Art

Walk Through Miracle Mile's History at the Coral Gables Museum's Latest Exhibition

Coral Gables' famed central promenade, Miracle Mile, is undergoing a makeover. This spring, the new design will feature wider sidewalks covered in a multihued granite resembling a cloud-dappled South Florida sky. Curbs will be removed and replaced with low stone bollards and tree canopies. There will be garden-like seating areas at every street corner, and parking will shift from angled to parallel. 

In honor of the redesign, the Coral Gables Museum is presenting "Miracle Mile: The Evolution of a Street," an exhibit featuring videos, photos, and memorabilia from the early days of the street's development in 1920. The exhibit highlights the city's entrepreneurial history beginning with George Merrick, founder of the Coral Gables planned community, designating Miracle Mile as a commercial section for the city. 
"Miracle Mile has had its advancements over the years greatly due to the Business Improvement District, who advocates for improvements, markets the area as a shopping and dining destination, and provides a unified voice for downtown Coral Gables," says Caroline Parker, curator of the exhibit and acting director of the museum. "It’s the kind of town center that I wish existed for all the little neighborhoods in greater Miami."

Downtown Coral Gables is one of the few neighborhoods that is entirely walkable and easily accessible via public transportation. In 2003, the city began offering a free trolley system, an homage to the original electrical trolley system from the 1930s. Though Miracle Mile staples such as Barnes & Noble, Denny's, and Navarro Pharmacy are relatively new, the street has been home to some local retailers for decades. The exhibit showcases photos of some of these family-owned businesses, including Jae's Jewelers and Bolado's Clothiers. 
"I grew up in Kendall, and like many who grew up in the suburban sprawl that is Miami-Dade, I loved visiting downtown Coral Gables. Shopping, dining, or gallery night here is a far superior experience to a night out at the local strip mall," Parker says. 

Whether you're excited about the foot-friendly redesign or frustrated that the construction will exacerbate downtown Coral Gables' already stifling traffic, the changes are all part of the street's intended evolution.

"Miracle Mile: The Evolution of a Street"
Now on view until May 29 at the Coral Gables Museum. Visit coralgablesmuseum.org
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Alexandra Martinez is an arts and culture writer based in Miami. She graduated from Columbia University in 2014 with a bachelor's in film studies. Find her at alexandra-martinez.net.