Miami and Miami Beach have always had their own distinct sense of self. Each has its own mayor and police department. Miami Beach has leaned hard on tourism, which sometimes obscures just how fast the rest of Miami has grown up.
The beach is an easy sell, but for the curious, Miami runs deep. There’s Herzog & de Meuron’s impeccable museum, Perez Art Museum Miami, named after Cuban-American billionaire Jorge Perez, who also donated much of his own collection of 20th-century Latin American masterpieces. Art is on the street in the area of Wynwood, just south of The Miami Design District. Wall after wall is covered in commissioned graffiti, no matter whether it’s a parking lot, shop or one of the ubiquitous galleries.
It’s Brooklyn a dozen years ago: for every block that reeks of neglect, the next offers stunning surprises such as the organic loaves at Zak The Baker and Sprout, a florist-cum-coffee shop. Some of the neighbouring factories that jut against the blue sky are now cooperatives such as The Bakehouse Art Complex. Other factories are, well, still factories.
There’s no doubt that today, Miami is a city in flux. One of the accusations often levelled against it is that it has no centre. That, too, is about to change: drive off the beach, past the port and the deep bellows of the departing cruise liners, and you’ll arrive at Brickell City Centre. This new neighbourhood is being built from the ground up and, like the Faena District, has its own soon-to-open hotel, EAST.