Posted on March 28, 2022
Just a heads up – this post is more than 30 Minutes. There was way to much going on on my time out.
We have a wee bit of Irish in our bloodline. My grandmother was born in Halifax, Yorkshire. Her father Michael Nolan, was born in York, Yorkshire of Irish Immigrants. My great grandparents emigrated to South Africa where my mother was born, as was I and my children. However, I do hold onto that tiny bit of Irish history.
It was St Patrick’s day, and so we dragged out Luka’s “My first St Patrick’s Day” bib and headed to the local parade. We grabbed some starters at a local restaurant, some beers and Guinness and family time until the parade started. I have to confess when I go to a parade like this, I honestly expect to hear and see all things Irish. Sadly I was disappointed. Green beads, green outfits and loud hooting does not make it Irish. The parade was not great and so I spent more time people watching, which seemed a lot more interesting.
I needed a low key photo for my 52 Frames project so the two images that you see in black and white were my choices for my low key images. I eventually decided to submit the image of the young lady.
Here are some images from the St Patrick’s Day outing.
The wind picked up, the dust was blowing everywhere, Luka was tired and getting dust in his eyes and Amy was getting stressed. We tried to find a seat at a restaurant and they took forever, and then only gave a seat for 2. He wandered off to try and find out if he could seat four. While we were waiting for the table, the police opened the cross roads, and so we abandoned the table and crossed the road heading back towards our car. Richard did not want to leave with all the traffic so we wandered down the road, and came across an outdoor Italian restaurant playing Irish music and offering corned beef and cabbage. So we hung out there for a while and had another beer. Just before we finished it started spitting, so we packed up and headed to the car as quickly as possible, each of us agreeing that we were glad that the parade was over and vowing we were not getting caught again next year. I needed Irish music, lilting laughter and good beer. Perhaps there will be another time. Or perhaps, we can plan to visit Ireland.
Thank you for joining us, 30 Minutes in the Life is a circle blog and we have some very talented photographers in the group. The sneak peaks are stunning and I cannot wait to see the rest. Take some time to follow the links and see what they have for you this month, Kristina Dominianni is up next, and I look forward to seeing what she has to share.
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.
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.
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