Gianmarco Agostinone is currently a senior finishing his undergraduate portion of his combined bachelors and masters degree in computer science. Over the course of his time in college, he has traveled on two study abroads with professor John Bailly, France and Italy, and wants to culminate his travel experience by finally learning about the area he has lived in his whole life, Miami. After college, he hopes to continue his newfound lifestyle of traveling and photography and eventually make his way throughout the rest of Europe.
Wynwood is Miami’s entertainment, art, and fashion district. But prior to that, it was Miami’s industrial district, which is what gives the area its iconic industrial look. Due to its past, it mainly consists of big factory styled buildings that have been re purposed as stores, bars, and more. But there is also a small residential area still residing in the Northern part of the district. Here resides one of the only green patches left in the district, Roberto Clemente Park, which is equipped with two baseball fields and a few basketball courts.
The neighborhood itself is positioned in between US 1 and I-95 on its East and West, and NE 36th St and NW 20th St on its North and South. It also neighbors another one of Miami’s up and coming districts, the Miami Design District.
Wynwood has a long history dating back as early 1917 where it started out as an agricultural estate. In fact, this is where it got its name as the residents who owned the estate, Josiah Chaille and Hugh Anderson coined the name. These two were integral to the development of the district as it was Chaille’s urban plan that structured the city.
Wynwood did not stay an agricultural estate for long. By the 1920’s, the area attracted many factory laborers for its proximity to the Garment District (now known as the Fashion District), but even eventually opening factories of its own when Coca-Cola as well as the American Bakeries Company came down here.
After a long period of economic depression in the area, the city revitalized in the mid 80’s when artists began taking up residence in the vacant American Bakeries Building, building the largest artist space in the state and creating what is now known as the Bakehouse Art Complex. The presence of these artists attracted and created an even bigger community of artists and gallery, slowly transforming Wynwood into what it is known as today.
Unfortunately, the rapid rise to fame has made Wynwood increasingly more expensive. It was once home to over “70 galleries, 5 museums, 3 collections, 7 art complexes, 12 art studios, 5 art fairs, and the Wynwood Walls”. Now only 10 of the 70 galleries even remain. The area used to be a safe heaven for up and coming artists and now they can’t even afford rent.
Photo On Left By Daniel DI Palma Both Photos CC By 4.0
Wynwood, although mainly thought of as a place you visit on weekends to eat, view art, and party does indeed have a residential district with a population of 7,353.
A big issue in Wynwood has been the ever increasing gentrification brought along with the revival of the district. The area used to be an affordable place for factory workers, immigrants, and artists alike. But as the area saw a rise in popularity, big companies bought up the land and drove the prices up. They may have made the area a hit for visitors but they drove the locals out. Those that are left are either struggling to keep their homes, or consist of the rich who bought up the land and made themselves new homes.
Unfortunately, as these locals consist of such a small portion the population, and the revitalization of the area has brought endless profits and tourism to Miami, the concerns of the locals are neglected.
As more and more land gets gentrified, Wynwood’s demographics is ever increasingly becoming characterized by its visitors rather than its residents. These demographics consist of tourists and locals alike, artists and photographers, club goers and foodies, and just about anyone who wants to appreciate what the area has to offer, as long as you can afford it.
Due to not being able to visit the district and interview people myself, I reached out to some of my fellow students who frequent Wynwood often. One of these students is Jessica Horsham. I asked her how she feels about Wynwood and its problem with gentrification. Here is her response:
“On one side I am happy that Wynwood has risen up to become the cultural hot spot it is today, but unfortunately the way they accomplished it is unethical. The area used to be a place where the underprivileged were able to live but due to the rise in popularity and rapid expansion of the district, people have been practically forced out of their homes without any viable plans on where to put them and no results should justify that.”
Photos By Daniel Di Palma CC By 4.0
Wynwood is the place to visit when it comes to art and museums. The area has attracted hundreds of artists and many galleries have set up residence here. Luckily, many of these institutions opted in keeping the original structures and retrofitting them to suit their own purposes. This has allowed the area to keep its distinct industrial aesthetic which is an attraction on its own. But as the area is full of interesting places to visit, here are a few must sees: the Margulies Collection, the Museum of Graffiti, and of course the Wynwood Walls.
Photos CC By 4.0
The Margulies Collection is a nonprofit institution located in a retro-fitted warehouse owned by the world renowned collector Martin Z. Margulies. The collection is filled with many contemporary art pieces featuring sculptures, photography, video, paintings, and large-scale installations. As an admirer of art, Margulies believes everyone should have a chance to see his collection, and thus offers admission to his warehouse for a merely $10 for adults and free for students. This is unlike many other museums in Miami that easily charge over $30 a ticket regardless of it you are a student or not.
Next we have the worlds first museum dedicated to graffiti art, the Museum of Graffiti. Representing some of the very reasons Wynwood became famous, its graffiti art, this museum aims to bring awareness and display this elaborate and unique art form. Its goal is to preserve graffiti’s history and celebrate its emergence in design, fashion, adverting, and galleries. It includes both indoor and outdoor exhibition space, with eleven exterior murals. And if you want to take some of the art home with you they have a gift shop carrying limited edition merchandise from some of the leading graffiti artists.
Lastly, we have the embodiment of Wynwood, the Wynwood Walls. These consist of mural all over the district. Beginning as simple forms of graffiti art, as the area began gaining in fame, famous artists began making their mark on the walls with the support of the local businesses. It is completely free to visit these murals but you can elect to pay for a tour if you would like to get a more detailed walk through.
Unfortunately, with Wynwood being a re-purposed industrial district, parks and other greenery were not a priority in the design. Actually, the area has only one official park in its residential section, the Roberto Clemente Park. This area consists of two baseball fields, that unfortunately have to share the same grass, and a few basketball courts.
Transportation in Miami overall is limited, but it still exists and can get you from A to B if you try hard enough, and Wynwood is not an exception. The City of Miami Trolley is free and has a stop right at the Wynwood Walls property. It operates Monday through Saturday from 6:30 AM to 11:00 PM. You can also take a combination of the Metrobus and Metrorail but it also costs money and not everyone is near a stop.
The most used method of travel, like everywhere else in Miami, is a car. Most people either take their own cars or transportation services such as Uber and Lyft. If driving yourself, you have the option to either street park or to use parking lots, but most if not all of these will cost you. But bear in mind, if you aim to use services like the ones previously mentioned, they are known to hike the price to extraordinary numbers during peak hours of operation.
Along with its influx of art, came an wave of amazing culinary experiences. With sit down restaurants, bakeries, sandwich shops, cafes, and more. Some iconic ones are Coyo Taco, Panther Coffee, and the Salty Donut.
Coyo Taco is a great place to get a quick bite to eat. Unfortunately, as you will see for most places in Wynwood, it is not cheap for what you get, but its still good and a nice place to rest while on your adventure across Wynwood. Also, if you are there during a weekend night, their is a club at the back of the store that you can enjoy.
Panther Coffee is a Miami based coffee company. It has delicious and artisan coffee for you to revitalize yourself while out for the day. And supporting a local business is always a good idea.
Lastly we have the Salty Donut, another local business. They have an assortment of artisan donuts to satisfy any sweet craving.
CC By 4.0
After art and food, Wynwood is know for its nightlife. It is a common destination for bar hopping during the weekend nights, or maybe a more relaxing time at a local brewery if you are into that.
When it comes to clubs, Wynwood has a large selection to choose from. You have Centro Wynwood, the Dirty Rabbit, Shots Miami, Wynwood Factory and more. Every weekend the district is alive all the way into the night with both locals and people from other cities there to experience some of the best clubs Miami has to offer. Going out is always a fun experience and at the same time a safe experience as the is always a large police presence to ensure no one gets hurt.
If clubs are too much for you, places like Lagniappe are the place to be. It is a sit down wine bar where you can indulge yourself in some exquisite wines and fresh meats and cheeses to go alongside it. The bar as a nice homey feel to it as the outside is a large area of mismatched chairs and tables with lights hanging off the trees and walls to set the mood. They also have nice indoor seating if you want to get out of the Miami humidity, which is also where you can watch the live performances that the bar brings in.
Lastly, Miami has become a center for Artisan Brewers and Wynwood is no exception. With famous local breweries such as Wynwood Brewing Company, Concrete each Brewery, and more. They offer a unique way to spend the night as these are unique beers that you can’t find elsewhere, all made right there in the store you are drinking it. These places have a calm and friendly environment which feels like you are going for drinks at a friends house. Many of these places have games and competitions you can partake in while drinking a nice cold one.
Overall, Wynwood is definitely a nice place to visit. It has everything someone who doesn’t live their can want: food, art, entertainment, nightlife. But for locals it has been nothing but harmful. The increase in the areas revenue has not come along with better schools, more parks, or more opportunities for locals. If things keep going like this, than it will only be a matter of time before the people that remain are forced to move on. I believe that a balance can be found, where local business add to a community and not take away. Hopefully that balance is found soon.
“Donations to Educational Institutions.” Margulies Collection, http://www.margulieswarehouse.com/about.
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