Miami Icons: Vizcaya, Birthplace of Magic City Luxury

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

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

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

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

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"

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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Jack Kerouac "Found Peace in Florida," Loved White Castle Burgers

Tom Palumbo/Wikimedia Commons
The life cycle of the outsider who moves to Florida: First, move to the Sunshine State, upbeat about the weather and the ambiance. Next, find yourself on permanent vacation, feeling at peace with your life and yourself. Soon, however, the tropical weather, the unfamiliar locals, the sand in your shoes -- it all starts to grate on you. Finally, you're so over it that you make plans to move to New York.

It happens to the best of them. No one is immune -- not even a literary giant like Jack Kerouac.

The Paris Review has published a report on Door Wide Open, a collection of letters between Kerouac and his novelist lover Joyce Johnson, written and sent in 1958, when Kerouac moved into his mother's rented bungalow in Orlando, Florida. They offer insight into Kerouac's struggles with his newfound fame as On The Road hit bookstore shelves. But to anyone who's moved to this state and wrestled with its sunny/shady dichotomy, they also sound awfully familiar.

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Flawed But Fabulous South Florida Trivia Night Tests Locals' Hometown Knowledge

Categories: Local History

public domain image via Wikimedia Commons
It's Ponce de Leon, smartass.
When was the last time it snowed in Miami?

In what type of natural region does the Everglades sit?

Who is Julia Tuttle?

Knowing the answers to these questions might not get you far in life, unless you happen to be a contestant on Jeopardy! during "Floriduh" theme night. But those answers can at least get you to Lester's (2519 NW Second Ave., Miami) for Flawed but Fabulous South Florida Trivia Night tonight.

See also:
- Miami's Five Best Pub Trivia Nights
- Five Places to Celebrate National Trivia Day This Week

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Miami Marine Stadium Restoration Plans Approved

A little over five years ago, an organization called the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium was founded in order to champion the restoration and reopening of the long abandoned bayfront venue in Key Biscayne that had its doors closed by the city in the wake of Hurricane Andrew. It has been widely recognized as an extraordinary piece of architecture and an exciting location with endless potential for the people of this city. The Friends of Miami Marine Stadium have come up with an idea for how to realize all that potential by bringing the stadium back into the world of the living, revitalizing it again and making it a fully operational venue for boat races, concerts, and numerous other events, as well as a beautiful and widely accessible public space.

Yesterday, Miami's City Commissioners convened and after hearing testimonials from supporters of the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium, including Gloria Estefan and organization co-founder Jorge Hernandez, gave their approval for the site plan to restore the iconic venue. The Friends organization officially has the green light to get their resurrection underway.

See also:
- Miami Marine Stadium: A Revival of Magic, Concrete, and Spray Paint
- Architects Propose Saving the Miami Marine Stadium With a Giant Helium Balloon

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Disco Legend Henry Stone and HistoryMiami Museum Team For New Collection

Categories: Local History

Joe, Henry, and Inez Stone alongside Dawn Hugh and John Shubin from HistoryMiami
Disco was invented in Miami. Well, Hialeah to be exact, at the humble 8-track studio above Henry Stone's record distribution office at 495 SE 10th Court.

George McCrae's "Rock Your Baby," written by Harry Wayne Casey (KC of KC and The Sunshine Band) and Rick Finch was not the first disco song ever, and there were certainly underground dance clubs in New York and Chicago before it came out, but when it sold over a million copies worldwide almost over night in 1974, it birthed the global phenomenon that would dominate the decade. It was disco's first real hit, and it has gone on to sell well over 20 million physical copies around the world, a feat rarely matched by any artist. But that's just one of the thousands of albums released by Stone, a Bronx kid who has called Miami home since 1948, and who as a music distributor and manufacturer has sold hundreds of millions of records, massively influenced global popular culture, and been a confidant and friend to the greatest titans of the music industry.

Now, HistoryMiami is collecting his ephemera to preserve and document his cultural contributions for scholarly discourse and exhibition.

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