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(📸: State Archives of Florida)

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: MIAMI’S ELLIS ISLAND

WHAT IT IS: The Freedom Tower in Downtown Miami.

THE HISTORY: The tower’s architecture was inspired by Spanish and Mediterranean architecture, like most of Coral Gables. It opened in 1925 as the headquarters of the now-defunct Miami News newspaper. Standing 17 stories high, it continues to stand out even as Biscayne Boulevard and Downtown Miami develop.

SHIFTING ROLES: The tower remained the headquarters for the Miami News until the paper relocated to a new building on the Miami River in 1957. It sat pretty much unused until the federal government stepped in in 1962.

THE GOVERNMENT’S ROLE: In 1962 the Migration and Refugee Assistance Act, which provided additional funding and government programs for refugees, became official. It was meant to help people fleeing political or religious persecution and to provide “urgent need of assistance for the essentials of life.” The act opened the doors to a huge number of Cubans who fled to Miami during the Cuban Revolution and in its aftermath.

“ELLIS ISLAND OF THE SOUTH”: The government established the Cuban Assistance Center on the first four floors of the tower and changed the name from the Miami News Tower to The Freedom Tower. Cuban immigrants came to know the tower, where thousands received help transitioning into American life, as “El Refugio.” It’s remained a symbol of hope for decades and is basically the 305’s own Statue of Liberty.

THE TOWER TODAY: The tower is now a U.S. National Historic Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places. But it’s not frozen in time. Miami-Dade College utilizes the space for programming and it’s served as an event space for the Miami International Film Festival. And the school’s newly renovated Museum of Art + Design is also housed in the iconic building.

Stay tuned for more semi-regular #FlashbackFriday pieces of Miami history. Are there other overlooked or lesser-known Miami history tidbits you want us to share? Hit reply and let us know.


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WHAT'S NEW IN THE 305

The Mang-OG. It’s that time of year: the one when it’s pretty much raining mangoes. Many of them are Haden mangoes, the ones that blush kind of pinkish when they ripen, and it looks like all of them trace their roots back to one single tree in Coconut Grove. (Miami.com)

Quiet time. Several South Floridians have been killed trying to outrun Brightline trains since the high-speed rail began running last year – many of them because they didn’t realize how much faster those trains are than the freight trains that have run on the same tracks for decades. (Although on Wednesday night, a man in Boynton Beach was killed when he ran onto the tracks in an apparent suicide.) Amid resident concerns about noise, the situation might be getting a little dicier. A no-horns zone has been proposed from the northern edge of Miami-Dade County all the way south to NE 79th Street, which means that these high-speed trains would be whisking through crossings with no warning sounds. (Miami Herald)

The “Prince of Darkness” strikes. The Miami Design Preservation League has fought to preserve iconic homes and neighborhoods across the city for decades, pissing off a whole lot of lobbyists, developers and the like. Now, political consultant Randy Hilliard (who once dubbed himself the “Prince of Darkness”) seems to have a plan for derailing that. He showed up at a recent League board election with 100 new member applications, each with the $50 in cash for dues and a proxy vote attached, just a couple months after the board turned down his application to join. TBD what Hilliard’s motive is. (Miami New Times)

Tree-t yourself. We had no idea that there was a world of champion tree climbing, but after reading this profile of Jason Gerrish, Florida’s top climber, we are itching to head outside and see if we can scale the nearest tree. Gerrish – who is actually afraid of heights – regularly free climbs up 60-foot trees, and he’s headed to the national championships later this year to see if he can best the other states’ best climbers. (Miami New Times)

Just tryna live. First Downtown residents fought Rolling Loud. Then they fought Ultra. Now they’re fighting the Formula One race the City of Miami wants to bring to their streets. A group of residents has filed a letter telling the city to end negotiations with Formula One, saying that the race and similar events violate the city’s own noise ordinance. And they want an end to all mega events in Bayfront Park. (Miami Herald)

And just like that… Less than two months after arriving in Miami, dockless electric scooter companies Lime and Bird are already rolling up the carpet. The scooters’ sudden popularity – Lime users alone have taken 30,000 trips since it arrived at the end of April – took the City of Miami by surprise, and they’ve issued cease-and-desist letters to the companies until they can craft some regulations to govern the new form of transportation. (Miami Herald)

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EVENTS

OUR PARTNER EVENTS

Multiple dates through 7/15: World Cup Viewing at Charcoal beer garden + tapas pop-up (Wynwood)

🖼 Tuesday, June 26: Enjoy some food, drink and music while bidding on art (Miami Beach)

📽Friday, June 29: Check out a vintage Japanese gangster film at O Cinema (Wynwood)

🔬Saturday, June 30: Have some summer fun with the kiddos at the Yard (Wynwood)

🗣Saturday, June 30: Hear from legendary poets at the Maroon Poetry Festival (Liberty City)

AROUND TOWN

TODAY

👀 Check out a psychedelic audio/visual indoor festival – through Saturday (Downtown)

🎷 Catch some jazz at Ball and Chain (Little Havana)

👞 “Won’t you be my Neighbor?” premieres (Coral Gables)

📽 Watch “Black Panther” under the stars at the Barnacle (Coconut Grove)

✊ Fight for black women’s rights at “Here Comes the Boom” – through Saturday (Downtown)

 

TOMORROW

👨‍🍳 Celebrate the launch of “Cuba: The Cookbook” (Coral Gables)

😅 Get your rear in gear at PAMM (Downtown)

🍍 Eat all the tropical fruit at this festival – through Sunday (Redland)

🎸 Flor de Toloache takes over the 1 Hotel penthouse (South Beach)

🎲 Drink, dance, and play dominoes – 50 percent off with code “domino50” (Downtown)

🏌 Play some putt-putt (Little Haiti)

 

SUNDAY

🍛 Nom on all the Thai food (Homestead)

🛍 Shop, nom, and jam at the Miami Flea (Downtown)

🎞 Catch a free screening of Moonlight (Coral Gables)

🎶 Celebrate two years of Classic Album Sundays (Little Haiti)

 

MONDAY

📈Learn how to scale your company (Wynwood)

🏛Take a walking tour of Miami Beach’s Art Deco history (Miami Beach)

🤓Test your random knowledge at Bar Nancy’s trivia night (Little Havana)

 

TUESDAY

🎨 Discuss how art can help dismantle racial inequality (Allapattah)

🎧 Get down with other recordheads at Terrestrial Funk (Wynwood)

 

Going to one of these? Take us with you! Email a pic to [email protected] or tag #thenewtropic on Instagram. See more upcoming events on our events page, and add your own events with New Tropic membership.

THAT’S ALL FOR THE WEEK.

We’ll catch you Monday. 😎

– The New Tropic

 


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