Freewheeling Encounters With Miami's Past: Take a Bike Tour With Julia Tuttle

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Miami may be known for many things, but history isn't always foremost among them.

Oh sure, there's the ancient Tequesta ruins squeezed beneath a rare stretch of untilled land adjacent to downtown, and the Freedom Tower, which serves as our complement to Ellis Island. We can boast an array of iconic buildings, from Vizcaya and the Biltmore to Overtown's Lyric Theater and the art deco curiosities of South Beach. Then there's the pioneers that inspire retro reflection, people like Henry Flagler, Julia Tuttle, George Merrick, and James Deering, larger than life individuals who helped lay the foundation for what would eventually become our world class destination.

That ought to be proof enough of our own worthy back story of sorts, even if that tale is barely a hundred years old. Even so, Miami's cutting-edge reputation and continuing urban sprawl make unsurprising that people tend to overlook our legacy.

See also: Miami Icons: Vote Now For Your Favorite Miami Landmark!

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Kendallsuyo Book Seeks to Spotlight Miami's Overlooked Andean Roots

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Courtesy Américo Mendoza-Mori
The "Lady of Coracora" Celebration, a traditional festivity that originated in Ayacucho (Southern Andes).
In the wake of the Pamela Druckerman fiasco, it's pretty clear that lots of folks (even former residents) still harbor stereotypes about Miami.

University of Miami Ph.D. candidate Americo Mendoza-Mori thinks that even the city's Latin culture tends to overlook crucial aspects of its own identity. One aspect includes the unique segment of immigrants who originated from Peru and the Andes, eventually forming the Kendallsuyo settlement in Southwest Miami.

To get the word out, he's launched a Kickstarter to support his book project -- a tome focused on the fascinating stories of this singular group and how they've helped shape Miami as a whole.

See also: Miami Book Fair: Daniel Alarcón Recounts His Drive Into the Dark Heart of Peru's Drugland

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Miami Icons: The Versace Mansion, a High-End Hotel Inspiring Macabre Fascination

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Photos by Zachary Fagenson
San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge. St. Louis has the Arch. Las Vegas has its retro welcome sign. It seems like every city has an iconic structure to represent itself to the rest of the world. Every city but Miami, that is. The Magic City is full of architectural gems, and maybe that's why no one building has come to define it. But that's left this town without a symbol of its own. In our Miami Icons series, we're aiming to fix that. Today, writer Lee Zimmerman argues for the Versace Mansion, AKA Casa Casuarina.

It was an indelible image seen around the world. The bloodstained steps of the Versace Mansion in the immediate aftermath of the inexplicable murder of fashion icon Gianni Versace. who, in spite of his wealth and influence, seemed a most unlikely target of an assassin's gun. For all the opulence that this palatial home represents, it's those stairs, where the homeowner was inexplicably ambushed by the crazed killer Andrew Cunanan, that still finds tourists gawking and gazing in amazement.

How strange that that small parcel of cement turf should overshadow the grandeur and spectacle borne by one of Miami Beach's most lavish domains. With ten bedrooms, 11 baths, a magnificent center courtyard, and 23,000 square feet of living space, it's imposing indeed. Versace was a man of impeccable taste, and up until his death in 1997, the furnishings and décor that he surrounded himself with reflected that fact.

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Miami Icons: The Biltmore, a Glitzy, Golden-Age Throwback

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Photos by Karli Evans
San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge. St. Louis has the Arch. Las Vegas has its retro welcome sign. It seems like every city has an iconic structure to represent itself to the rest of the world. Every city but Miami, that is. The Magic City is full of architectural gems, and maybe that's why no one building has come to define it. But that's left this town without a symbol of its own. In our Miami Icons series, we're aiming to fix that. Today, writer Lee Zimmerman swoons over the retro sophistication of The Biltmore.

It's hosted heads of state, athletes, movie stars, and even gangsters. In the '20s and '30s, the world's biggest celebrities went through its doors. When it first opened those doors on January 15, 1926, its stature as a South Florida landmark was all but assured.

Back then, the Biltmore was the centerpiece of the young but thriving city of Coral Gables, a remarkable melding of Mediterranean, Moorish, and Old World architecture, one that stands alone in its dignity and distinction. Over the years, it's also become a symbol of a golden era, of glitz, glamour, and upper crust society. Its location was obviously appropriate, a draw to a destination soon to be dubbed America's Riviera.

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Miami Icons: Vizcaya, Birthplace of Magic City Luxury

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Photos by Karli Evans
San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge. St. Louis has the Arch. Las Vegas has its retro welcome sign. It seems like every city has an iconic structure to represent itself to the rest of the world. Every city but Miami, that is. The Magic City is full of architectural gems, and maybe that's why no one building has come to define it. But that's left this town without a symbol of its own. In our Miami Icons series, we're aiming to fix that. Today, writer Lee Zimmerman argues that Vizcaya offers a lesson in Miami luxury.

Any place that provides the setting for a meeting between the Pope and the President has to be pretty special, right? So it was no small surprise that the luxurious Villa Vizcaya was chosen as the location for President Ronald Reagan to welcome Pope John Paul II for the Pontiff's first visit to Miami in 1987.

Vizcaya has a certain regal presence that befits the world's royalty. When Bill Clinton needed a place to host a Summit of the Americas in 1994, Vizcaya again seemed the natural choice.

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Hattie Mae Williams Seeks Dancers For Miami Marine Stadium Film Project

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MFNY
Hattie Mae Williams is a Miami-bred badass. After graduating from New World in Miami and then getting a degree with honors from Fordham/Alvin Ailey in New York -- one of the single most respected contemporary dance programs in the country -- Williams established her own modern dance corps, the Tattooed Ballerinas. As a dancer, she's inspiringly self-assured, passionate, and creative. As a person, she's humble, engaging, and quite simply cool.

So it was especially gratifying to see her awarded the Knight Arts Challenge grant late last year in order for her to put together a pair of site-specific pieces in her hometown.

See also: Miami Dancer Hattie Mae Williams on Guerrilla Dancing and the Tattooed Ballerina Movement

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Locust Projects' Latest Exhibition Explores the Many Identities of the Everglades, Opens Saturday

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Fabricated wood by Felice Grodin
There's more to the Everglades than monstrous bugs, swampy terrain, and toothy alligators. Opening Saturday, March 8, Locust Projects presents new works by Miami-based artists Christy Gast and Felice Grodin, whose study of landscapes and spaces yield intricately-fashioned installations.

Gast's exhibit, "Inholdings," contains two works: A full-scale textile replica of a Nike Hercules missile and a single-channel video entitled War Drums (Nuclear Clock). "Inholdings" shifts the focus between natural, cultural, and desired histories by appropriating craft traditions to document a place.

"An inholding is kind of a bureaucratic term for [privately] held land that's surrounded by public land, which figures a lot into my projects," said Gast during an artist talk held Thursday. "I'm really interested in enigmatic landscapes where there's a history of conflict."

See Also: Second Saturday Art Walk Guide: March's Best Gallery Shows

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The Black Archives Bring Culture to Overtown With Boost from Knight Arts Challenge

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The Knight Foundation
Timothy A. Barber, executive director of The Black Archives History and Research Foundation of South Florida, receives a 2013 Knight Arts Grant from Knight Foundation President Alberto Ibarguen, left, and Matt Haggman, program director/Miami, right

The Black Archives History and Research Foundation of South Florida was one of the Knight Arts Challenge winners announced Dec. 3. The Overtown-based organization aims to keep the history of black Miami alive with initiatives such as their monthly Expressions spoken word events, which will benefit directly from the Knight Foundation's $50,000 Knight Arts Grant Credit.

The Black Archives, founded in 1977 by Dr. Dorothy Jenkins Fields, has worked to make sure that materials documenting South Florida's black population, such as manuscripts, letters, articles, photography and other materials dating from 1896 to the present, were preserved for future generations. The community, including historians, researchers, students and teachers, are allowed to use the preserved resources for their own educational pursuits.


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"Concrete Paradise": The Past, Present, and Future of Miami Marine Stadium

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Courtesy of the Coral Gables Museum
A young Hilario Candela stands with the Miami Marine Stadium during construction
Tonight marks the grand opening of the Coral Gables Museum's new exhibition, "Concrete Paradise: The Miami Marine Stadium," which takes viewers through the history of the stadium, from its inception to the prospective renderings of its future renovations. The exhibition seamlessly interweaves the what curator Rosa Lowinger described as "the first third of the stadium's life," leaving you with an invigorated sense of hope and excitement for what will come in the next two-thirds of its history.

There's a good deal to be learned from this exhibit. For instance, the stadium isn't technically called Miami Marine Stadium - officially, it was dedicated as the Commodore Ralph Middleton Munroe Stadium, named after the dedicated public benefactor who, among other notable accomplishments, founded the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club and deeded the land over for the construction of the stadium. For the next three months, the Coral Gables Museum will effectively be removing Miami Marine Stadium from strictly existing as the dank shell of its former self and giving the public an opportunity to see it in all its seasons.

See also: Miami Marine Stadium: A Revival of Magic, Concrete, and Spray Paint

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Gloria Estefan on Miami Marine Stadium's Future: "I Envision a Drive-In Movie Theater for Boats"

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Gloria Estefan and Mayor Thomas Regalado pose with the "Special Operations Warriors"
This Saturday, six teams of "Special Operations Warriors," a group of veterans from the US armed services, mounted a team of Kawasaki Jet Skis along the shoreline in front of Miami Marine Stadium in order to commemorate the "Never Quit Challenge," a private charity ride 1,600 miles up the East Coast that started in Key West and will conclude in New York City on September 11th. A stage was erected for the event, which drew members of the public and the press, well as a number of Miami's heavy hitters, such as Mayor Thomas Regalado and Gloria Estefan.

In addition to wishing the Warriors well and bidding them a safe journey, the public figures in attendance also commented on the future of Miami Marine Stadium, which recently had its site plan approved and is now in the process of raising $20 million within the next two years in order to begin construction on the restoration project. Once the event had come to a close and the veterans made their way to prep their jet skis for the long ride ahead of them, Estefan gave New Times a few minutes of her time.

See also: Miami Marine Stadium: A Revival of Magic, Concrete, and Spray Paint

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