I was born and raised in Miami, leaving it for only three years to live in Tallahassee for a little while and experience life outside of Miami. I returned in 1999 and have been living here ever since. I have my family here, my roots, and history here. I’ve considered leaving Miami for other places, but I can never truly bring myself to leave my roots. As much as I hate the traffic, I hate the politics, and the rude people that seem to be multiplying by the minute, there is something about this city that just fascinates me. Believe it or not there is a very rich history here that I research and learn about little by little. The thing that saddens me the most about this city is it’s lack of preservation. It’s history is demolished daily with each new high rise or parking structure that is constructed. Being that I’m an architecture student, I look towards our history for inspiration on my designs and every time I take a look around the ancient (by Miami standards) structures that we have around here, I notice how badly in disrepair they are or how they’d been demolished to accommodate the latest and greatest building that will save our city from ruins, as each new developer claims. For example, let’s go back to one of my previous posts on the Miami Stadium. Here’s a stadium that was rich in history that was allowed to fall into disrepair and eventually demolished. Then there’s the Miami Marine Stadium. Anyone who’s been in Miami for a while and ventures outside of their box or goes boating knows about the Marine Stadium.
This stadium was designed by architects Pancoast, Ferendino Spillis + Candela, who is now Spillis Candela DMJM with the lead architect being Hilario Candela and this project being one of his favorites. The massive concrete cantilever roof is incredibly impressive and with how badly in disrepair this structure is, it’s beauty is still evident. Hurricane Andrew did a number on it in 1992, and the structure was left to fall apart. It is in critical condition as there are massive cracks in the concrete, and if you’re in a boat in the cove you can see where concrete has fallen off in chunks at the rebar has been exposed.
I honestly believe that I went here as a child to see a race with my parents, but I’m not sure as I was really young and my parents don’t remember either. I seem to remember having a soft serve ice cream and seeing a water skiing show, but beyond that I don’t remember. I do remember how impressive the structure was, which is an indication to me that from an early age I already had an awareness of architecture. There’s a pretty good article with some history over at Miami Vision Blogarama that is worth checking out.
Then there’s Hialeah Park, which was once Hialeah Race Track. This beautiful, timeless park succumbed to big business and stopped it’s races on May 22, 2001. It could not compete with places like Calder Race Track and had to close becoming Hialeah Park. It’s grounds are gorgeously landscaped with the main track being a flamingo habitat.
There’s a very important article on it’s future at Bloodhorse.com.
“It’s like a beautiful woman whose time has come and gone,” track owner John Brunetti said.
This statement couldn’t be any truer, and this is a good example of what this entire article is about. This gorgeous park is in serious danger. They are considering turning it into a mixed use residential structure. Usually I would applaud this kind of thinking as I feel mixed use structures are something that is desperately needed in Miami, but not when it’s taking the place of a structure that has been here since the 1920’s.
Three Guys from Miami has a great resource on this awesome park with loads of pictures, as well as Wikipedia, The National Historic Landmarks Program, and Save Hialeah Park! Again, this is another place that I have been to, not for the races though, but it is incredibly impressive. I would compare the grounds of Hialeah Park to that of Vizcaya without the waterfront view. Granted both structures have their own personalities and their own history so this statement isn’t entirely true, but if you’ve ever been to Vizcaya and been in awe of it’s beauty, you will be equally impressed by Hialeah Park.
These are a few of the structures that are near to me and which I consider at critical points of their lives. These structures are in danger of being demolished or falling on their own, as in the case of the Marine Stadium, and I really wish that the politicians who claim to value this city would take the appropriate measures to save it’s history. The existing structures played a huge role in making Miami what it is today and drawing people to this “Paradise” and we are in danger of losing who we were and how we arrived where we did and I’m terribly afraid that these structures are only going to become stories we tell our children about or you see in a museum, as in the case of Royal Palm Hotel.