FRA Ineffable Miami: Pinecrest by Victoria Smith

Photo of Victoria Smith in 2020. Photo by Robert Smith/ CC BY 4.0

STUDENT BIO

Victoria Smith is a student at FIU. She is currently in her junior year and a student of the FIU Honors College. She is a Psychology major with a focus in Behavior Analysis, and she is also pursuing a Dance minor. She loves Tap Dancing, Theatre, and Singing. Her dream is to perform on Broadway!

GEOGRAPHY

Location in Miami-Dade County and the state of Florida
Photo of location of Pincrest in Miami Dade County and in the State of Florida. Photo by Arkyan on Wikipedia/ CC BY-SA 3.0
U.S. Census Bureau map showing village boundaries
Pinecrest Map Image from Wikipedia. Photo originally from U.S. Census Bureau/ CC BY 4.0

Pinecrest is a neighborhood located in South Florida. It is a part of Miami Dade County. The coordinates of Pinecrest are 25°40′N 80°18′W .

HISTORY

Before the area was known as Pinecrest, it was merely used as a staging area by Henry Flagler for the construction of the Overseas Railroad to the Florida Keys in the early 1900’s. Tourist attractions such as the Parrot Jungle and the Miami Serpentarium were the locations that drew people to the area and allowed a community to develop.

Parrot Jungle opened on 1936 and was the first major tourist spot in the area. People from all over the world came to visit the park. The location of the Parrot Jungle is still reserved today, as it is a a historic site. However, it is currently known as Pinecrest Gardens and no longer features the parrots and other animals. The original idea is known as Jungle Island at a different location near Miami Beach.

Image of Victoria Smith with parents, Robert and Leyda Smith at Parrot Jungle in 2002. Photo from Smith Family Photos. CC BY 4.0

The Miami Serpentarium was opened by Bill Haast in 1947. He wanted a place to study the benefits of snake venom. The location also became a tourist location that many people visited to see reptiles. Haast would also put on shows of him extracting the venom from the snakes. Unfortunately, in 1984, a small child got into an alligator pit at the Serpentarium and was killed. This caused the closing of the Serpentarium. Today, the location is now a shopping center. The original giant cobra statue that was at the entrance of the former Serpentarium was moved to South Miami High School, whose mascot is the cobra. However, the cobra head was destroyed during Hurricane Andrew. Nonetheless, Haast remained studying snake venom and contributed to valuable research throughout his life, until he passed away in 2011 at the age of 100.

The rise of tourism due to places like Parrot Jungle and the Miami Serpentarium, caused more people to come to the area. This led to more development and the building of residential homes. During the 1950’s and 1960’s, ranch style homes were built on acre lots. This contributed to the rural atmosphere of the neighborhood.

In the 1990’s residents, Evelyn Langlieb Greer and Gary Matzner decided to come together to officially incorporate the area which was named the Village of Pinecrest. This officially happened on March 12, 1996. Greer was the first mayor of Pinecrest and is considered the founding mother of Pinecrest. Matzner became the second mayor and is known as the founding father of Pinecrest. The Village of Pinecrest Council consists of 5 members and are responsible for community planning. The first founding members of the council included Greer, Cindie Blanck, Barry Blaxberg, Leslie Bowe, and Robert Hingston, who all helped establish police services, parks, building and planning services, and public works. In 2011, Pinecrest was recognized as one of the top ten places in Florida for “quality of life” by the South Florida Business Journal.

Photo of sign in Pinecrest. Credit to Google Earth for photo. CCo 1.0

DEMOGRAPHICS

Population:

The United States Census Bureau reported the estimated population of Pinecrest to be 19,591 in 2018.

Demographic Statistics:

Income: The median household income was reported to be $153,417. People living in poverty was reported as 5.5%. Overall, Pinecrest is considered to be a wealthy neighborhood.

Age: The largest age group in Pinecrest is from the age of 35 to 54, which makes up 25.6% of the population. The second largest age group of the population is from the age of 5 to 17, which makes up 21.1% of the population in Pinecrest.

Race and Ethnicity: 46.3% of the population is Hispanic/ Latino which makes up almost half of the population. The other majority of the population is White which makes up 42.6% of the population. This contributes to the languages spoken in the neighborhood which are mainly English (44.1%) and Spanish (42.1%).

Interview with Pinecrest Resident: Robert Smith

Victoria: How many years have you lived in Pinecrest?

Robert: “I have lived in Pinecrest since 1971, so it has been 49 years!”

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

Robert: “The increasing of large homes, and the population increase have been the biggest changes I have seen. Also, many original homes that were ranch style have been knocked down and built into very large mansions. Also, the influence of hispanic culture has increased over the years.”

Victoria: What is your least favorite thing about living in Pinecrest?

Robert: “The property taxes have gone up way too high.”

Victoria: What is your favorite thing about living in Pinecrest?

Robert: “It’s a pretty safe neighborhood and the crime rate is not too bad compared to the rest of the city. It’s also nice that there are large acre properties so even though there are large mansions, houses have not been crammed together.”

Victoria: What are 2 words you would use to describe Pinecrest?

Robert: “Beautiful would be one. And the other would be spacious. I also can’t leave out peacocks and iguanas!”

LANDMARKS

Pinecrest Gardens

PG Entrance
Photo of Pinecrest Gardens Entrance. Photo retrieved from Pinecrest Gardens website. CCo 1.0

Address: 11000 S Red Rd, Pinecrest, FL 33156

Pinecrest Gardens is an outdoor park, botanical garden, and community location that hosts performances and art exhibitions. It was formerly known as the Parrot Jungle which was founded by Francis and Louise Scherr in 1936. Therefore, this is historical site since it was considered one of the first tourist attractions in Miami. Famous figures even visited the former Parrot Jungle, such as Winston Churchhill!

Winston Churchill at Parrot Jungle in 1946. Photo found on Wikipedia. CC BY-SA 3.0

Several years later, in 1988, Bern Levine purchased Parrot Jungle from the Scherr’s. This was followed by the Village of Pinecrest purchasing Parrot Jungle with the intention of recreating the site under the name Pinecrest Gardens. In 2011, Pinecrest Gardens was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Parrot Jungle was renamed to Jungle Island and moved to Watson Island which is near Miami Beach.

The current Pinecrest Gardens serves a Community location as well as outdoor park. The Banyan Bowl which is an open air amphitheater, was formerly used for aviary shows. However, it now is used for Jazz concerts, local school productions, and even professional and community theatre companies such as the Florida Shakespeare Company.

Banyan Bowl at former Parrot Jungle. Photo found on Wikipedia. CC BY-SA 3.0

Banyan Bowl
Banyan Bowl during a performance at the redesigned Pinecrest Gardens. Photo retrieved from Pinecrest Gardens website. CC0 1.0

Pinecrest Gardens is conveniently located next to the Pinecrest Community Center which houses a library and outdoor sports field. On Sundays, there is a local Farmers Market as well between Pinecrest Gardens and the Community Center!

Pinecrest Wayside Market

Photo of exterior of the outdoor market. Credit to Google Earth for photo. CCo 1.0

Address: 10070 SW 57th Ave, Pinecrest, FL 33156

This outdoor market started as a fruit and smoothie stand in 1948. They still sell fresh fruits and vegetables and their famous smoothies; however, they now have even more options! The current owner is Eli Tako, who bought the market in 2002. Since the new owenership, they have added more food options like salads, sandwiches, dips, pastries, and ice cream. They also have a few aisles with chips, and other products like jams and sauces.

There are picnic tables in front of the market, where one can sit to enjoy a delicious smoothie or meal. Also, the market often sells Knaus Berry cinnamon rolls, so be on the lookout and you might get lucky and not have to wait in a long line for those famed cinnamon rolls!

FBI Shootout 1986 Location

Located on Southwest 82nd Avenue

On April 11, 1986, Special Agent Jerry Dove and Special Agent Benjamin Grogan were killed in a gun battle by two armed robbers. In addition, 5 other agents were wounded. The armed robbers, William Russell Matix and Michael Lee Platt, were also killed in the shootout. The shootout lasted for approximately 5 minutes, involved 10 people, and it was reported that approximately 145 shots were fired. This shootout led to FBI agents carrying more effective guns and even influenced police officers.

This was very unexpected in the otherwise quiet neighborhood. On May 15, 2001, the location of the gun battle was commemorated with the sign marking the location.

GREEN

Evelyn Greer Park

Image of Evelyn Greer Park. Credit to Google Earth for photo. CCo 1.0

Address: 8200 SW 124th St. Pinecrest, FL 33156

Formerly known as Pinecrest Park, Evelyn Greer Park is a large 10 acre park. The park has several athletic fields for baseball, softball, and soccer, a playground, and a gazebo which is perfect for outdoor picnics. The park received the 2008 Best Wifi Award, which also makes it an ideal spot for people who like to work outside. The Recreation Center is a great place to sign up for classes offered at the park to stay healthy and fit!

Coral Pine Park

Image of Coral Pine Park. Credit to Google Earth for photo. CCo 1.0
Image of Coral Pine Park. Credit to Google Earth for photo. CCo 1

Address: 6955 SW 104th St, Pinecrest, FL 33156

This 9 acre park offers recreation opportunities for the community. The park includes 6 tennis courts, a recreation center, a play ground for children, and an athletic field. The park also has an indoor room that can be rented for parties. Tables and chairs are also included in the rental!

TRANSPORTATION

Pinecrest FREEBEE

FREEBEE Vehicle
Image of Pinecrest FREEBEE vehicle. Image retrieved from Pinecrest website. CCo 1.0

By downloading the app at www.ridefreebee.com , one can request free rides within Pinecrest! These on demand rides that access anywhere in the Village of Pinecrest as well as going to the South Dade Transitway and Metrorail station. Services are provided Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

FOOD

Captain’s Tavern

Photo of Captain’s Tavern exterior. Credit to Google Earth for photo. CCo 1.0

Address: 9625 South Dixie Hwy

Captain’s Tavern is a seafood restaurant that serves fresh and local seafood. They even have a fresh seafood market right next to the restaurant. The restaurant opened in 1971 by the owner, Bill Bowers (nicknamed “The Captain”). The location was originally a post office, but he turned it into a restaurant space. Almost all of their entire menu is homemade, such as their salad dressings and sauces. They have been recognized by Food + Wine magazine as one of “America’s 50 Most Amazing Wine Experiences. The atmosphere has a warm and old fashioned feel to it, and delicious food makes this restaurant a wonderful location!

Wagons West

Image of exterior of Wagons West. Credit to Google Earth for photo. CCo 1.0

Address: 11311 S. Dixie Highway, Miami, Florida  33156

Wagons West is an American restaurant themed like the “Old West”. It can best be compared to Cracker Barrel, but it is smaller and much more unique. They serve all day breakfast in addition to lunch and dinner. The staff is down to earth and funny, and they always make you feel at home. This laid back gem can be found in a strip mall on South Dixie Highway, which offers a charming contrast to the rest of the mall. The owner, Walter compares the restaurant to the bar seen on the TV show Cheers, “where everybody knowns your name”. This is an ideal spot for delicious comfort food and laid back charm.

Shorty’s

Photo of Shorty’s Bar-B-Q exterior. Credit to Google Earth for photo. CCo 1.0

Address: 9200 S. Dixie Highway Pinecrest, FL 33156

Shorty’s is a laid back restaurant serving up delicious barbeque! The owner “Shorty” Allen built the restaurant in 1951. He wanted the restaurant to be log cabin styled with large family picnic tables. The restaurant was a popular spot for good food and a family environment. Unfortunately, the restaurant burned down in 1972, but “Shorty” Allen rebuilt the restaurant in the same location. The restaurant is still active today and as popular as it has ever been. The old atmosphere and classic recipes have not changed, so the original customers can still experience the same great flavors as the original restaurant!

BUSINESSES

Evenings Delight:

Photo of Exterior of Evenings Delight. Credit to Google Earth for photo. CCo 1.0

Address: 9621 S Dixie Hwy, Pinecrest, FL 33156

Evenings Delight is a store that sells outdoor kitchens, grills, hot tubs, and fireplaces. With the Florida weather, outdoor grilling is a popular activity, so this store offers all the perfect materials for that! The have monthly specials and promotions, so one can often find a good deal!

Hirni’s Wayside Garden Florist:

Hirni’s Wayside Garden Florist. Credit to Google Earth for photo. CCo 1.0

Address: 9950 SW 57th Ave, Pinecrest, FL 33156

Hirni’s Wayside Garden Florist is a family owned business that has been operating for over 50 years. They offer unique floral arrangements for holidays, and all occasions. Hirni’s also makes goodie bag arrangements and baskets with gourmet foods and champagne or wine. This florist shop truly sells only high quality flowers and materials and the family owned atmosphere makes it a charming local place one will gladly do business with.

Joanna’s Marketplace:

Photo of Exterior of Joanna’s Marketplace. Credit to Google Earth for photo. CCo 1.0

Address: 8247 S Dixie Hwy Miami, FL 33143

Joanna’s Marketplace is a family owned market that sells freshly baked breads and pastries. They are well known for their delicious “Glorious Morning” muffins. They also bake fresh Challah bread and provide catering and specialty foods for Jewish holidays like Passover and Rosh Hashanah. The quaint and family atmosphere of the marketplace also adds to its charm and makes it an ideal spot for a meal in Pinecrest or a place to meet and socialize with friends.

SUMMARY

Overall, the Village of Pinecrest is a very safe neighborhood which provides comfort for its residents. It has a rich history associated with the early tourism of Miami, Florida. While it is a beautiful neighborhood, the negative aspect is the cost of living. Property taxes are expensive in Pinecrest, and buying a new home is also expensive. With a low crime rate however, the cost may be outweighed by the safety and beautification of the neighborhood. The chances of being a victim in a violent crime in Pinecrest is reported as 1 in 726. In addition, there are several free or low cost community events such as concerts at Pinecrest Gardens. The safety of the neighborhood, beatification of the neighborhood, and access to community events, make Pinecrest a wonderful neighborhood!

REFERENCES

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinecrest,_Florida

https://www.census.gov/content/census/en/search-results.html?stateGeo=none&q=Pinecrest%20village,%20FL&searchtype=web

https://www.pinecrestgardens.org/gardens-home

https://www.neighborhoodscout.com/fl/pinecrest/demographics

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jungle_Island

https://www.pinecrestgardens.org/venue/history

https://www.pinecrestgardens.org/venue/facility-rental/banyan-bowl

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g34559-d7691415-Reviews-Wayside_Market-Pinecrest_Florida.html

https://www.miaminewtimes.com/restaurants/miami-restaurants-offering-takeout-and-delivery-services-during-coranavirus-pandemic-11597828

https://www.pinecrest-fl.gov/our-village/history

https://www.pinecrest-fl.gov/our-village/public-transportation/pinecrest-freebee

https://www.local10.com/florida-files/2018/11/28/episode-one-april-11-1986-the-bloodiest-day-in-fbi-history/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1986_FBI_Miami_shootout

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g34646-d526891-Reviews-Captain_s_Tavern-South_Miami_Florida.html#photos;aggregationId=101&albumid=101&filter=7&ff=201355765

http://captainstavernmiami.com/index.html

https://www.miaminewtimes.com/best-of/2012/food-and-drink/best-diner-6403229

https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/wagons-west-restaurant-miami?start=0

https://www.southfloridafinds.com/park/fl/miami-dade/pinecrest/evelyn-greer-park.html

https://www.miaminewtimes.com/location/shortys-bar-b-q-6411567

https://shortys.com/douglas-s-moore/

https://www.pinecrest-fl.gov/home/showdocument?id=6596

https://hirnisflorist.net/about-us/

https://www.google.com/maps/@25.6665967,-80.3234648,3a,25.8y,89.04h,84.48t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1szRnYxbzmWVqk6fnPOfcS1g!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

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