Italia Spring 2020 Ineffable Miami: Brickell by Mark Rodriguez

Student Biography

Photo by Mark Rodriguez. CC BY 4.0

My name is Mark Rodriguez, I am a Junior at FIU and currently studying Accounting. I love playing and watching sports, primarily basketball and golf. Traveling has brought me some of my fondest memories, just this past winter break I visited Spain and Morocco. For my project I have chosen Brickell, I believe that it represents the “modern” Miami while still maintaining the diversity found throughout the rest of the city. As I continue to learn more and more about this part of Miami, I will continue to post it here, hope you enjoy!

Geography

Brickell is a new-age neighborhood in the area of Downtown Miami, located right on the water with beautiful views of Key Biscayne. While some people call Brickell their home, most major businesses use it as the location for their offices. Brickell is South Florida’s major financial district, and it shows. It is scattered with skyscrapers that give it a New York feel but with weather only those from Miami have grown accustomed to. One could call Brickell the concrete jungle of Florida since there is not a whole lot of green to go around this neighborhood. However, you can find the occasional park or even rooftop soccer pitches scattered around the towering buildings. For as long as I can remember Brickell has had some type of construction going on, whether it was the Wells Fargo center, Brickell City Centre or even the stunning apartment buildings that have recently shot up. Brickell is a rapidly changing place, on the cutting-edge of ingenuity and design.

Photo from Google. CCo 1.0

Amongst the many skyscrapers, there is one that stands out, the Panorama Tower. This is the tallest building within Brickell and the whole state, it is made up of 85 stories and stands at a towering 868 feet. The tower offers luxury apartments as well as office spaces on the lower floors.

History

Photo by Miami Partners Realty Group/ CC BY-SA 4.0

Not a lot is known about who lived in Brickell prior to the 1800s except for the group of Tequesta Indians that lived in South Florida for over 2,000 years. Eventually, people started moving to Brickell around the Mid-1800s, those that lead this movement were William and Mary Brickell. William Brickell joined Julia Tuttle as a co-founder of Miami, but they also worked together in putting Miami on the map. They did this by using some of the land they owned and giving it to the Flagler Florida East Coast Railway. By doing this the allowed hundreds more to come to South Florida. At first, Brickell was only made up of a row of lavish mansions built by Mary Brickell in the early 1900s. However, this did not last long, by as soon as 1960 there were already apartment buildings, offices, and hotels replacing those homes. This change was just the start of the high-rise, business driven neighborhood we see today. As you have probably noticed the names of these people are the very names of the neighborhoods and streets within them. These pioneers are the ones that brought commerce to South Florida and that made it possible for Brickell and all of Miami to become what it is today.

Demographics

According to data found online there are 11,400 people living in Brickell. Of those 11 thousand it is pretty much a 50-50 split between male and female. The average age of people living in Brickell is about 38, and the average people per household it 2. This shows that Brickell has not yet become a commonplace neighborhood for many families with children. Lastly, data shows that the average household income is $104,000 this is almost double the average for the rest of Miami. This is explained by the average rent in Brickell being nearly $3,000 dollars for a simple two-bedroom apartment. Therefore, the combination of small space and high prices pushes away most middle-class families and leaves only those that can afford to live there.

Andres rodriguez Bio

Photo by Andres Rodriguez/ CC BY-SA 4.0

Andres Rodriguez was born on April 7, 2000 in Coconut Grove. He first lived in Key Biscayne, and then moved to Brickell at 13. He attended Christopher Columbus High School, and he is currently a sophomore at Miami Dade College.

Andres’ thoughts on Brickell:

Mark: What is your favorite thing about Brickell?

Andres: How modern the city is and how much it has changed, even since I was born.

Mark: What do you hate the most about the City?

Andres: I think what I like the least is how crowded it is, the traffic is ridiculous, some days it takes almost 30 minutes just to drive a mile and a half.

Mark: What is your favorite thing to do for fun?

Andres: I love going to play rooftop soccer with my friends every now and then, I also enjoy the nightlife, for example going out to a place like Blackbird.

Mark: What are some of your favorite places to eat?

Andres: Brickell has a lot of great places to eat at but just minutes from my house I have my favorite pizza in Miami, Mister O1. I am also a huge fan of sushi and I love going to the City Centre to go and eat at Pubbelly. And I guess another would be Baby Jane, there I get my favorite bowl of ramen, I try and go once every other week.

Mark: Why do you think Brickell has become so popular and where do you see it in 10 years?

Andres: I think it has become so popular because of how culturally diverse it is. The mix of great food, scenic views, and nightlife makes it the ideal place to be in Miami. Some of the biggest companies in the US are here, and just that alone brings a lot of people, my dad for example. In about 10 years I honestly see Brickell doubling in size whether that be expanding into nearby areas or just building even higher.

Landmarks

There are many landmarks that one can find throughout Brickell, new and old. Some are simply large buildings while others represent the small bits of grass remaining within the forest of steel and glass. The one I find most intriguing, primarily for the mystery surrounding it, is an old circle dug into the ground.

The miami Circle

Photo by Exterior Expressions/ CC BY-SA 4.0

The Miami Circle is a landmark that dates back as far as 500 B.C. This structure is made up of 24 large holes that create a perfect circle with a massive 38-foot diameter. Its use and date of creation are still unknown but, it is suspected that it was created by the Tequesta Indians over 2,000 years ago. It was uncovered in 1998 and since then several artifacts have been found, one of them being a human tooth. Thanks to modern science, carbon dating was able to determine that the tooth was around 2,000 years old. The circles’ use was never documented but it is imagined that the holes were used to hold up a structure. Many have taken the idea of a structure and guessed it could have simply been another hut or possibly a ceremonial site.

Brickell City Centre

Photo by Simon Property/ CC BY-SA 4.0

Brickell City Centre is an ultra-modern mall with luxurious retail stores, fantastic restaurants and various forms of entertainment. This new addition to the ever-changing neighborhood of Brickell was completed at the end of 2016. It took just over 1 billion dollars to develop this 4,900,000 square foot mixed use development (mall). Within the City Centre you can find endless stores joined by an Italian food court and several other restaurants. This space also provides its guests with an ultra-modern state of the art movie theatre. Ultimately, Brickell City Centre brought a much-needed shopping/recreational space to Brickell. It has already become one of the go to places in Miami for tourists and locals alike.

Brickell Mausoleum

Photo by Phillip Pessar/ CC BY-SA 4.0

The Brickell Mausoleum is located at the Mary Brickell Park, this is where the remains of William and Mary Brickell were kept. The mausoleum was built in 1924 as a place to honor the Brickell’s. William and Mary Brickell have since then been moved to another cemetery per request of their descendants because the area has become too boisterous. In that same park where they were buried, there were also ancient burial mounds that were created by the Tequesta Indians. Thanks to the combination of these two things, this mausoleum and park have become a protected historical place.

Green

Since the urbanization of Brickell started in the 1960s, buildings and complexes have taken over what was once beach fronts and grass. Currently there are only a few “green” places left in Brickell, most of which are parks or trails.

Simpson park

Photos by kendall_vo  and lagrasa. CC BY-SA 4.0

Simpson Park is what I consider to be the Central Park of Brickell. Amongst all of these complexes and skyscrapers, lies a 7.8-acre park and nature preserve. This park was created in 1913 and is one of the only parks in Miami that has protected the Brickell hammock that stretched from the Miami River to Coconut Grove. Within the park there are 162 plant species, 96 of which are native; there are also 15 endangered species along with another 9 threatened. Some of the facilities within the park include the hammock trail, recreation center, and small resting areas throughout. Ultimately, Simpson Park brings a desperately needed patch of green open space within Brickell while protecting the beautifully diverse wildlife.

Brickell Key park

Photo by Phillip Pessar/ CC BY-SA 4.0

Brickell Key park is a small waterfront park with beautiful walking paths and amazing sunset views. The park has a small 1.2-mile radius circling the southern point of Brickell Key. Brickell Key is a triangle shaped man-made island just off the coast of Brickell. This island was created during the dredging of the Miami Canal by Henry Flagler in an attempt to deepen the Miami River. While dredging the canal, it formed a spoil island just of the coast that was later bought out. Years later it has evolved into a great addition to Brickell, helping spread out all those that live there. This is personally my favorite park in Brickell since it has great views of high-rise buildings while right on the water with the ocean breeze.

Transportation

Brickell is constantly busy, and its daily traffic is about as congested as you will find in all of Miami. This neighborhood is filled with one-way streets, endless construction and stop lights that take an eternity. Thankfully Brickell has far better public transportation than the rest of Miami. Some of those public methods include the metro rail, the metro-mover, the trolley and some busses. On the private side, the streets are filled with uber drivers waiting for their next pickup. While the sidewalks are littered with bird scooters, the electric rentable scooters.

The miami trolley

Photo found on Brickell.com/ CCo 1.0

The Miami Trolley can be found in several popular parts of Miami, by the beach, Calle Ocho and Brickell just to name a few. The trolley operates from 6:30 am till 11 pm from Monday- Saturday, it is also free for people to hop on and off as often as they please.

Bird scooter

Photo found on the Next Miami. CC BY-SA 4.0

The bird scooter is not something that is only found in Brickell but, I felt required to add it as a form of transportation. On any given day in Brickell you will see tens of scooters scattered throughout the street. Some of them being ridden by men and women in suits on their way to lunch or another business meeting. Bird scooters are found throughout very populated urban cities as an alternative to driving your car for short distance trips. The company was founded on the idea of reducing emissions and offering a cheaper form of transportation in highly condensed areas. That makes this scooter a perfect option in Brickell, because you can get anywhere significantly faster on a scooter than in a car while in the city.

Metrorail/Metromover

Photo by Phillip Pessar/ CC BY-SA 4.0

The Metrorail and the Metromover are two very similar forms of transportation that can be found in Brickell. The only notable difference is that the Metrorail covers 25 miles while the metro mover only covers about 4.4 miles. Another thing to note is that the metro rail costs $2 to ride or $100 for a monthly pass. On the other hand, the Metromover is free but, it only covers the business district leaving the rest of the city out. Regardless of the price, these are two great forms of transportation, they both reduce emissions while providing a significantly faster trip.

Food

Food is what I believe to be the most important thing in any city or neighborhood. It is the one thing that brings people together, breaking the barriers of race, culture and even language. Many of my favorite restaurants in all of Miami are found in Brickell and here are just a few:

Pubbelly

Photo from Pubbelly Global/ CC BY-SA 4.0

Pubbelly is a new-age sushi fusion restaurant with several locations. On the menu you can find tostones with ceviche, followed by a tuna pizza and any roll of sushi you could dream of. My favorite sushi roll here is the bigeye tuna roll (pictured above), it is made up of a spicy tuna mix with truffle oil placed on top of crispy rice.

Mister o1

Photo from Mister O1/ CC BY-SA 4.0

Mister O1 is a relatively new restaurant, with a modern and trendy spin on pizza. Mister O1 opened in 2014 in Miami beach and it has since then expanded to several locations in Florida and another two outside of the US. They have become popular for their star pizza. The crust on this pizza is different from any I have ever seen; it is folded over to form pockets stuffed with ricotta cheese. Although I have tried all types of pizza from here, the basic margherita, made up of simple ingredients is perfectly crispy, making it my favorite.

Zuma

Photo from Zuma and Mark Rodriguez/ CC BY-SA 4.0

Zuma is a Japanese fusion restaurant with influences from all around the world. This five-star restaurant has a variety of foods most of which can be topped with excessively expensive truffles. My favorite item from Zuma is the mushroom hot pot risotto, topped with shaved truffles. While this item definitely does not tie to the rest of the Asian menu items, it is by far the best risotto I have ever had. Ultimately, Zuma combines delicious creative food and an incredible experience to form one of the most prestigious restaurants in South Florida.

Business

There are countless businesses and corporations that can be found in Brickell, most of which are household names. Some of these businesses are world renown hotels with 5 -star restaurants, giant banks, investment companies, and the biggest accounting firms in the world. The amazing part about Brickell is that the businesses do not end there, those are just the recognizable names. Aside from mega companies there are smaller private businesses such as construction groups, real estate partners, and retail stores.

Hotels

Photo from SLS Miami and Four Seasons/ CC BY-SA 4.0

There are many luxurious hotels but most of them can be found within a two-mile radius in Brickell. The SLS, Four Seasons and the Epic are some of the nicest hotels found around the world and they all made sure to have a location here in Brickell. These hotels are hot spots for out of state tourists coming to Miami for the luxurious experience, paying up to $1000 dollars a night for a room.

Finance Companies

Photo from Cushman & Wakefield and Rilea Group/ CC BY-SA 4.0

Brickell is also known as the South Florida’s major financial district, just walking down Brickell Avenue will prove as much. Along Brickell Avenue, one can count more fortune 500 companies that their fingers could hold. From banks such as Wells Fargo and Chase to private investing banks such as J.P. Morgan. These companies have chosen Brickell as their location not for the weather and scenery but for the advantageous international commerce Miami brings. As many people know, Miami is a melting pot of different cultures and people from all around the world. Therefore, large companies come here to get a foot in the door and a chance to expand and prosper in the international market. Miami has major Caribbean and South American ties, having large offices in Brickell allows these businesses to take advantage of just that.

public accounting Firms

Logos from PWC, Deloitte, and EY/ CC BY-SA 4.0

The largest accounting firms in the world, also referred to as the “Big 4” all have offices in Brickell. These firms tend to have an office where there is a large concentration of public companies. Primarily because these firms all have to perform audits, reviewing financials of a company. These accounting firms also serve as the largest private companies in the United States with each of them, generating over 35 billion dollars of revenue each year. This was one of the more interesting aspects of Brickell for me because I am an accounting major and hope to work for one of these companies in the future.

Retail stores

Photo from Brickell City Centre/ CC BY-SA 4.0

Retail stores are popular in any major city, but Brickell is by far one of the most attractive locations for any high-end store. The concentration of successful businesses with affluent customers makes this one of their highest grossing locations worldwide. The recent addition of the Brickell City Centre has taken retail shopping to the next level. There you can now find one of the most popular fashion stores in the world, Zara. Just a few steps away is a luxurious Italian shirt company with practically no locations in the US. And just at the edge of the Centre you have one of the most expensive watch brands in the world, Richard Mille. These are just a fraction of the stores found throughout Brickell and consumers they target is a reflection of the diversity found in Brickell. This diversity is was makes Brickell not only a wonderful place to live but a great place to conduct business.

Summary

Photo from Classic Streamliners/ CC BY-SA 4.0

Although Brickell is completely different from how it was in the late 1800s, it has morphed and grown into a wonderful neighborhood. However, this could have never happened without the influence of William and Mary Brickell. By giving land to Flagler to expand train rails, they allowed new pioneers to come to South Florida. These pioneers with help from the Brickell’s opened businesses here and established the foundations of a booming local economy.

Image from Inter Miami FC/CC BY-SA 4.0

In a big urban city like Brickell, sometimes it is common for people to feel locked in by all building surrounding them. Brickell does a great job of preventing that, they offer great parks with natural trails, as well as plenty of activities for people of all ages to enjoy. As I mentioned earlier, one of my favorite things to do in Brickell is play rooftop soccer with my friends. I feel, this is a must do for any soccer fan that isn’t deeply afraid of heights. The experience of playing soccer while on the roof of a building several stories high, speaks to the perfect juxtaposition one can find throughout Brickell. The contrast between the modernization of a city and where its actually located. Simply put, it is a maze of buildings and complexes just feet away from a gorgeous ocean view with water you can actually go swimming in.

Although the views and weather bring a lot of people to Brickell for travel, there are just as many people that come for work. The possibility for work at Brickell is endless, after all it is the major financial district of Florida. The jobs here span from store manager to bank teller to partner at a firm and even CEO. Oh, and don’t forget the never-ending construction jobs one can find cluttering the streets, making traffic even more unbearable than it already was. No one can deny that its businesses have made Brickell such a sought-after neighborhood.

Photo from Miami Luxury Homes/ CC BY-SA 4.0

What draws me to Brickell, is what probably keeps many locals here in Miami, the people and the culture. Brickell offers something that not too many places in the world can, the chance to experience polar opposite cultures within a few minutes of walking. Having the ability to sit at a Cuban cafe with an older lady that resembles your grandmother makes you feel at home like nothing else can. And then being able to walk 5 minutes to one of the best sushi restaurants in the world is not something you can easily find somewhere else. I have always seen Brickell as a local gateway to the international, a chance to see and try things from all over the world. While the tall buildings and big city feel might not be for everyone, if you can stand the traffic and enjoy trying new things, Brickell is definitely for you.

Sources

“The Best Methods of Brickell Transportation.” Plaza on Brickell, 15 May 2017, http://www.theplazaonbrickell.com/the-best-methods-of-brickell-transportation/.

“Brickell City Centre: Style Has No Labels: Miami FL.” Brickell City Centre | Style Has No Labels | Miami FL, http://www.brickellcitycentre.com/about-us/overview.

“Brickell Demographics.” Brickell Population & Demographics, Median Income – Point2 Homes, http://www.point2homes.com/US/Neighborhood/FL/Brickell-Demographics.html.

Brickell Park & Brickell Mausoleum, info.flheritage.com/miami-circle/Visit/park.cfm.

Gibson, Amber. “Six Reasons Everyone Is Moving To Miami’s Brickell Neighborhood.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 23 Sept. 2019, http://www.forbes.com/sites/ambergibson/2019/02/14/six-reasons-everyone-is-moving-to-brickell/#3266b92f4fb6.

“History of Brickell.” History of Brickell. Miami Partners Realty, miami-partners.com/blog-details.php?post=history-of-brickell.

Moktadier, Aisha. “A Brief History of the Miami Circle.” Culture Trip, The Culture Trip, 30 Jan. 2017, theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/florida/articles/a-brief-history-of-the-miami-circle/.

Ogle, Connie. “National Geographic Says This Miami Neighborhood Is One of the Friendliest in the Country. Seriously.” Miamiherald, Miami Herald, 4 June 2019, http://www.miamiherald.com/miami-com/miami-com-news/article231130033.html.

“Simpson Park.” Miami, http://www.miamigov.com/Residents/Parks-and-Recreation/Parks-Directory/Simpson-Park.

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