First A Little History
In the once ignored and dilapidated Wynwood Neighborhood is a thriving new-ish area full of art, food, coffee and lots and lots of pretty people. Dating back to 1917, it has had many incarnations. It was a working class neighborhood that housed bakeries, orange juice factories and a Coca-Cola plant that transformed to a booming Garment District in the 1920’s. By the 1960’s much of the workforce were newly-minted Americans from Cuba. The garment business thrived into the 1980’s when many of the business moved out as rents went up and their workforce moved out to areas like Hialeah.
At the end of WWII many of the original residents of the neighborhood moved out to the suburbs and the neighborhood changed from mostly white-working class to Puerto Rican and as the neighborhoods demographics changed people started to call it Little San Juan. The original Wynwood Park that was built in 1917 became Roberto Clemente Park in 1974. By 1977 the area was even more diverse with residents from Cuba, Haiti, Columbia and the Domican Republic joining the mix.
In the mid-1970’s the neighborhood was in decline with drugs and other crimes running rampent. As a result the vacent industrial buildings and low rents began to draw in artists from all over Miami. Creating a thriving center of artistic energy starting, All the creative energy drew the attention of Tony Goldman who saw opportunity were others saw an old run down neighborhood. He started to buy up properties all over the area and in 2009 he began the now famous Wynwood Walls project — the unoffical gateway to a newly revitalized Wynwood Arts District.
Getting to the Wynwood Arts District (Start at 2520 NW 2nd Ave)
The heart of the Wynwood Arts District is really the Wynwood Walls. A rotating outdoor gallery of wall murals painted on once delapidated buildings. In my opinion the best way to start your exploring of the Wynwood Arts District is at the Walls. This is a developing area surrounded by areas that, while vibrant and full of life, are not experiencing the boom and gentrification that they are seeing in the Wynwood Neighborhood. You might think you have gotten lost but you haven’t. Have faith, you will be seeing art soon! However, the surrounding neighborhoods are also full of street art, so if you want to have a less curated experience, take a look around.
Right on the otherside of the Walls the Goldman Family has a gallery featuring other works by many of the artists whose works are featured on the walls outside. Its well worth going in to see! If you love street art. Wynwood is your mecca. There is hardly a building without some form of street art. Full murals, creative tags, street posters you name it you’ll find it here! Walking around the area is a great way to absorb all the art and creativity all around you!
Once your feet are tired and you need a little pick me up, stop by Panther Coffee and grab a world class coffee and watch the people go by. They have a gorgous patio enveloped by a big shade tree; its a great place to rest your feet. Expect to see vintage cars, instagrammers, artists, hipsters, tourists, school kids and more. I honestly think half the joy of being in this neighborhood is just the people watching!
The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse
A few blocks away from the Wynwood Walls is a giant warehouse retrofitted to showcase the Margulies Collection. It showcases some of the best installation artists in the world. These unique pieces will challenge your assumptions about art and engage all your senses. Well worth checking out. When we were there they were featuring the work of Anslem Keifer, David Claerbout, Federico de Francesco, Rosy Keyser, Imi Knoebel, Emil Lukas, Hugo McCloud, Olaf Metzel, Ernesto Neto, Diana Fonseca Quiñones, and Sue Williams as well as pieces from Martin Z. Margulies’ personal collection.