Amanda Sardinas: Miami as Text 2021-2022

Amanda is a junior at Florida International University and is majoring in Communications Performance and Arts. She loves her major because she learns a lot about people, their behaviors in the modern work place, culture, and how society has evolved. She has always been a people person and hopes to engage in a career where her daily duty is to help, guide, encourage, and inspire others.
Amanda adores reading and also considers herself to be a complete movie buff. Her two favorite novels are ”Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte and ”Call Me By Your Name” by Andre Acliman. Her preferred movie decade is the eighties.
She finds that there is beauty and romance in the art of traveling and her goal is to utilize her blog to ignite a cultural fire in those who view it. She also wants to motivate others to take a leap of faith like the one she is taking by participating in the Honors College France Study Abroad Program. Amanda believes that embracing and learning about other cultures can help society develop a deep and meaningful understanding for the way different cultures juggle universal systems, as well as gain insight into the way others handle issues and how it differs from our given culture.

Deering as Text

“Lost and Found,” by Amanda Marie Sardinas of FIU at Deering Estate on January 28th, 2022.

It was said by America’s sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln, that ”History is not history unless it is the truth”. I resonate deeply with this quote because for centuries aspects of history have always been tested and exposed for the greater good of society. For example, our current morals and beliefs may not have been what America approved of during the thirties or the fifties because knowledge overpowers ignorance. Obviously, this is a great thing for we as a society are constantly finding ways to enhance ourselves for the better. We evolve and learn from our history to make a brighter future for generations to come.

Unfortunately, due to COVID, I was unable to visit Deering Estate in person. However, I now have a location I can look forward to, to visit because of the deep and meaningful history that cocoons this significant area. The beauty that is Deering Estate doesn’t just stem from its luxurious architecture. Sure, the Richmond and Deering families took this land and transformed it into a lavish inn and then with Deerings passion for art it became a place for him to showcase his expensive collections and live peacefully for his remaining time. However, the Richmond Cottage, with its vintage wooden structures and two story frame, or even the Stone House, which consists of three stories, 18-inch poured concrete walls, and/or its modern Otis elevator are not what instantly captured my attention when reading about the estates history, it was the truth that had been lost and was then found. The reality of this lavish structure sprouted from a time of hardship and suffering for the minority group of Afro-American and Afro-Bahamian laborers because of the prominent racial segregation that occurred then. Credit was not given where it was due, because while Deering Estate wanted to display itself as a serene and peaceful sanction, its truth is its history lies in the fact that minority groups shed blood, sweat and tears for its development with little to no acknowledgement. One defining moment of Deering Estate history is when four members of this minority group died and another five were injured due to the lack of safety and precaution within the work environment and lack of urgency from rescuers. No recognition or proper memorialization occurred after this tragic event, leaving future generations unaware of everything that had happened. It is said that the future goals of Deering Estate is to finally honor those who sacrificed so much for this land and educate the public.

The Tequesta tribe were the original people who on Miami grounds hunted, made shell like tools, created ceramics, experienced blood shed, and witnessed the acquisition of European colonists such as Ponce de Leon who landed on Biscayne Bay in 1513. It is proven that an entire community of Tequesta people located themselves amongst Deering Estate, yet there is no existing image or documentation to further demonstrate they currently exist. However, the most interesting aspect of Deering Estate is The Tequesta Cutler Burial Mound, which is only one of two Tequesta burial sites which have been dug up. According to Sheila Steiglitz from Cutler Bay News, ”It is believed that 12 to 18 Native Americans, including women and children, are buried there in a circular placing, much like the spokes of a wheel”. Nature provides its condolences by stretching its branches through out the burial sites protecting the tribe like a mother who hovers over her new borns cradle. I could imagine how the wind feels like gliding through the leaves and branches playing like a soft prayer that whooshes past your ears. The sounds of nature remind you of what the Deering Estate and the Tequesta tribe have endured and experienced, making mother nature the only one to truly know the harsh realities of what occurred behind the mass extinction of the tribe. Overall, the truth will always be uncovered. We must embrace open minds and open hearts to fully understand the true origins of our history and our culture.

Photo Edit Montage for Deering Estate Miami on Text of FIU. Photo Edit by Amanda Sardinas/CC BY 4.0


Bailly, J. W. B. (2021, April 25). Deering Estate Walking Tour. John William Bailly.

Retrieved February 3, 2022, from


Vizcaya as Text

“To Marble or Not to Marble,” by Amanda Marie Sardinas of FIU at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens on February 18th, 2022.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is a national historic landmark located on Biscayne Bay in the present day Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami, Florida. I had never visited this so called ”iconic landmark” and was grateful to experience it with a much more mature and analytical mindset. Forty three acres of luxury, history, and love is what Vizcaya has provided the city of Miami with since 1916. James Deering, brother of Charles Deering, was a man on a mission and with a vision. He and Paul Chalfin, architect of Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, decided Miami needed a bit of an upgrade. Empty land that was just filled with mosquitos, palm trees and had a lack of excitement was completely transformed into the beginning of the exotic and lavish night life ambiance Miami is known for till this day.

Photo of Vizcaya Mansion by Amanda Sardinas (CC by 4.0)

In the famous 90’s movie titled ”Clueless”, the protagonist, Cher, refers to a girl as a ”…full-on Monet”. What she meant by this is from afar the girl is objectively good looking, however up close everything is just a hot mess. Personally, Vizcaya felt like a Monet to me. From afar Vizcaya is seen as this beautiful prospect of hope where thousandths of couples spend an absurd amount of money to get married at, young girls becoming women take their very meaningful and long lasting fifteen’s/sixteen’s pictures at, and overall is perceived as gorgeous because of how it faces the bay and relishes in the sunlight. However, on the contrary we have romanticized Vizcaya. Its history is not at all meaningful for it was built by Bahamians who endured terrible working conditions, received little to no pay, were not given any type of credit, and weren’t even allowed on the premises once construction was completed. James Deering even made sure that no one of lower stature could sneak into the area by creating a moat around his dear Vizcaya. Vizcaya was only to be associated with extravagant living and respectable reputation.

Photo of Ponce de Leon Statue by Amanda Sardinas (CC by 4.0)

Deering also emphasized this through the interior and exterior design of the house. He makes a mess of meshing cultures together and interpreting them superficially. To begin with, the first thing visitors are welcomed with is this enormous statue of the well known conquistador, Ponce de Leon. Ponce de Leon arrived to the America’s and discovered Florida in 1513. I believe James Deering deeply resonated with Ponce de Leon because he also felt like it was his god given right to explore and take claim of land he did not have a moral right too. Both men did not realize the true suffering they caused minority cultures in exchange for power and wealth.

Photo of Bacchus Statue by Amanda Sardinas (CC by 4.0)
Photo of Portrait by Amanda Sardinas (CC by 4.0)

Within the Vizcaya house visitors are presented with a widespread of rooms and nature blending into one. One could tell James Deering did admire nature because the trees act as curtains showing off the house and water fountains guide visitors like a stream running along a river. Sincerely, nothing shows off his personality more than the Bacchus, god of wine and ecstasy, statue which is cocooned by plants. The statue further proved his motives for providing visitors with a good time and a good party. James valued beauty more than meaning and within the house you are presented with various versions of Rococo design style. Rococo is decorative and less intellectual. His plethora of books on his shelves served no purpose for he wasn’t much of a reader. Everything through out the house is meticulously placed to make James Deering seem like this well rounded individual, when in reality he was just showing off his wealth. James showers his house with cherub babies and random artwork, to compensate for the fact that he never had children or got married. He even has a Victorian styled portrait of a woman whose last name was also Deering, yet there is no relation between James and her. He just put the portrait there to make people think that there was.

Photo of Painted Marble Wall by Amanda Sardinas (CC by 4.0)

As you make your way through the house you are also tricked into believing that genuine marble makes its way along the rims and columns, but in reality, Deering just hired a very detailed artist who painted portions of the house to look like marble.

Overall, I enjoyed learning about the history of Vizcaya Museum and Gardens because it is still a piece of the city that I was raised in and so deeply admire. On the bright side the garden aspect of Vizcaya felt more genuine to me because in some sections the Bahamians were able to use native shells from the ocean to create little love caves through out the grounds. It was also interesting to see the French influence he incorporated into his estate such as some of the bushes being molded to look rounded instead of sharp like and linear. Back then this concept represented royalty and wealth because you are adjusting nature to look the way you desire. He also included miniature mazes amongst the grounds, which is another French influence, since they used these mazes to create chance encounters amongst lovers. This was an enlightening experience and I can’t wait to share new found understanding of the place with anyone who wants to visit.

Photo of Vizcaya Garden by Amanda Sardinas (CC by 4.0)

Downtown Miami Walking Tour as Text

“Finding Freedom on an Intersection,” by Amanda Marie Sardinas of FIU at Downtown Miami on March 11th, 2022.

Picture this: you’re in the middle of Downtown Miami with your classmates for a school lecture. The streets are raging with bumper-to-bumper traffic, the humidity makes your hair go all frizzy, and the sounds of construction are like music to your ears. You’re learning and embracing the true history behind this beautiful city that has raised you, and suddenly while you’re relishing in the exuberant energy radiating around you your professor screams ”RUN”, and there you are running after him towards the middle of an intersection laughing and taking selfies with your new family.

Photo of The Magic City’s Kilometer Zero by Isa Brime (CC by 4.0)

You may be thinking to yourself what makes this intersection so unique that you and your classmates had to dangerously run towards the center of it to take a whole bunch of pictures. Well, turns out it is a very special spot for the people of Miami because it is ”The Magic City’s Kilometer Zero” located at the junction of Miami Avenue and Flagler Street. There are no southwest, northwest, northeast, or southeast directions at this crossroads, but the sidewalks on each corner indicate the beginning of each of Miami’s divisions. For some background history, Josiah Chaille was the son of William Chaille, who, after migrating from Ocala to Miami, owned The Racket Store on Avenue D (later dubbed Miami Avenue). The Chaille family came in Miami around 1900, not long after the city was founded. Chaille and his business partner at the time, Hugh Anderson, greatly impacted Miami through the development and influence of the fabulous Wynwood we know and love today.

Before Chaille’s proposal, the city’s street names followed a pattern of letters for avenues and numbers for streets. As the city grew, the basic address system became obsolete. Recognizing this requirement, Chaille, who was on the Miami City Council, proposed a street name scheme based on a quadrangle system of naming and numbering streets. The historic Twelfth Street and Avenue D crossroads, or the more well-known Flagler Street and Miami Avenue intersection, was located at the quadrant’s center. Streets north of the center point were assigned numbers, starting with First, and directional designations dependent on whether they ran east or west of Miami Avenue. On October 6, 1920, the Miami City Council adopted the proposal and Chaille was forever remembered as the creator of the street naming system that Miamians utilize till this day.

Photo of Freedom Tower by Amanda Sardinas (CC by 4.0)

Miami is a place of opportunity and hope, which is represented in ”Magic City’s Kilometer Zero”. It feels like the intersection is a metaphor for the plethora of choices people have when they arrive to Miami. The infamous freedom tower is another signature landmark for Miami that also symbolizes freedom and possibility. This 17-story tower use to be called the Miami Daily News Tower and is architecturally inspired by the Mediterranean Revival style Giralda Tower in Seville, Spain. The News Tower was sold to Irving Maidman, a New York realtor, for $1,250,000 in September 1957. The facility sat unused for the next 4-1/2 years, until the US General Services Administration leased four floors for use as the Cuban Refugee Emergency Center. Many Cuban exiles fled to Miami when Fidel Castro took power in Cuba in 1959. More than 80,000 refugees had arrived in Miami by 1961, and they continued to arrive at a pace of 2,000 per week. More than 450,000 Cuban migrants were registered through the Cuban Refugee Centers between February 1961 and October 1978. During the 1960s, when it functioned as the Cuban Refugee Emergency Center it became a symbol of liberation for Cuban refugees. Those who step foot on Miami are presented with a city that has a deep-rooted history. It has its strength and like everything else also has its weaknesses, but overall, it has saved the lives of those who were stuck at an intersection and chose freedom.

Photo of Freedom Tower by Amanda Sardinas (CC by 4.0)


Chaille Street Naming Plan in 1920. (2022, March 12). Miami History Blog.

Chaille Street Naming Plan in 1920

South Beach as Text

“Say Hello to my Little Friend… Ocean Drive,” by Amanda Marie Sardinas of FIU at South Beach on April 1st, 2022.

From Tony Montana cruising down the neon lit streets in his Porsche 928, to singer, Pitbull also known as Mr.305 rapping on top of an expensive yacht, is a place so majestic and filled with life everyone dreams of having the luxury of living here. Can you guess which place I’m talking about? Will Smith said it best ”Welcome to Miami, Bienvenidos a Miami”. Visitors come from all over the world to see South Beach’s iconic Art Deco neighborhood located on Ocean Drive.

Photo of ”ScarFace” Plaque by Amanda Sardinas (CC by 4.0)

Carl Fisher, a Miami pioneer, played a key role in the development of South Beach as a tourist destination in the 1910s. By 1920, South Beach’s reputation had begun, with hotels and mansions springing up left and right. The South Beach Art Deco era began two decades later, during which many of the area’s hotels were established in this style of architecture; several of these hotels also took their everlasting stance on Ocean Drive. There is a variety of cultures that influence these unique, renowned structures. Three styles that are predominantly utilized through out Ocean Drive include; Mediterranean Revival, Miami Modern (MIMO), and Art Deco. Each have their own distinctions and characteristics.

Photo of Mediterranean Revival Building on Ocean Drive by Amanda Sardinas (CC by 4.0)

Mediterranean Revival was implemented in California in the 1920s and 1930s, when it was termed as “Spanish Colonial.” Its relations to Spain are significant since this architectural style was influenced by Spanish Renaissance, Spanish Colonial, and Venetian Gothic architecture in the nineteenth century. This rectangular-looking home design with tones of yellows, oranges, and lush gardens was passed down to Miami.

Photo of MIMO Styled Building by Amanda Sardinas (CC by 4.0)

Miami Modern is futuristic and geometric, being influenced by Art Deco, but consists of glass bricks, port whole windows, white and pastel highlights, and resonate with boats or yachts. Curved and/or Sharp angles, trapezoidal shapes, Hollywood-style glass walls, and flat roofs characterize the architecture. Many momentous events occurred throughout the 1950s and 1960s, which fueled the change and hope expressed by this movement.

Photo Edit Collage of Ocean Drive Art Deco Buildings by Amanda Sardinas (CC by 4.0)

Art Deco was considered more bright and flashy. Art Deco, which blends Egyptian style and industrialization, follows the rule of three with its symmetrical lines, pyramid inspired steps on the roof, and ”eyebrow” looking shields above the windows. On November 4th, 1922, King Tut’s tomb was discovered, which impacted the revolution of rejecting traditional European styles because it was like nothing anyone had ever seen before. As you admire the buildings you begin to notice a lot of Mayan and Egyptian motifs, sharp lines, and geometric patterns as well as, aquatic and tropical themes which resonate with nature. The 1924 Paris Exposition des Arts Decoratifs and Industriels Modernes, a Paris design expo that promoted the decorative arts’ connection with technology, also impacted the Art Deco we experience today. Most if not all the buildings have neon signs, pastel colors, and quirky fonts which pay homage to the advanced tech that was booming at the time.

Photo of Ocean Drive Art Deco Building Posing with Amanda and Karina Gonzalez by Amanda Sardinas (CC by 4.0)

No matter where you walk on Ocean Drive, you are constantly being blessed by the presence of these beautiful structures that stand confidently over Miami’s beaches. Each building is a character of their own that exudes culture and history.

Isabella Garcia : Miami as Text 2022

Photo taken by Victoria Garcia (CC by 4.0)

Isabella Garcia is a sophomore receiving a Bachelors of Science in Biology on a Pre-PA track at Florida International University. She has a passion for being outdoors and exploring, mainly for the ocean and is a Cuban-American.

Deering Estate as Text

Photo taken by Isabella Garcia (CC by 4.0), Cutler Creek Bridge.

Refreshing Old Miami

By Isabella Garcia of FIU at Deering Estate, 28 January 2022.

The Deering Estate is a glimpse of what Miami looked like before the population surge and tourism blew up. Located in Palmetto Bay in South Miami, this vast land encompasses the original ecosystems of Miami, Florida. Charles Deering bought the estate early in the 1900s and renovated the Richmond Cottage, which was initially an inn for people traveling up and down to the keys. Then, a couple years later, the three story Stone House was built, with his massive art collection and the basement having a hidden wine cellar. The building of this estate have several European aesthetic touches. He had a great love for European culture, but because of WW1, he was unable to travel as much as he wanted to, so he brought European architecture and alcohol to Florida.

An incredibly unique part of this estate is that it contains 8 different native ecosystems consisting of mangroves, sea grass beds, salt marsh, remnant slough, pine rock land, flow way, beach dune in chicken key, and tropical hardwood hammock. The important part of these ecosystems is that they aren’t seen around Miami very often. Thinking of Miami, when it comes to landscape, the initial thought is the stereotypical coconut palms, but these actually aren’t native at all. The most amazing thing to think about was how only half a century ago, a whole Tequesta tribe lived right on that land and left their mark. They left massive burial mounds, tools made from shells and rocks, and hundreds of perfectly buried bodies all close together.

The racial history of the Deering Estate was shocking to me, considering that it’s in Miami, FL. In regards to racism, Miami now has people from all over the world that are being treated equally and aren’t given weird faces for speaking a completely different language. Here, there are restaurants from all 7 continents and Miami takes pride in being so racially diverse, but the Deering Estate shows us that it wasn’t always like that. Building the estate were many Bahamians and Blacks. They were treated like absolute garbage and were put to build large buildings and roads and were put to build the People’s dock. Doing this work, there were incidents of people dying and getting seriously injured while also being treated poorly.

Vizcaya as Text

Photo taken by Isabella Garcia (CC by 4.0), Ponce De Leon statue.

Gilded Age Estate

By Isabella Garcia at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, 18 February 2022.

To walk into a hidden, tranquil beauty that’s in a city that doesn’t seem to take a break is the most refreshing part of this estate. Finished in 1916 by James Deering, this villa was a modern day tropical castle. Being brothers with Charles Deering, who built the Deering estate, Vizcaya took a step forward towards wealth and luxury. After going through tight roads with towering trees, a mansion is revealed through a canopy of large oak trees lined with fountains. At the beginning of that canopy, there are two statues, one being Ponce De Leon (pictured above). At his feet is a globe that conveniently has Florida facing right towards the sun which shows the incredible attention to detail. As you walk through the glimpse of the impressive gardens, you enter the house through the back doors, as the front doors and main entrance are actually facing the ocean. Along the outer rim of the house is a moat which was used to keep any unwanted guests away which was something that I had never seen. Upon walking into the house, you are greeted by a Dionysus statue, which is the God of wine and ecstasy to elude to partying and letting loose in Miami.

After passing the Dionysus statue and entering the courtyard, you’re stepping into this incredibly welcoming house. All of the colors, plants, and floor plans make it so that you feel welcomed and relaxed. The floor’s marble is laid out in a way that is inviting by having rays moving into the house almost assisting you as you walk in. When walking through the rooms, I loved the flowy feeling that the connected rooms give off instead of each of them having their own doors. Even though each room is physically connected, the art influence in each room couldn’t be more different. Each room impressively had artwork from all over the world with different wallpapers, chandeliers, and furniture to make you feel as if each room were a different country at a different time period. A statue that gave me a mini culture shock was that of the Boy with Thorn. This Greco-Roman sculpture made me think of the societal advancements that we have gone through and how long ago this time period really was. It’s also crazy to think how this one statue has so many different stories surrounding it and how it’s been changed and sculpted again in different cities throughout the years. Some aspects of this house that were certainly ahead of their time were the vacuum cleaner, the food elevator, and the bell system. Being an area of the house that was mainly only seen by workers, the kitchen had many cool little gadgets. The vacuum was on the floor coming out of the wall to be able to sweep any dirt into it and leave the floor clean. The food elevator was from the first floor to the second and functioned to get the food and drinks to the guests or owners as fast as possible. The bell system was even more impressive than those two. With the ability to trace the room the bell came from, this was a great showcase of wealth and comfort.

Moving outside, the beauty and elegance got even more impressive. With a direct outlet to the Atlantic ocean, this was an amazing location for any boats to go to and from Europe. Greeting any boats at the entrance of the house are a collection of statues in the water, one being the topless mermaid statue. This statue was initially made with extremely large breasts and a sculptor was re-hired to reduce her breast size. An interesting fact that I learned was that men and women weren’t allowed to be seen alone anywhere except for in gardens, so James Deering took that to another level. He made a “secret garden” with walls surrounding it with one main bench with a carving of Venus and sea shells. As you walk through these gardens, there are so many diverse plants, architecture, and sculptures that it makes you wonder how long this must’ve taken to plan out. Along the back of the property was another large bench with a statue of a woman and a swan. At first glance, it’s a statue that no one would think twice about, but with the attention to detail that James Deering put into every aspect of the house, there’s a story behind that statue too. The woman in the statue is Leda, which was extremely sought out by Zeus. She denied him so he decided to turn into a swan to win her over and the statue portrays them kissing intensely. Another funny aspect of this property is the maze made out of shrubs. Talking to my classmates about what must have gone through their heads while making this is how they probably acted while being drunk and trying to find a way out of it.

Miami as Text

Photo taken by Isabella Garcia (CC by 4.0), Miami Circle

In the 305

By Isabella Garcia at Downtown Miami, 11 March 2022.

Being a native in Miami, it was incredible how much I didn’t know about my own city. From the corruption of the memorials outside of the Miami-Dade county courthouse to the cultural significance of the Miami Circle, this city’s government can go either way. The one thing that did tie together throughout each destination was how diverse Miami really is. Slave quarters, courthouses, kilometer 0, Miami river, Roman Catholic church, Freedom tower, everything. 

What is viewed by many as a tranquil ocean front dog park to unwind from reality is actually an incredible Miami historical location. As pictured above, the Miami Circle was preserved because of the Tequesta findings on this land. In the late 1990s, archeologists found significant holes and basins that were remains of the wooden poles for tiki huts, buried animals, and human remains. Along with those, artifacts such as tools and ceramics add to the knowledge of Tequesta being a primary village with knowledge of great architecture and use of the rugged Miami land. One of the most interesting facts that Professor Bailly mentioned was that since the location of this village was at the mouth of the Miami River, the Tequesta’s would use the tides to travel up and down the river to the Everglades swampy water and back to the ocean front. This exhibits knowledge of the land and their sharp witted ways. Once the remains were discovered, the National Park Service took over the land and made sure to preserve this section of Miami history. 

Another incredibly unique section of Miami was the Dropped Bowl with Scattered Slices and Peels artwork. Being one of the first things seen during our walking lecture, this artwork made perfect sense. With the chaotic explosion of oranges, this embodies Miami in the way that oranges are the state’s fruit and the chaos shows the growth of Miami. The broken bowl is used to express the fast expansion of Miami, as it is a fast growing city and one of the most culturally diverse ones. It was interesting that whenever there was a grand, new building being constructed, 1.5% of the cost had to be put towards the commission or purchase of artworks, which was exactly how this artwork got commissioned.

SoBe as Text

Photo taken by Isabella Garcia (CC by 4.0), Ocean Drive

Neon Lights

By Isabella Garcia at South Beach, 1 April 2022.

Standing on the pier looking North wasn’t a new view for me, but exploring an area of Miami is always so different with Professor than it is with a group of friends. When thinking of Miami, the initial thought is always the beach and the liveliness of Ocean drive, but it’s fake. The sand isn’t even from here. Knowing about the everglades and the massive mangrove forests that rule Southern Florida, it shouldn’t be such a surprise that the beach initially has the same terrain, but it was bizarre to think about. Miami’s beach was once lined with towering mangroves that acted as barriers and maintained the shape of the coastal shores. These forests didn’t provide any entertainment so they were ripped out and replaced with sand from the Bahamas. The mere fact that the county has to import sand yearly to restock the shores goes to show how the tailored beaches aren’t native at all. Once things started getting a little more popular in this area is when the restaurants and hotels that lined it started to boom.

Like I said before, Bailly always brings out the most of an experience. Walking the same Ocean drive walk as always, but this time with a little spice: history. There’s meaning behind every little balcony or edge in the architecture which emphasizes how much time and thought was put into every building on this street. The Art Deco designs influenced by the desire for space travel and futuristic designs is what rules these buildings. The neon colors that light up at night, the eyebrows that are a subtle yet popular add-on seen in all the art deco themed buildings, and the circular windows to represent that of boats.

It was shocking to think about this grand Art Deco art collection that is in our backyard that is often overlooked. This is Miami’s identity and such a great factor in making this city unique.

Aleksandra Baryshnikova: Miami as Text 2021

Aleksandra Baryshnikova: Miami as Text

Photo taken of Aleksandra Baryshnikova in 2021. Photo by Komila Kholmatova /CC BY 4.0

Welcome to my page! My name is Aleksandra Baryshnikova, I’m a Junior in Hospitality management at Florida International University. I was born in Saint-Petersburg, Russia. This city has a special place in my heart. The city is full of historic places, palaces, parks, and museums. When I was a kid my family developed a personal love for traveling. Since then I want to visit as many countries as I can. Other than that, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, and my dogs. I love creating photography and arts. I hope “Miami in Miami” class is going to help me to discover Miami and new passions.

Downtown as Text

Photo taken of Aleksandra Baryshnikova in 2021. Photo by Annette Cruz /CC BY 4.0

“Deeper connection ”

By Aleksandra Baryshnikova of FIU at Downtown Miami, 22 January 2021.

I have been living in Miami for three years and I never fell in love with this city. However, from all of the places in Miami, Downtown is on my top list. Even though I have been to Downtown quite a few times and I never paid much attention to buildings and structures. When students and I were walking through the “heart of Miami” ( sometimes running because professor Bailly is a speed) we were amazed by the history of this place. Downtown is full of contrast. Rich and poor everyone wants to take something from this place. 

In one day with professor Bailly I saw more, than in three years by myself in Downtown. The place that gathered my attention the most was a piece of the Berlin Wall. The Wall was built after World War Two. It represents two different views and ideologies of the USSR and the US. Their views were extremely different as well as their governments and they decided to separate Germany. The eastern communists were obviously more conservative and strict in every single way. While western democrats were more open-minded. The piece of the Wall today symbolizes victory and division at the same time. Still, we can see how Russian and the US are different. Even nowadays Russia saved its conservative views while America represents liberty. I think I liked this monument because I feel that this piece is a part of my history. My great-grandparents participated in Word War 2 , they shared their memories with my family. I remember they said that War is the worst thing that could happen in the world.

Another historical place that captured my attention was Freedom tower. While I was listening to the professor’s lecture I felt extremely sentimental for Cuban kids who had to go through immigration alone. The Freedom tower is extremely important in Miami history because it tells the story of the Cuban immigration to America during the Cold War. 

Miami represents diversity. However, we need to remember where this diversity came from and respect the importance of the history of Miami. We should never forget the real history of Miami. Indians were the first people who lived in the area of Downtown more than 15 centuries before white men came and colonialized lands. Tequestas were a Native American tribe and people shouldn’t forget that they died in those lands because of colonialization.   

Everglades as Text

Photo taken of Aleksandra Baryshnikova in 2021. Photo by John William Bailly /CC BY 4.0

“Hidden gems”

By Aleksandra Baryshnikova of FIU at Everglades , 05 February 2021.

Our second journey took place at  Everglades National Park, situated at the junction of North America and the tropical Caribbean climates. Everglades Park is home to a varied flora and fauna. Who would have thought that we would have a chance to go slogging there?

As soon as we stepped into the water we entered a magical portal to wildlife. Few minutes after I looked back,  there was no road, no cars, only a labyrinth of cypress. Everglades opened their doors for us, it was kind to us. Water was clear and still, soft wind accompanied us all the way through our adventure. I felt as we were a group of explorers. Everyone knows that a good group of explorers have a ringleader. In our case, we had two leaders: Ranger Ms. Dillan and Professor Bailly. Our leaders guided us through the labyrinths of cypress and waters.  My classmates and I were brave enough to enter the alligator hole. The students submerged into the water, up until their waist; gathered around and gazed at the mysterious hole. After a while, we all agreed that there were no alligators. Hence we persisted to scramble through trees and water.  Later some people decided to “baptized” themself in Everglades waters. It was quite entertaining.  After lunch, our brave group decided to continue our adventure with Cesar Becerra. Cesar is a Miami historian and a natural-lover explorer. I was thrilled when Cesar said that he could take us to a place that was seen only by two hundred people. We trumped through the woods to look at some of the hidden Everglades finds. It was magical. I tried to capture everything that Cesar was saying. Meanwhile, the atmosphere of “Indiana Jones” mixed with the “Jurassic Park” vibes followed us through the whole day from the moment when we stepped into the water to the moment when we had to sit in our cars and leave the mysterious place. 

“Grateful and pleased”, words that would best describe my feelings. The Everglades flora made my mind and soul dived into a deep state of serenity and complete silence.  

South Beach as Text.

“Unseen faces , Unheard voices.”

By Aleksandra Baryshnikova of FIU at Everglades , 19 February 2021.

Photo taken of Starlite hotel in 2021. Photo by Aleksandra Baryshnikova /CC BY 4.0

There is a plethora of ignorance when it comes to the history of South Beach. Some people still believe that colonist Carl Fisher found, now called South Beach, during his vacation dated in 1910. Supposedly, later on, Fisher announced that he is buying the land and rebuilding it into a “paradise”. Yet according to Samuel Hensdale Johnson, before Fisher’s railroad, Miami was like a tiny neighborhood where people knew everyone who lived there. When the railroad was done, South Beach became unrecognizable. Later, blacks were banned from there. 

Fisher, Flager, Collins these names are all around the city. Certainly, the above-mentioned people made a great contribution to the development of the city. Although, after blacks basically built the whole town and the time came to share the bounty from the flourishing Miami, Black residents were quickly banished. People blindly admire the city of Miami without realizing that not only white businessmen were involved in the history of South Florida and it needs to be said more.

After all, the history of Miami is not something to be proud of. On the other hand, the architecture of South Beach is magnificent. Ocean Drive is a truly unique place. This exclusive place combines a mix of architectures such as Art Deco, Mediterranean, and Mimo. It is impossible to choose a favorite style. Every single building has a unique detail that leaves an indescribable impression. In fact, Ocean Drive was saved by Barbara Baer Capitman. Thank to her merits and activism, we still have this gorgeous neighborhood. Without her passion, South Beach would look like a run-of-the-mill skyscraper city. 

Deering as Text.

Photo taken of “Finding Miami” group in 2021. Photo by John William Bailly /CC BY 4.0

“Diversity of Nature”

By Aleksandra Baryshnikova of FIU at Deering Estate Miami, 6 March 2021.

“ Fill your life with experiences, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.”- Unknown. I was lucky enough to pick the “Miami in Miami” class this semester. I can definitely say that it was love at first sight or better to say love at the first hike. Much as I go on to have fun with Miami’s nature and architecture, there was still something about being outside and hiking through mangroves that lit me up inside. Thus, this week’s adventure was waiting for us at Deering Estate. 

Deering Estate is a unique place that has eight different ecosystems. They are pine Rocklands, mangrove forests, seagrass beds, coastal dunes, salt marshes, and tropical hardwood hammocks. Imagine you are walking and eventually entering a completely different ecosystem. It is like you transitioned in time or used a magic portal. At Deering Estate you can find rare solution holes, sinkholes, and caves. We persisted to scramble through contrasting ecosystems and caves. All of those surfaces were naturally created many years ago. More than a thousand years ago, Florida faced a phase of erosion and carbonate sediment deposition. Due to the historical movement of freshwater, it created an extremely porous limestone foundation with many caves and holes. We were lucky to immerse ourselves in one of the caves at the end of our hike. Besides, Deering Estate is doing a good job of preserving and protecting this historical land and in particular those ecosystems.  

In addition to the marvelous flora and fauna of Deering Estate, we explored Charles Deering’s estate. Located in Palmetto Bay, the Deering Estate is an enlightening treasure and historical site featured on the National Register of Historic Places. Finally, I can say that this trip to Deering Estate might be one of my favorites hikes so far. I’m looking forward to new adventures. 

Vizcaya as Text.

Photo taken of Finding Miami in Miami group in 2021. Photo by Annette Cruz /CC BY 4.0

“Typical Miami”

By Aleksandra Baryshnikova of FIU at Vizcaya MuseumMiami, 19 March 2021.

For my whole childhood- I had spent countless hours at endless museum tours- hating all of them. However, I have never hated art or history, all I’ve hated are the lifeless tour stories, long lines, and crowds. After some time, my mind fell victim to the growth of knowledge and the hate turned into fondness- I began to love attending museums. Ironic isn’t it? Luckily, I had the colossal privilege of being born in Saint Petersburg, a place full of palaces, royalty, and museums, so moving to an entirely different country has taught me to appreciate the art and culture I experienced during my upbringing. Thus, it is pretty interesting to observe how historical places like Vizcaya museum have been preserved in time in a place of modernity and hastiness.     

The history of Vizcaya started in 1914. Completely hidden by the subtropical ecosystem, Vizcaya was an unseen gem in the middle of the jungle. Built and decorated by many artists, the estate and the gardens resemble a Mediterranean paradise mansion on the shores of Biscayne Bay. Nowadays, Vizcaya serves as a museum for visitors. The owner, James Deering wanted to create an interpretation of an Italian villa. Therefore, Designers like Alexander Stirling Calder, Robert Winthrop Chanler, and Gaston Lachaise constructed this stunning Mediterranean artwork. One of my personal favorite parts of the villa is the Courtyard- originally this open in order for the ocean breeze to cross the whole house. Besides, Vizcaya is extremely famous for combining a plethora of different European styles. However, it is important to remember that Vizcaya was built in the subtropical ecosystem which is a dramatic difference compared to the European climate. A good example would be the garden’s layouts- inspired by French and Italian architecture but performed with Cuban limestones and coral trim, planted with Floridian native plants. 

Definitely, the estate has a unique charm. While walking through the villa you can feel the change in different styles of architecture. It creates a feeling like you are traveling through time. From Rococo to Renaissance and back to Islamic motive, this mix of architecture demonstrates James Deering’s taste. He did not care about rules, if he wanted a piece of art, he got it- the newer the better. As an illustration, James Deering’s estate was the first place with a telephone system in Miami-Dade County.

All things considered, Vizcaya is a perfect representation of Miami. A mix of everything in one place. The newest thing and designs (at that time). Vizcaya still remains chic and luxurious. It is a great place to visit and get involved in Miami history. 

Margulies Collection as Text.

Photo taken of Aleksandra Baryshnikova in 2021. Photo by Saniya Pradhan /CC BY 4.0

“A bigger idea”

Before attending the Margulies Collection, I had heard many stories of how Wynwood was constructed as a working-class residential district, and how later on it became one of the most famous neighborhoods in Miami. Martin Z. Margulies was one of the people who bought a warehouse at Wynwood a long time ago and changed it to one of the most famous private collections in Miami. 

Before meeting Martin Z. Margulies, I imagined that he would look extremely professional and formal. However, to my astonishment, I saw a humble man wearing a simple T-shirt with a goofy label on it. As soon as I saw him, I immediately knew I would enjoy his company. I was extremely excited about our tour at  Margulies Collection. While slowly wandering through the gallery you get the sense that your mind is being freed. I believe this is connected to the fact that the collection does not have a specific theme or meaning- which I find astounding. You allow your imagination to flow with whatever comes to your mind. We saw many examples of contemporary art. Personally, I loved it. It is interesting how for some people, Anselm Kiefer’s work wouldn’t leave any impressions, but for others, his work would touch hearts. It is amazing how art could change people’s emotions and perspectives.

The Margulies private Collection stores a diverse range of modern art worldwide, but perhaps my favorite feature is a massive artwork, “Dinner Party” by Will Ryman at the disposal. “The dinner table is a great narrative to bring different characters together and is also a timeless topic”, says Will Ryman. In addition, Mr. Martin patiently explained why and how he purchased each individual piece of the collection. Apart from his stories, he shared his opinion about contemporary art, he says that “art does not have to have a meaning, it is simply an idea.” I find this appealing to my idea of art. I see art as a charming expression of an ability to see beauty everywhere. 

Visiting Margulies Collection is a great way to challenge your imagination and perspectives regarding art. I strongly suggest you visit the private collection and dive into contemporary art.  

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