ago. As I am still adapting to the city, this class and project will allow me the opportunity to get to know Miami a little better.


Map of Homestead, FL

Photo retrieved from Google Maps

Homestead, FL is located in Miami-Dade County. As shown in the map above, it extends from Biscayne National Park to the east and Everglades National Park to the west. The city is located about 25-30 miles northwest from Key Largo and about 30 miles from southwest of Miami. In the recent years Homestead has become a major agricultural area in Miami. It is very common to come across acres of crops and nurseries.

According to the U.S Census Bureau, Homestead has a total of 14.4 square miles (37 km2)- 14.3 square miles (37 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it is water. The city is located near the end of the Florida Turnpike South, north of Florida City; creating the known “Homestead-Florida City area” (U.S Census Bureau: Gazetteer Files)


Looking at Homestead A.F.B. hospital buildings from the intersection of roads “K” and “L” – Homestead, Florida. 1942. ( Photo retrieved from State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.)

Homestead was established in 1913 and became the second oldest city in Miami- Dade County after City of Miami. The city played an essential role in Henry Flagler’s railroad, which helped the development of South Florida.

The name of the city came after construction workers from the Florida East Coast Railway  were extending the railroad to Key West. “The rail line was passing through an area opened up for homesteading”, because the construction facility at the end of the line didn’t have an assigned name, supplies for the workers were sent to “Homestead Country”, later shorten when engineers were mapping the city. (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2011)


As per the U. S Census Bureau:

As of 2019, Homestead, Florida estimated a population of sixty nine thousand five hundred and twenty three individuals (69, 523). Around fifty percent (50%) of the population were female, and the other belonging half were identified as male. In addition, the ethnic composition of Homestead’s population is composed of around sixty seven percent (67%) of Hispanic or Latinos, twenty one percent (21%) of African Americans, and twelve percent (12%) of white (not including Hispanics or Latinos). Moreover, the median household income is around forty seven thousand five hundred and eight dollars ($47, 508). However, there is about a twenty four percent (24%) of individuals in poverty. (U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts).

Because the city is still growing its populations. Home mortgages and rent prices are not as expensive as in other parts of Miami, which is why many individuals have been purchasing and renting more houses here in the past years. Below is a comparison between a home for sale in Homestead (second picture) and home in Tamiami. As per the pictures, the second home located in Homestead offers a bigger lot size (0.23 acres) and the rounded mortgage is also lower ($1,786). Compared to the Tamiami home which also has the same price, but has barely any lot size.

Screenshots taken from

Biography of Julio Cesar (Current Homestead resident)

Selfie by Julio Armas (CC by 4.0)

Julio Cesar Armas Cortes was born and raised in Cienfuegos, Cuba. At the age of 28 he decided to move to Miami since the rest of his family was already living here. Throughout the years he has lived in different cities of Miami but recently he moved to Homestead, FL with his wife. He is currently 33 years old, married, and awaiting his first child.

Julio Cesar’s thoughts on Homestead, FL

Linabel: So how do you like Homestead so far?

Julio: I really like Homestead. It is very close to my pregnant wife’s job which is my main concern at the moment and it has all I need near by: food markets, shopping malls, etc..

Linabel: What is your least favorite thing about the city?

Julio: Honestly, the distance from my family’s home, all my family lives in Tamiami or Hialeah so it is a long drive to see them every week.

Linabel: Would you change anything from Homestead?

Julio: No, I honestly think that Homestead is a great growing city.

Linabel: Thank you for the interview!

As an upcoming parent Julio thinks the city is a great place for his growing family ;however, the distance to the rest of his family members is a great outlier for him.-


Homestead Historic Town Hall Museum

Photo retrieved from City of Homestead’s website

With over 125 photos, artifacts, and more; Homestead Historic Town Hall Museum holds great amounts of history about South Florida. Built in 1917, the Town Hall was the first municipal building in the city of Homestead. (Ruth L. Campbell, Museum Director and Curator) The building has two floors. The first level was first built to accommodate a jail cell, the Police Chief’s office, and the fire department. The second level was designed to have a court room in the Council’s Chambers and other different municipal offices.

The office later became the City Hall until 1975 when the City Hall was transfer somewhere else. Later plans wanted to demolish the historical building but Homestead advocates where able to stop such thing. Now the building serves as a museum free to the public.

Florida Pioneer Museum

Photos by Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

The Florida Pioneer Museum is currently closed due to COVID-19 regulations. The museum was founded in 1962 when Dr. Herbert S. Zim and a group of women donated different Indian artifacts and tools. In addition, the facility is located in the old Homestead Florida East Coast Railroad station agent’s home that was built in 1904. In 1964, the house was moved to land that was donated by Henry and Jackie Brooker. (Florida Pioneer Museum: About us) Similar to the Homestead Historic Town Hall Museum , the Florida East Coast Railway tried to demolish the museum but a group of residents advocated and raised money to stop such thing. Although the museum is currently closed due to COVID, this place holds great amount of history about not only Homestead but South Florida overall.

Coral Castle Museum & Garden

Photo retrieved from Google taken by Lana Kapaeva (CC by 4.0)

Coral Castle Museum & Garden was a museum created on Ed Leedskalnin’s Coral Castle. Originally the museum was called “Rock Gate Park” and is currently closed due to COVID-19 regulations. Ed Leedskalnin created such masterpiece because he wanted to showcase his love to the love of his life, Agnes Scuffs. She was ten years younger that Mr. Leedskalnin who was twenty six years old at the time. He felt in love with her and arranged a wedding. Ms. Scuffs cancelled the wedding a day before, leaving Leedskalnin heartbroken. Since then he started sculpting and carving coral rocks. Since no one ever saw him move the coral rocks (which are very heavy) it is believed that he had some type of supernatural power. Overall, this place showcases a beautiful story worth visiting the museum for. (Coral Castle Museum: Who’s Ed?)


The city of Homestead is full of green. When driving to it and while going through its streets, on both sides of the road Homestead offers you great views and pure air due to its greenery.

Losner Park

Photo by Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

Losner Park is currently under renovation and its completely closed. The park is located in the middle of downtown Homestead. From a quick sight it seems like the most centric park around the area. The park counts with an outdoor stage where before COVID-19 they hosted festivals and concerts.

The ongoing renovation promises a durable park where the public enjoys time in the outdoors. The park will feature a new restaurant, updated stage and huge water fountain.

Homestead Bayfront Park

Photo by Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

Homestead Bayfront Park is the perfect spot to go if you are a Homestead resident and dont want to drive all the way to Miami Beach to get into the water. Aside from having a Marine, the park has a small beach for anyone who wants to visit. In addition it has a restaurant on the second floor of the facility that lets you enjoy the water view aside from enjoying some delicious seafood.

Audubon Park

Photo retrieved from City of Homestead’s website

Audubon Park is a small community park close to schools and residential homes. It is the ideal place to go with kids in the afternoon to have some family time with a beautiful lake view. It was very hard for me to find the entrance and parking which is why I believe it is made for residents in the area rather than for visitors.


Photo retrieved from National Park Service

Americans today mostly drive alone meaning they have a car and/ or dont use public transportation. According to Data USA in 2017, approximately sixty seven percent (67%) of the population in Homestead drove alone, eighteen percent (18%) carpooled, and seven percent (7%) used public transit. (Data USA, 2017: Homestead, FL).  

The percentage amount that uses public transportation has to walk or wait a lot. For starters they have a trolley completely free that transports individuals to the National Parks around the area; however, due to the current global pandemic, this service has stopped until 2022. In addition, Miami Dade Transit also offers different metrobus options to get to the Florida City/ Homestead area, along with different bus routes to Homestead. This transportation is mainly used if an individual needs to go out of the city. Although the commute time is longer than if having a car it is possible to get to the desired location without one. Moreover, to stay around the city many walk instead of taking their cars or the bus.

The sixty seven percent (67%) of residents who own/ drive a car in Homestead most commonly dont work in the city. Their commute time ranges from 35-40 mins. However, such time can be shorten if taking the Florida Turnpike, or avoiding traffic hours in main roads like US 1 and Krome Ave.


Homestead has very diverse culture. As stated before, a great population of Homestead’s residents are Hispanic or Latino, African American, and white. Each culture’s typical foods are showcased in different restaurants throughout the city.

La Cruzada Taqueria

Photo by Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

La Cruzada Taqueria is a Mexican Restaurant that lets you enjoy typical Mexican cuisine. The place is kind of small and but when you come in you feel like you just walked into Mexico. As a Mexican food lover, I couldn’t had agree more with all of the Yelp reviews: their tacos al pastor were delicious. Unlike many restaurants in Homestead, they not only offer breakfast, but they also offer vegetarian options. This small Mexican restaurant has it all!

 Mamma Mia Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria

Photo by Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

Mamma Mia Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria is a small chain family restaurant that transports you back to Italy with one bite. The family has three restaurants in total counting their Homestead location. They have been able to grow their business throughout the years. According to Yelp reviews, their best dishes include: their garlic rolls and “white” pizza. They also have great lunch specials from Monday through Friday. I went during their lunch and decided to get the lunch special lasagna, which came with a side of Caesar salad and garlic rolls. I can safely say that this restaurant has become my favorite Italian restaurant in Miami.

Yardie Spice

Photo by Edna G. (Retrieved from Yelp)

Yardie Spice is a Jamaican and Haitian restaurant centrally located on Krome Ave. The restaurant is a small business created by a couple. As per the owner’s words, him and his wife both studied management and after years of working for others they decided to open their small restaurant. (Jean Paul on Yelp)

It highlights the spicy food of the Caribbean islands. The small business aside from having amazing food has even better prices. They have “Combo” options that range approximately around the $10. The restaurant has a small menu, however, it customers dont care much about it. According to Yelp, Yardie Spice’s customers love the Legume dish and red snapper with polenta plate because it reminds them of Haiti.


When going to Homestead through Krome Ave, from both sides of the road you can see endless nurseries, food trucks, and restaurants. Homestead has an immense amount of business in its city mainly focus on agriculture, food markets, and farms.

Knaus Berry Farm

Photo by Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

Knaus Berry Farm is a very known and popular place by the Miami-Dade County community. The food market is famous for its delicious and unique cinnamon rolls- one bite transports you to heaven. In addition, they have other different desserts like pies, and also have a variety of dinner rolls ( my personal favorite are the cheese and herbs) Knaus Berry Farm is also known for letting individuals picked their own fruits and vegetables during season. A great place to visit with family!

Robert Is Here Fruit Stand and Farm

Photo by Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

Just like Knaus Berry Farm, Robert is Here is another well known place by the Miami residents. The food market has a great variety of “exotic” oils, honeys, and salad dressing only found there. It also serves delicious shakes that you can create with their fruits. In addition, the place has a small ranch with different animals like chickens, horses, and more. This is yet another family friendly facility in Homestead!

Bright Therapy Services, Inc.

Photo by Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

I decided to chose Bright Therapy Services, Inc. because it is one of Homestead businesses close to my heart. In this location, behavior technicians and analysts work with who have autism and other type of disabilities by helping them be independent in life. The kids who range from 1-15 years old learn how to tie their shoes, how to properly go to the bathroom, and more. The facility is centrally located in Homestead near Krome Ave and gives the opportunity to transport the kids from their schools to the facility. To me this place is one of the best businesses in the City of Homestead since it helps kids with disabilities be the greatest version of themselves.


Pictures by Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

Overall, the City of Homestead is a beautiful historical and agricultural city growing its population. The city’s residents are mainly Hispanics, African American, and whites making the culture and traditions of the city be interestingly mixed. The city definitely goes out of the stereotypes about what Miami is like.

Because the city’s base is agriculture may of its citizens work in plantations, farms, fruit picking businesses, and more. Many of these employees are illegal immigrants who get paid less than minimal salary but work to be able to maintain their families and risk getting deported. As I was driving next to a crop field, I saw multiple busses next to a lot of workers who seemed from Latin America. Such busses transport the workers from a meeting point to the crop field early in the morning and take them back later at night. Because of the conditions that this workers are treated under, many non-profit organizations have been focusing on advocating for these immigrants.

On the other hand, the city of Homestead has been working hard to renovate the city and “make it look nice”. In the recent years, the city has been wanting to attract more residents which is why they have been renovation sections of the city like Losner Park, Downton Homestead, and have been building houses on empty lots.

Leaving behind the stereotypes of a crowded Miami, Homestead is becoming my favorite city. Although it is a little far from everything else, the city is beautiful, full of small businesses, farms, and more. I definitely loved visiting and getting to know the city a little better, I will definitely be back to show my friends and family around.


Looking at Homestead A.F.B. hospital buildings from the intersection of roads “K” and “L” – Homestead, Florida. 1942. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. <a href=”http://<;, accessed 15 April 2021.” data-type=”URL” data-id=”<;, accessed 15 April 2021.

“About Our City.” About Our City | Homestead, FL – Official Website,

“Homestead.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.,

“Town Hall.” Historic Homestead Town Hall Museum,

About Us,

“Homestead, FL.” Data USA,

Brittney Sanchez: Miami Service Project 2021

Photo of Brittney Sanchez. By Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

Hello! My name is Brittney Sanchez. I am a junior at Florida International University in the beautiful city of Miami, Florida. I have an Associate in Arts degree in Pre-Recreational Therapy and I am currently in the Honors College pursuing a bachelors degree in Physical Education: Sports and Fitness.  


Throughout the spring semester I had the privilege of volunteering for the Special Olympics. This organization is a unique place centered on inclusion and acceptance. The Special Olympics is a non profit organization that provides year-round training for athletes with intellectual disabilities. It was founded in 1968 and remains one of the most well known organizations for people with special needs. People of all age groups are welcomed to participate in sport training and olympic style athletic competitions. Through these activities, athletes can excel in their athletic abilities and discover new skills. The sports played in the Special Olympics are similar to the actual Olympics, except that they are modified to allow the athletes with disabilities to participate competitively and safely.


I have always wanted to work with the disabled population, and the moment I heard about the Special Olympics, I knew that I wanted to take part in this organization. I started volunteering in the Fall of 2020 and I wanted to continue volunteering for them in the Spring, because they hold such a special place in my heart. Volunteering for the Special Olympics perfectly combined my love for helping people with special needs get physically active, and my passion for sports. I wanted to help the athletes in the Special Olympics develop movement skills and improve their movement performance to help them compete to the best of their abilities.


After the Fall semester, I emailed Danielle Kent, the Assistant Manager of Sports, Health and Fitness.

Screenshot of email thread. Photo taken by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

Sadly, the program had ended, but Danielle provided me with some additional contacts.

Screenshot of email thread. Photo taken by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

After reading the options, I chose to email Misha Payne from Southeast Florida.

Screenshot of email thread. Photo taken by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

After many failed attempts to reach Misha, she was finally able to get in contact with me and we spoke over the phone regarding my interest in the Special Olympics and basic information on the volunteering requirements. After the phone call, I sent her a few more questions via email.

Screenshot of email thread. Photo taken by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

Once everything was clarified, we set up an orientation meeting that took place on February 24th. The following email was the last email update regarding the Zoom class.

Screenshot of email thread. Photo taken by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

I told Misha that my sister wanted to join me as well, and we both signed the necessary documentations to teach the dance class on Mondays from 4:30-5 pm, March 8th to April 26th. After we both spoke to Misha over the phone, we were ready to volunteer for the group homes.

Where and What?

Photo of Brittney Sanchez teaching a dance class. Photo by Ashley Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

The Special Olympics hosts many Zoom classes throughout the week to keep the athletes engaged throughout the pandemic. These classes range anywhere from health and nutrition classes, to fitness and dance classes to help keep them physically active. My sister and I taught the 30 minute dance class to help get them motivated and excited about being active. Our first class occured on Monday, March 8th. I sent Misha my private Zoom link, and she sent it out to the group homes. At our first meeting, we all introduced ourselves and they found it fascinating how Ashley and I were twins. They loved speaking to us about everyone in their group homes and all their friends. Although it was a small group, 4-10 participants each week, we created memorable bonds with them.

Photo of Brittney Sanchez teaching a dance class. Photo by Ashley Sanchez / CC BY 4.0

Each class consisted of a dynamic warm up, a few dances, and a final stretch. We would login a few minutes before the meeting to check our audio and camera visibility. Although we had some techincal difficulties throughout some of the classes, we were able to fix some of these issues with the help of Misha. She was able to join and help us with our technical issues and to give us some advice on how to engage more with the athletes while we taught them the dance moves. One of the first classes, we asked them for song suggestions and they said they wanted to dance the Electric Slide. Ever since then, we played the Electric Slide almost every single Zoom meeting and they really enjoyed dancing and singing along to it. We chose many different dance routines from many different genres. For example, we played songs from the Greatest Showman soundtrack, Ed Sheeran songs, and Disney songs. We ended every Zoom call with some stretching, and they always thanked us for the meeting. We were required to ask for the names of the athletes and to send Misha the final attendance sheet after every meeting.

Screenshot of Special Olympics Participants. Photo by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0


Screenshot of Honors engagement. Photo by Brittney Sanchez / CC BY 4.0


Overall, volunteering for the Special Olympics has been a memorable experience. I loved getting to know each and every one of the athletes that joined our weekly Zoom meetings, and I hope to continue volunteering for such an incredible organization. I loved seeing the smiles on their faces, and all their comments. They were always very appreciative and loved to guess who was Ashley and who was Brittney.

Although it was a great experience, I believe there is room for improvement. Misha always seemed very busy, and it was very hard to get in contact with her. She had told us that she would try to join almost all of the Zoom meetings, but she was only able to join one of them. Also, there were a few meetings that the athletes did not show up because the group home leader was not informed ahead of time. In the future, I hope that the managers will reach out to the group home leaders with enough time for the athletes to be able to join every Zoom meeting.

Through this experience, I was able to learn more about the Special Olympic athletes and how to get them motivated. At first, it was pretty difficult to get their attention because they were surrounded by many other athletes in their home. They would turn on their cameras, but many of them were distracted or unwilling to engage in the dance routine. The athletes are not technically required to participate, so there was not much we could do, other than to encourage them to participate and ask for their input in song suggestions. After a few meetings, we were able to know their names, know them more personally, and help them stay motivated throughout the entire Zoom call. Although their attendance was not perfect, I truly enjoyed teaching them and creating unforgettable memories.

Lemuel Fernandez: South Beach 2021

Student Bio

Photo by Annette Cruz/ CC by 4.0

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


Map of South Beach

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


Collins Avenue Circa 1941. media CC by 4.0

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

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

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

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


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

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


Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU

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

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

Art Deco District

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

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

The Betsy Poetry Rail

The Betsy Hotel Poetry Rail. CC by 4.0

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


South Point Park

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

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

Marjory Stoneman Douglas Park

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

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

Lummus Park

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

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


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


CitiBike docking station on Ocean Drive. CC by 4.0

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

Miami Beach Trolley

Miami Beach Trolley. CC by 4.0

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


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

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

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


Bacon Bitch

Photo from Bacon Bitch IG: @baconbitch CC by 4.0

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

Havana 1957

Skirt Steak with a side of Moros. CC by 4.0

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

Joe’s Stone Crab

Joe’s Stone Crab Legs. CC by 4.0

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


News Cafe

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

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


Interior of Lincoln Theater/ H&M. Photo by Robin Hill. CC by 4.0

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


Interior of CAMEO Nightclub. CC by 4.0

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


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

Works Cited

“Art Deco Historic District in Miami Beach: South Beach, FL.”,;

“Authentic Cuban Restaurant in Miami Beach, Florida.” Havana 1957, 12 Feb. 2021,;

Bacon Bitch,;

“The Betsy Poetry Rail: Where Public Art Meets Poetic Inspiration.” Https://, 17 Sept. 2020,;

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

Citi Bike Miami, 

“Citywide Free Trolley.” City of Miami Beach,;

Doss, Laine. “Iconic South Beach Restaurant News Cafe Boarded Up.” Miami New Times, 4, 20 Jan. 2021,;

Florida International University – Digital Communications. “Historic Buildings.” Jewish Museum of Florida | Florida International University, 

“Free Transportation Around Miami.”,;

“Joe’s Stone Crab Home.” Home Page Joe’s Stone Crab,;

“Lincoln Theatre/ H&M – Shulman + Associates: Design · Architecture Interior Urban Graphic.” Shulman + Associates | Design · Architecture Interior Urban Graphic,;

“The Man Who Built Miami Beach .” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 14 July 2015,;

Munzenrieder, Kyle. “100 Years: The Dark and Dirty History of Miami Beach.” Miami New Times, 4, 21 Oct. 2019,;

“Parks And Recreation.” City of Miami Beach,;

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

“Richard Blanco.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation,;

“South Beach, FL.” Data USA, 

“South Beach, Florida Population 2021.” South Beach, Florida Population 2021 (Demographics, Maps, Graphs), 

Linabel Armas: Miami as Text

Photo by Roger Masson (CC by 4.0)

Linabel Armas is currently an honors student at Florida International University majoring in International Relations with a minor in Political Science. At FIU, Linabel is the current President-Elect for the Student Ambassador Program. In addition, aside from the university, Linabel works with a non-profit called The Children’s Trust where she is the co-facilitator for a group of high school students who are trying to make a difference in their communities. Moreover, she also works at a law firm since her future dream is to become a lawyer. Although her education is her main priority, Lina loves to travel the world, get to know new places and cultures, taste different foods, and get to know new people- many of the things that can be found in her newest FIU’s Honors course Finding Miami. Below you can find her reflections of these exciting adventures throughout the Spring semester of 2021.

Downtown Miami as text

“The story behind Miami”, by Linabel Armas of FIU in Downtown Miami on January 22nd, 2021.

Photos by John Bailly and Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

For many, Miami is seen as yet another tourist location to visit during summer vacation. However, Miami has so much history behind its colorful walls and crowded streets. Miami’s current population is very diverse, it has a high population of immigrants mainly from Latin America and the Caribbean, but Miami’s history and creation are also very culturally diverse.

While been considered one of the youngest cities in the U.S because of its foundation in 1986, Miami has a very unique history behind it. The city was founded and created by Tequestas, Spanish, African, and English roots. Back in the day, Miami was the city where no racial thoughts defined the people. In addition, Miami is the only major American city that was founded by a woman; her name was Julia Tuttle, also known as “The Mother of Miami”.

Although Miami is very culturally diverse, unfortunately, racism is still a dominant factor in the city. It all started when Henry Flagler decided to start constructing in Miami. Many have argued that their lives ended when Mr. Flagler arrived in Miami. It divided the city into categories: white-rich people lived in one area, white-poor individuals in another, and black people lived somewhere else. Although many laws have been implemented to end racism, racism can still be seen in the city. For example, we have a neighborhood where the majority of the population is Cuban: Little Havana; in addition, we also have Little Haiti for African Americans and Doral for Venezuelan people. Despite the progress, Miami still has sequels from the past which is why is necessary that the younger generation changes such things. We need to stop being oblivious to the current situation and start changing.


“Between Cypress Trees “, by Linabel Armas of FIU in the Everglades on February 5th, 2021.

Photos by Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

Entering the still and cold water, walking in between cypress trees, and feeling the sound of the trees; felt like been elsewhere, like a dream. Every time we were getting further and further from the road, the breeze of the trees and our steps when slogging were the only sound. My senses became amplified, I could hear the little birds singing, the mosquito fishes touching my skin, it was so peaceful.

It came a time when our park ranger read a poem, and I felt even more at peace. We had a moment of silent and heard the birds sing and the trees touch when the breeze passed. My mind and body felt so at peace and so relax; for a minute I forgot about the stress of life. Then it came a time to break apart and everyone explore their routes. I fell multiple times on the holes in the water, yet I still enjoyed it and emerged into nature like never before.

It is sad to know that over the past century or so, the Everglades have been suffering from pollution, loss of habitat, and loss of wildlife. According to our park ranger, they no longer see squirrels or raccoons, the food chain of the Everglades animals it’s been extinguished. Since the 40s developers have been draining the Everglades to the point that now 1.7 million acres have been drained which makes it approximately half of the Everglades. The main problem in regard to this matter right now is conservation. Problems and loss at the Everglades affects us as Miamians. This is yet one of the many reasons why we as U.S citizens need to vote, become aware of the problem surrounding us, and become activists in our communities.


“Artistic and Architectural Paradise”, by Linabel Armas of FIU in Miami Beach on February 19th, 2021

Photos by Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

Thousands of tourists visit Miami throughout the year, specially South Beach. For the past six years I have been living in Miami and visited South Beach endless times, yet I had never realized the architectural designs and overall history that it acquires.

Like I have mentioned previously Miami has a very strong history of segregation and South Beach doesn’t stay away from that. From South Beach Pier we can visualize Fisher Island. The island was purchased by the first African American millionaire, Dana Dorsey. Fisher island was the only island were African Americans were allow to stay near the beach, since in almost all South Beach, hotel owners denied the entry to black skin individuals. Eventually, Dorsey sold the island to Carl Fisher and no blacks were allow once again. Today, Fisher Island has one of the most expensive zip codes in Miami, were rarely an African American is still seen.

We started walking past the pier and started to see colorful 2-3 story buildings. Miami is one of the most visited cities in the U.S due to not only the clear-water beach but the architectural styles and designs. Walking through Collins Ave. and Ocean Dr., I was able to appreciate the three types of architectural styles that can be appreciated: Art deco, Mediterranean revival, and Miami modern. My favorite was art deco, due to the colors it uses on its buildings and the early 1900s’ vibe it gives. However, Mediterranean Survival and Miami Modern are also very beautiful and refreshing styles but not as eye catching as art deco.

Many buildings have been sold to different companies were its not stated on the contract that they have to keep the building on the outside as it is, which is why some buildings have “identify crisis” and destroy the beauty of each architectural style and design in South Beach.


“Walking through history”, by Linabel Armas of FIU in Deering Estate on March 5th , 2021

Photos by Linabel Armas and Saniya Pradhan(CC by 4.0)

I drove 30 min from home, and I thought I had driven to the wrong place. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary until I came in. When I stepped in, I felt like I was teleported to one of the Spanish telenovelas I used to watch with my grandma as a kid. Deering Estate was not only beautiful and elegant but full of history and architectural designs.

Among one the things we visited that day was the Richmond Cottage. I was amazed to know that I was visiting the first hotel in Miami that once transported individuals from Miami to Key West in one day, an otherwise trip of 3 days. Like professor Bailly always says, it is “awesome” to be walking where Mr. Cutler lived, and millions of others visited in the 1900s. We then walked near the ocean, one of my favorite parts I saw where the Everglades meets the Atlantic ocean; what I thought would be something “crazy” was just so relaxing and peaceful. The breeze blew my hair and kissed my face; the shade touched my skin and didn’t let it burn. I thought I had found peace when I visited the Everglades because I did not know Deering Estate. The views from the very corner of this place were just mesmerizing.

Turning a page from the beautiful and relaxing Deering, we then visited the mangroves and Pine Rocklands. Been careful not to get touched by poison ivy; we explored these two different ecosystems. Sometimes, getting away from the typical Miami: cafecito, beaches, and tourists; teaches us that there is much more than just that.

Lastly, we had the opportunity to visit Mr. Charles Deering’s stone house. The marvelous architectural design remising Deering’s house in Spain was yet another glance to the late 1800s early 1900s that felt like I was back in time. Been able to walk and touch were centuries ago someone lived is so fascinating to me. I learned so much about the home architectural designs of that era.

Ever since I visited Deering Estate, I have wanted to go back. I feel like it is such a beautiful, cozy, and yet elegant place to be in. Overall, I keep getting astonished by how much Miami has to offer us, aside from the beautiful beaches.


“Vizcaya through time”, by Linabel Armas of FIU in Vizcaya on March 19th , 2021

Photos by John Bailly (CC by 4.0)

Sadly I was unable to attend Vizcaya due to medical complications; however, I decided to research about it since I was pretty excited to go. As a teenager, I was taught that Vizcaya was a beautiful place were quinceaneras, will go and take their fifteen pictures; however, I didn’t know how much history about Miami and it founders the place holds.

Reading through professor Bailly’s blog about Vizcaya was yet another eye-opening experience. Miami’s architecture is very culturally diverse, in this case, Vizcaya was built with Italian and French styles and traditions. In addition, it was constructed by Bohemian and “Nassau-negro” slaves. The village (currently a museum) already has so much cultures, styles, and architectural traditions inculcated in it that has transcended over the years for new generations to see and appreciate.

Vizcaya was purchased by Mr. James Deering from Mary Brickell in the early 1900s with the intention of making Vizcaya a “self-sustaining endeavor”. (Bailly 2019) The village is filled with beautiful gardening and water according to the pictures and different articles, which were created with the purpose to sustain the village. In addition, the museum is filled with art: sculptures around the gardens and inside of the property, as well as other different art pieces.

Although, I didn’t have the opportunity to visit this beautiful place, I feel like I would’ve felt in heaven due to all the gardening, architectural designs, sculptures, etc… By looking at the pictures it kind of reminds me of “Jardines de la Granja de San Idelefonso” a summer palace for a Spanish princess located in Segovia, Spain. Although this palace is bigger than Vizcaya in size, it has similar French architectural styles and gardens. Vizcaya seems like such a beautiful place worth visiting and enjoying.


“Collecting history and innovation”, by Linabel Armas of FIU in The Marguiles Collection on April 16th , 2021

I think it is fair to say that I know I thing or two about art. I grew up seeing my dad create a beautiful painting out of a blank canvas. Going to art galleries, events, and art fairs was always an essential part of my at-home education. To say that I was amazed by this art collection is an understatement.

I arrived before the class began and took a quick look at the collection. At first, I thought the art showcased was “weird” and different from anything I had seen before in any art gallery or collection. My first question was “so, what is the business in this?” to what professor Bailly told me that there isn’t any. Mr. Martin Z. Margulies collects art because he loves it and has become one of his favorite “hobbies”.

For someone who has become so well known for collecting art around the globe, Mr. Margulies is very humble and open to answer any questions. He explained what each of the main art pieces are in the warehouse are, where they come from, and who created them. In addition, he explained to our class why he started collecting art and how were the beginnings of opening the warehouse. Marguiles has been a great part of the revitalization of the modern Wynwood.

I can safely say that one of my favorite pieces was the 30 Monitors, 30 DVD players, 30 DVDs by Peter Coffin of 2008. This piece speaks Pop Art to me and I think it attracts any young adult who likes colors and the retro style. Like I said during our lecture, it reminds me of the TV I used to have in my bedroom back in Cuba; so this artwork not only symbolized pop art to me but it reminds of home and my childhood.

Overall, I believe that Marguiles has changed my perspective of looking at any art piece. Like he said, abstract pieces are not meant to have a meaning but for each individual to interpret it differently. His powerful words and overall lecture will stick to me. Having the chance to speak and hear from such a well renown art collector and visit his art collection warehouse is definitely a one in a life time opportunity.

Daniela Canizares: ASC Art Service Project Spring 2021

Student Biography

Daniela Canizares is a Sophomore at Florida International University, majoring in Psychology. She was born in Cuba but moved to Miami when she was 15 years old. After graduating, she is planning on becoming a School Counselor. 

Miami’s own: Artist Zion Rozier


Zion Rozier was born and raised in South Miami. His work is based on portraits of his family and close ones. He graduated from Robert Morgan Educational Center, in South Miami Heights under the performing arts magnet, and is currently attending Miami Dade College aspiring to graduate with an Associates in Criminal Justice, and combine both, arts and criminal sciences and become a forensic artist. He has had exhibitions in the Rubell Museum as well as the Miami International Airport. He is currently working on incorporating a clothing line into his artwork.


I chose this volunteering opportunity to open more to something I had never tried before. Not knowing who I was, I never thought Mr. Rozier was going to let me work with him, which to my surprise, I could not have been more wrong. This opportunity does not relate to my major, but it is an interest of mine working with artists and being able to help them grow.


I have never worked with an artist this close, and due to COVID regulations, I thought I was never going to be able to do it. However, I like to get out of my comfort zone. He went to school with a friend of mine, and as I was telling her about my art class, she suggested I should work with him due to distance wise, how close we were from each other -which would have made it easier for us to work together, and because she thought he was a great person and artist (she was not wrong at all!). Right away I looked him up. I searched his website, I found the “contact me” session, and I wrote him an email, but I knew emails might sometimes take days to be opened by the person receiving them. So I decided to contact him by Instagram, to which he replied within 2 days, saying he would gladly work with me.

Where & what

The first day we met was on March 31st, 2021. This meeting took place through a video call because Mr. Rozier was not in Miami at the moment. On that first meeting, we met each other. He told me that as of right now he needed someone to criticize his ideas on the new clothing line and give him ideas for new projects. He told me that he would like to keep focusing on making art, however, he would like to expand his business to a clothing branch. His current audience focuses on teens, adults. He would like to expand his business to an older audience. After some talk and analysis, we got to the conclusion that to reach out to this group, he would need to include fewer designs in his clothing line. Like we both said, “sometimes less is more”. Keeping it simple could reach out to this group.

First text message

During this meeting, he sent me some pictures of the idea he had for the hats. We both decided to change the Velcro material in the back of the hats for metallic ones. Also, for his new collection, we came up with the idea to branch out to different materials and objects like bracelets or/and keychains.

Our second meeting took place on April 14, 2021 at Coral Reef Park. Here we discussed ideas for the upcoming seasons as well as some ideas for special holidays.

Notes taken by Daniela Canizares during second meeting

During this meeting, he gave me a keychain that he will be sending away on the packages as “goodies”.

Keychain with Zion Rozier’s logo


Working with Zion Rozier was a fantastic experience. It worked that we lived relatively close to each other, so placing a meeting place and time was not a big issue. It did not work that with COVID being in a place he is not having any expositions as of the moment, which is what I would have liked working with him. Instead, he is focusing on expanding his brand to a clothing line.


Total Hours: 3.5h

Historic Homestead Town Hall Museum


Historic Homestead Town Hall Museum is the original Town Hall for the city of Homestead. Built in 1917, right now it functions as a museum for the public.


I have always been interested in Museums and history, and it catches my attention even more if it deals with local history. This is at large, one of the main reasons I decided to contact this museum. It does not relate to my major, but it is a big interest of mine.


I connected with this opportunity through Volunteer Match. I have a subscription to the website, I saw the opportunity and I emailed them right away.

Where & what

After a week of applying for the volunteer position, on April 3rd, 2021, Ms. Katherine Fleming reached out to me. She told me that as of the moment and because they were a small museum, they were doing all the volunteering online and that the only opportunities available were transcribing old documents. I had previously taken some cursive writing courses, so I had the requirements and I decided to take the opportunity. The next day, she sent me a copy of old documents for me to transcribe. It was really fun, at least for me, to get to know more about the way they used to live in 1917, and the way clubs and associations used to work. This set of documents related to giving members positions in the club and about a wedding coming up.

First set of documents

On April 10th, Ms. Fleming reached out to me with a different set of documents. This time, the sets related to financial activities and the dispute of Liberty City. This document was more difficult to read, especially when it was getting to the end of it. It seemed like since the meeting took place outside the regular settings, the person writing it was not comfortable when writing.

Second set of documents.


In general, I liked working with this Museum a lot. It worked that the opportunity was online. It did not work that this was the only available position. I would have liked to have the opportunity of going in person.


Total Hours: 7h

Total Project Hours: 10.5h


“Artist.” Zion Rozier,

Historic Homestead Town Hall Museum,

Fauzan Sheikh: Overtown (Formerly “Colored Town”) 2020

Fauzan Sheikh Slough Slogging through Everglades National Park

Student Bio

Hello! I am Fauzan Sheikh. I would describe myself as a person with a solid set of plans and a set direction for life. Currently I am a Junior headed to my Senior year in Florida International University enrolled in the Honors College. My area of studies is in Construction Management and I am enrolled in the Moss School of Construction at Florida International University working on their bachelor’s degree program. My profession is Estimating as I am the Assistant Estimator currently at Zahlene Enterprise Inc., which is a construction company located in Medley, FL. I was born in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan, raised in Miami, FL, and I currently live in Pembroke Pines, FL. Being enrolled in Miami in Miami with professor Bailly as my instructor, has truly opened my eyes to what Miami really is. I emphasize that I was raised in Miami, but I was part of a closed circle which was limited to my schooling, family, and friends that were from my area. I only wished to travel outside of the state of Florida, and outside the United States itself. Not only did I learn what a gem Miami is itself, but also the light and dark history behind it all. My Ineffable Miami project this semester will be on the city of Overtown, which was formerly known as “Colored Town”.


Map of Historic Overtown by Google Maps

Overtown is a Historic predominantly Black city which is adjacent to Downtown Miami. The northern boundary of Overtown is NW 20th Street; the southern boundary is NW 5th Street; the western border is marked at the Miami River and SR-836; and the eastern border is the East Coast Railway and NW 1st Avenue. The surrounding cities include Downtown Miami, Town Square, Edgewater, Wynwood, Allapattah, Little Havana, and Brickell. Interstate I-95 passes directly through the heart of Historic Overtown and is also a topic of great controversy.


Johnny’s Records Storefront by

The History of Overtown is one that you would see in a movie or documentary, and consequently there are many movies and documentaries based on the historical events occurring in Overtown. Overtown was once a highly populous and growing city with a booming industry. We can first begin talking about the major event that led to the decline of Historic Overtown. Interstate 95 is a highway that many Floridians use for their daily commute to and from work, for access to the other highways that connect the residents of Miami, as well as the tourists to the beaches as they are the spotlight of Miami, and is also a major highway that Floridians use to commute out of state as well. The expansion of Interstate 95 was planned in the 1950s and in the 1960s the expansion of the highway was constructed directly through the center of the city of Overtown. This major event displaced hundreds of families, and thousands of residents. The initial idea for the expansion of Interstate 95 was to expand along the Florida East Coast Railway, which would have been the option that would not have torn Overtown in half, but was an idea that was opposed by the businesses of downtown Miami and the city’s chamber of commerce. The plans that went into effect instead, was to build near Northwest Seventh Avenue which was passing through the City of Overtown. The displacement of thousands of residents, primarily black, was not overlooked by the white local and government officials but was accepted. There was an opposition from the locals at Overtown, but they were Black, and did not have any influence in the decision since they were considered second class citizens.

Riot of 1980 by CNN

The Miami Riot of 1980 is still considered to be the worst riot in the history of Miami. Miami-Dade police officers were involved in a “high speed chase” in the end of 1979 involving Black insurance agent and motorcyclist Arthur McDuffie. There is specific emphasis on the original story behind the death of McDuffie being caused by a motorcycle crash, but the report of the coroners reported otherwise. A responding officer that was following the chase testified against the initial story claiming the death was caused by crash following a high-speed chase and reported that the police officers had beaten McDuffie to death with their metal flashlights. McDuffie was beaten so badly that the prosecutors referred to the condition of his skull as like being cracked open like an egg. McDuffie was a strong man and did not die until four days after the beating as a result of injuries. The riot was not a result of the beating of an innocent black man, or even his death which followed the beating. The riot was the result of an unjust decision. The case was sent to a jury in Tampa, FL, which was behind even Miami when ending of segregation and the come-up of equality was considered. The jury in Tampa granted the officers who had brutally beaten McDuffie to death immunity and announced them as not guilty. The Great Riot of 1980 in Miami was the result of this unjust decision. The Great Riot of 1980 affected the city of Overtown and Liberty City the most and resulted in long clashes between the black community and law enforcement.


Overtown is currently at an all-time low considering population and households. The decline was caused primarily by the expansion of Interstate 95 through the heart of Overtown. Currently the total population sits at approximately 10,004 residents and 4,228 households. Overtown consists of 6,762 people that are Black accounting for 67.6% of the population. 2,375 Hispanic residents reside in Overtown and is the second largest race of the city accounting to 23.7% of the population. There are only 722 white residents, 7.2% of the population and the other 1.5% of the population are from other racial backgrounds. The sex of the residents of the city of Overtown is about equal throughout the different age groups.


Exterior View of the Historic Lyric Theater Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Phillip Pessar

The Historic Lyric Theatre was built in 1913 by a man from Georgia named Geder Walker. Miami Metropolis called the Lyric Theater “the most beautiful and costly playhouse owned by colored people in all the southland”. Throughout the glory days of the Lyric Theater legends such as Cab Calloway, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Sammie Davis Junior, Josephine Baker and Billie Holiday, and many more performed to entertain the residents and visitors of Historic Overtown. Walker passed away in 1919, following his death, his wife Henrietta continued to operate the Theater until 1959. In 1959 the Theater became a church. In the 1960s smaller riots and confrontations in order to achieve freedom caused the Theater to become shuttered until 1988. The Black Archives History and Research Foundation purchased the Lyric Theater in 1988 and began to restore it. The Lyric Theater is now listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The restoration was completed, and the doors finally reopened in the year 2000. The new Lyric Theater included a new lobby, box office, and administrative offices, as well as many other additions. Ever since the reopening there have been many events held within the theater. The late Whitney Houston filmed a music video there, in 2005 Missy Elliot threw a party at The Lyric Theater during the 2005 MTV Movie Awards, and a local documentary was filmed there as well. The Lyric theater faced a renovation once again and reopened during Black History Month of 2014 and claimed its title of being the oldest operating theater in Miami.

The Dorsey House is located on Northwest Third Avenue in Historic Overtown and has a nameplate right up front. People may have heard the name D.A. Dorsey by reading the name of a park or a technical school that were named in his honor. D.A. Dorsey was the first black Millionaire in Miami. The Dorsey House has featured multiple renovations and struggles since it was built in 1920. The historic building is now accessible by the public as a museum. The architecture of the building is very Bahamian, and this was the popular style of architecture in Coconut Grove. The Dorsey House is located in between the Historic Lyric Theater and The Greater Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Dorsey was born in Quitman, Georgia, and was the son of a sharecropper. Dorsey moved to Miami in 1896 and worked for Henry Flagler’s Florida First East Coast Railroad Company as a Carpenter. D.A Dorsey purchased what is known as Fisher Island today from Herman B. Walker in 1918. The purpose of the purchase of 21 acres of land which totaled to the entire Island, was to provide a beach for colored people because at the time there was none.


Map of Williams, Dorsey, and Gibson parks By Google Maps | Highlights by Fauzan Sheikh

The Historic city of Overtown has many green spaces, which include six public parks. The largest and the most famous of the six parks are Gibson Park, Dorsey Park, and Williams Park. Gibson Park is signified by the name Overtown Optimists Club on the map. Gibson Park offers After School, Summer Camp, Winter Camp, Spring Break Camp, Master Swim, and Learn to Swim Programs. The Overtown Optimists Club is at Gibson Park and offers Dance, Travel Basketball, Swimming, Flag and Tackle Football, Cheerleading, Mentoring and College Tours, Tee Ball and Baseball as well. Dorsey Park is named after D.A. Dorsey, the first Black Millionaire, owner and builder of the Dorsey House, and the previous owner of Fisher Island. Dorsey Park offers Baseball, Basketball, Bathrooms, Computers, Dog Walking Track, Outdoor Gym Equipment, Playground, Picnic Tables, Racquetball Court, and many Youth Programs. Williams Park offers all the same amenities as Gibson Park and Dorsey Park with the addition of Bicycle Racks.


Miami Metrorail Mural in Overtown by: Fauzan Sheikh

Overtown is a City in Miami Dade County so just like the rest of the county the traffic, roads, and Transit is just as poorly planned. Being a community primarily of lower income families, the residents heavily depend on public transit. Overtown has local Metrorail stops which make long distance commutes to work and school within Miami-Dade County a bit easier for people that cannot afford their own private vehicles. There are three Metrorail stations in Overtown, the Southernmost station known as the Virgin MiamiCentral Station, the Central station known as Historic Overtown/ Lyric Theatre Station, and the northernmost Station named the Culmer Station. The Metrorail Stations in Overtown are full of Art on walls, whether it is registered professional murals, or Graffiti.


When we visited Overtown with the Miami In Miami Class led by Professor Bailly, one of our stops was at Jacksons Soul Food, which is a renown restaurant in the city of Overtown. Jacksons Soul Food is a spot that you must stop at when you visit Overtown whether it is with friends, family or even alone. Authentic Soul food is served here. Jacksons Soul Food is a family owned and managed restaurant that has been open for a very long time. Excellent service was provided, and food was served in a timely manner even though we were a very large group of over 20 people. I ate steamed seasoned fish, with a side of Mac and Cheese and French Fries, accompanied with a fruit punch lemonade which was quite visually appealing. As we sat and ate the owner/manager of the restaurant told us stories of Historic Overtown and how the city is at a steady decline.


Jackson Soul Food is an excellent example of a non-chain family owned business in Historic Overtown. There are not many other restaurants that serve Soul Food nowadays and Jacksons was the first I had ever seen or been to eat at. Another great business in Overtown that is popular amongst residents is Just Right Barber Shop and Beauty Salon. Just Right Barber Shop and Beauty Salon is one of the few examples of an all in one place for all genders that provides services for both male and female. Forrest Pilates is a Pilates Studio and gym owned and ran by Maria Forrest in Historic Overtown. There are not many fitness related amenities such as gyms in Overtown, so this is an attraction for not only residents of Overtown but also residents of Little Havana since it is located right at the border of the two Cities. All businesses in Historic Overtown are very friendly and everyone knows one another since it is a very small and tight community. When a resident walks into Jackson Soul Food the servers already know what the expected order should be. When a resident goes into a Barber Shop or a Salon, the beauticians and Barbers know whatever the consumers need to get done.


Although Historic Overtown has been on a decline ever since the construction of Interstate 95 was completed straight through the heart of the city, and the city is nowhere near as prosperous as it once was, after viewing a few documentaries which included interviews from locals, visiting Jackson Soul Food and devouring their food, and visiting the local churches, the overall vibe of the city is very warm and welcoming. Overtown residents hold a great amount of pride for where they reside and still have the will to fight for their city and to eliminate the urbanization which would destroy local businesses and cause residents to have to leave their homes. The crime rates in Overtown may be high but mainly because of drug related problems, not theft, murder, or anything that would be life threatening. I would like to see Overtown prosper once again as it did prior to the 80s and have people from its surrounding cities come in to enjoy the lively night life.


“About Overtown.” Afmfl,

shaanmiami April 10, 2019 3 Comments. “Past/Present of Segregated Miami.” Miami Grid, 11 Apr. 2019,
“About Overtown.” Afmfl,

“Miami Riot of 1980: Black Motorist Arthur McDuffie Beat To Death.” Black Then, 28 Jan. 2020,

“Riots in America – CNN Video.” CNN, Cable News Network, 29 Apr. 2015,

“Age and Sex in Overtown, Miami, Florida (Neighborhood).” The Demographic Statistical Atlas of the United States – Statistical Atlas,

“Historic Overtown’s Lyric Theater.” Historic Overtown’s Lyric Theater,

“Experience Historic Overtown, Florida.” , Florida,

“Who Was D. A. Dorsey?” D. A. Dorsey Technical College,

Time Out Miami. “Black Archives Historic Lyric Theater Cultural Arts Complex.” Time Out Miami, 5 Apr. 2018,

Dixon, Lance. “This Historic House Is Paying Tribute to One of Miami’s Black Pioneers.” The New Tropic, 19 Feb. 2019,

“Gibson Park.” Parks & Recreation – Gibson Park,

“OOC Dance Team Keeps The ? Energy.” Overtown Optimist Club, 1 Nov. 1970,

“Dorsey Park.” Miami,

“Williams Park.” Miami,

Areavibes. “Overtown, Miami, FL Transportation.” Overtown, FL Transit – Public Transportation, Amtrak Train Stations & Airports,

Hanna Sotolongo-Miranda: Pinecrest 2020


My name is Hanna Sotolongo-Miranda. I am currently an FIU freshman in the first semester and a resident of Miami-Dade County. I live in a part of Miami known as Unincorporated Miami Dade, in between Kendall and Pinecrest. Growing up, I always went to magnet schools, where kids would share where they live, and that would more or less determine who your friends are. Because I was in the middle, I never identified with the ‘Kendall Crew’ or the ‘Pinecrest Peeps’. When asked to do this project I decided I wanted to learn and write about as much as I could for both parts of Miami to see what really distinguishes them. In the fall, I was able to do Kendall as my Ineffable Miami Project, so I can see the differences in communities that are so close together as I discover Pinecrest.


Pinecrest Borders

Pinecrest is a mostly residential area with 7.6 square miles in total: 7.5 square miles of land with 0.13% of the area being water. According to the United States Census Bureau, its geographical coordinates are 25°40′N 80°18′W.


Pinecrest started like most of the areas of South Florida, through Henry Flagler’s railroad to the Florida Keys. Pinecrest land was used as a stopping point for people building the railroad. Later, during the 30s, Pinecrest became a center for tourist attractions as more and more places began to rise. The Miami Serpentarium, founded in 1946, was a place where tourists can get up and personal with these exotic snakes, as well as venom research before it closed in the 80s. The more popular Parrot Jungle started in 1936 on Red Road and Southwest 111 Street by Franz and Louise Scherr. Although the location of Parrot Jungle, or now Jungle Island, has changed, it still remains to this day as a very popular site and registered as a historic place in 2011. The 50s and 60s were the true boom of Pinecrest as permanent ranch-style houses were being built for new residents. The Village of Pinecrest was incorporated in 1996 by a movement led by Evelyn Greer, the first mayor of Pinecrest, as well as Barry Blaxberg and Leslie Bow, which eventually led to the creation of the Pinecrest we know today. Known for its parks, police force, building services, and public works, these things make up the residential Pinecrest. 


Pinecrest currently has a population of 19,441 with a growth rate of 0.877%. The average age of people living in Pinecrest is 42, and the average household income is $152,643 with a growth rate of 16.6% growth. The number of employees working in Pinecrest is 9,322 with a 2.07% growth rate. The poverty rate is 5.83%, and the average property value is $887,700 with a 5.57% growth rate.

The population is mostly Hispanic or Latino with 46.9% of the population, however, there are a lot of white only Americans with 43.3% of the population. There is a small percentage of Asians at 6.84% of the population. 85.1% of the Pinecrest resident population are US citizens. The demographics of Pinecrest is a clear result of Miami’s segregation, especially during the 40s and 50s when residential construction began. Miami has always been a racially segregated city, and it is clear that Pinecrest is a white area. Due to the amount of tourism through the Miami Serpentarium and Parrot Jungle during this time, the majority of these people would be wealthy white people from the north, that eventually bought the houses that were built. Even after the Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s, Miami still remained and to this day, as we can see by this data, it is still relatively segregated.

The majority of Pinecrest, as we can see, is middle class to relatively wealthy members of society, as the property value for most houses is somewhere around $887,700 with a homeownership rate of 77%. Most Pinecrest residents commute about 27 minutes to work or school by driving alone, and most houses have an average of 2 cars per household. Through this data, it can be concluded that because of the luxury of owning items such as cars and individual houses, most of the population have stable and profitable jobs and families with somewhere around 2 to 3 children. However, the poverty rate is still high at 5.83% of the Pinecrest population, showing the differences in this community.


Deering Estate:

The Deering Estate combines everything from beautiful landscapes unique to South Florida, the history and rich culture that led to the Miami of today, and talented artists who want to portray it all. From the historic structures of Charles Deering’s buildings such as the Carriage House, the Pump House, and the Power House, to the Hiking trails through the Pine Rocklands and Tropical Hardwood Hammock, I am extremely happy to have been able to experience this boom in wildlife and history. Along with their extensive cultural backgrounds and knowledge, many artists settle to find inspiration and rent workspace, such as artist and professor John Bailly. The Deering Estate truly has a little bit of everything.

16701 Southwest 72nd Avenue


Pinecrest Gardens by Hanna Sotolongo-Miranda

Pinecrest Gardens:

Known for their children’s entertainment, the Pinecrest Gardens has multiple theaters and stages for concerts of dance, choir, and plays. With art festivals and Earth Day, this location is a perfect blend of entertainment and education for people of all ages. They also have a farmers market and much like the Deering Estate has artists in residences, such as Thomas Dambo, a storyteller and poet, and based on his story “Trolls”, has a massive sculpture of a troll that adults and children can interact with.

11000 Red Road



Coral Pine Park by Hanna Sotolongo-Miranda

Coral Pine Park:

This park is a fairly big park known for its six tennis courts, but with a beautiful and well kept green space as well as a field that can be used for all kinds of sports. It is open from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm every day. It also has space for rental for events such as parties for the residents of Pinecrest as well as any other guests.

6955 Southwest 104th Street

Pinecrest, Florida


Flagler Grove Park: 

This park, obviously named for the famous Henry Flagler, is known for its soccer fields and their playgrounds. Unlike Coral Pine Park, Flagler Grove is more centered towards children’s entertainment as many youth soccer teams practice and hold games there. This park is open from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm Mondays through Thursdays, 10:00 am to 8:00 pm on Fridays, and 8:00 am to 8:00 pm on the weekends.

7551 Southwest 104th Street

Pinecrest, Florida

Evelyn Greer Park by Hanna Sotolongo-Miranda

Evelyn Greer Park: 

This park, named after Pinecrest’s first mayor, is known for its huge athletic field that can be used for different sports. It also has a gazebo with Wi-Fi, and a Leslie Bowe Hall where guests are able to rent out the hall and host events. Evelyn Greer Park is open from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm Monday through Thursday, 10:00 am to 8:00 pm on Fridays, and 8:00 am to 8:00 pm on weekends.

8200 Southwest 124th Street

Pinecrest, Florida


Suniland Park:

Suniland Park is best known for the Andre Dawson Field and the Howard Palmetto Hall of Fame, both honoring the great baseball players with fields and batting cages. There is also a recreation center that can be rented out for events, as well as a gazebo with Wi-Fi. The park is open from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm Monday through Thursday, 10:00 am to 8:00 pm on Fridays, and 8:00 am to 8:00 pm on weekends.

12855 Pinecrest Parkway

Pinecrest, Florida


Veterans Wayside Park:

Veterans Wayside Park is more centered to natural green space with 4.5 acres of flora with paths leading to a freshwater lake and picnic tables, with open recreation areas guests can use however they want. This park is open from sunrise to sunset daily, and it is the most refreshing park in Pinecrest.

11111 Pinecrest Parkway

Pinecrest, Florida


Miami’s public transit system includes the Metrobus in and out of Pinecrest, as well as stops in the Metrorail that travel along South Dixie Highway. Along with Miami’s public transit systems, Pinecrest has a transportation system unique to its neighborhood. The Pinecrest People Mover, unlike the Miami-Dade buses, are free for everyone and provides multiple routes going North and South throughout Pinecrest. It also has separate schedules for middle schools and high schools before and after schools, that allows and encourages students to participate in afterschool activities. It is also connected to the public Metrobus, as many of the stops overlap across Pinecrest. Apps are available for iPhone and Android cell phones for both the Metro system and the Pinecrest People Mover to track buses and vehicles moving throughout the neighborhood. 

Although there are many opportunities for public transit in Pinecrest, most residents commute to work or school with personal cars, so driving on the streets is usually the primary mode of transportation. Some well known and busy road in Pinecrest include Flagler Boulevard (SW 102nd St), Chapman Field Drive (SW 124th St), Kendall Drive (SW 88th St), Killian Drive (SW 112th St), and Franz and Louise Scherr Street (SW 111th St). As seen by the names, each of these streets tell an important story, part of Pinecrests history. It shows that history is truly in every inch of Pinecrest’s streets. 


Atelier Monnier:

This French bakery is an extremely special place to me because it used to be owned by one of my closest friends’ families from middle school. Veronica and Frank Monnier are incredibly hard-working people that to this day make the pastries and croissants that come out of this shop. They have another bakery and restaurant in South Miami that the family owns called Cecile, after their daughter. Cecile and I used to do springboard and platform diving when I was in middle school, and I still cherish her as a friend of mine. When I had accidentally fallen on top of the diving board during a practice in the Keys, it was Veronica and Cecile that was with me as I went to the hospital, and after all that, they still warmed my heart with their love, company and delicious food. I will always support them and will be a guaranteed lifetime customer and friend to these people who have shown me such kindness. 

9563 S Dixie Hwy


Papa Ricco’s:

Since 1975, Papa Ricco’s has been serving the residents of Pinecrest fresh, delicious Italian food. With a broad selection of pasta and pizza, anything on the menu is guaranteed to be fresh. Papa Ricco’s also caters to office and private parties, as well as delivers right to your door.

14415 S Dixie Hwy


Ayesha by Hanna Sotolongo-Miranda


Ayesha restaurant is primarily Indian Cuisine with a Miami twist. Owner of Ayesha and Founder of the Ayesha Group, Mike Hussain owns and works with multiple other restaurants in South Florida. As someone who has been to this restaurant, I can say with certainty that this food is delicious, however by no means traditional. Although delicious, the price point of this restaurant is particularly high. Although the quality of the food is excellent, this restaurant is more of a special occasion rather than a frequent visit. During the past years, my family and I have often spent Valentine’s dinner at Ayesha’s, as a nice splurge for a nice dinner and a good time.

14151 S Dixie Hwy


The Butcher Shop by Hanna Sotolongo-Miranda

The Butcher Shop:

A literal hole in the wall, true Cuban Miami cuisine can be found at The Butcher Shop. A little sandwich shop in Pinecrest, this place is perfect for a specialty sandwich packed with any kind of flavorful meat. My personal favorite is the pan con lechon, or the pork sandwich, a common lunch for Cubans and Cuban Americans. With affordable prices and fast service, this is by far the best sandwich shop in Miami.

14235 S Dixie Hwy



Modern Acupuncture by Hanna Sotolongo-Miranda

Modern Acupuncture Pinecrest:

By using the natural stress relief of acupuncture, Modern Acupuncture tries to treat the stress of everyday life for the residents of Pinecrest, and any other guests. By offering memberships and packages for their customers, their goal is to provide relaxation therapy with needles as thin as a human hair. Although this relaxation therapy might be a little bit off-putting for many, Modern Acupuncture dispels any negative thoughts by providing customers with examples of celebrities such as Cameron Diaz and Jessica Alba, people who are known for their beauty.

7880 Southwest 104th Street, Suite A-105


We-Go Assemble:

We-Go Assemble is a business that builds items that require assembly, from IKEA furniture to entertainment systems, to children’s toys. How these business works is very flexible towards its customers, as employees come to their homes and build their furniture. They also have moving services all across South Florida.

13245 Southwest 74th Avenue


Pond Doctors:

The Pond Doctors are doctors and professionals that make sure any underwater ecosystem is healthy and properly maintained. These pond services they provide include cleaning and maintenance, design and aquascape, water testing and treatment, and fish stocking and selection. 

7741 Palmetto Court



In looking at both Pinecrest and Kendall from a new light, my goal since the beginning of my two projects in both Spring 2020 and Fall 2019 was to see the difference between these two communities and which one I was closer to. But in conducting all this research and writing these ‘Ineffable Miami’ projects, they each provide something unique not separately, but together, under the county of Miami-Dade. My view of these two areas has changed as I explored the different areas and what they offer Miami. Pinecrest is a beautiful city that has a unique history of having a female as the first mayor of Pinecrest, Evelyn Greer. It is one of the greenest places in Miami-Dade County with so many parks and services that help and add to and help the environment. Pinecrest also has many available and affordable modes of transportation and has amazing businesses and eateries right within its borders. The appreciation of this area and its history and culture is truly amazing. 


“- Story -.” Ayesha Group,

“The Butcher Shop & Deli (@Thebutchershopdeli) • Instagram Photos and Videos.” Instagram,

“Home – Atelier Monnier – French Bakery & Wine Boutique Miami.” Atelier Monnier,

“Home.” Pond Doctors, 17 Nov. 2018,

“Miami Museums: Miami Historic Landmarks: The Deering Estate.” Deering Estate, 16 Apr. 2020,

“Modern Acupuncture Pinecrest.” Pinecrest Business Association,

“Paparicco’s Restaurant and Pizzeria – Home.” Papa Riccos,

“Pinecrest, FL.” Data USA,

US Census Bureau. “Gazetteer Files.” The United States Census Bureau, 6 Aug. 2019,

“Village of Pinecrest.” Coral Pine Park | Village of Pinecrest,

“Village of Pinecrest.” Department of Parks & Recreation | Village of Pinecrest,

“Village of Pinecrest.” Evelyn Greer Park | Village of Pinecrest,

“Village of Pinecrest.” Flagler Grove Park | Village of Pinecrest,

“Village of Pinecrest.” History | Village of Pinecrest,

“Village of Pinecrest.” Pinecrest People Mover | Village of Pinecrest,

“Village of Pinecrest.” Street Name Origins | Village of Pinecrest,

“Village of Pinecrest.” Suniland Park | Village of Pinecrest,

“Village of Pinecrest.” Veterans Wayside Park | Village of Pinecrest,

“We Assemble All Furnitures.” We Go Assemble,

%d bloggers like this: