Italia Spring 2020 Ineffable Miami: Coral Gables by Daniela Valdes Posada

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Biography

I am an undergrad student at FIU with only one semester left before graduation. My degree will be in International Relations but I’ve found that my passion is diplomacy and political science. This year, I will be working on the 2020 presidential election as an organizer and hope that this opportunity will allow me to connect further with my community and its residents. In 2018 I graduated from Coral Gables Senior High and so for the most formative years of my life, I spent about 90% of my time in the city of Coral Gables.

The Gables

Geographical Profile

Image capture: Apr 2019 © 2020 Google

The geography of Coral Gables extends from the edge of Flagami and goes south until reaching Cutler Bay. In a matter of latitude, the bulk of Coral Gables runs between 57th ave and 37th ave (Douglas Road). As seen above, about 35% of the city is greenary, most of it being the R. Hardy Matheson County Preserve and the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.

History

The city of Coral Gables was founded in 1925 by George Merrick and it has been dubbed “The City Beautiful”. The founders of Coral Gables had aspirations that hit would become an international city and so they created ties with cities across Latin America and Europe. They were inspired by the City Beautiful Movement which included convoluted roads and lots of green space, as well as plazas and fountains.

Demographics

With a population of over 50,000 people, the median age of residents is 40 years old and data suggests that the median age will continue to drop. Because of the city’s elegant appearance, it only makes sense that the residents and lifestyle would be just as lavish. Living in Coral Gables means that you are at least middle class, with the median household income being about $96k a year. The cost of living in the city is 65% higher than the national average. The city of Coral Gables is made up of mostly hispanic or latino people, and 34% of the population being fully white. African Americans and Asians are a minority in Coral Gables.

Biography and interview of COral Gables Resident: Stephanie Revuelta

Stephanie Revuelta is 20 years old and was born in Miami. Her mother is from Nicaragua and her father from Cuba. Stephanie has lived in Miami most of her life. She attended Coral Gables Senior High for 4 years before moving into Coral Gables as a student of the University of Miami. Stephanie works as a hostess and has worked at several restaurants in Coral Gables. Although she has only resided in Coral Gables since starting at UM, she has spent the majority of her time in the gables over the last 6 years.

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What would you say is the biggest difference between just attending school in Coral Gables and living here?

Stephanie: Maybe just change of pace? When I was in high school, I came to gables for school and then I went home and sometimes went to Miracle Mile on the weekends. Since living here I’ve noticed that even as a college student, the way of life is much slower, calmer.

What’s your favorite part of the city?

Stephanie: The nightlife for sure. It’s very chill but not boring at all. Just walking down Coral Way, there’s a bunch of things to do.

And your least favorite part?

Stephanie: The slowness. Even though I appreciate the quiet and calm, sometimes it feels too slow, like even though the main roads are always packed, sometimes driving down the inner streets is a bit creepy. There’s not really many cars or even streetlights.

Having worked in Coral Gables as well other places in Miami, what’s different about working here?

Stephanie: Im a hostess, and I’ve only really ever worked at kind of higher end restaurants so I would say the biggest difference is the amount of people. Even though there’s a lot of people in Gables, most of the restaurants are really fancy and because we don’t get lots of tourists like we would in South Beach, the customers are mostly older, well off residents.

Landmarks

City Hall

Image Capture: Feb 2020

Located on Biltmore Way, City hall has a Mediterranean architecture style. It is on the National Register of Historic places and it is practically the first structure when entering the city. It marks the point in the city where most businesses are located. It is the focal point of the city, where the giant christmas tree is lit every year, and where the city farmers market takes place every weekend.

The Biltmore Hotel

Image Capture: Oct 2019

The Biltmore Hotel Miami was built in 1926 and is arguably the most historical structure in the entire city of Coral Gables. It was developed by the very founder of Coral Gables. Its extensive history has also made it infamous in Miami history. The Biltmore has always been known for its elegance and beauty, hosting galas and high profile events in its early days. During one of these events, gangster Thomas Walsh was killed in the hotel. During World War II, the Biltmore was used as a military hospital and then a veterans hospital after the war. In 1968, when the Biltmore became abandoned, rumors spread about the building being haunted. This was due to the amount of death surrounding the structure for the past several decades. Eventually the City of Coral Gables renovated the Biltmore into the hotel it is today. The tales continued and in the 90s there were even ghost stories told in the hotel lobby.

Green Space

In general, even in the spaces that are modern and populated, there is gorgeous greenery and landscapes in the city of Coral Gables. The streets are lined with huge trees and there are beautiful canopies all over the city.

Golf Courses

Image Capture: Feb 2019

The Granada and Biltmore golf courses are staples of Coral Gables, they take extend through the city and take up several hundred acres of land.

R Hardy Matheson County preserve

Image Capture: May 2017

This preserve is on the southern edge of Coral Gables and is 813 acres large. Although its size is impressive, the Hardy Matheson preserve is one of the lesser known aspects of the city of Coral Gables.

Fairchild tropical botanic garden

Image Capture: Dec 2019

Located on Old Cutler Road just like the Matheson Preserve, the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is known as one of the most beautiful spots in Coral Gables. The garden goes on for 83 acres and has one of the largest collections of palm trees in the country.

Transportation

THE TROLLEY

Image Capture: Jul 2019

The Coral Gables Trolley is the most notable of transportation methods in the city. The Trolley has one route along Ponce de Leon blvd and another down Douglas. It is a free service that began in Coral Gables in 2003. The Coral Gables Trolley connects with the City of Miami Trolley on Flagler Street.

Walking

Image Capture: Aug 2018

As cheesy as it sounds, the best way to get to know Coral Gables is truly to just walk around. Thankfully, a lot of the best spots to tour in coral gables are all along one street, Miracle Mile. It is highly populated with both people and establishments. There are hundreds of businesses to discover by walking a couple of blocks. Walking is truly the only way to explore this part of Coral Gables as traffic is truly a pain and parking is even worse.

Food

Bulla gastrobar

Image Capture: Jun 2016

If you’re looking for something a bit high scale (of course, this is the standard of a college student), the Bulla Gastrobar is the place to go. I stumbled upon this restaurant by pure miracle and honestly would probably never have stepped foot in the establishment on my own accord. To briefly explain, my friends and I were on the trolley after school one day when we made friends with a very disheveled looking older gentlemen, who looked a bit lost. Well he wasn’t lost, this man we just met got off at the trolley stop on 25 and ponce and told us to come into his restaurant for a late lunch. We were hesitant, but it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Bulla Gastrobar is an open kitchen Spanish gastrobar with the best tapas in all of Coral Gables. While on the pricier side, the experience of sharing tapas with loved ones in the beautiful vibe of this restaurant is unbeatable. This is the perfect place for a night out with your significant other.

Ichimi Ramen

Image Capture: Dec 2019

On the more mellow vibe, when you’re out on the town with friends just looking for something quick but of good quality, Ichimi is the spot. The hipster restaurant makes delicious ramen and is definitely worth a stop if you’re ever in Coral Gables.

morelia

Image Capture: Nov 2017

As daunting as the out the door line at Morelia’s may seem. I can assure it is worth the wait. It’s not much of a wait, as you’ll likely be at the front of the line in under 10 minutes. Morelia is right in the center of Miracle Mile and is known for its mouth watering paletas. They are gourmet, and you can customize them to add as many toppings as you like for a flat price. The flavors range from anything as simple as chocolate, to more unique ones like strawberry cheesecake or dulce de leche. You can even have them turn your paleta into a smore. While the paletas are certainly their specialty, do not underestimate the milkshakes, which are equally delicious.

Businesses

Actor’s playhouse at the miracle theater

Image Capture: Aug 2018

This small local theater has put on some of the best productions I’ve ever seen. As a broadway fanatic, I have traveled all the way to New York to watch plays and musicals and yet this theater is one of my favorite places to visit. The tickets are inexpensive for a night out with the family and the staff puts on everything from Mamma Mia to Alice in Wonderland.

Books and books

Books and Books is smack dab in the middle of Coral Gables and is one of the coziest spots of the city. Its a local bookstore that has its own cafe and courtyard and is the perfect place for a relaxing afternoon. There’s a wonderful social atmosphere for a meeting to take place but it is still quiet enough for alone time with a nice book and coffee.

Sources

Areavibes. “Coral Gables, FL Cost of Living.” Coral Gables, FL Cost Of Living, http://www.areavibes.com/coral+gables-fl/cost-of-living/.

“Coral Gables, FL.” Data USA, datausa.io/profile/geo/coral-gables-fl/#about.

Duba, Julia. “A History Of The Biltmore, Miami’s Best Known Creepy Hotel.” WLRN, http://www.wlrn.org/post/history-biltmore-miamis-best-known-creepy-hotel#stream/0.

EvoGov.com. “About Coral Gables.” City of Coral Gables – About Coral Gables, http://www.coralgables.com/about-coral-gables.

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