Posted on February 28, 2021
When Amy needed to do a Black History month article for her work she asked me if I would like to go down with her. So long as we were not in crowds I was good with that. We walked the area of Overtown, and took photographs and visualized the history. Earlier this week I shared my 30 Minutes in the Life blog. If you want to read the blog of my story on Overtown click here.
Moving on we also decided to visit the neighborhood of Wynwood, art district of Miami, and graffiti galore. It was a feast to the eyes. Graffiti everywhere. There is just so much, that I was not sure what to look. We certainly did not cover the entire area. We only got to walk a couple of blocks before we headed to grab some lunch at a local pizza restaurant, and then headed back to the car and back home.
The Wynwood Walls webpage says that “Since its inception, the Wynwood Walls program has seen over 50 artists representing 16 countries and have covered over 80,000 square feet of walls” To read more about the project click here.
I hope you enjoyed the visual tour. This was just a fraction of what there is to explore in Wynwood, Miami.
Thank you for joining me this month. This is a small group of bloggers so when one or two are out it seems like it is a quiet month for blogs however, this is a circle blog. Take some time to view what the other artist has for you this month. My friend Lupji of LUPJi Photography is up next. I look forward to reading what he has to share.
Category: Tell Me a Story Tagged: #afeastfortheeyes, #graffiti, #miami, #sharleenstuartphotography, #streetphotography, #wynwoodwalls
Posted on February 22, 2021
Greetings from Overtown. I have to confess, I had never heard of Overtown until recently and I have lived in the US for about 20 years. One of the reasons is because I very rarely go down to Miami. I have been to Viscaya but that is really my extent of exploring Miami. I find it a huge city that I will easily get lost in.
What I learned this weekend is the little neigborhood of Overtown has such beautiful roots in History. Established in the Jim Crow era, Overtown was often referred to as the “Harlem of the south”. Back in the late 1800’s Overtown was an incorporated into Miami, mainly at the insistence of Henry Flagler. This railroad construction company’s workers had settled in what became a downtown Miami area and the neigborhood would house many of the black construction workers and their families. Overtown was effectively known in those days as “Colored Town”. Black people were segregated in Miami right up to the 1970’s. Interesting reading on that period of time can be found here.
Overtown is now the second oldest inhabited area in Miami and was home to many businesses. In the 1920’s and 1930’s Avenue G was a hive of entertainment, retail stores and hotels. The first African American hotel was developed in 1921 As we walked the streets of Overtown early one Sunday morning, we were one of the few out on the street. It was the opportunity to really embrace a different vibe to the neighborhood.
Amy’s initial thought was to take the Brightline down to Overtown, but since Richard is not well, my concern is always germs. Especially Covid germs, and so we drove down instead.
Leaving the parking garage, you realize that while the buildings around the parking garage are not historic, you are definitely walking to an older area of the city. Crossing at the crossroad, we are now in Overtown. I can visualize the night life of the 1940’s of Overtown back in the day, with jazz musicians, big bands and artists such as Count Bassie, Ella Fitzgerald and the late great Nat King Cole. All three have their names linked to the history of Overtown. My mom loved the music of that era so I can hear the beautiful melodies playing inside my head. If you listen closely, you may hear the strains of the trombone, a trumpet or the flute, soft voices singing out blues. I can imagine the ladies dressing up and the men looking dapper as they entered the various entertainment centers. Can you hear the excitement? The laughter? The joy? Overtown bustled in the early 1900’s.
Overtown is the home to the famous Lyric Theater (which I quickly resonated with having grown up with my own Lyric theater). The Lyric theater was owned by a black entrepreneur by the name of Geder Walker. The 400 seat theater was opened in 1913 and was described in 1915 as “possibly the most beautiful and costly playhouse owned by Colored people in all of the southland”
In 1989 the Lyric Theater was listed in the National Register of Historic places. Extensive renovations were done to the building.
As we walked past this beautiful old building we were drawn into the history of this amazing building, the folks that had visited, had played a part in the story telling culture of a lifetime of influencing culture of “little Broadway” The Lyric Theater served the community, was a place of culture and a symbol of the influence black folk had within Overtown.
As we continued to walk I enjoyed viewing the graffiti in Overtown, symbols of struggle, symbols of encouragement, symbols that share hero’s and history.
And yet there is this sense that the big city is encroaching on this historic block. Apartments such as the image below, are on one side of the street and the house above is on the other.
Below kind of depicts what I am feeling. Sure growth happens, but I am inclined to want to keep the old, to revel in this history and understand the stories of this beautiful historical area.
Economic depression happened, and in the 1950’s Overtown was not spared. Development, such as the expressways, cut up the neighborhood, and the population decreased. Progress stopped in Overtown and it became known as a ghetto. Businesses closed, and the neighborhood stalled. Social, economic and physical deterioration grew and contributed to the decline in the area. As we walked you could definitely feel that effect.
And yet there are signs, actually at our feet, that tell us that there is a stirring in the neighborhood to address challenges. Roots in the City established a community garden from an overgrown littered lot and it is florurishing.
The Overtown Preforming Arts Center was created as a community center. Originally this center was known as the Ebenezer Methodist Church, and still today has the outward feel of a church with it’s design. In 1988 it was declared a historic monument and they receive a grant of $3 million to begin the process of restoration. Inside you will find a stage, but this facility is for more than that. It is a gathering place, a place for meetings, a place for receptions.
Walking along the side walk we got a glimpse into an entrance way between Dunne Hotel (1947) and Josephine (1938). Both of these buildings functioned as hotels when the neighborhood was flourishing and blacks were not allowed to stay outside of Overtown. Sadly over the years the buildings fell into disrepair. In 2017 there were reports of potential redevelopment of these building, but it appeared to have been caught up in controversy. Looking further it does appear that the Dunn’s Josephine Hotel is now operational in the heart of Overtown historic district. According to the web page each room honors African American legends and will bring a style and era to the hotel. Suites you can find are the Aaron Douglas King Suite, Ella Fitagerald King Suite, Augusta Savage King Suite, Nicholas Brothers Double Suite, Gwen Bennett Double Suite, and the Nat King Cole King Suite, along with various others. If you head over to the website you can learn about some of the historical people honored by this hotel.
Walking further into the area we came across the mural below that featured themes from the heyday of the city. I tried to search who the artists were featured in the next two murals but was not having much luck. Above these beautiful paintings runs the highway the I95, bearing lanes of traffic, noise and pollution. We did not walk far enough. If we had gone to the other side of the traffic bridge we would have seen a sign painted on the side of the bridge that said “Welcome to Historic Overtown”.
We came across this wall in Overtown that resonated with both Amy and myself. World Peace is something that seems to be lacking of late, and something that both Amy and I would strive to achieve by loving.
And even more murals….
Besides the I95, one of the many developments that cut up the neighborhood of Overtown is the metro rail. Big ugly concrete pillars that scar the neighborhood. Such development leads to the displacement of residents in the communities and eventually the dying of a thriving neighborhood.
The Lil Trap House that we came across in Overtown is apparently a museum on wheels which has stopped in the city for about 6 months. The purpose of the museum is to showcase the cities trap culture. Are you asking yourself “what is trap culture”? You are not alone. So I did a bit of digging and discovered that trap music is a subgenre of hip hop music that includes rap, urban, and swag. This culture apparently originated in the South of USA in the 1990’s.
The image above is one of the murals on the house I showed earlier. Walking out of Overtown I saw this tree that had been cut. I could not help but look at the two images side by side. The second image reminds me of a vibrancy that is no longer.
This road feels like the cross road of Overtown and and the gentrification of the rest of the city. Large parking garages and high rise buildings, luxury condos are the backdrop to the once thriving, but seriously declined neighborhood of Overtown.
Overtown, a neighborhood vibrant in it’s heyday of the 1930’s to 1950’s has sadly become known as the getto of Miami. Destroyed by over the years by urban renewal development and neglect, Overtown sadly reflects this.
There have been some proposals for the redevelopment of Overtown that I read. There was one in 2009, another in 2015.
But it is 2021, and it was sad to see the neglect.
Thank you for walking through my 30 Minutes in the Life, and my impressions of Overtown. Blogs like this leave me feeling saddened that progress detracts from the beauty of culture and history.
If you’re interested on the 28th there will be a blog on the art district of Wynwood, Miami. It was a feast for the eyes, and hard to capture it all.
This is a circle blog. I would encourage you to take some time to visit my very talented friend Ceri of Ceri Herd Photography. You will definitely love what she shares. I am always inspired with what she has for us.
Posted on April 27, 2020
In the 2020….. (How does the song go “In the year 2525, if man is still alive
If woman can survive ~ Zager, Evens”). Earlier today I saw someone added an “in the year 2020…” a Facebook post with the idea that this would come up in their memories.
So what does Corona Virus Stay at home look like for you? For me, it is still work as normal, in fact a little more than normal, but it has to be done so I am going to do it.
Richard has his office downstairs, I have my office upstairs. Hoodini (the quaker parakeet I rescued) is moved out of my office into the spare room every morning, Ms Moo sits at the closed door whining to get in and Sims just ignores everyone and everything. That is us, day in and day out, work and Zoom meetings make up my days. Sunday evening we have managed to set up a Zoom games evening with the kids who are not close by. It adds a little variety. When necessary I will go to the shop, but so far I have managed to keep that to once a week. I have been out of the house a total of 6 times in the last 5 weeks.
So for this month, my 30 minutes is really my editing time. I thought I would get us on the road again. We traveled a fair bit the last two years, and I found I was not able to keep up with the editing on all the trips. Today I am going to go back to Maine, and a charming town that I got to visit with a friend.
My friend Karen had married and moved to New Hampshire a few years ago. When we decided to go up that way I connected with her to see if we could meet. I also knew she spent a lot of time hiking in New Hampshire and I thought I would pick her brains on where to go. She went one step further. She decided to drive through to Maine and we went on a road trip. First to the Ogunquit Musuem, then stopped by a lighthouse, then drove through to Portsmouth.
This is a quaint little seaside town. All of them are quaint to me. Not sure how little they are though. But for me the immediate town was so interesting. I love the old brownstone buildings and the cobblestone pavers or brick sidewalks. Today was an overcast day but luckily when we arrived in Portsmouth it stopped raining.
The first stop was at a small street side bar called Portsmouth Gas Light Co, for lunch. Of course, when in the north we had to have lobster rolls (and this was a first for me, both being in the north and the lobster rolls). Karen and I shared and I can promise you that was more than enough food. When I compare it to the ridiculous lobster roll we got in New York, this is amazing. It tasted it good, and it was super filling. Added to that we were able to indulge in the local brew. I am a Heineken kind of person, and they were able to come up with a brew that matched my taste. If you are in town, I highly recommend stopping by.
Another favorite of mine is street art, and we managed to find a few interesting murals to capture our attention.
Walking the city was fun, and we soon headed down to the Piscataqua River that separates Portsmouth, New Hampshire from Kittery, Maine.
We found a beautiful garden square that was a riot of color, carefully planned out and very appealing to the eye.
We continued on crossing one of the local traffic bridges and walk along the waters edge enjoying the beautiful sites in front of us.
The image below caught my attention because of the beautiful reflections in the water.
We landed up along a quay of yachts and fishing boats which may or may not have been situated on North Mill Pond. It’s been over a year, what can I say. The bridge in the image is called the Memorial Bridge and it is a vertical lift bridge. This bridge allows commercial boats to pass through.
This bridge replaced an earlier built bridge that spanned this river from 1923 to 2012. On the original bridge there was a plaque that read “Memorial to the Sailors and Soldiers of New Hampshire who gave their lives in the World War 1917–1919.” This plaque was moved to the newly built bridge.
We headed down to the Strawberry Banke Museum, side stepping into a historical grave site area. I am a big fan of wandering through, reading the different tombstones. I love history and these tombstones were very interesting in design.
The tombstone about was that of Capt Tobias Lear who died November 6th, 1781. According to the notes found on an onsite notice board, “Lear was a mariner of Portsmouth whose home, now a historic site, is a few blocks from Point of Graves on Hunkering Street. His son Tobias Jr, Served as President George Washington’s private secretary. The elder Lear’s gravestone was carved by John Homer and displays the realistic skull and cross bones for which he is known“.
Another one that had clear writings on was the tombstone of Mary Blagdon. The tombstone says “Here lies the body of Mrs Mary Blagdon wife to Doc. Samuel Blagdon Aged 75 years. Died Dec y 11th 1735. I found the images on the tombstone interesting and wondered who chose the design on this woman’s tombstone.
We passed the South Meetinghouse on Macy Street. The building of this beautiful building was completed in 1866, and in those days cost $9,600-00 to complete.
We walked down some side streets and this stairway caught my attention with all it’s number plates on it. It certainly was creative, as was the front door of another house we passed.
We found two new friends (for a short period of time) sunning themselves outside now that the rain had gone.
We walked passed some alley ways where I captured this beautiful spiral staircase.
And then we were back at the water’s edge, having walked along a boardwalk of restaurants. I loved looking at the tug boards and fire rescue boats.
In the distance we could see the Memorial Bridge we had walked past earlier. We were on the other side of the bridge looking down towards it.
In the opposite direction is the stunning Piscataqua River Bridge which spans the Piscataqua River. The bridge connects Portsmouth. New Hampshire with Kittery, Maine.
The bridge has 6 lanes and arches high above the river, eliminating the need for a lift bridge for boats. The structure is this incredible mass of metal work that is absolutely stunning.
Thank you for joining me for 30 Minutes in the Life, and for traveling with me through this this small but oh so interesting seaside town. I hope you enjoyed getting out and about with me. I look forward to the day we can pack up the suitcase and head out again. I am still holding out hope for my Eastern European trip in August.
Category: 30 Minutes in the Life, Travel Tagged: #bridges, #canonphotographer, #canonphotography, #citystreets, #graffiti, #graveyards, #lobsterrolls, #memorialbridgenewhampshire, #oldhomes, #ontheroadagain, #piscataquabridgenewhampshire, #portsmouth, #portsmouthnewhampshire, #reflections, #sharleenstuartphotography, #spiralstaircase, #tombstones, #travelblog, #travelblogger, #travelblogging, #travelbug, #travelphotographer, #travelphotography, #tugboats, #vacation, #vacationmode, Canon, Canonusa, Travel