Miami: Historic Overtown and Coconut Grove
Русская версия If you already saw Downtown Miami and Miami Beach, Little Haiti, Little Havana, and Everglades National Park, make sure you do not miss two other less popular neighborhoods – Historic Overtown and Coconut Grove.
To get to Historic Overtown from the city center, take a metrorail from Brickell or Government Center to Historic Overtown/Lyric Center. In the place like Miami, a ride on the metro with is over the ground is a great adventure by itself.
Yet another adventure starts when you get to Historic Overtown. Miami’s historically Black neighborhood, Historic Overtown, reflects a blend of the ancestry of the Caribbean, West Indies, West Africa and the Old South. Main points of interest are located on the 3rd Avenue from the 6th to the 15th Streets. To say the truth, the attractions are not too many here: in addition to the theatre, several churches, and graffiti, the tourist guide book has to mention shops and barber’s places to make an impression of plenty.
The neighborhood seemed a bit shady, but we did not pay much attention to it, since the district is mentioned as a place to visit in the official Miami guide. At some point of time, the police car approached us asking what we were doing there. We tried to explain something about the tourist guide and Miami must-sees, but the policemen urged us against walking in this neighborhood and recommended to leave as soon as possible since it was dangerous. To be honest, we did not feel too unsafe and it is hard to judge how dangerous the place was, but we followed the recommendations.
Another black district, that of Coconut Grove is certainly much safer to visit. To get to it from the city center, you will first need to take the orange Brickell free trolley, and at its final stop change to black Coconut Grove trolley line. It takes about an hour to get there from the city center, but it is well worth it.
Village West of Coconut Grove is the present day historic enclave of the Bahamian and African-American descendants of the early settlers of Coconut Grove. Their presence began here in the mid 1880s, when Blacks primarily from the Bahamas came to work at the Peacock Inn. Their firsthand experience with tropical plants, agriculture and building materials proved invaluable in the development of Coconut Grove. Coconut Grove Village West enclave is known regionally, nationally and internationally because of its culture, arts history and festivals such as the Goombay Festival. This event encompasses various social activities and traditional Bahamian folklore, attracting thousands of people every year.
Surprisingly, the tourist information center in Coconut Grove which is supposed to tell about the attractions in the neighborhood, recommended the shopping center which was not much to see apart from Halloween decorations.
Luckily, Nastya had a guide book with her, and it turned out that Coconut Grove which is visited by tourists much less than Little Havana, is much more authentic and diverse. Walk at S Douglas Road from Grand Avenue, turn to the left and walk Charles Avenue, turn to Main Hwy to return to Grand Avenue and finish at the intersection with S Douglas Road where you started. Most of the attractions are situated along this route.
You will encounter several churches (and streets named after them), but make sure you see Coconut Grove cemetery, which seems quite unusual.
People’s houses are very nice here too.
Mariah Brown house belonged to one of the first Bahamian settlers here. Bahamians came here due to the similarity of climate and also brought their style of home building which would protect from heat and rain. The houses are known as conch houses.
E.W.F. Stirrup house is one of the few wood-frame residencies from the 19th century remaining in Miami Dade county. It has been built with excellent quality materials and in the very skillful technique, which along with Mariah Brown house is to remind us of the achievements of early Bahamian pioneers. The house is currently under renovation.
The Coconut Grove Playhouse was Miami’s first live theatre which opened after the WW2.
The Barnacle is the oldest home in Dade County still standing on its original site. It was built by another pioneer, Ralph Munroe, who moved to Miami because of his wife’s illness, built his home and a boat house here.
The wife died in a year after they had moved, but after grieving he married again and had two children with his second wife. The house was donated to Florida State by his descendants and is now surrounded by the beautiful park which is worth a good stroll and would be exceptionally good for picnics and families with kids. Park admission donation is 2$. Every unusual tree or building is described on the information board here.
For example, you will get to know that the killer tree or strangler fig starts its life on the branches of another, host tree, deprives it from sun by growing up and spreading its brunches and grows its routes downward wrapping the host tree trunk. Cut off from sunlight and water (taken away by the strangler fig roots) the host tree dies; by this time, the parasite tree can stand on its own.
Less visited, Coconut Grove Village West has many more attractions to see and may require the whole day. Make sure you devote some time to it!
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