ESP 2020 ineffable Miami: Pembroke Pines by Thomas Connell

Thomas Connell (pictured on the left) CC by 4,0


My name is Thomas Connell and I am a sophomore in the honors college at Florida International University. I am an electrical engineering major at the college of engineering. My goal is to graduate and work on the different space exploration projects at NASA. I love to travel and to experience new things because life always has an adventure up ahead.


Photo in public domain

Pembroke Pines is a large residential area that is 33.12 square miles according to the United States Census Bureau and its coordinates are 26.0078° N, 80.2963° W according to


Pembroke Pines saw growth and expansion following WWII and the governments desire to build new roads and highways and the Florida turnpike cut through what was the village of Pembroke Pines and with the influx of families the village of Pembroke Pines became just Pembroke Pines and was officially incorporated into the United States in 1960. Pembroke Pines created the first senior care center in its county and was the prototype for senior care services in the 1990’s all while being on of the fastest growing cities in America.


Public Domain

Pembroke Pines currently has a population of 172,374 with a growth of 11.3% since 2010. The 64.3% of the population are in the civilian work force. The average property value is $264,700 and the average income is $66,816. The houses have a 71.7% ownership rate. The population is middle class shown by the ownership rate and the average income and average house price. The average household is 2.8 people so there is a lot of families with 1 or no Children

The population is mostly white people where 65.5% of residents are white and is followed by Black/African American with 21.7% and followed by Asian only with 4.9% and following that is 2.5% mixed Races where 43% of that group are Hispanic or Latino.


CB Smith Park:

CB smith Park is a 296.25 acre park full of possibilities for activities from Golf, picnicking and basketball to their Water park. The beautiful greenery gives a ton of activities and leave you able to spend hours there with tree cover and entertainment to last multiple weekends full of fun.


Address: 900 N. Flamingo Rd., Pembroke Pines, FL 33028

Phone number: 954-357-5170

North Perry Airport

North Perry Airport was a key part of helping Pembroke Pines become what it is today because it would not be as large as it is now without its acquisition of the airport which would have other wise prevented Pembroke Pines’ westward expansion so it marks an important milestone to Pembroke Pines’ growth.

Address: 101 SW 77th Way Pembroke Pines, FL 33023

Phone Number: 954-359-1016


Public Domain photo

Ashley W. Hale Park

This park is dedicated to the Vice Mayor of Pembroke pines and it offers 3.28 Acres to walk and multiple benches, playgrounds and basketball courts. It is open from 7 am to dusk from Monday to Saturday

Address: NW 106 Terrace & NW 18 Place Pembroke Pines, FL 33026

Phone Number: 954-392-2130

Ben Fiorendino Park

This park is dedicated to the mayor Fiorendino and is just over 5 acres log with a walking or jogging path and large pavilions to sit and rest and there are multiple exercise stations along the path to stop and workout. The hours are from Dawn to Dusk everyday except Saturday when it is 8 am to 6 pm.

Address: 10211 Taft St. Pembroke Pines, FL 33026

Phone Number: 954-392-2130

Flamingo Park

My personal favorite park on account of the large baseball fields and longer hours. There are 2 pavilions, 2 playgrounds and 11 baseball/softball fields. Their hours are from 7 am to 11 pm from Monday to Saturday and on Sunday the hours are from 8 am to 6pm.

Address: 1900 NW 122nd Terrace Pembroke Pines, FL 33026

Phone Number: 954-392-2130

Fletcher Art and Culture Center/ Fletcher Park

This Park and Art and Culture center is named to honor Donnith H. Fletcher, who was the first individual from Pembroke Pines to be killed in the Vietnam War. This center offers Baseball fields and cages, Art classes and art camps. The Hours of operation are 7 am – 11 pm.

Address: 7960 Johnson Street Pembroke Pines, FL 33026

Phone Number: 954-986-5027

Frank C. Ortis Art Gallery and Exhibit Hall at City Center

The Frank is an art center designed for those who come in to think and grow and to create a thoughtful, creative community who comes together and shares ideas. The Frank has curators and artist come and share works to the community. The hours of operation are from 11 am to 5 pm from Tuesday to Saturday and is closed on Monday and Sunday.

Address: 601 City Center Way Pembroke Pines, FL 33025

Phone Number: 954-392-2120


Public Domain photo

Pembroke Pines has multiple highways that pass through it such as the 75 and the Florida turnpike which gives accessibility to travel to cities such as Miami and Fort Lauderdale and gives quick access to Beaches. Pembroke Pines also offers Public Transportation in the form of the Broward County Transit which runs through Pembroke Pines and nearby cities and is only closed on Sundays and some holidays which are New Year’s Day, Dr. Martin Luther King’s Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas.

Since the Broward County Transit is the only public transport, most Pembroke Pines residents own and drive cars to work. Which the average drive time for residents is 31 minutes to go to their work. Significant roads in Pembroke Pines is Sheridan Street and Pembroke road as they extend long and actually define the border of the City of Pembroke Pines.


Pembroke Pines has a large offering of restaurants and grocery stores so that food is always accessible. For Grocery stores there is whole foods, Publix, Costco, Walmart and The Fresh Market. The restaurants in the area arealso amazing.

Baitong Thai and Sushi bar restaurant

A Thai and sushi restaurant with amazing fresh food and some of the best sushi in the Pembroke Pines area with fresh and flavorful seafood and Thai cuisine. It is a recent addition in the Pembroke Pines area but has quickly became a favorite spot of mine to eat at. They offer dine in and delivery. The food never disappoints and is a meal I’d love to have every day. The restaurant’s hours of operation is Monday through Sunday from 11:30 am to 3 pm then after a lunch break it reopens at 4:30 pm to 10 pm and closes at 11 on Friday and Saturday.


Address: 2026 N Flamingo Rd, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028

Phone Number: 954-498-2459

A great spot for lots of food and shopping is The Shops at Pembroke Gardens. It is an outdoor mall where you walk from building to building to different stores and restaurants. Some restaurants include:

Lime Fresh Mexican Grill

Lime was apart of Pembroke Gardens since it was first made in 2007 and has always continued to create consistent, delicious food and a fun atmosphere for the 12 years it has been there. Each time I go the workers are friendly, the food is made quickly, the quality is amazing and I feel filled up. Lime is and always been a highlight of the day when I go and when I want Mexican food I know where to go. They offer dine in, delivery and pick up services. Their hours of operation are Monday through Sunday from 11 am to 10 pm.


Address: 601 SW 145th Terrace, Pembroke Pines, FL 33027

Phone number: 954-436-4700

Brimstone Woodfire Grill

Brimstone is a American food restaurant focused in steaks, The food flavorful and savory and the service is good. It is an excellent spot to enjoy a night out and have a good meal. The restaurant hours are from 11:30 am to 10:00 pm on Sunday to Thursday and the hours are 11:30 am to 11:00 pm on Friday and Saturday.



Phone Number: 954 430 2333

The Habit Burger Grill

Habit Grill is a burger restaurant that blows away its competition. The burgers are some of the best I’ve ever had and there always make me want some more after the first burger. They offer a variety of chicken sandwiches and all are amazing in their own right. Habit grill is a spot where I go eat and 5 minutes later I am wanting another burger. Their hours of operation are from 11 am to 8 pm Sunday -Thursday and 11 am to 9 pm Friday and Saturday.


Address: 306 SW 145th Ave #111, Pembroke Pines, FL 33027

Phone number: 954-367- 2241


Dick’s Sporting Goods

Dick’s is an excellent store to shop and gather all the supplies for outdoor activities you’ll need with a wide variety of shoes, cleats, sports clothing and gear and for fishing, football. Pretty much anything you might want to do the regards outdoor fun, you will find it at Dick’s. Their hours of operation are Monday – Saturday 10 am to 8 pm and Sunday 10 am to 6 pm.


Address: 11940 Pines Blvd, Pembroke Pines, FL 33026

Phone Number: 954 430 5873

Lowe’s Home Improvement

Lowe’s is a home improvement store with all the tools necessary to remodel or refurbish your home. For example, My father and I remade our downstairs bathroom all with supplies from Lowe’s. Their Hours of operation are 6 am to 7 pm Monday – Saturday and 7 am to 7 pm on Sunday.


Address: 130 N University Dr, Pembroke Pines, FL 33024

Phone Number:954 624 1900

Pembroke Pines has another Mall which is Pembroke Lakes Mall. The mall offers many stores but specifically Macy’s


Macy’s is a department store store in which you have an assortment of brands where you can search for just about any brand you might want to buy. It offers many options for clothes, jewelry and cologne. Whenever you need something, odds are Macy’s has it. A bonus is that I’m pretty sure there is an ice cream shop in the mall so you can have a treat after shopping.


Address: 11605 Pines Blvd, Pembroke Pines, FL 33026

Phone number: 954 438 2400


Pembroke Pines is an amazing residential space that is nearby many fun places like downtown Miami, Fort Lauderdale beach and the everglades which provides amble opportunity for fun excursions in the nearby area and within we have so many parks to visit and enjoy. The Pembroke Pines community has so many food options that can be enjoyed. I only highlighted a few of my favorites but there’s excellent places such as cheese course and Anthony’s coal fired pizza I didn’t mention. The shopping experience gives an enormous amount of choices especially with the Pembroke lakes mall and The Shops at Pembroke Gardens and this gives a very extensive selection in foods and shopping services where I hadn’t mentioned how many nail salons there are in Pembroke pines.

All in All I am very glad I dove into and researched my home city because there is more history and information about it that I hadn’t known about so it is a very educational and enjoyable experience for me to learn more about where I was raised and the place I love.


I interviewed George Scholander, a Pembroke Pines resident in the Towngate community

Q: How long have you been living in Pembroke Pines?

A: 17 years

Q: How have seen Pembroke Pines develop over the years?

A: There has been a growth in the number of plazas and when I was here originally there was no Pembroke Gardens which is a big spot for people to go to so it is interesting to see the changes the city has gone through.

Q: What do you enjoy to do in Pembroke Pines?

A: I enjoy golfing and going to CB smith park for a fun day at the water park.

Q: If had the option to live elsewhere, would you?

A: At retirement, yes but right now I’m going to stay because this is a good place to raise a family.


Espana Spring 2020 As Texts Thomas Connell

Photo by Thomas Connell CC by 4.0

Thomas Connell

Thomas Connell is a sophomore in the Honors College who is majoring in Electrical Engineering. He is always passionate about travel and experiencing other cultures and lifestyles. The Espana trip is an excellent opportunity to experience and observe the Spanish cultures and to view its cultural impacts on South Florida.

Vizcaya as Text

Photo taken by Thomas Connell CC by 4.0

I visited Vizcaya for the first time ever and I was blown away by its beauty and culture. From the entrance gate to the gardens, I was entranced by what Vizcaya had to offer. Upon entering the gates it was like taking a step back in time where you went from the many buildings in Miami to a whole different world. It was wonderous to see the difference between Vizcaya and the surrounding area.

When on the premises you are greeted by a statue of Juan Ponce de Leon, and fountains that lead to the house. The fountains contain Spanish and Islamic influence and it gives you a taste of the culture mix that Vizcaya is. The is elaborate with a central courtyard and beautiful art and décor that is mesmerizing each step you take through the house.

What particularly caught my attention is the gardens next to the house. I found the shrubbery aesthetically pleasing and loved the French inspired symmetric layout of the gardens. I spent hours in the garden wandering from each area to view its design and its vibrancy. Vizcaya truly captures the mix of cultures that Miami is known for and it would be a shame to miss out on the beautiful home known as Vizcaya.

Photo Taken by Thomas Connell CC by 4.0
An example of the symmetry and beauty of the Vizcaya Gardens

Deering Estate as text

Deering Estate is a beautiful and expansive property in Biscayne Bay with so much beauty in it’s natural habitats on the Estate. In particular, I thought the wildlife and oceanic scenery were especially beautiful, specifically the Boat Basin and Chicken key.

The boat basin is incredibly beautiful and makes you want to just dive in the water, but that is off limits otherwise you might scare the manatees and other wildlife in the basin. I was without words when I first saw the basin. I was just simply astonished at how beautiful it is. The picture just makes me anxious to visit the Estate to see it in person because just one picture can not do the Estate justice. The Basin is a must see site for the possibility of seeing wildlife and how picturesque it is.

Chicken key is about mile off shore and the island itself is immaculate as it is a composition of deposits of sand and other materials brought from the ocean currents which is incredibly unique in how this island is made. I find it crazy how beautiful it is which can be seen in the picture and I find it even wilder that the ocean created this island.

The nature tour offered by the Estate is an enticing activity and one that will let you explore the beautiful nature the Deering Estate offers and get to explore Florida’s indigenous plants and animals. The tour will take you to see Miami Rock Ridge, Avocado Grove, Tequesta Midden and more beautiful and historic locations. It should be noted that you are required to have a staff member accompany you for the tour and to visit certain locations on the Estate.

South Beach as Text

When reading the walking tour of South beach I was intrigued by the Jewish History museum and the Jewish connection to South Beach and Miami but was fascinated with the information about the History and founding of Miami and South Beach.

It’s hard to imagine that South Beach was a small community or village where everyone knew each other and were friends regardless of race. That is crazy to me because of the time period in which South Beach was founded and the immense size and density of South Beach. I can’t even name 5 people who live in south beach now. It is eye opening on how our amazing vacation spot used to be swamp and mangroves with mosquitoes everywhere.

Though its destruction to the habitat is horrible and the modernization of the Miami beach led to discrimination and mistreatment of other races. I believe that the vision and successful transformation that Carl Fisher had is incredible. Looking at South Beach now, no one would really think that less than a hundred years ago this was a swampland. We only see it for its beautiful appearance and its perfect beaches. Yet Fisher envisioned what we now see as South Beach and Miami Beach.

I believe that the South Beach we once had should be restored, at least partially for its environmental value and for Historical value because the original mangroves were crucial for developing wildlife to survive and grow and were significant in protecting the coastline. Historically, they should be restored due to its value and respect to those who lived in South Beach before Fisher tore it apart.

HistoryMiami as Text

When touring HistoryMiami virtual tour, I found it was extremely informative and showed me more about Miami than I had learned in history books at school. The styling of the museum was smart and made the transition between displays seamlessly. I find the art works that attempt to show what Native American settlements thought provoking because it left me wondering how accurate is the art work in its representation of the precolonial Miami.

The tools used by Native Americans seem cool to me as well and makes me wonder how to use them properly and wanting to ask the museum staff (when I go) if I can use a replica of the tool to see it in practice.

The international Rivalry section open my eyes a bit because I had always known that the Creek Indians moved south to Florida to escape the English colonist but I didn’t know why the Spanish let them until I read that they were used as a buffer in between the colonies, nor did I know that the Creek became the Seminole Indians.

The pioneer settlement was also very cool to me because it made me imagine a western movie kind of house to me and that was fun because it allowed me just to play using my imagination for a bit before returning to the tour. The Tram seen later on the tour was almost surreal to me because I would always see them in old black and white recordings and TV showings but seeing it very real and in my face is different than anything I’ve seen before.

The tour was amazing and eye opening but in the end I believe seeing it in person is necessary to truly appreciate what the museum has to offer because the tour was informative and interesting but being to the location in person is entirely different level.