When Miami sinks into the ocean, I want Brickell to go first. Let’s start with the traffic. Assume every motorist, pedestrian, scooter operator, whatever in that God forsaken neighborhood wants to kill themselves and you, because they do. Desperately. And they will happily fling themselves and their newborn infant before your car in flagrant defiance of all traffic laws and common sense.
Did I mention the city planners built a pair of drawbridges that bring thousands of commuters in Miami’s premiere commercial district to a simultaneous standstill so some New England financier can sail his catamaran into the bay at nine in the morning? Am I tempted to rev my engine, bust through the crossing gate, and clear the gap when I see the bridge rising? Every time. What stops me? The gaggle of Russian oligarch yoga moms jaywalking across the middle of Brickell Avenue like their families own half the skyline. In all honesty, they probably do.
Brickell aspires to the population density of Midtown Manhattan and the design aesthetic of an Ikea storeroom. Not the furniture, mind you. The empty, fluorescently lit warehouse. Every skyscraper is a big, featureless phallus. And every new developer that waltzes into the neighborhood reflexively feels the need to erect another uninspired metal member, only theirs has a little swoosh at the top sponsored by Michael Kors or another soulless luxury brand, which just means they can rent a studio for $4,000 a month to some equally vapid, equally characterless recent transplant from the Bay Area who wants to live in the “heart of Miami,” but, in actuality, moved to spleen.
This brings me to the people. The kind who insist, “You don’t need a car in Miami since the public transit here is so great!” because they’ve never been west of SW 2nd Ave. The type who is shocked to meet an actual Miami native because they, “didn’t know people were actually from here! Guffaw! Guffaw!” The sort who rages when Publix sandwich ladies speak Spanish among themselves because they assume every Hispanic person cannot help but fixate on them rather than, I don’t know, any of the trillions of other things on this planet.
Brickell is Miami’s bleakest cultural desert. Whatever flavor accidentally bleeds into it from Little Havana is being quickly suffocated by the same pathological fetish for gentrification that long ago snuffed out Tobacco Road. That howling you hear isn’t the wind channeled between insipid condominium monstrosities. It’s the long-dead soul of Mary Brickell bemoaning her affiliation with this opulent wasteland.
But Brickell’s most galling aspect is that, when it is eventually swallowed by Biscayne Bay, the former Brickellites will be just fine. They’ll just move onto higher ground in Liberty City, Little Haiti, Allapattah, Overtown, and Little Havana—a crush residents of those historically marginalized neighborhoods have already felt for a decade. They’ll rebrand it all with a veneer of acculturated modishness, and the poors can go live in the Everglades or wherever it is they go after leaving their service sector jobs.
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