Best Magic City Icon - 2006
Standing vigilant in the heart of Hialeah is one of the county's oldest socialites, a lovely lady who has seen better days and grander parties but still endures proudly despite the ravages of time and neglect. The world-famous Hialeah Race Track opened in 1925 and was an immediate and long-lasting hit with polite society, royalty, and politicians. All of them, along with the two-dollar bettors, enjoyed top racing and beautiful surroundings. The main building was constructed in Masonry vernacular style with classical elements to remind race fans of European tracks. It was not only the place to be seen, but also the place to see the nation's only flock of breeding flamingos. Like Miami, the park was severely damaged by the 1926 hurricane. It was trimmed of a jai-alai fronton, amusement park, and greyhound track. But the horseracing was enough to catapult the track to the head of the pack nationally. It remained on the lips of every bookie until it was finally shuttered in 2001. Despite the occasional chatter about a new use for the park, its eligibility for designation as a national landmark threatens most comers (except perhaps the Miami Marlins). Unfortunately the track seems likely to end its days as a backdrop to weddings and quinceañeras -- a white elephant infested with pink flamingos, but a gorgeous one at that.