In 1992 Hurricane Andrew churned with all its fury over the old estate of industrialist Charles Deering that had been a public park since 1985. The stone mansion Deering built in 1922 stood up remarkably well, suffering mainly bashed doors and windows, waist-deep water on the first floor, and the loss of a few outside columns. But the wooden Richmond Cottage, first erected in 1896, was reduced to kindling, not even its stone chimney surviving intact. The rest of the 420-acre park fared little better; mammoth royal palm trees were destroyed and mangroves trashed. Fast-forward seven years and $11 million later. An army of builders, painters, carvers, and restorers have done the impossible: returned both houses to (nearly) their original state and adhered to Miami-Dade County's rigorous building code. Restorers have concentrated on authenticity right down to the cottage's mismatched wood siding. In the stone house, handmade glass and Cuban lap tiles were installed. Copper and bronze doors turned black by saltwater were returned to a luminescent sheen. On the outside close to two million dollars were spent to eradicate exotic plants and restore native species. The site is open to the public again. Old man Deering would be proud.
Living in South Florida allows us to experience certain things people residing elsewhere simply cannot, such as passport checks at the county line, close encounters with automatic weapons, and cruising to Nassau at 50 miles per hour aboard a humongous catamaran. The Cat, 300-feet long and 85-feet wide, is a massive vessel that can carry up to 750 people. If its actual size and sleek profile aren't impressive enough, consider this: Every second its four 9500-horsepower engines displace enough water to fill two Olympic-size swimming pools, and at cruising speed it shoots out a rooster tail almost as long as the craft itself. The Cat departs Port of Miami daily (except Wednesday) at 9:00 a.m., and leaves Nassau at 4:30 p.m. To keep you busy during the five-hour trip, there's a bar, gambling, live entertainment, and movies. The day trip costs $119 plus tax and port charges; overnight packages range from $169 to $339 plus tax and port charges. Prices could change, so be sure to call ahead.
Admission to the grandstand is free. Parking is 50 cents. The rest -- how much to bet on the dogs -- is up to you. But along with the free entrance, you get much more. First, there's that ineffable thing called ambiance. The Flagler track and its habitués are about as far from the synthetic world of the shopping-mall entertainment complex as you can possibly get. This place is loaded with appealingly authentic grit. Then there are the more recent innovations. To battle lagging attendance, the track has augmented the racing canines with live boxing matches, carnivals, and low-stakes poker rooms. And it doesn't take much more to feel like a really big spender: Three dollars gets you inside the clubhouse. The greyhound racing season runs from June to November. The rest of the year you can watch races on TV -- for free, of course.
This man has cojones like no one else. Earlier this year he asked the Hialeah City Council to pay him $1.2 million to cover his back pay (with interest) during the three years he was suspended from office while successfully fighting multiple federal corruption charges. He also wanted his legal fees covered. The only thing more amazing than the request itself was the fact that the council quickly agreed and paid him with little debate or rancor. Personal financial affairs in order, Martinez then charged ahead with grandiose plans to secede from Miami-Dade and form a new municipal entity: Hialeah County.
It was a little after 4:00 a.m. this past July 3 when ten-year-old Vincent awakened to the smell of smoke in his Liberty City home. "I woke up because it got so hot," Vincent told the Herald last year. "The smoke detector was going off, and the hall was filled with smoke. At first I didn't even know what was going on -- I was so sleepy." Acting quickly he woke his 16-year-old brother and his 85-year-old great-grandmother. "We've had fire safety classes that no one thought was important, but I remembered what they taught us in school," said Vincent, a sixth-grader at Charles Drew Middle School. "I noticed smoke, stopped, rolled on the floor to my mom's room, woke everyone up and got them out." The cause of the fire was accidental; the family was without electricity and kept a candle burning for light. It tipped over during the night, igniting a blaze that ultimately destroyed the wood-frame house. Thanks to Vincent's actions, no one was hurt. "I'm very proud of him," his great-grandmother said. "He's my baby, my heart, and he saved our lives."
Some police officers aren't fond of that term. "We don't do speed traps," one says. "We do selective traffic enforcement." Yeah, Smokey, whatever. We know they love to lurk, and the lurkiest of all are Miami Shores's finest. Their quiet little village stands astride four major north-south arteries, giving the coppers there ample high-speed prey. A particularly rich hunting ground is Biscayne Boulevard, right where it curves northeast at NE 88th Street. The smooth asphalt and wider lanes here fairly scream to a Miami motorist's raging id, "Fifty! Do fifty!" Listen to your dark side and you'll likely run afoul of the black-and-gold Shores cruiser tucked away in the parking lot of the Hacienda Motel. On top of that, this past year the department instituted a zero-tolerance-for-speeding program called "Safe and Slow." Be afraid.
Fires rage, heat broils, smog chokes, Spiderman goes down, Odio goes free, Surana remains free, Cuban bands play freely, Shops at Sunset clog, I-95 stays clogged, rain falls, too cold, too hot, too wet, too dry, more fires, Ecstasy burns, arena burns, Miami High gets busted, Gutman gets busted, Gutman gets elected, Bush gets elected, Commodore Bay gets paved, more smoke, more haze, more heat, no Heat, Lawrence goes, Clifton goes, Ibargüen rises, South Beach goes high-rise, Miami Circle lives, Marjory Stoneman Douglas dies, Chiles dies, Fascell dies, Georges blows, Mitch kills, bus shelter kills, drug gangs kill, Stierheim is in, gay discrimination is out, Garcia-Pedrosa is in, Garcia-Pedrosa is out, Garcia-Pedrosa is in, Garcia-Pedrosa is out, Hialeah wants out, Caffe Baci folds, Divina folds, Connie Mack folds, Loews Miami Beach opens, Lua closes, Fish closes, Tropic is killed, heroin kills, stray bullets kill, kids die, DiMaggio dies, Atkins dies, Kehoe dies, Resnick dies, Super Bowl arrives, Dalai Lama arrives, Rosie arrives, Madonna splits, Sly splits, Knight Ridder splits, JJ stays, La Niña reigns, a chill descends, rain stays away, Everglades burn up, Delano village burns down, Humbertico goes to jail, Lunetta goes to trial, WAMI goes on the air, pirate radio goes off the air, Daryl Jones gets rejected, Tony Martin gets busted, Cuban spies get caught, Esther Hernandez gets caught cheating, cheating voters get caught defrauding, the Herald gets its Pulitzer, tanker trucks burn, more fires, more heat, more indictments, more Krome protests, more Opa-locka turmoil, less hope for Stiltsville, no hope for Noriega, Marlins lose, Dolphins lose, Suarez loses again, but Miami comes out a winner: After years of dragging suitcases and duffel bags around MIA, air travelers have finally been blessed with a miracle. Baggage carts have arrived.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®