FRA Ineffable Miami: The Hammocks by Gabriel Sanchez

Gabriel Sanchez, the author, taken by Aixa Campo-Sanchez (CC by 4.0)

Biography

Gabriel Sanchez is a Sophomore in the Honors College at Florida International University majoring in International Business. He is on his way to graduating in the Fall of 2021 and plans to continue his upper division education in law school. Through this project, he hopes to discover not only more about the neighborhood where he has lived since birth, but more about himself, Gabriel Sanchez.

Geography

Map of The Hammocks, FL
Map retrieved from Google Maps

The Hammocks is a neighborhood in Kendall, Florida. It does not have much natural landscape in comparison to the amount of urbanization that has gone on throughout the years, and still to this day. The Hammocks consists of many plazas, sub communities within the neighborhood, and parks. This neighborhood provides a feel of a city and a suburb at the same exact time. With its continuous expansion, The Hammocks makes a great case for families to continue not to think twice when deciding to move here. The family friendly environment provides lots of schools ranging from elementary to high school, and even having its own hospital.

History

Before The Hammocks, Kendall became a neighborhood that has no sign of stopping its continuous growth and expansion, it used to be the home of Seminole Indians. These Seminole Indians were Creek Indians from Georgia that had moved and settled in South Florida in the mid 1700s. Before Baptist Hospital, a Seminole Indian Village had lived west of it and an even larger village lived life on SW 107th Avenue and SW 80th Street.

Seminole Indian Family in Kendall from Pinecrest Dental Center For Cosmetic & Family Dentistry

According to Dr. Kenward, author of In the Beginning The Birth of Kendall, “In 1884, the Florida Land and Mortgage Company appointed Henry John Broughton Kendall, as one of four trustees to manage the company properties in Dade County.” Kendall, in 1883, had worked his way to the rank of Director of the Union Bank of London. The great mystery is from 1884-1902, where Kendall had been in charge of Sir Edward Reed’s land in South Dade. No one knows if Kendall actually lived in South Florida due to how busy he was traveling and working from New York to London. However, once he retired in England, The Florida Land and Mortgage Company lands in Dade County had just identified with Henry Kendall. Many believe it to be because of Kendall’s name on the deed that was used to buy the land, his frequent visits in order to make sure the land was doing well, or the connections he had with the local realtors and bankers. Nonetheless, the land had now been named “Kendall”.

In 1903, Henry Kendall thankfully bumped into Henry Flagler who would soon turn Kendall into what began its constant want to continue to urbanize. Flagler had his sights on his railroad coming soon and the soon to be town of Kendall would no longer be isolated. “Flagler purchased four North Florida railroad companies over the next four years and by 1889, could provide service from Jacksonville to Daytona Beach.” (Kenward 8) Flagler had begun his empire in Florida through the implementation of his railroad starting Jacksonville, eventually being able to extend it to West Palm Beach. This railroad led to Flagler building hotels, planting citrus groves, and expanding and urbanizing each town along the way. Flagler hired John J. Hinson in 1896. In 1901, Flagler made him the foreman on the FEC Railroad that finally extended the railroad track through Kendall in 1903. Sadly, the Kendall railroad station is no longer, however, this station led “the transition from an isolated wilderness to a thriving community.” (Kenward 10)

In 1914, Kendall had opened their first post office. They were not open to homesteading so development was stagnant in the early 20th century. It was until 1926 in which the land boom had lasted, and many residents left. Lucky for the Seminoles, they took advantage of residents leaving and continued to live in Kendall through the 1940s, with two camps being in the Kendall area. It was not until 1929 in which Kendall had opened their first school.

In 1992, devastation and destruction had hit Kendall because of Hurricane Andrew. Police had described the Hammocks as one of the hardest hit places that Andrew touched. In an article written by Mark Silva, Charles Strouse, and John Donnelly, Destruction at dawn: What Hurricane Andrew did to South Florida 25 years ago in the Miami Herald, they describe the wrath that Andrew created by mentioning the “pool coverings ripped up, nearly every tree denuded, shingles off roofs.” Although homes and business were destroyed, Kendall, after years of restructuring, had bounced back and caught up to the other cities and neighborhoods in Miami in terms of urbanization and continuous expansion.

Demographics

According to the United States Census Bureau, 6.7% of the population is under 5 years of age, 20.3% of the population is under 18 years of age, and 13.4% of The Hammocks are 65 years and over. When it comes to gender, 54% of the population are female and 46% are male. The median income level per capita is $24,856. In addition, the cultural roots that Miami is known for is obviously spread throughout its neighborhoods. However, The Hammocks had shocked me. 85.5% of the population is pure White, while 78.4% is Hispanic or Latino. The African American or Black and Asian representation is low with only 3.4% and 3.0% residing in The Hammocks. There is no sign of any Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander alone (0.0%).

Aixa Campo-Sanchez (Hammocks Resident)

Aixa Campo-Sanchez (Photo taken by Aixa Campo-Sanchez CC By 4.0)

Aixa Campo-Sanchez graduated from FIU in 1992 and now works as an accountant. Mrs. Campo-Sanchez has been a resident of The Hammocks for about 15 years and counting.

Interview:

Question: In The Hammocks, do you feel a sense of “community”?

Aixa Campo-Sanchez: Yes, definitely because of the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church and its school right across the street. A lot of people that live around here go to Our Lady Lourdes. Lourdes is humongous and a lot of people enjoy and practice their religion as a family. There are many prayer groups and classes ranging from young children to even the adults and elders. These type of things around Lourdes keeps us together, practicing what we love.

Question: What is your favorite spot you would recommend someone visiting The Hammocks? Could be a park, place to eat, etc.

Aixa Campo-Sanchez: Sergios on the outside of The Hammocks actually. It may not be technically located in The Hammocks, but its so close by. That is where I talk to all my friends and family during the week and weekend. It is fast, delcious, and allows me to see how ebveryone is doing while we are all on the go.

Question: What is one thing you would change about The Hammocks?

Aixa Campo-Sanchez: The traffic is horrendous. It is horrible. It takes me about an hour to get to work.

Question: What is one thing you hope never changes about The Hammocks?

Aixa Campo-Sanchez: I can nt live without Lourdes. Again, the church gives a great sense of community.

Question: How would you describe The Hammocks to someone thinking about settling here?

Aixa Campo-Sanchez: The schools are great, if you are looking for a place with a great community, this is your place. All different types of ethinicities are running these successful businesses like the restaurants and places to have fun. I love The Hammocks.

Landmarks

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church (Photo by Gabriel Sanchez CC by 4.0)

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church

Named after the Virgin Mary after her supernatural appearance in the Marian Apparition in 1858 in Lourdes France, no matter what religion one is, this is one place that needs to be visited in The Hammocks. Founded in 1985, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church continues to be one of the main hubs for Catholics to practice and find serenity in their religion. The first mass was held a few feet away, in the Boystown Pineland County Park Gymnasium. It was not until 1990 where Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy gave the Church its temporary facility where the Church stands to this today.

Unfortunately, in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew hit, everything was destroyed. Thankfully, as a community, the parish was rebuilt and in 1994, the church consisted of 1,000 families. About 400 children and 10 adults enrolled in religious classes offered by the parish, which resulted in the parishioners building an actual school right across the church. This school begins in pre-kindergarten and stops in the 8th grade.

In 2020, the parish has about 5,000 families from thirty nine different countries, coming to the weekend masses every week. In addition, every week it has an average of 15,000 worshipers attending. From my own experience as a member of this church since birth and now that I am an usher, there are new faces everyday and priests coming in to lead mass from around the world.

Its Mediterranean styled church is not only beautiful inside and out, but can also seat 1,200 people. In this church, one can experience a plethora of things, being Catholic or not. For example, spiritual and service ministries, yearly retreats, and the Our Lady of Lourdes yearly carnival that helps fund parish activities for the coming years.

Camp Matecumbe

Camp Matecumbe Entrance (Photo by Gabriel Sanchez CC by 4.0)

In the early 1960s, Camp Matecumbe served as a shelter and education system for children who were sent to the states by their parents, in fear that Fidel Castro would soon implement communism. Thanks to the Catholic Diocese of Miami’s Bishop Coleman F. Carroll, on April 1962, Director of the Pedro Pan Operation and Cuban Children Program, Father Bryan O. Walsh was granted $100,000 for the construction of a “Multi-Purpose Building”. This building would consist of a dormitory, a large space that allowed for a great amount of recreational activities, and four classrooms. It held about 160 Cuban boys and in the summer, they shared their living quarters with campers.

Multi-Purpose Buidling in Camp Matecumbe (Photo by Gabriel Sanchez CC By 4.0)

In 1963, the land was later purchased by the Miami-Dade County Parks and Recreation Department, in hopes of transforming the camp into a public park.

In 1964, the Cuban boys departed in October and became the Boystown Pineland Park. In 2003, the facilities were occupied by the diocese dependent boys. In addition, Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation started and still to this day, use the facility for numerous programs. Those programs include after school care for children with disabilities ranging from ages 6-21. Tutoring, physical fitness, music, and literacy are some of the many actives that go on.

Today, the land is great for outdoor camping and recreational activities for the residents of The Hammocks.

Wings Over Miami Museum

Wings Over Miami Air Museum in Kendall, FL from miamiandbeaches.com

Although technically just outside of The Hammocks, one can argue where the boundaries truly lie in what separates Kendall, West Kendall, and The Hammocks.

Wings Over Miami is a hanger facility in which vintage aircraft was kept by pilot Kermit Weeks. In 1986, he transformed it into a community museum so people could check out his planes. However, in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew hit, his planes and his museum, like the rest of South Florida, were destroyed. It took a few years to rebuild everything, and Weeks moved back to Polk County, Florida with his collection and had his own museum up there named “Fantasy Flights”.

The South Florida community was devastated. Thus, in 2001, military and aviation lovers created their own Wings Over Miami Museum. Their founders even contacted Kermit Weeks to ensure a smooth start up.

Their collection consisted of vintage aircraft military trainers, and jet aircraft from the Cold War.

Things to do at the museum:

Visit from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm on Wed-Sun and learn about the history of significant aircraft.

Schedule a” Student Tour”. Teachers can call the Museum and fit their curriculum to the tour they want to be given. For example, learning about the elements of flight and the history of aircraft.

One can even plan events to be at the museum like weddings, Corporate Events, and even barbecues.

Green

The green in The Hammocks is often overlooked due to how urban and “city” like the neighborhood has become. Although it looks like not much green is on the map, one is just mistaking the amount of urbanization that has been done to The Hammocks. The Hammocks has many parks to choose from.

Wild Lime Park

Wild Lime Park from amusements-parks.com

Most famously known as a “soccer park”, Wild Lime Park is almost always full due to the youth sports league that is being run. This park is great for parents and children whose favorite sport is soccer. Many parents exercise along with their children. Parents popularly drop their children off for soccer practice and then walk, jog, or run around the trail around the entire park. The park even has its own playground in the corner of the last bit of grass used for soccer. It is open from sunrise to sundown on Mon-Fri, and open from 8:00 am-4:00 pm on Saturdays.

Forest Lakes Park

Forest Lakes Park is one of the hidden parks in The Hammocks. This park has a full basketball court that has children to adults playing “street-ball” together. It also has just renovated its playground with a new swing set and slides. There is even a walking trail that many parents go on with their infants. It is open from 7:00 am-10:00 pm from Mon-Sun. It becomes its busiest around 4:00 pm.

Hammocks Community Park

Hammocks Community Park from miamikidz.com

Hammocks Community Park is one of the larger parks in the neighborhood. Many recreational activities are conducted in this area that include basketball, baseball, and racquetball. Winter, Spring, and Summer programs are also held in the recreational center. Activities are consisted of teaching children about fitness, nutrition and wellness, and being well rounded in cultural arts, the sciences, and mother nature. After school programs are also available.

Transportation

In The Hammocks, there is a lot of side walk, allowing pedestrians and anyone without a mode of transportation to get from place to place. In addition, there are many bus stops located all across the neighborhood. There are also a few bike lanes, but I rarely see anyone using them. However, not to my surprise, the main mode of transportation in The Hammocks is by car. According to Data USA, the most common method of travel, since 2017, is one driving alone (82.6%), followed by carpooling (9.27%), and then public transportation (2.63%).

Also, Data USA describes how many cars one house hold has on average: 2. The 2nd highest numbers of cars that are owned on average in The Hammocks is 3.

Cars are clearly the popular and most convenient mode of transportation across the neighborhood. Unfortunately, data shows that the average amount of time it takes for one from The Hammocks to commute to work is about 38 minutes. The average amount of time it takes a U.S. worker is 25 minutes. Many of the residents in The Hammocks have to wake up early in order to just make it to work on time. While throwing rush hour into the equation, almost 40 minutes to get to work sounds about right. However, i’m sure the 5.34% of residents in the workforce in The Hammocks would rather take 40 minutes over their reported “super commute” of 90 minutes.

The Hammocks is up early on the weekdays, so expect lots of rush hour traffic on the way to work. The weekends are calmer, but still except the streets full of many cars driving around the neighborhood.

Food

Chuck Wagon Restaurant

Chuck Wagon Restaurant in The Calusa Centre (Photo by Gabriel Sanchez CC BY 4.0)

Miami is home of many cultures, specifically Spanish when it comes to the best cuisine. However, in The Hammocks where there are many authentic and great Spanish restaurants, this is one of my many hidden gems when it comes to food. Chuck Wagon is a classic American Restaurant that serves great breakfast and lunch. When one first walks it feels like one is going on for a ride on the Oregon Trail. The journey leads to great waiters and waitresses who seat you down on a clean table. The menu consists of great American Breakfast and Lunch items like pancakes, eggs, bacon, french toast, sandwiches, waffles, and much more. My personal favorite and personal recommendation is the “Chuck Wagon Grand Slam” which brings 2 large eggs, bacon or sausage, home fries or grits, country style sausage gravy and toast or biscuits. The most expensive meal on the entire menu is 2 eggs and steak for $14.99. Every plate brings a massive amount of food for a great price range.

El Rinconcito Latino Cafe

El Rinconcito Latino Cafe from elrinconcitocafe.com

For traditional Cuban food, this is the place for you. The moment you step in you realize with the amount of people coming in and out, it must be good. El Rinconcito is busy through the entire day and it does not miss a beat. The service is great and the price range is a little up there with meal ranging from $7.49 to $29.99, however you honestly receive more in quality and amount in what you truly pay for. My favorite breakfast item here is “El Rinconcito Breakfast” which brings Two eggs any style, One side order choice of home potatoes, french fries, hash browns, tomatoes, plantains with grits or tater tots, and a side order of pancakes and a choice of coffee. For Lunch/Dinner, the -“Bistec Empanizado” is amazing and probably will have to be taken home to finish.

Amici’s

Amici’s from usarestaurants.info

If one is in the mood for a slice of pizza, Amichi’s provides much more. This Italian restaurant provides pizza, pasta, subs, salads, and seafood. When walking in it feels like an authentic Italian pizza place with its fast movement by the waiters and waitresses and the excessive amount of pizza. My best bet with Amici is to go with the classic pizza with the slice of cheese, and if intrigued, order an entire box. Their are up to 17 toppings to choose from and the best representation of Italian styled food in all of The Hammocks.

Business

Goodwill Superstore

Goodwill Superstore in The Hammocks Town Center (Photo by Gabriel Sanchez CC BY 4.0)

The Goodwill Superstore, located in The Hammocks Town Center, is where one can buy antiques, art, books, records, cameras, electronic equipment, clothing, collectibles, home décor, jewelry and gemstones, musical instruments, pottery, seasonal and holiday items, sports, toys, and more for a reasonable price. When walking into the renovated warehouse, it is nice to look around and it is not hard to find anything vintage. I have been to this same Goodwill and one of my friends, a college kid in Tallahassee who does not want to depend on his mothers money anymore, actually bought one of his favorite pair of shoes, Tommy Hilfiger sneakers, that were in great condition for about $12. If anyone is looking for vintage anything that is within a fantastic price range, this is a great spot.

El Punto Peruano Food Truck

El Punto Peruano Food Truck from usarestaurants.info

If one is in the mood for great peruvian food on the go and supporting local businesses, this is the place to go. This food truck has everything from empanadas to burgers to even classic peruvian ceviche. The best item on the menu is the “Ceviche Punto Peruano”. The food truck has its own nice area with a few tables and chairs for people to sit down, relax, eat, and have a good time.

Kendall Ice Arena

Kendall Ice Arena Entrance (Phot by Gabriel Sanchez CC BY 4.0)

This skating rink is a popular attraction in The Hammocks and entire Kendall area considering the only season in Miami is summer. A great place to mess around with friends, go on a date, or if an adult with kids, tire them out with figure skating or hockey lessons. This arena has two built in rinks that open at 10:00 am and are at its busiest at around 6:00 pm. One can even hold birthday parties and fundraisers here. Honestly, one will not be paying anymore than $20 to have a great time, it is well worth the experience and the memories.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-48.png
Inside of The Kendall Ice Arena from webpagedepot.com

Summary

The Hammocks is a relatively large neighborhood in Miami. Its family-friendly persona is shown through the numerous amounts of neighborhoods within. he Hispanic population is the heart of The Hammocks I must say and the continuous urbanization is astounding to watch. Although much of The Hammocks is urbanization which includes schools, places of worship, restaurants, and plazas, the natural green is just as great.

I believe The Hammocks is in a good place right now. They are excellent in providing anyone who lives and/or is visiting with many places to eat, from American, Peruvian, Chinese, Cuban, and every other culture one could think of. In addition, the green spaces and parks in the neighborhood are all over. The amount of green that there is all around the neighborhood is great to see, especially since The Hammocks seems to be doing a great job in keeping it clean, safe, and fun for anyone who visits.

The only flaw I see in The Hammocks, that I believe can be fixed quickly, is the lack of history being showcased in the neighborhood and even about the neighborhood. The hammocks has no museums, the closet museum to The Hammocks is “Wings Over Miami”. In addition, I had a lot of trouble with discovering the true history of The Hammocks, however, I do understand in the Kendall Area, the lines are debatable in which where Kendall begins and ends, like the Crossing, Kendall West and The Hammocks itself. The Hammocks is a great neighborhood that definitely gets overlooked, again, the only thing that it lacks is its history.

After discovering everything I never knew I needed to know about The Hammocks, I have learned why families move here to start and grow a family. From the parks, to the places to eat, and the amount of fun that can be had here, this is one of the hidden gems that Miami has to offer.

Works Cited

ABC News, ABC News Network, abcnews.go.com/US/hurricane-andrew-25-years-monster-storm-devastated-south/story?id=49389188.

“ADOM :: Our Lady of Lourdes Church :: Main.” ADOM :: Our Lady of Lourdes Church :: Main, http://www.miamiarch.org/CatholicDiocese.php?op=Church_531417225320_main.

“Multi-Purpose Building” sign. Camp Matecumbe, Miami-Dade County. Viewed 27 March 2020.

“In the Beginning The Birth of Kendall -Part 1” Village of Pinecrest, https://www.pinecrest-fl.gov/home/showdocument?id=42

“History.” Wings Over Miami, http://www.wingsovermiami.com/about/history/.

“The Hammocks, FL.” Data USA, datausa.io/profile/geo/the-hammocks-fl/.

“U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Miami Shores Village, Florida; The Hammocks CDP, Florida.” Census Bureau QuickFacts, http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/miamishoresvillageflorida,thehammockscdpflorida/BZA115217.

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