For decades, Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, the Coconut Grove estate built as a "dreamlike vision in the midst of the jungle on the shores of Biscayne Bay," according to the museum website, has been one of Miami's most iconic landmarks — a lush, leafy symbol of the wealth and extravagance that characterized much of the city's founding.
Now Vizcaya, as a University of Miami scientist has discovered, could become a symbol of another, more foreboding Miami phenomenon: the inevitable destruction and threat by creeping sea-level rise.
"It's probably one of the most striking places to see what's happening," Brian McNoldy, a senior research associate at UM's Rosenstiel School, tells New Times. "It's such an iconic place."
Earlier today on Tropical Atlantic Update,
Over the past couple of years, McNoldy says, he has noticed how high the water has been creeping up features of the museum, especially the barge built in Biscayne Bay. "During more and more of the high tides now, [the water] completely submerges the center part," he says. "That's where you really see it."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
After tracking down several archival images, when this year's highest tide rolled around — the so-called King Tide — McNoldy decided to revisit the gardens and re-create the photos as best he could, he says, given his limitations. "There were a few of those that were shot from a boat."
McNoldy acknowledges the photos he came up with don't show an "apples-to-apples"
More important, the water levels brought by this year's King Tide, McNoldy writes in his blog, also serve as a sobering predictor: This year's highest mark will "soon enough be the new average... Sea-level rise is happening and will continue to happen at even greater rates that we've ever measured."
Below are a few more of the photos: