Miami--It's No Longer "New York South"
by, April 18th, 2011 at 11:16 PM (8119 Views)
Q-- Why is Miami like New York?
A-- It's not. It's like nowhere else in the country. Miami --the area-- does carry some VERY strong NY characteristics around with it-- subtle reminders of New York, like nowhere to park, genuine Kosher Delis and a skyline that is stunning.
A New York accent is the SECOND most overheard language in town, and the architecture of the place is unique, filled with surprises on every corner. Plus, it can be REALLY expensive.
It's a real melting pot as well-- just like NYC--with Spanish being the overwhelming ethnic tag. The 3 million who comprise the population of Miami-Dade-- a government entity that encompasses a dozen city-sized communities-- are predominately Cuban, with large numbers of Columbians, Ecuadorians, Central Americans, etc. The essence of Southern Hemisphere culture thrives well in Miami.
Miami is very popular among the Hatians. There are also a lot of Canadians and Jews --and Italians, Brits, millionaires and pop stars.
( White, non-Hispanics, as the Census Bureau is fond of putting it, now comprise about 25% of Miami-Dade's makeup ).
Miami is no New York, but it's a real city, an urban area that encompasses both density and sprawl. There are farms, casinos and symphony orchestras, massive malls, five-star restaurants, highrise Edge City office clusters and five-million dollar beachside penthouses within it's sphere of influence. They're all linked together with an involved bridge and freeway system that is as congested as New York's.
I read somewhere that Miami now has the THIRD most impressive skyline in America--that is, the number of buildings over 20 stories ( Chicago is #2)-- and that factoid was perfectly laid out before me a few nights ago-- it's a surprisingly stunning skyline that's not unlike an evening approach to Manhattan along the LIE.
As I left South Beach and piloted my Infiniti along a palm-lined causeway, darting among and through the taxis, Ferraris and long Hummer limos that filled the lanes crossing Biscayne Bay about a half-hour past sunset, I got a quick and certain taste of the urgency that New York 's traffic always provides when it's running fast and the skyline fills the windshield.
As far the eye could see across the Bay's broad expanse, the East edge of Florida was walled off with huge towers. They marched down the beaches, their thousands of individual lights creating a vivid rival to the constellations floating in the dusky sky, and they grew larger and turned into Planet Miami as we approached dry land. Massive luxury liners were clustered around the Port, the Inland waterway was alive with boats hustling towards their docks, the Heat were playing in the downtown arena and Brickell Avenue, once lined with graceful bayside mansions, now hosted gridlock traffic beneath it's rows of skyscrapers. Still, the Avenue glistened and shone with the architectural strength of Park Avenue in Manhattan. Miami was busy.
I was in Miami for the hell of it. My tax refund showed up in my bank account, so I spent some of it repairing my car, erasing the huge dent I got at the Daytona race, then I decided to splurge. I wanted to spend a weekend in a big town and since I can no longer afford New York, Miami-- about 450 miles from home-- was a close and agreeable second choice.
Once I got over the shock of $70.00 fillups (...four of them) I had a great time.
I have life-long friends there and I know the town well from many previous visits, so going to South Beach and Calle Ocho were but guilty, familiar pleasures. We barhopped Coconut Grove, gambled at a glitzy casino out in The Everglades, hung out at the City Marina and took Miami's version of the Subway down to Dadeland. We found a great bar in Coral Gables with live, Afro-Cuban jazz then later we stood at tiny sidewalk windows in Little Havana drinking shots of 100 proof Caffe' Cubano as a Marti Gras-like street party went on around us.
I ate well, stayed up late and renewed some old acquaintinces as I burned through my refund. I probably spent as much as a weekend in the Big City would have cost, but what the hell...
I guess Miami IS a lot like New York, just warmer.