BEST PEDESTRIAN EXPERIENCE Miami 2004 - Flagler Street from Twelfth Avenue to Biscayne Bay
Power up for your stroll with a pinolio purchased at the Nicaraguan cantina on the corner of Twelfth and Flagler. A cold cocoa drink made with sweet milk, it's just the jolt you'll want to get you on your way. Heading east on Flagler, you'll pass street peddlers and homeless immigrants working hard to collect those nickels and dimes for their main meal of the day -- a sixteen-ounce can of Schlitz Malt Liquor. At Tenth Avenue, Central American families are drawn to La Ideal, the Burdines of East Little Havana. The next few blocks feature empty lots and forsaken office buildings ripe for redevelopment. Then you traverse the Miami River via the Flagler drawbridge and head into the murky dead zone created by Interstate 95. As you emerge from the behemoth overpasses, signs of urban life beckon: the Miami-Dade Cultural Center, designed by famed architect Philip Johnson and quickly denounced for its intimidating, fortresslike isolation. But it's still home to the main library, the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, and the Miami Art Museum -- at least for the moment; the museums are plotting to abandon the place. Moving past the stately courthouse, you plunge into the teeming commercial center of the city. With its cacophony of blaring music, display-window strobe lights, luggage and electronic and shoe and jewelry and perfume stores, plus the street vendors and the alluring aromas from open kitchens, this stretch of Miami's signature thoroughfare could easily be mistaken for the main drag of most any Latin American capital city. Your journey ends at the entrance to Bayfront Park and the magnificent, panoramic views of Biscayne Bay. It's been less than two miles and a couple of hours or so, but you'll feel as though you've just toured the entire Western Hemisphere.