Florida is relatively a young place! It took foreign powers much longer to settle this land due to its vast wilderness and tribal peoples. When it was such that much of the wilderness was cleared away and the railroads were established all the way down to Key West, it was much easier for people to settle the land.
In October 1915, a man by the name of George Merrick was appointed to aid in the building of roads in South Florida, including major roads that later would connect to his most famous endeavor – a well-planned community named Coral Gables in Miami Dade county (one of the first planned communities in the country, in fact). Famous roads like South Dixie Highway (which is also known as US-1 and is the longest North to South road in the country), Tamiami Trail (which connects across the Everglades) among others.
Merrick’s fame comes from the planning and building of Coral Gables, however. He had a passion for aesthetics so he hired many well known architects of the day as well as landscape architects to help him carry out his vision of broad, tree-lined streets with major Spanish influences. “In a 1925 interview with the New York Times, Merrick commented: ‘Just how I came to utilize the Spanish type of architecture in Coral Gables, I can hardly say, except that it always seemed to me to be the only way houses should be built down there in those tropical surroundings.”‘
At only 6 miles away from our location at Bayside Marketplace, Coral Gables is definitely worth a ride over if you’re visiting Miami.
The name “Coral Castle” really couldn’t be more exemplary of South Florida though its history dates back to a Latvian man in the early 20th century by the name of Edward Leedskalnin.
Some call it the South Floridian modern day Taj Mahal, but Edward Leedskalnin called it the Rock Gate Park; built in the country’s southernmost city (that is not an island), Coral Castle was single-handedly constructed by Leedskalnin as an homage to his lost love Agnes, who stood him up at the altar and only day later left to America. Rumor has it that although Agness (whose real name was Hermine) knew about the castle, she never did go see it, much to Edward’s despair.
Though originally built in Florida City in 1923, it took Edward three years to move the structure to Homestead, Fl (and about 30 total to construct it), for privacy measures. He worked on the house till he died in 1951 and lived in it while he also charged 10 cents a piece for entrance to tour the grounds — and rightly so! The structure features an accurate sundial, several tables (some heart-shaped), fountains, chairs, large multi-ton walls and also a well. It has baffled scientists for many years because of its high-end physical engineering; all of this as a result of the love ofa small man with a fourth grade education.
VIsit the Charles Deering Estate on bike! (Photo from SouthFloridaFinds.com)
Located in Palmetto Bay, Fl (in the southern edges of Miami Dade County), one will find a surprising addition to the National Register of Historic Places. That’s right! In a city that is only about 121 years old, stands the Charles Deering Estate which was built by the Richmond family which opened it as an Inn. In 1901, it was known as the southern-most hostelry in the country. One of the earliest registers of the inn included names such as Henry Flagler and James Ingrahm, both of whom went on to pave the way for future settlers in South Florida – Henry Flager especially, known as he is for having built the Gold Coast Railroad down the length of the state at the end of the 19th century.
Charles Deering bought the cottage and moved into it in 1922. As per the attraction’s website, it is a 444-acre “environment, archaeological, and historic preserve” which makes up the largest virgin coastal hardwood hammock in the continental US.
The estate also includes what is perhaps the oldest burial mound in the country as well, with about 12-18 Native American burials; it’s been disturbed repeatedly in the last century or so but luckily the State of Florida acquired it and added it to the Charles Deering Estate Park.
All-in-all, a totally surprising – and refreshing – taste of history in southern Florida that most tourists would be delighted and encouraged to check out!
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There are a lot of events in February –The Miami International Boat Show, the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, but in South Beach the biggest one is the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, or as it is lovingly referred to around the Bike and Roll office: “SoBe WUFF”. Beginning on the 19th of February, it is a four day food fest showcasing different cuisines and chefs, taking place all throughout Miami Beach – sometimes literally on the beachside! It will be going on its 13th year and features all the biggest personalities on the Food network as well as local chefs – from wine tastings to “empanada happy hour” to a variety of diversely themed dinners. Read More »