Ineffable Miami: Brickell by Alexis Rivera

Graphic by Alexis Rivera

Biography

Photography by Optical Abstractions

Alexis Rivera is a senior at Florida International University studying Advertising, Public Relations & Social Media Marketing. A Native New Yorker, she moved to South Florida in pursuit of her Bachelor’s degree. She is very involved in organizations at FIU and enjoys enhancing the experiences of attending undergraduate students. Alexis enjoys traveling, cooking, painting, trying different restaurants and going on spontaneous adventures with friends. Through this course, she hopes to expose others to the history and culture of the City of Miami. 

Geography

Along the coast of the Miami River sits Brickell, one of the fastest growing urban areas of Miami. It is located between the cities of Downtown Miami and Coconut Grove. This emerging neighborhood is also known as the Financial District of Miami. Home to extravagant high-rises and luxurious amenities there is so much to get into in Brickell. 

Only 1.19 mi², Brickell has a large amount of corporations operating out of buildings, residents residing in luxury condominiums, and retailers of all sorts. Buildings make up the majority of this area with the Miami River passing through the middle of it all. There are several dog parks and peaceful locations for people to lounge around. Waterways are accessible as well as pathways among the outskirts of the area among the waterfront view. 

Brickell Key is a man-made private island off of main Brickell and can be accessed by a bridge that connects both areas. It houses several luxury hotels and condominiums. The views of Brickell are impeccable whether you’re in the city or looking from a distance. 

History

Brickell’s earliest inhabitants are said to be the Tequesta Indians over 2,000 years ago when they lived in South Florida (McCaughan 2018). The Miami Circle, across from the Miami river is a circle of holes where a Tequesta Hut is said to have stood (McCaughan 2018). The first pioneers and homesteaders William and Mary Brickell came to the Miami River in 1871 (McCaughan 2018). They had a great deal of real estate holdings which included the Brickell that we know today as well as Coconut Grove. The family had opened a post office and trading post near the site of Fort Dallas (History of Brickell). 

Ft Dallas, photo by Alexis Rivera

Along with Julia Tuttle, Brickell’s contributed land to Henry Flagler’s railroad expansion (History of Brickell). When William Brickell passed away, Mary took over the family businesses’ and became known as one of the city’s most prominent real estate developers and managers (History of Brickell). After the construction of luxurious mansions along Brickell Avenue it was nicknamed “Millionaire’s row” during the 1900s (McCaughan 2018). These mansions were the homes to many upper-class high ranked individuals and families. Very few of the original mansions exist today. The Brickell’s sold land to developers and business people including industrialist James Deering who built his famously known home, Villa Vizcaya which is now a Museum and Garden (McCaughan 2018).  Around the 1970s, buidings’ including hotels, offices, corporate buildings and condominiums began replacing the mansions (History of Brickell). This is also around the time that Brickell became the main financial hub for Latin America (McCaughan 2018). The development of Brickell Key began in 1970 on a “spoil island” that Henry Flagler had dredged (McCaughan 2018). Developed by Swire, a Hong Kong company, it now houses a five-star hotel, and exclusive condominiums. 

In recent years, the urbanization of Brickell has increased drastically. It sits among the popular I-95 which makes travel along the east coast of the U.S. an easy journey. Brickell’s developers have built and completed Brickell City Centre, many of the high-rises that we admire from a distance and exclusive hotels. This area will only continue to grow as the future progresses. 

Demographics

Home to lawyers, business executives, celebrities and many other professionals Brickell is the place to be. Most Brickell residents fall into the high socio-economic status or upper class. The cost of living in Brickell is particularly high, even for Miami. 

Brickell Demographics Graph

The total population of Brickell is around 40,000 between the ages of 25 and 44 (Steele 2019). Males making up 49.04 percent of the population and females making up the other 50.96 percent (Brickell Demographics). Most residents are not originally from the United States. 35.37 percent are citizens born in the United States with 28.41 percent not born in the United States, but are citizens of the country (Brickell Demographics). It is quite interesting to see that the least amount of people who move to Brickell are from the State of Florida. Most people who moved originally resided in the area or came from the same country. Brickell’s demographic is predominantly hispanic and Caucasian (Brickell Demographics and Statistics.)  The average household income is $94,648.62 with a median household income $74,755.00 (Brickell Demographics). Those who are 25-64 years old living in Brickell make a median income of $86,000 a year. 

It is apparent that if you decide to reside in this wealthy neighborhood you should be prepared for a hefty cost of living. Yes, there is plenty to do and it is an ideal location that is close to the action of Miami, but you should consider if it is efficient for your pockets or family. 

Kaylan Burns, Brickell Resident

Kaylan Burns, New Jersey native, moved to Brickell in 2018. She is a graduate student at Florida International University in Campus Life working with the Student Programming Council and the Homecoming Council. She lives in a high rise right behind Brickell City Centre with two roommates. Her least favorite part of being a Brickell resident is the traffic! “Working at FIU, it used to take me about 40 minutes to travel 12 miles. Having various modes of transportation in Brickell allows you to get places much quicker.”  In 3 words describe the typical person that resides in Brickell. “Wealthy, always on the go, Happy-Hour Lovers!” Kaylan shares that “It is a young area, so it is easy to meet new people if you have just moved there. It is one of the best places I have ever lived.”

Landmarks

Brickell is the financial center of Miami sitting along the Miami River. You can spot its high rises and impeccable views from miles away. If you’re looking for an upscale hotel to spend the night in, luxury shopping destinations or high-end restaurants this is the place to be. 

The Miami Circle, photo by Alexis Rivera
Brickell City Centre, photos by Alexis Rivera

The Miami Circle: In the middle of high-rises and the superficial lifestyle, The Miami Circle sits among the Miami River located in Brickell. Discovered in 1998 during the demolition of the Brickell Point apartments. The Miami Circle is believed to be a prehistoric structure that was created by the Tequesta Indians (Miami Circle). Archaeologists uncovered bones, shells, and other prehistoric artifacts dating back to 2,000 years ago. The Tequesta were a Native American tribe that settled near Biscayne Bay. Due to unfortunate circumstances such as slavery, diseases and settlement battles agaisnt Europeans, the Tequesta tribe died out (Palm Beach County). Very little history has been recovered regarding the Tequesta tribe, but there has been evidence of their existence throughout Miami. On your next trip to Brickell, don’t forget to pay a visit to this historical landmark!

Brickell City Centre: Shop until you drop at the Brickell City Centre. 4.9 million square feet of high-end luxury retailers, dining locations, entertainment, and more in the heart of Brickell. Brickell City Centre was a $1 billion plan developed by Swire Properties Inc and completed in 2016 (Brickell City Centre).

Looking to splurge? There are four levels including stores such as Giuseppe Zanotti, Rolex, Zara, Apple and many others. Brickell City Centre also has dining options including Tacology and Pubbelly Sushi as well as a luxury Cinema Experience from CMX. You are bound to pass or walk through this shopping galore as you make your way through Brickell. 

Mary Brickell Village: It is apparent that Brickell is the place for your shopping needs. Mary Brickell Village is a popular shopping and dining destination for locals and those visiting the area. It was named after Mary Brickell, the woman who helped establish Brickell, hence the name. Mary Brickell Village has a range of bars that a great for happy hour after work or just to hang out at anytime of the week during your free time. 

Green

Brickell Park, Flickr

Although Brickell is made up of mostly high-rises, there are a few parks and green spaces for individuals to walk around, play with their dogs in and enjoy a bit of nature. While walking alongside the river, behind and beside the W Miami and Icon residences I noticed a few parks where residents take their dogs for walks. Canines of all sizes run around the grass with their light up collars for easy sightings. 

Take a stroll through Brickell park located on Brickell Avenue. It houses a mausoleum that belongs to the Brickell family. This mausoleum is preserved by the Historic Preservation Society of Miami (“Prime Brickell Parks to Exercise & Unwind”). On the opposite side of the park sits rocks and large boulders along a water-front view of Brickell Key. 

Views of Brickell Key, photo by Alexis Rivera

Another green space to get some fresh air in the busy city is Miami Circle Park or also known as Brickell point along the side of Icon Brickell. It is an archaeological site and home to the Miami Circle that is believed to be built by the Tequesta Tribe (“Prime Brickell Parks to Exercise & Unwind”). “This site is believed to be between 1700 and 2000 years old (“Prime Brickell Parks to Exercise & Unwind”). 

If you make your way over to Brickell Key, you can find Brickell Key Park located on the southern tip. It is a quiet waterfront location for anyone looking to relax in a peaceful surrounding area (“Prime Brickell Parks to Exercise & Unwind”)

Transportation

A major perk of living in a metropolitan area is access to a range of public transportation. Luckily Miami locals and residents of Brickell have several options to choose from to get around the modern high rises. Driving is always an option, but if you’re looking to save a few dollars and not have to fight for overly expensive parking you can choose to ride the bus, Trolly, Metrorail, Brightline, Metromover or event rent scooters (2017)

Scooters, Metrorail, Metrobus. Photo by Alexis Rivera

Metrobus: The bus fare starts at $2.25 per trip with over 1,000 buses that cover 90 routes within Miami. All Miami busses can be located in real time by using the Bus Tracker program. What is really convenient about the bus system is that some run up to 24 hours per day. The 102 bus connects Brickell Metrorail station, Brickell Business District, Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami Seaquarium, Crandon Park, Village of Key Biscayne, Cape Florida State Park (Metrobus).

Miami Metrorail Map

Looking for quicker means of transportation? The train is always an option! Visitors and locals have the option to choose from three, the Metrorail, Brightline or Metromover. 

Metrorail: Miami’s Metrorail is the transit system that connects various parts of Miami covering 25 miles. It is the “Subway system” of Miami. Starting at Dadeland South, the Metrorail goes as far as Palmetto and can even get you to Miami International Airport. 

Metromover: The Metromover operates 7 days a week between Downtown and Brickell. Metromover stops include Bayfront Park, Bayside, Freedom Tower, Museum Park and more. Did I forget to mention that the fare to ride the Metromover is FREE to all passengers!

Brightline: One of the NEWEST additions to Miami public transportation. The Brightline station is located in Government Center, which is only one stop away from Brickell. This train service connects Miami to Ft Lauderdale & West Palm Beach.  

For a more adventurous and exciting commute, you may want to consider a scooter rental or the trolley.

Scooters: Scooters have been appearing all around the Brickell area within the past year. They can be found scattered around the streets of the city. Although they are only permitted in certain parts of Downtown, they are an experience you should try! Popular companies such as Uber and Lyft have scooters which can be unlocked by using the app and scanning a barcode. 

Miami Tram: Traveling by Trolley is always an exciting experience. FREE for all passengers, the Trolley includes loops around Brickell and Downtown Miami. Operation times are 6:30 A.M. to 11 P.M (2017)

Food

Queso Fundido at Tacology, photo by Alexis Rivera

Food is one thing that manages to bring people together regardless of background or beliefs and Brickell knows the food scene all too well. It is home to many world-class dining locations with cuisines from all around. Individuals from all over the world visit Brickell to indulge in some of Miami’s most luxurious restaurants. There is somewhere to eat for all price ranges, but the best spots will cost you a pretty penny, so be prepared. 

While passing through Brickell on a Monday evening, one place that all the locals seemed to flock to was North Italia at Mary Brickell Village. There are several restaurants in this location including, but not limited to Candela Gastrobar, DIRT (for all of my health conscious people), & Eggs and Bakery. If you’re looking for a casual dining experience there are several local eateries such as La Sandwicherie, Tacology, B Bistro + Bakery, & Pubbelly Sushi. A great resource to finding the best restaurants with authentic reviews is the Yelp app that can be downloaded on your mobile device.

If you’re looking to celebrate an occasion, want a fine dining experience or want to splurge on a meal some of Brickell’s hot spots include Komodo, Truluck’s, NAOE, Crazy About You, & La Mar by Gaston Acurio. There is a restaurant that goes by the name “Dolores but You Can Call Me Lolita” that has rooftop dining as well as indoor. When you order an entree it comes with a free appetizer. Reservations are highly recommended for the restaurants listed as they are popular dining locations. 

Businesses

The second-largest financial hub outside of New York City, Brickell has the largest concentration of international banks in the United States (Steele 2019). Brickell is developing fast and has attracted individuals from around the world. You can find some of Miami’s most luxurious hotels and residential buildings in this area. Hotels include East located in Brickell City Centre, W Miami, SLS Brickell, Mandarin Oriental and more.

CMX Brickell City Centre, cmxcinemas.com

Looking for the perfect date location or want to have a unique experience? Head over to Brickell City Centre for a one of a kind cinematic experience. CMX, The VIP Cinema Experience is a luxe dine-in theater. Customers can pre-order tickets and pre-order their meals before the movie so that they’re not interrupted during the showing (“CMX Brings Luxury Cinema to Brickell City Centre”). This premium experience allows you to sip on your favorite cocktail while unwinding in reclining seats. CMX is definitely on my bucket list to try the next time I am in Brickell!

WeWork Brickell, photo by Brickell.com

If you are not familiar with WeWork, it is a coworking space for companies. Companies can rent private offices or desks’ to work and elevate their business. Brickell has a location right in the heart of the city. This is useful for companies that need space for a short amount of time or that don’t want to pay extreme prices to purchase their own office and upkeep it. 

Aside from the major banking corporations and hotels, Brickell has several local boutiques such as Studio LX, Atik, Basik, Blush and Go Run Miami (2016). These boutiques are perfect for any occasion and most of them are located at Mary Brickell Village except for Go Run Miami. 

 Summary

Being the financial district of Miami it definitely lives up to its reputation. Billions of dollars have been invested to build Brickell into what it is today and it is only growing. Upscale, lively and overpriced Brickell is for the elite and will continue to be a dream living location for many. It is a young and thriving area perfect for anyone making over $90,000 or more. You definitely get what you pay for when residing here. 

Brickell from above, photo by Alexis Rivera

Consider yourself looking for a more authentic, cultural area of Miami? Then Brickell may not be your top choice. There are many things to do, but they tend to not be price friendly for many. I could say Brickell needs cheaper options, but the cost of living is outrageous and I can only imagine the rent of a business space, so business prices are tailored to their demographic and area. 

If you have the budget for this white collar lifestyle and you’re visiting I would recommend staying in one of Brickell’s luxury hotels for a couple of nights. If you know that a stay in Brickell may negatively impact your pockets then I completely recommend checking airbnb for deals or staying in a surrounding part that won’t be an inconvenience to travel to Brickell from.

Work Cited

, https://www.miamidade.gov/transit/mobile/metrobus_routes.asp?routeID=102>.

“Brickell City Centre in Downtown Miami Area/Brickell Area, FL.” In Downtown Miami Area/Brickell Area, FL, https://www.miamiandbeaches.com/thing-to-do/shopping/brickell-city-centre/6554.

“Brickell Demographics.” Brickell Population & Demographics, Median Income – Point2 Homes, https://www.point2homes.com/US/Neighborhood/FL/Brickell-Demographics.html.

“Brickell Demographics and Statistics.” Niche, https://www.niche.com/places-to-live/n/brickell-miami-fl/residents/.

“Brickell’s Best Women’s Boutiques.” Brickell.com, 25 Oct. 2016, https://brickell.com/brickells-best-womens-boutiques/.

“CMX Brings Luxury Cinema to Brickell City Centre.” Brickell.com, 9 May 2017, https://brickell.com/cmx-brings-luxury-cinema-brickell-city-centre/.

“History of Brickell.” History of Brickell. Miami Partners Realty, http://miami-partners.com/blog-details.php?post=history-of-brickell.

McCaughan, Sean. “The History of Brickell: Miami’s Manhattan.” The BIG BUBBLE Miami, 10 Oct. 2018, https://thebigbubblemiami.com/2018/10/09/the-history-of-brickell-miamis-manhattan/.

Palm Beach County History Online, http://www.pbchistoryonline.org/middle-school-lessons/004-Tequesta/004-Tequesta1.htm.

“Prime Brickell Parks to Exercise & Unwind.” Brickell.com, 26 Mar. 2019, https://brickell.com/best-parks-in-brickell/.

Steele, Jeffrey. “Why Brickell Is Miami’s Fastest-Growing Neighborhood.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 29 Mar. 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffsteele/2019/03/29/why-brickell-is-miamis-fastest-growing-neighborhood/#5cd98ada7cd0.

“The Best Methods of Brickell Transportation.” Plaza on Brickell, 15 May 2017, https://www.theplazaonbrickell.com/the-best-methods-of-brickell-transportation/.
Ugc. “Miami Circle.” Atlas Obscura, Atlas Obscura, 19 Jan. 2010, https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/miami-circle.

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