Ineffable Miami: Wynwood by Angie Santalo

Biography

Photo by Cristina Acevedo C.C. by 4.0

Angie Santalo is a Sophomore studying Organizational Communications at Florida International University. In her spare time, she enjoys making videos, singing and acting, and engaging in community service. In 2014, she formed her own non-profit, Art For Others, in which she conducts art workshops to underprivileged children in the city of Miami. She dedicates a majority of her time to this, and she hopes to continue making an impact in her community.

Geography

Photo obtained from Kohn Commercial Real Estate

Wynwood is located within the City of Miami, bordering I-95 to its west, I-195 to its north, East Coast Ave to its east, and northwest 20th street to its south. Since its beginning, Wynwood has always served as a place for working class families, but its central location continues to attract many types of businesses. The urban landscape consists of many refurbished warehouses, art galleries, and great restaurants. Due to its central location in Miami, the climate is ideal for exploratory walks.

History

Anyone who knows the art scene in Miami is familiar with Miami’s popular Wynwood neighborhood. It is famous for its Wynwood Walls and spectacular artwork. It is especially popular during the international art event in early December, Art Basel. What many people may not know, is that the neighborhood originated in 1917. It began when early Miamians, Josiah Chaille and Hugh Anderson, purchased farmland and a fraction of the Pulaski Estate in Miami. It is important to note, that prior to the annexation of Wynwood to the city of Miami, the neighborhood would have been a part of North Miami. 

Both Chaille and Anderson developed the first piece of land in Wynwood on January 7th of 1917. However, they originally agreed on the name, “Wyndwood.” Months later, after a park was built by the City of Miami on the northern area of the piece of land, was the “d” in “Wyndwood” dropped. This area soon became known as “Wynwood Park,” but many locals referred to it simply as “Wynwood.”

From the beginning, the area provided a lot of opportunities for working class people. In 1926. Coca Cola  opened up a bottling plant and in 1928, the American Bakeries Company opened up a plant to make and distribute Merita Bread. Also in the 1920s, Wynwood saw the tremendous growth in the garment industry.  By the 1960s, the Garment District had many Cuban exiles who helped clothing retailers and manufacturers grow. By the 1980s, the area was already growing more popular and the square footage was becoming much more expensive. Many of the manufacturers moved to more affordable parts of Miami such as Hialeah.  Even though there have been changes in the rents and business, the Fashion District is still very present.

Around the 1950s there was a large influx of Hispanics immigrants and many of the street names and parks were renamed to honor the new demographics. The restaurants and churches also changed to represent more the people of the neighborhood.

In the late 1970s, Wynwood was seen as a low middle class neighborhood with a lot of unemployment and a big drug traffic problem. Wynwood was on the decline. 

In 1980, the Flowers Baking Company left Wynwood and the building was empty for 4 years. In 1987, a non profit organization purchased what we know as the Bakehouse, which would become the largest artist working space.  

Tony Goldman was responsible for the revival of the Wynwood neighborhood.  He envisioned an open gallery of murals called Wynwood Walls. With the implementation of The Walls, Goldman wished to create and transform the neighborhood into an urban art gallery and make Miami an international art mecca.

Demographics

According to the United States Census Bureau, the population of Wynwood is seventeen thousand nine hundred twenty three (17,923) people, and there are twice as many males as females. While there is a strong presence of African Americans in the neighborhood, the Hispanic population continues to be the dominant one. However, since 2000, there has been a 34% increase of African Americans in the neighborhood, and only an 8% increase in the Hispanic population. According to Area Vibes, the median age is 35.2, the median household income is $53,417, and the unemployment rate is 6.8%.

Landmarks

Wynwood Walls

One of the most iconic landmarks in Wynwood are the Wynwood Walls. The Walls are a walkable outdoor museum with large murals adorning the exterior of the buildings. Many artists from all over the world exhibit their works on the walls throughout the year, and 23 artists currently have their work on display. Within the Walls, there are two restaurants where people can sit down and eat after enjoying the wonderful artwork. In addition to this, every second Saturday of the month, a community art walk is held and many visitors view the Wynwood Walls on their journey. It is also extremely popular during the first week of December for Art Basel, a global art event. 

RC COLA PLANT

RC Cola Plant. Photo by David Pugal

The RC Cola Plant in Wynwood opened in 1935. RC Cola is a popular brand of soft-drinks distributed in the United States By the early-90s, Posner, the owner of Royal Crown Companies, was collapsing under investigations and lawsuits which caused his Miami plant to shut down. The former RC Cola Plant in Wynwood is now utilized as an event venue. The abundance of graffiti and art in the plant makes it an ideal place for events, photo shoots, and festivals. 

The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse

Photo by Ernesto Neto

The Margulies Collection is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and educate members of the community about contemporary art. The collection is exhibited in a 45,000 square foot warehouse in Wynwood. The collection was formed by Martin Z. Margulies, and features very renowned artists and photographers. The collection is one of Wynwood’s very valued assets as it features many incredible works from all over the world.

Green

Roberto Clemente Park. Obtained from The City of Miami

The Roberto Clemente Park is a public park within the Wynwood neighborhood that is close to the Biscayne Bay area. It is completely fenced in, and surrounded by a calm, and peaceful family neighborhood. When you enter the park, a trail is layed out throughout the perimeter of the park, along with benches to sit and rest. In addition to this, the park has many amenities such as: enclosed basketball courts, a playground, volleyball courts, water fountains, and a picnic pavilion. Restrooms are also available for park guests.  

Transportation

Many people in the Wynwood neighborhood get around by car, bus, or trolley. It is very common, especially due to the various nightclubs in the neighborhood, for people to get around in Ubers or Lyfts at night. However, during the day, most people get to where they need to go by car, bus, or trolley. Not all members of the community have the luxury of owning a car, therefore, they take the bus or trolley to get from place to place. There are about five buses that stop around Wynwood, making it very accessible for members of the community to get to where they need to go. In addition to this, there is a trolly stop located within the neighborhood that operates between the hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays. 

Food

Wynwood, while very well known for the impressive and unique artwork that adorns their streets, is also full of impressive and diverse cuisines. Just like the artwork that surrounds Wynwood, there is something that appeals to everyone when it comes to dining. There are so many different options that you really cannot go wrong when choosing where to eat in Wynwood. For the purpose of this discussion, I chose to highlight three places that I feel really capture the spirit of Wynwood. They are all places that combine the spirit of Wynwood, the diversity of Miami, and the infusion of creativity.

The Salty Donut

Photo by The Salty Donut

The Salty Donut is Miami’s most popular artisanal donut shop. They are famous for creating outrageously delicious donuts such as their 24-hour brioche maple bacon donut, and guava and cheese donut. Most of the time, the line to order is very long and even stretches outside the door due to their high demand. The wait is definitely worth it because the donuts are incredibly delicious. They have even included vegan and gluten free options so that everyone can enjoy. 

Beaker and Gray

Photo by Mary Beth Koeth

Beaker and Gray is a very well known restaurant and bar in Wynwood. The atmosphere of the restaurant captures Wynwood’s urban and creative spirit. The menu includes a variety of different options such as: cheeseburger croquettes, reuben fried rice, and pumpkin gnocchi.

R HOUSE WYNWOOD

Photo by Dale Stein

R House Wynwood is a part restaurant, part bar, and part art gallery within Wynwood. It was one of the pioneer restaurants that contributed to the success of Wynwood. It is a great place to go for happy hour, dinner, and drag brunches. The owner of the restaurant, Rocco Carulli, wished to create a restaurant where guests felt content. He wanted to provide good food as well as a full sensory experience with art and music. In addition to a guaranteed good time, R House has a unique menu with dishes such as zucchini fries, gamberetti fritti, brisket short-rib meatballs, and ratatouille.   

Business

Wynwood also includes a thriving community of a variety of upscale businesses. These include renowned art galleries, high-end boutiques, large event spaces, and famous music shops. It even includes educational technologies companies to teach coding and programming to members of the community.

Moonlighter Makerspace

Photo by Patrick Farrell

Moonlighter Makerspace is a membership-based Digital Fabrication Lab, and S.T.E.A.M Learning Center in Wynwood. The business aims to “connect local needs to local talents for high impact social across South Florida merging design, community and education.” This is a great way to share the digital talent and educate the next generation of learners. 

Interiored

Interiored is a unique interior design business in Wynwood. They specialize in transforming any interior into a completely new space. They tailor to any specific need and budget. 

Antigua Collection

Photo by Tasker Agency

Antigua Collection is a Venezulan clothing brand that was created by Silvana Isaacs. The Antigua Collection aims to dress every woman through timeless clothing items. The clothing designed by Isaacs embodies versatility, and class, with a bit of Venezuelan flare. 

Summary

Wynwood is an internationally recognized outdoor gallery. Miami’s great climate, and the colorful walls invite viewers from all over the world to explore Wynwood. In addition to the great art, the spectacular restaurants,and high end stores, including guitar shops and furniture, there is something for everyone to see and enjoy. The night life includes great music with a variety of bars and clubs. Since its inception, it has been a place of great diversity, and opportunity. Wynwood has something for everyone. 

References

Agress, Jennifer. “10 Must-Visit Restaurants in Wynwood, Miami.” Culture Trip. The Culture Trip, October 20, 2014. https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/florida/articles/eating-out-in-miami-s-hip-wynwood-top-10-restaurants-to-try/.
Areavibes. “Wynwood, Miami, FL Demographics.” Wynwood, FL Population & Demographics, n.d. https://www.areavibes.com/miami-fl/wynwood/demographics/.
“Business Directory (Grid View).” Wynwood Business Improvement District — Miami, Florida. Accessed April 19, 2020. https://wynwoodmiami.com/explore/business-directory-grid-view/.
“Get Trolley Information, Schedules, and Maps.” Miami, n.d. https://www.miamigov.com/Services/Transportation/Get-Trolley-Information-Schedules-and-Maps.
Piket, Casey. “History of Wynwood Miami.” Miami History Home, August 27, 2014. http://miami-history.com/history-of-wynwood-miami/.
“RC Cola Miami Plant.” Abandoned Florida, January 14, 2020. https://www.abandonedfl.com/rc-cola-miami-plant/.
“Venues.” Mana Wynwood, n.d. https://www.manawynwood.com/copy-of-venues.
Wag! “Roberto Clemente Park in Miami, FL: Dog Parks Near Me: Wag!” WagWalking. Wag!, November 30, 2018. https://wagwalking.com/lifestyle/parks/roberto-clemente-park.

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