Two of Miami’s most priceless gems have been placed on the chopping block: the Barnacle State Historic Park and the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve.
The Barnacle was built by Ralph Munroe in the 1880s (long before the City of Miami existed, and ancient by local standards). The Commodore was a Pioneer, and much more. He was a genius in Naval Architecture. Biscayne Bay’s shallow waters shaped his thinking, and he defied the deep-draft keel-boat conventions of his era to design and build over 60 shallow-draft sailboats. Most were Sharpies with swing-keels. He literally changed the way that sailboats boats are designed world-wide, including many popular designs we take for granted today. I had the honor to help build a replica of Munroe’s Flying Proa at the Barnacle. This 30′ outrigger sailing canoe was the first multi-hull known to have sailed our Bay. It was 100 years ahead of its time, and is on display at the Barnacle today!
The house is just as unique. It was designed to draw air up from the cool limestone foundation, through the house, and out the copula. He harnessed the “lift” created by the wind to create natural air conditioning… in the 1880s! The shape that made this possible looks just like a Barnacle, hence the name.
Finally there is the Hardwood Hammock, the last remnant in an area that has been paved and built into downtown Coconut Grove. Preserved by the Commodore and his family, who donated it to the State for safekeeping, it is Nature’s last bastion, providing irreplaceable habitat and food for wildlife. The pungent funkiness of Stoppers announces that it still survives to passers-by on Main Highway. The original, much-larger property has been carved up and developed, and only a fraction remains.
The Boathouse, House and Grounds are packed with examples of how this “Miami Original” was shaped by Miami, and as a result shaped the world. Don’t allow those who don’t value Miami’s history and ecosystems to exclude you and your kids from discovering genius, and growing from the experience.
Biscayne Bay has been under assault for over a century during Miami’s development. For many decades it was a cesspool, a dumping area for raw sewage. Channels slashed its bottom, bleeding sediments that are still killing habitats. Once, Mangrove estuaries made Miami’s fishing legendary, and the waters churned with life. Many people wrote that during seasonal bait runs “it looked like you could walk on the fish”. Visitors flocked to Miami for fishing and eco-tourism. Today, marine life is a pale shadow. Sterile sea-walls have no safe-havens to grow seafood, game-fish. They also keep the Bay waters murky, contributing to the death of the remaining sea-grass beds and hiding the wonders of nature from children. These conditions drive away tourist dollars.
The Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve (BBAP) was established to protect the remaining habitats, and even heal the damage caused by greed and carelessness. Away from busy channels the shallow grasses usually manage to filter sediments, keeping the waters as gin-clear as Mother Nature intended. Manatees and fish raise young, protected by the shallows from boat propellers. Wading birds come at low tide, marching in a line across the flats to feed on slow or careless crabs, fish and shrimp.
These the amazing sea-grass beds are among Miami’s least-known treasures. Most drivers on
Rickenbacker and Julia Tuttle Causeways are oblivious, but they would only have to look north from the bridges for a glimpse of Paradise.
The BBAP serves as guardian and educator for all of Biscayne Bay that is not part of the National Park.
I grew up on Biscayne Bay. I have caught fish, and learned to skin-dive, spearfish, sail and waterski there. I wandered grass-flats, and searched mangrove forests for native orchids. Over the years I have been surrounded by sleeping Manatees, schooling Cutlassfish and mating Dolphins. If you want your children to experience these things, do not allow the BBAP to die.
These are just two of the 53 State Parks and Preserves threatened with Closure by the Florida’s new Governor. The others are just as valuable as the Barnacle and the BBAP, but it is for those who know them best to speak for them. Miami and Florida have the habit of throwing forgotten treasures under the bulldozers of development. The first stage is “Demolition by Neglect”, which is provided as “proof” that the public doesn’t care about them. This justifies their later sale or destruction. Don’t let this happen.
Stand up for what belongs to YOU and your kids. Remind your legislator, the governor, and this newspaper that you care. Do nothing, and these places that belong to every Floridian may be lost forever.
Sam Van Leer
Executive Director & Founder
Urban Paradise Guild
Subscribe via Email
Find us on Facebook
- Dan on Miami at Manhattan Prices
- Marta Viciedo on Making Miami’s Mean Streets Safer
- Rudy on Imagining Townhouses in Little Havana
- Mr. E. on Lackluster Mayoral Candidates Promise More of the Same on Transportation
- hello miami on How Miami Greets Its Visitors (and Locals)
- Mike Moskos on How Miami Greets Its Visitors (and Locals)
CategoriesAccident Architecture bicycles bike lanes Bike Miami Days biking Biscayne Boulevard Brickell bus Climate Change Coconut Grove complete streets Downtown Miami FDOT High Speed Rail Metrorail Miami Miami-Dade County Miami-Dade Transit Miami 21 Miami Beach Museum Park News Parking Parks Pedestrian Pedestrians Pic o' the Day Planning Real Estate Development Rickenbacker Causeway Sprawl Streetcar Traffic Transit Transitography Transit Oriented Development Transportation Tri-Rail Uncategorized Urban Design Urban Development Boundary Urban Growth Urban Planning Walkability
- Bloomberg Pursues One Last Ban December 9, 2013Did anyone think the final month of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's third, and final, term was going to wind down quietly? After taking on cigarettes, sodas, and trans fats, Bloomberg is going after plastic-foam food containers.
- A Model for a Smarter Suburban Streetscape December 9, 2013Half a century of auto-oriented suburban development presents a massive challenge to planners hoping to create more sustainable and livable communities. In South Miami's Hometown district, Kaid Benfield finds a model for how to begin this transition.
- East Coasters Aim to Force Midwesterners to Clean Up Their Air December 9, 2013Concerned that a controversial "good neighbor rule" doesn't go far enough in keeping dirty air from wafting over the East Coast, governors of eight states are petitioning the EPA to enforce stricter pollution standards on their Midwestern neighbors.
- To Become a "Great City", Miami Seeks to Boost Pedestrian-Friendliness December 9, 2013With the housing bust of the Great Recession fading in the rear-view mirror, a maturing Miami aspires to become one of the world's great cities. City leaders see the creation of a "Downtown Pedestrian Priority Zone" as the path to get them there.
- New Hampshire to Reconsider Increasing its Gas Tax in January December 9, 2013New Hampshire will consider a Republican bill in 2014 to tie the gas tax to inflation, increasing it by about 4 cents next year should it pass. The Senate killed a House bill in May to increase the gas tax by 12 cents over 3 years.
- What's Holding Up Redevelopment 2.0 in California? December 9, 2013When California shuttered its hundreds of local redevelopment agencies, many believed a new (if smaller) system for funding affordable housing and development in blighted areas would soon follow. Two years later, the state is still waiting.
- Train Noise Endangers Denver's Development December 9, 2013A 2005 Federal Railroad Administration rule change that requires engineers to blare their horns at at-grade rail crossings is threatening the quality of life and economic future of communities across the Denver area.
- Vast Freshwater Reserves Found in the Last Place You'd Look December 9, 2013Australian researchers are agog over the discovery of 120,000 cubic miles of freshwater beneath the ocean floor. The reserves may help quench the world's approaching freshwater crisis.
- Researchers Say Two Simple Rules Can Predict Urban Growth December 9, 2013Is it possible to predict when and how cities will grow? A group of researchers in France say the answer is yes. […]
- Shanghai Halts Construction, Orders Children Inside due to Severe Smog December 9, 2013Off-the-chart smog levels recorded on Friday in China’s second largest city put its 30 million residents at risk and has authorities urging people to stay indoors.
- Bloomberg Pursues One Last Ban December 9, 2013