Hello, everyone! My name is Nicole Patrick. In three words, I would describe myself as organized, kind, and determined. I am a senior at Florida International University and its Honors College studying Hospitality & Tourism Management with a combined Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in the subject. Born and raised in Pembroke Pines, Florida, FIU has brought me to Miami and taught me the positives and negatives of South Florida. With taking Miami In Miami with Professor John W Bailly, I have learned to see a location from what it is and to not be afraid to also criticize it. For my Ineffable Miami project, I chose to focus on the city of North Miami Beach because I constantly commute through the city to enter FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus. Learn more about North Miami Beach below.
North Miami Beach (NMB), not to be confused with Miami Beach or North Miami, is located on the Northeast side of Miami-Dade County. It is surrounded by the neighborhoods of Miami Gardens, Ojus, Aventura, Miami Gardens, Sunny Isles Beach, Golden Glades, and North Miami. Given its name North Miami Beach, one would believe it is located on the beach; however, that is not the case. NMB only has 0.3 miles of waterfront and it is the intercoastal waterway, not the Atlantic Ocean. It is mostly made up of land, which is almost five miles worth (“North Miami Beach, Florida,” 2019).
The layout of the city is unique as seen in the map below. As you can see, Interstate 95 (I-95) serves as the northwestern border and the train tracks serve as the eastern border of the city limits.
With typical South Florida weather, NMB’s temperatures range from the low 60s and high 70s in November through March to the mid-70s and low 90s in April through October. Its rainy season occurs between May and October with common flooding due to its elevation of 10 feet above sea level (NOAA).
The city is a very extreme urban environment. As in, the city has nine main roads with many smaller residential roads relatively close to them. It is tremendously developed, as in almost every space plot of land available has some sort of usage.
NMB’s natural landscape is quite the opposite of what it is today. It has limestone soil, amid lowlands, marshes and a wide variety of plant species including mangroves. NMB has been declared a Tree City by the Arbor Day Foundation for the past 31 years. There are many neighborhood parks in the area as well.
10,000 years ago, South Florida was inhabited by Tequesta Natives. There is no published evidence of them living in North Miami Beach such as fossils; however, they are said to have lived in the region.
According to the city’s website, the area of North Miami Beach was established by Captain William H. Fulford. During the Spanish-American War, Captain Fulford, a member of the Coast Guard, patrolled the peninsula of Florida. In 1881, he explored an area that was surprisingly calm in comparison to the strong Atlantic Ocean. During this time, the federal enact the Homestead Act to attract settlers out west by offering 160 acres of free land. As a result, Captain Fulford gained 160 acres of part of what is North Miami Beach today (“Our History”).
As settlers came into the area, some farmed while others realized the rocky soil was perfect for mining. Rock mining began in the early 1900s and it was found that the rock quality was ideal for road building. The mining continued and created multiple lakes in the area (“Our History”).
In 1912, the design of the area drastically changed. Lafe Allen, a former newspaper owner, purchased Captain Fulford’s original 160 acres plus 400 acres to create his “perfect city.” At this time the city became known as Fulford By-the-Sea. The plans included “80-foot-wide residential streets and 100 and 125-foot wide business thoroughfare” (“Our History”). There was a land boom in the 1920s where people from all over the United States came to invest. The real driver of this Florida Land Boom was Merle Tebbets, who brought people by the busloads to give his land sales pitch.
With this continuous growth, more features were brought to the city, such as the Fulford-Miami Speedway. It was to be the winter auto racing capital of the world with the world’s fastest “board track” of wood. Unfortunately, due to the weather of South Florida, the speedway held only one racing event, which sold out. The Fulford-Miami Speedway was completely demolished by the hurricane of 1926 (“Our History”).
“The hurricane essentially ended the South Florida real estate boom, and it did not flourish again until after World War II” (“Our History”). During hard times is when the power of the people can be seen. At that time local neighborhoods and towns came together to become the City of Fulford in 1927.
In 1931, the city limits changed and acquired 3 miles of beachfront property. This new addition caused the name to change from Fulford to North Miami Beach. This change was a strategic decision to increase the number of visitors and residents from the Miami Beach area. In the 1950s and 1960s, the completion of State Road 826 and the first regional mall in Florida made NMB more accessible and brought in many people (“Our History”). The Governor of Florida Claude Kirk even created a video entitled North Miami Beach: Gateway to Interama to attract more visitors and Americans to North Miami Beach (1967). Interama was an imaginative idealistic city in the early twentieth century that brought together the Americas (“Interama: Miami and the Pan-American Dream,” 2009). However, Interama was never built, but the video portrays NMB as the Interama with all the amenities that a modern city would need while having a tropical climate year-round.
Throughout the 1980s to 2000s there was an emphasis on beautification and development. In September 2000, the city began its neighborhood construction improvements on streets, sidewalks, lighting, and landscaping. Now, it goes by the motto “Where People Care” (“Our History”).
With all of this talk about growth, here are the statistics. In 1938, the US Census denoted that 2,129 citizens of NMB. In 1955, it grew to 10,000. Today, the city is just over 45,000 (“Our History”).
With the city continuously trying to grow and be the best since its start in 1912, no one could have predicted the actual amount of growth and the implications of it.
Although Miami-Dade County does not have a Chinatown or a Little Italy, many describe North Miami Beach as being the epicenter for multicultivation.
The population today is estimated to be 45,887 with 51.7% being female and 48.3% being male. Its population density is 8,602.2 people per square mile (“QuickFacts North Miami Beach city, Florida,” 2018). The median age of the population is 38.5 years old.
The median household income is $40,316, which is less than the median annual income of the United States ($60,336). The average male salary is $58,931 while the average female salary is $44,078. 19.7% of the population (8,610 people) live below the poverty line. The largest demographic living in poverty are Females between the ages of 45 and 54, Females between the ages of 25 and 34, and Males between the ages of 35 and 44 (“North Miami Beach, FL,” 2017).
79.3% of the North Miami Beach population are citizens. The most common race is Black alone, which is 16,900 people. The second most common is Hispanic or Latino which are 16,700 people. The third most common racial group is White alone, which is 8,300 (“North Miami Beach, FL,” 2017). There are 1,420 Asian alone residents, 397 residents of two or more races, 313 residents of some other race alone, 0 Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander alone residents, and 0 Native American & Alaska Native alone residents (“North Miami Beach, FL,” 2017).
One North Miami Beach local is Jensy Matute Guifarro, 21. She moved to NMB in 2017 from West Palm Beach to attend Florida International University. She explained to me that North Miami Beach “…is very homey and it truly feels like a community. A lot of the shops…nearby [that] have very friendly staff especially when it comes to stores that are not from big corporate companies. I love being able to drive through and find a park on every corner and also be…close to the beach.”
Constructed in 1925 as part of the Fulford-By-the-Sea construction. It was intended to be five fountains at points of the city; however, the hurricane of 1926 and the end of the Florida Land Boom stopped the progress in the project. As a result, only one fountain was built and it serves as a symbol for NMB, which can be found on its flag (“Fulford-by-the-Sea Monument,” 2016).
St. Bernard De Clairvaux & The Ancient Spanish Monastery
The Monastery of St. Bernard De Clairvaux was constructed in 1133 AD and completed in the North of Spain. In 1925, William Randolph Hearst purchased the Cloisters and the Monastery’s outbuildings. From there, the structures were dismantled, carefully packaged, and placed on a ship for the United States.
The cost of this ordeal became so great that Randolph Hearst could not reconstruct the building and the crates remained in a warehouse in New York for 26 years (“History.” The Ancient Spanish Monastery). Upon Randolph Hearst’s death, the stones were purchased by two entrepreneurs and the monastery was reconstructed stone by stone. The task was called the “biggest jigsaw puzzle in history” by Time magazine in 1953. It took 19 months and $20 million to recreate the monastery.
Today, it houses the Church of St. Bernard de Clairvaux and a labyrinth. It is also a popular photography location with an entrance fee of $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for students and children (“History.” The Ancient Spanish Monastery).
Greynolds Park Observation Mound
One of the most notable features at Greynolds Park is the “Observation Mound.” Standing at 46 feet above sea-level, it was once the highest land point in Miami-Dade County. To many visitors’ surprise, the mound did not occur naturally as it is mostly a large pile of abandoned rock crushing machinery, railroad ties, and limestone.
The recognizable feature of the mound is the platform on the top with spiraling walkways and staircases that to the summit where climbers can see far and wide the landscape of the park (“Greynolds Park History”).
Oleta River State Park
Florida’s largest urban park is over 1,000 acres. It was involved in the original discovery of this area with Captain Fulford. Big Snake Creek (now Oleta River) was part of the route used by Federal troops in the Second Seminole War to travel south from Loxahatchee in 1881. The river links the Everglades with Biscayne Bay (“History.” Florida State Parks).
Today’s park has various amenities and activities for visitors, such as bicycling, camping, primitive group, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, paddling, picnicking, rollerblading, snorkeling, swimming, walking and running, weddings, and wildlife viewing (“Experiences & Amenities”).
The park is open 365 days a year from 8 a.m. until sundown. Admission is $6 per vehicle, $4 Single-occupant vehicle or motorcycle, and $2 Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass. It also offers cabin rentals for $55 per night (“Hours & Fees”).
Greynolds Park was originally a quarry owned by A. Q. Greynolds. In 1933, the Miami-Dade County Parks department realized it needed a park in the north end of the county. A deal was made with Mr. Greynolds. In exchange for donating 110 acres, the park would be named after him. Thus, Greynolds Park was created and is Miami-Dade County’s second oldest park, dedicated in 1936. It has received many additions like Boathouse, several unique picnic shelters, and a 40-acre 9-hole golf course (“Greynolds Park History”). In the 1960s, the park was popular with hippies participating in “Love-ins,” which were “public gatherings, held as a demonstration of mutual love or in protest against inhumane policies” (“love-in”). In 1983, the park was declared a historic site (“Greynolds Park History”).
Today, the trees and grounds make visitors feel as they are transported in another place in the world, not North Miami Beach.
Entrance into the park is free; however, parking is not. Visitors can either Pay by Phone or pay at the meter.
Hazel Fazzino Park
North Miami Beach has many local neighborhood parks. One of the newest ones is Hazel Fazzino Park. It completed construction in March 2019 and features a Children’s Playground, ADA Exercise Center, and Shelter (“Hazel Fazzino Park [Phase 3],” 2018).
Most of the population has an average commute of 30.5 minutes and commutes by Driving Alone (75%). The average household owns two cars. NMB is near SR-826, I-95, and Tri-Rail Commuter Rail. 8.39% of the population carpools and 9.99% use public transit (“North Miami Beach, FL,” 2017).
NMB Lines are trolleys that run throughout the city of North Miami Beach.
The trolleys offer three routes, providing valuable, six days per week access to more desired destinations. The vehicles feature multiple surveillance cameras for rider safety, onboard Wi-Fi, as well as real-time arrival updates through their “NMB Transit app.” Also, NMB Lines are completely free (“NMB Line”).
Miami-Dade Transit (MDT)
NMB has 16% of all Miami-Dade Transit Bus routes; however, there are no Metrorail nor Metromover in Northeast Miami-Dade (“Getting Around NMB”). This lack of Metro stations creates more reliance on the Metrobus and vehicles, which causes a lot of traffic and congestion on the main roads of NMB.
Vegetarian Restaurant by Hakin
This may seem odd to some, but finding a vegetarian restaurant that has good options is quite difficult for vegetarians. I am not a vegetarian, but I do know a few of them who struggle finding options. The restaurant has been called one of the top health-food restaurants in Miami. Its prices are a bit on the high side. For example, it costs $14.95 for the “All-American Cheese Burger” which is a seitan seasoned burger with tomato, lettuce, cheese, ketchup, mayo, pickles & onions (“Vegetarian Restaurant by Hakin”).
Ginza Japanese Buffet
It offers authentic Japanese sushi. It is an all-you-can-eat buffet for a single price. I thought it was delicious. I would recommend dining for lunch during the week for the best value. The restaurant also offers discounts on specific days (“Ginza Japanese Buffet”).
Blue Marlin Fish House
The restaurant was established in 1938 as a commercial fishing operation then it converted into a smokehouse until the 1980s. In 2007, it reopened and offers fresh seafood and American-style meals (“Historic Blue Marlin Fish House”).
According to North Miami Beach’s Chamber of Commerce, its most common businesses are education, nonprofit, and business services.
Humane Society of Greater Miami North
The Humane Society of Greater Miami has only two locations. One of them being in North Miami Beach. Established in 1936, today “more than 400 homeless dogs, cats, puppies and kittens each day” (“Who We Are”). The services offered are adoptions, clinic, intake, and grooming salon (“Location & Hours”). Due to there only being two Humane Societies in Miami-Dade County, the number of animals taken care of is immense. Many times, clients must wait for their number to be called to be assisted.
South Florida Kosher Market
This market is a local business that strictly focuses on kosher food. In an interview with the owner, Yitzie Spalter explains that his store has been open in the same location for the last 39 years, and it was the first kosher grocery store in South Florida. Their motto is: where quality service and savings go hand in hand (South Florida Kosher Market – North Miami Beach, FL, United States, 2017). They offer grocery delivery in various areas: Hallandale/Hollywood, Kendall, Miami Beach, NMB/Aventura, and UPS delivery in Florida (“Delivery Times & Areas”).
Mall at 163rd Street
Completed in 1956, the Mall at 163rd Street was the first regional mall in Florida (“Our History”). At the time, the mall was full of shoppers and open-air. It became enclosed in 1982. However, now it has become a reminder of the Interama North Miami Beach was made to be. Stores in the mall are closed. The few stores that drive business are Ross, Marshalls, and the beauty supply store. It shows how the population changed preferences and the shopping center did not update with the times (“The Mall at 163rd Street,” 2018).
Before researching North Miami Beach, I had a negative connotation of the city due to the constant traffic. However, through speaking to residents and visiting parks and businesses, I have been surprised. The city is somewhat of the Interama it set out to be. The population is very multicultural and the businesses are conveniently close to residential areas. Something that I do notice with the design of the city is that it was not expected to grow as much as it has done. For example, the roadways are mostly one, two, and three lanes. With most of the city traveling through vehicles, it causes the traffic to back up. Also, many of the plazas and businesses are located directly next to the main road, meaning there is no way for the road to be expanded.
Also, something else I noticed was the cost to experience public parks, such as Oleta River State Park and Greynolds Park. Oleta had an entrance fee per vehicle and Greynolds had metered parking. This cost limits access to the parks. It also makes it difficult for citizens to constantly use them.
In review, North Miami Beach is a bustling urban city that offers closely-located businesses and parks that give residents convenience. In speaking with North Miami Beach resident Matute Guifarro, she recommended that the city host more events for residents to learn about their city because she did not know the city’s history until I explained it to her. She believes that educating residents will bring this 45,000 people community together. For example, the following mural is outside a local liquor store. It has Selena, Michael Jackson, Celia Cruz, and Bob Marley. Unfortunately, I was not able to find out any information on the mural. In my perspective, I believe it represents the diverse cultural epicenter that is North Miami Beach.
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