Miami-Dade has a lot of interesting architecture and structures, but most of the attention is paid to Miami and Miami Beach. That doesn't mean the suburbs don't pull their weight, though. In fact, in the lesser-known towns of Dade County, you can find everything from city halls that look ripped straight from Aladdin to one of the oldest structures standing in the United States.
That's why we decided to identify the most iconic structure in each of Miami-Dade's cities. We did end up leaving a few out, though. What were we supposed to do, name the most interesting warehouse in Medley? Here are the most iconic structures listed by order of city population:
Miami: The Freedom Tower
Constructed in 1925 as the headquarters of the now-defunct Miami News, the building was taken over by the federal government in the '50s. It became iconic as the site where many Cuban immigrants were processed and is considered Miami's version of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
Hialeah: The Hialeah Fountain
We're sure Hialeahans are prouder of the historic Hialeah Park Race Track, but when we think of an iconic structure of Hialeah, we can't help but think of this big wonky fountain and arch that welcome all to the city.
Miami Gardens: The Sunshine State Arch
Sure, it resembles a certain structure in St. Louis, but Miami Gardens is proud enough to feature it prominently on its city seal. Serving as the entrance to the Sunshine State industrial park, the arch was added to the National Register of Historic Places last year.
Miami Beach: The Colony Hotel
Basically, this is the postcard image that pops into everyone's minds when they think of Miami Beach — and all of Miami for that matter.
Homestead: Coral Castle
Technically, this bizarre monument is located just outside the city limits, but let's throw Homestead a bone here. According to lore, Edward Leedskalnin was jilted by his 16-year-old fiancée the day before their wedding and decided to spend the rest of his life building this thing. The mystery is that no one knows exactly how he built it or exactly why. Stranger still, it was constructed in Florida City but then moved ten miles to where it now stands.
North Miami: City Hall
North Miami was originally defined by a natural limestone bridge that traversed a creek, so much so that the city was at one point called Arch Creek. The bridge collapsed in the '70s under mysterious circumstances, and the town really hasn't had itself an iconic landmark since. Its odd city hall, however, is featured on the city seal. Depending upon your tastes, it's either a wonderful example of South Florida-style brutalist architecture or it's really, really ugly.
Doral: The Trump National Doral Miami
Originally known as the Doral Golf Resort & Spa, the resort was planned by the area's developers as the jewel of (what eventually would become) the city. So it only makes sense that it's Doral's most iconic structure. It's unfortunate for them that Donald Trump now owns it and has slapped his name all over it.
Coral Gables: The Biltmore Hotel
The Gables features all sorts of interesting Mediterranean-style architecture, but the world-famous Biltmore Hotel is clearly the crown jewel of the city.
North Miami Beach: St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church
This place was built in the 12th Century in Spain but was dismantled and sent to New York by William Randolph Hearst in the 1920s. It sat in storage for years, still in pieces, until it was bought by new owners and reassembled in North Miami Beach in the '60s. Though it wasn't originally built here, it's still technically one of the oldest structures currently standing in the Untied States.
Cutler Bay: The Cash Dome
Well, we've hit our first oddball here. Not every city has a traditional jewel, but Cash Dome Jewelry & Pawn is an interesting example of modernist architecture and was briefly the setting of a TruTV reality show in 2013.
Aventura: Aventura Mall
Of course, it's the mall. Name us one other reason why anyone has ever gone to Aventura.
Miami Lakes: That Tree on Main Street Surrounded by the Blue Tile Fountain
Bear with us. We'll get back to fascinating landmarks in a second. Interestingly, however, Miami Lakes does have an architectural pedigree. Its downtown was an early example of new urbanism, and in the '60s, Lester Collins, former dean of the Harvard School of Architecture, was brought in to help guide the city plan. The city's downtown is quite delightful; it's just that the buildings aren't supposed to call attention to themselves because the emphasis is on the layout. This fountain, however, provides something of a central feature on Main Street.
Palmetto Bay: Deering Estate at Cutler
Home to businessman Charles Deering until the 1920s, the building itself is nice, but it's really the lines of palm trees reaching into the bay out back that people remember.
Sunny Isles Beach: The Mansions at Acqualina
Think of Sunny Isles Beach and you think of condo towers so tall they block the sun on the beach in the afternoon. The recently topped-off Mansions at Acqualina is now the biggest tower. In fact, it's so lofty it's the tallest building in Florida outside City of Miami limits.
Pinecrest: Pinecrest Gardens
This was the original home of Parrot Jungle, but when that squawk-fest relocated to Watson Island in 2003, the City of Pinecrest turned the lush grounds into a public park.
Opa-locka: City Hall
Glenn Curtiss developed this city with the theme of One Thousand and One Nights in mind and constructed many city buildings in Moorish revival architecture to match.
Miami Springs: Curtiss Home
Curtiss was also responsible for Miami Springs, except this time he had a Pueblo style in mind. Perhaps he preferred the Southwest theme because this building was his actual home.
Sweetwater: Dolphin Mall
Miami-Dade's other big mall.
Key Biscayne: Cape Florida Lighthouse
It must be some sort of law that if your city includes a lighthouse, you have to use it as a symbol. Lighthouses are just that cool.
South Miami: The Shops at Sunset Place
Listen, guys, we're talking about Florida suburbs here, and more often than not, the most exciting and iconic thing about a Florida suburb is its shopping mall.
Miami Shores: The St. Rose of Lima Bell Tower
Miami Shores has quite a few churches with some very nice steeples and bell towers, but as these things typically go, Catholic ones tend to be the most ornate.
North Bay Village: The JFK Memorial
It's a creepy-looking JFK bust in the median of the JFK Causeway, but what're we going to do? The WSVN studios are really ugly.
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West Miami: José Martí Bust at City Hall
There are a lot of statues and busts of José Martí in Miami, but this one is clearly the most badass.
Biscayne Park: Village Hall
Biscayne Park is a small village. It's so small that they can run the city hall, the police department, and a few other municipal departments out of a single log cabin, and they love the hell out of that log cabin.