España 2020 Ineffable Miami: Miami Beach by Alvaro Alvarez

Biography

Photo by Alvaro Alvarez CC BY 4.0

My name is Alvaro Alvarez I am a Junior at the Honors College at Florida International University, majoring in Information Systems Management. I am an avid traveler and reader, music and animal lover, who enjoys spending time with family and friends. I am a US citizen and have lived in Miami my entire life. Miami is my favorite place to be and no matter where I go to vacation nothing compares to the food, culture, and atmosphere. I plan to live here for the rest of my life and continue to explore everything this sunny city has to offer.

Geography

Map retrieved from Google Maps

Miami beach is a city located in the southeastern corner of Florida inside of the United States, specifically between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Miami beach is comprised of a natural and manmade landscape which makes it a perfect cover from the Atlantic ocean giving the city natural protection. Miami has a year round semi-tropical climate which brings in tourists from all over the world to experience its ambiance and lifestyle. Miami beach is made up of different areas, such as South Beach, which makes up about 2.5 miles, as well as Downtown Miami and the Port of Miami. Due to its luxurious and beautiful beaches Miami beach has been known as one of Americas best beach resorts spots since the beginning of the 20th century. The total population of Miami Beach has been estimated to about 91,718 people.

Photo by the City of Miami Beach

History

The history of the Miami Beach we know today starts on March 26, 1915 about 105 years ago. This was when 33 residents of the area came together and made it an official city. Although this is when the city was inaugurated and made official the real history starts a bit earlier when Henry Lum and his son Charles decided to buy the sandbar and mangroves known as Miami Beach for as little as 25 cents on the acre. These New Jersey residents tried to set up a coconut farm but due to various unconfirmed reasons failed and were not suited for the Florida lifestyle. Their failure led to John S. Collins (*cough cough*…Collins Avenue) buying the area and having a little more success than his predecessors planting some crops, which were likely nothing more than mangroves and sand at that point. Collins then in 1915 partnered with Carl Fisher and the Lummus brother to convert the sand, water, and mangroves into soil and land which could be put to use. The workers began their labor in the intense and insect filled heat and put into fruition the dreams of these rich and ambitious men who created the beginnings of the Miami Beach we know today.

Miami Beach isn’t all sunshine and happiness though, being the home to many notorious criminals over time. One of these people being Scarface himself, Al Capone. Who was in cahoots with the mayor back then and bought himself a house in Palm Island. This shows the political corruption that runs deep in the background of Miami Beach’s success. Not only was Capone a resident but there was also Meyer Lansky, a member of the national crime syndicate, who had strong ties to the casinos and died in a Collins avenue condominium at 80 years old. More recently a Russian mob set up an elaborate scheme with Estonian women in nightclubs to lure men in and rob them of their belongings and valuables.

Another not so talked about part of Miami Beach’s history is the segregation which occurred before the civil right era. African Americans in the area were not allowed to live in Miami Beach and were urged to be home before 6 pm. Not only were residents of Miami basically thrown off the beach but black people visiting were not allowed to stay in hotels. These same hotels would hire black singers and artists to entertain there white guests. Blacks weren’t the only race discriminated again as Jews were forced to live only on Fifth street and sometimes forced to use separate entrances.

During the 1920’s Miami Beach experienced an explosion of growth and had groups come in from the Northeast to build hotels and condos along Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive. This influx of buildings dragged Miami Beach out of the depression that took place and helped shape the area that would come to be known as the Art Deco District and more famously “South Beach”. Later, during World War II over 500,000 army cadets passed through Miami Beach because a training center was established. After getting to know the area many of these army men returned later and doubled the population Miami beach had before the war. After the war in 1959 Fidel Castro became the radical revolutionist leader of Cuba and over half a million Cubans fled form the country and entered Miami. This led to the ’70s and ’80s which was after a world war, an economic depression, and tropical storms hit the area. Miami Beach experienced its first stump and became the one thing it didn’t want to be: old, a relatively middle to poor class area, and uncool. Then came a massive investment that completely revamped Miami beach and endured its hardship to come back to glory and be the “international mecca for travel, business, and permanent residents”.

Demographics

Population:

The United States Census Bureau reported the estimated population of Miami Beach to be 91,718 in 2018.

Demographic Statistics:


Age: The majority of people in the Miami Beach region are between 18 and 65 years old at 69%. 14.4% are below 18 years old. People 65 and over come in at 16.6%.


Gender Level: There are 47.5% females and 52.5 % male in the Miami Beach region.


Income Level : The median household income was reported to be $53,348.


Cultural Roots: 75.2 % of the population is White which makes up over half of the population while 37.6% of them have Hispanic influence. The other majority of the population is Hispanic/Latino which makes up 55.6 % of the population. Languages spoken other than English at home are 70%.

James Enea

Photo by Alvaro Alvarez CC BY 4.0

Biography: James Enea is a Miami beach resident who has worked as a Financial Advisor for Morgan Stanley for the last 10 years.

Interview with Miami Beach Resident: James Enea

Alvaro: How long have you been living in Miami Beach?

James: “I have been living in Miami beach since 2002.”

Alvaro: What is the biggest change you have seen during your time living here?

James: “ All of the real estate development of new buildings.”

Alvaro: What is your least favorite thing about living in Miami Beach?

James: “The flooding that would occur to all the roads each time it rained.”

Alvaro: What is your favorite thing about living in Miami Beach?

James: “The culture in the South beach area. The dining experiences, the lifestyle, and the beaches.”

Alvaro: What are your favorite activities to do in Miami Beach?

James: “ Dining, enjoying time at the beach with my family and friends, swimming in the ocean, and people watching.”

Alvaro Alvarez: What Miami Beach restaurants would you recommend?

James: “The Meat market located on Lincoln road for delicious steaks and the south beach ambiance. Smith & Wollensky for the spectacular view of fisher Island for steaks and seafood. Joe’s Stones Crabs for stone crabs and the Miami Beach ambiance.”

Alvaro: How would you describe what Miami Beach  means to you in a couple sentences?

James:” Las Vegas on the ocean. A small town with a global footprint.”  

Landmarks

Art Deco Historic District-

The historic landmark was recognized on May 14th, 1979. the area contains 96 buildings. Living in the district was famous designer, Gianni Versace. The architecture is a modern take on a neoclassical, equally historic, and retro.

the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens-

This gorgeous home and area was built in 1916 for the business man James Deering. The Villas architecture and landscape was inspired by Veneto and Tuscan Italian Renaissance. It marks the culture and status of the Miami Beach area.

The Holocausts Memorial-

Formed by a small group of Holocausts survivors in 1984, this memorial shows the importance of the events that we weren’t around to see and the need to educate ourselves on this event and to never forget . The building of the memorial got backlash from many people but in the end it was built and placed where families can learn about the past.

Green

South Pointe Beach-

This beautiful park is a 17 acre park in Miami beach. It has beautiful views of South Beaches Shoreline, Fire Island, and Port Miami’s cruise ships. Its a family friendly place with walking trails, a splash bark and playgrounds.

Lummus Park-

This is another activity filled park that harness fun in Miami beach. Lummus park could keep you busy for hours. It has beach access, open field space, outdoor fitness gyms, a play ground for kids of all age groups, walking trails and so much more. With all the scenery at this park it is no surprise it has many features in television shows and movies. Located at Ocean drive between 5 Street and 14 Place, this place has it all.

Flamingo Park-

Flamingo Park is home to 36.53 acres jampacked with different entertainment for the whole family to do. If you’re in the mood for a swim they have two pools, Flamingo having 8 lanes and Normandy having 4. These pools are an escape to the Miami heat. When you want to bring your dog along they have accommodations such as a Bark Park which allows the dog to enjoy themselves off the leash. Following that they have different sports facilities such as baseball stadiums, basketball courts, handball/ racquetball courts, memorial football stadium/ running track, soccer field, softball field, tennis center and playground galore.

Transportation

Miami transportation main goal is to ensure that people get to their location safely. in order to have that put in place that have different transportations such as Citi bike which lets rent a bike ride and pay through your phone. It an efficient and cheap way to get around Miami beach. Another option is the different types of shuttles to pick up groups to different tourist spots. Furthermore they have buses and trolleys that can take you sightseeing or your desired location. Next is the Metro Mover, its a great experience because you get a fun ride through buildings, high-rises and the bay.

Food

Yard bird Southern Table & Bar-

Southern and American cuisine that’s sticks to “values of tradition, family, and community”. Known for their warm and comforting environment, and delicious food such as their fried chicken and waffles.

Bodega Taqueria –

Mexican food that is unique and a leader in the quick service restaurant space. Filled with vibrant art along the walls and “unfinished flooring, exposed pipes, and wood finishes” makes it feel like you’re really in Mexico. Known for there delicious tacos.

Pubbelly Sushi – Miami Beach

Asian fusion cuisine with a splash of different flavors that makes the menu stand out from the rest. A rotating menu that is always filled with interesting sushi and more. Pubbelly has a bar and accommodates you with indoor or outdoor seating to enjoy the Miami weather. Known for their unique rolls.

Businesses

Fontainebleau Hotel-

Situated on the oceanfront Fontainebleau is by far the most renowned hotel on Collins Avenue. Featuring two restaurants, a night club, a two story spa, and endless pools you won’t forget your visit. Not only is it home to rounds of visitors but celebrities are also often spotted in the hotel.

Apple Store-

As most apple stores are, crowded with people, the Lincoln Road store is no different. Selling apple’s latest products and having them available for testing the store is filled with interested customers and people just looking.

4D-

4D is an Italian gelato business located on Lincoln road. This has been a favorite little shop of mine for the longest time with their Mango gelato is my favorite.

Summary

To conclude, Miami Beach is a very special place filled with interesting locations and art, delicious food, spectacular beaches, and an ambiance like no other. It is diverse and nothing like your regular city or neighborhood. Although its history is splattered with corruption and wrongdoings the Miami Beach of today holds a special place in my heart. To me, it is my second home and the place where I spend every July in the Seacoast Towers on 5151 Collins Avenue. Every time I spend a day at the beach I fall in love with the atmosphere all over again and the everyday problems and worries of life fade away. My adoration and interest in the area has only been further sparked by this project and I can not wait to explore every place I have researched.

Citations

https://www.miamiandbeaches.com/things-to-do/history-and-heritage/art-deco-historic-district

https://www.britannica.com/place/Miami-Beach

http://www.city-data.com/us-cities/The-South/Miami-Geography-and-Climate.html

https://www.miamibeachfl.gov/city-hall/parks-and-recreation/parks-facilities-directory/lummus-park/

https://www.miamiandbeaches.com/thing-to-do/parks-recreation/south-pointe-park/2966

https://www.yelp.com/biz/yardbird-southern-table-and-bar-miami-beach?osq=Yardbird+Miami

https://www.yelp.com/biz/pubbelly-sushi-miami-beach-miami-beach-3?adjust_creative=duckduckgo&utm_campaign=yelp_feed&utm_medium=feed_v2&utm_source=duckduckgo

https://kids.kiddle.co/Miami_Beach,_Florida

https://www.bodegataqueria.com/

https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/100-years-the-dark-and-dirty-history-of-miami-beach-7552169

https://miamibeachhistory.org/mbhistory.html

https://www.miamibeachfl.gov/city-hall/transportation/

https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/miamibeachcityflorida/POP060210

http://www.gelateria4d.it/about-4d-gelateria.php

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