Explore Miami from the comfort of your own home with Miami’s premier tour guide, Carolina!
Miami Mondays Episode 13:
The Tamiami Trail
Miami Mondays Episode 12:
Miami Circle Park in Brickell
Miami Mondays Episode 11:
The Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach
Miami Mondays Episode 10:
The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables
Miami Monday’s Episode 9:
Challenger Spaceship Memorial in Downtown Miami
Transcript: On January 28, 1986, 73 seconds after liftoff the Challenger Spaceship exploded due to structural failure. Killing all 5 astronauts, 1 payload specialist, and the one teacher who was projected to be the first teacher in space, Christa McAuliffe. This was an especially publicized launch because it was a part of President Reagan’s Teacher in Space program. This program was created to “honor teachers, inspire students, and spur interest in the STEM fields” but after this disaster, the program was canceled. This 105 foot memorial was unveiled 3 years later in 1989 and was designed to resemble a DNA molecule which the sculptor, Isamu Noguchi, said “act’s as a continuity of nature”. This memorial is meant to keep hope and inspiration alive within all of us and as Miami commissioner, Rosario Kennedy, brilliantly said during the unveiling “I trust this memorial will spur us to be governed by the possibilities of our dreams and not by the confines of our human limitations”. Unfortunately, Isamu Noguchi passed away one month before the monument was unveiled and this became his last public monument. Luckily, in Bayfront Park, we’ve got two monuments of his, right here. This monument is also meant to bear resemblance to the fumes a spaceship emits during liftoff.
Miami Monday’s Episode 8:
Historic Art Deco District in South Beach, Miami Beach
Transcript: The city of Miami Beach was established on March 26, 1915 and it was a thriving coastal city….that is, until September of 1926. At 2 in the morning on September 18, 1926, 150 mile per hour winds struck the city wreaking havoc. The Great Miami Hurricane of 1926 still remains to be the costliest ever Atlantic hurricane costing approximately 225.5 billion dollars in damage and a death toll of 1000. The city was determined to put a positive spin on the property destruction and decided to rebuild the city in something new, exciting, and exotic and at that time that happened to be Art Deco. There are three main characteristics in Miami’s Art Deco Architecture including the height, the eyebrow ledges, and the nautical features designed into the building. When these buildings were being constructed there was a strict financial budget so to ameliorate costs, buildings were built at 3 floors or less to avoid putting in an elevator. The eyebrow ledges were designed into the building to give shade to the inside since air conditioning had yet to be a commodity in the world. And last but most definitely not least are the nautical features we have designed into the building. There are many variations to these nautical features such as circular windows, painted circles, and holes cut out into the walls to resemble port holes. The rounded corners of the buildings, splashing fountain artwork painted onto structures, and some literal representations of lighthouses are some of the other nautical features. Modern buildings also like to keep up with the Art Deco design such as the Ocean Spray hotel that is designed to resemble a cruise ship and the Walgreens on 14th street and Collins Avenue that is designed to look like a cargo ship. A special hidden characteristic of our Art Deco style is that we were influenced by Egyptian culture due to the fact that at the time we were constructing these buildings, King Tutankahem’s Tomb was discovered. These influences can be seen on the Cavalier hotel and in several structures going down 5th Street. You can find mosaic pyramids, zig-zags, and pyramid structures throughout Miami Beach. The preservation of these beautiful Art Deco buildings wouldn’t be possible without the tenacity and incessantness of Barbara Baer Capitman, the founder of the Miami Design and Preservation League. The MDPL was formed in the late 1970’s and thanks to the Miami Design and Preservation League we have over 800 Art Deco buildings in Miami! Which gives Miami Beach the Guinness World Record for the most of one type of architecture concentrated in one city. Lastly, the international symbol for Art Deco is the frozen fountain, which, the design can be found in Miami’s sewer caps.
Miami Monday’s Episode 7: Historic Virginia Key Beach Park
Raise your hands if you’ve been to Virginia Key Beach Park! This beach is not only a hidden treasure but it was Miami’s first colored-only beach! The city of Miami was incorporated as a city by 400 men, 1/3 of them being African-American, in 1896. This doesn’t mean they were granted the civil liberties to be able to freely enjoy our city’s number-one attraction, our beaches. This all changed when Attorney Lawson B. Thomas led a group of 7 protesters to daringly enter a whites-only beach in an effort to pressure the city in giving black Miamians an official place to bathe in the Biscayne Bay. It worked and the city officially declared Virginia Key a colored-only beach on August 1,1945 and later in the 1960’s all beaches were finally desegregated. Virginia Key is also a pristine natural landscape that is filled with red & black Mangroves, Sea Grape trees, Beach Peanut plants, Beach Jacquemontis, Biscayne Prickly Ash, and dazzling Coastal Hammocks. An ecological treasure that we must make sure to protect and preserve!
Miami Monday’s Episode 6: The Lyric Theater in Historic Overtown
Built in 1913 by a Georgian man named Geder Walker, this 400-seat theater was a major hub for entertainment in the black community. The Lyric Theater anchored the area known as “Little Broadway” which was well-known for being a vibrant Afro-American community. This area was a must-stop for many jazz and blues musicians that came to Miami such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, and Josephine Baker…just to name a few. But everything started to change when in 1965 the city broke ground to construct the I-95 expressway. Predicting that there wouldn’t be much outcry from the Overtown community, the city cleared out 4,000 business and residential units. Virtually overnight, Overtown went from a lively and high-spirited community to a neighborhood that was isolated and cut off from the rest of the city… and it has yet to recover. The Lyric Theater was shuttered off during this decline and it wasn’t until 1988 when the Black Archives History and Research Foundation purchased the building, restored it, and opened it up to the audiences in the year 2000. The Black Archives History and Research Foundation was founded in 1977 to quickly preserve the rapidly vanishing African American Arts & Culture that originated in Miami. The Lyric Theater is the lone survivor of Little Broadway and serves as a reminder of yet another way the black community was robbed of rising economic influence.
Miami Mondays Ep. 5: Sears/Carnival Tower in the Adrienne Arsht Center
During the mid-1920’s Miami experienced it’s first building boom and with that, came the development of the Sears Roebuck & Co. Storefront. The Sears tower was constructed in 1929 and was the first implementation of Art Deco architecture in Miami, predating Miami Beach! Sears closed it’s doors in 1983 and in 1992 they removed the Sears sign and donated the building to the city. Since this building was listed under the National Register of Historic Place, when the performing arts center was being built, the Sears tower remained in place. On October 5, 2006 the center was opened, at first being named the Carnival Center and later on in 2008 being renamed the Adrienne Arsht Center after businesswoman and philanthropist Adrienne Arsht. Adrienne Arsht generously donated $30 million dollars to keep the performing arts center financially stable and she serves as the founding chairman of the Adrienne Arsht Center Foundation.
Miami Mondays Episode 4: Miami City Hospital
One of the first hospital’s in Miami, Miami City Hospital was built in 1918, just in time to handle the Spanish Flu Epidemic. When the hospital was constructed it was criticized for being too far out in the country and doctor’s petitioned the administration to fence off the area and prevent the cows from grazing under the operating room windows. In 1924 it was renamed after the founder and renowned physician, James M. Jackson. In 1977 it was saved from the wrecking ball and was instead moved a short distance where it now stands as the centerpiece for the 100-acre Jackson Memorial Health System. It is also nicknamed The Alamo.
Miami Monday’s Episode 3: Tower Theater & Domino Park in Little Havana
Tower Theater was opened in December of 1926 and was the finest state-of-the-art theater in all of South Florida. In this theater is where a lot of Cuban immigrants received their first assimilation of American culture. The theater displayed American movies with Spanish subtitles, the only theater to be doing that! The theater was closed from 1984 until 2002 when Miami Dade College took over it under the auspices of Miami Film Festival. Domino Park is just across the street and was built in 1976. This park was named after Generalissimo Maximo Gomez who fought in the Cuban War of Independence. Before the park was built, Cubans brought their own tables to play dominoes, now the park has 11 domino tables and 5 for playing chess. However, not just anyone can rent out dominoes and play here! In order to participate, you have to be over the age of 50, fill out an application, the city conducts a background check, and then you will receive your membership card in the mail which you can then use to rent out dominoes. In the park there is a mural depicting the Summit of the Americas, the first one was held in Miami. The mural depicts all the heads of state that were in attendance, including President Clinton!
Miami Monday’s Episode 2: The Freedom Tower
The Mediterranean-revival style building in the center of downtown was built in 1926 and housed Miami’s first newspaper, the Miami News. The Freedom Tower was inspired La Giralda bell tower in Seville, Spain. (Miami actually has two building inspired by La Giralda, the other one is The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables). It now serves as a memorial to Cuban immigrants because in the 1960’s it was used by the federal government to process and document refugees from the Cuban Revolution. They even used the building to provide medical and dental care!
Miami Monday’s Episode 1: Miami City Hall
The Pan-American Airlines arrived in Miami and situated themselves in Dinner Key in Coconut Grove. Pan-American Airlines utilized the building during the 1930’s and 40’s and at that time is was one of the biggest airports in the U.S. This terminal also used to be the largest naval air station in the continental United States. As seaplanes started to become obsolete Pan-Am moved their headquarters to the Pan American Field or as we like to call it, Miami International Airport. Pan-Am’s final flight took place on August 9, 1945. The building was purchased by the city the following year and was used for marina offices and a restaurant before becoming Miami City Hall in 1954.