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Letters January 2020 PDF Print E-mail
Written by BT Readers   
January 2020

 

Art Begets Art Services

bigstock_Mail_Button_1727945Nice synopsis of Wynwood’s evolution, in Anne Tschida’s cover story “Wynwood’s Cautionary Tale” (December 2019). Thank you for the recap. I want to share another detail of the Miami art scene’s development history.

Artmoves (incorporated April 1987) began in a warehouse in Hialeah that came with a woodshop. It became the first art-related business to move into Wynwood, in early ’89, in a 5000-square-foot warehouse, just across the street from what is now Wynwood Walls.

It was one of the first art services companies to emerge outside of New York, Boston, or Chicago. (There are now over a dozen, just here in South Florida!) We were friendly with and provided services to all the pioneers in your article.

I was the founder, owner, and CEO of Artmoves, with my brother, Michael as partner, and my sister Anna running the office.

Artmoves still exists, now owned by Mark Klepper. I went on to get Museo Vault off the ground and run Atelier 4’s Miami office, where I still am today, in a business development position.

Anthony Malakates
Miami Beach

 

Setting the Record Straight

This letter is an expression of gratitude, both to Biscayne Times for running my letter last issue regarding the history of the Venetian Causeway and to Margaret Griffis for her gracious response, both in the December 2019 issue.

There is one item in Griffis’ reply that I feel does need correcting. She stated that the reason the National Register of Historic Places decided to name the Venetian Causeway as “the oldest causeway in the county” was because (as she wrote): “I believe they included the Collins Bridge in their thinking, which was the access bridge to the Venetian Islands before the new bridges were built.”

The problem with that is the same as it is with other local, state, or federal agencies conjuring up incorrect comments and inserting them into documents or declarations of appropriateness, while completely lacking evidence or facts. Both the National Register’s naming of the Venetian Causeway and Griffis’ statement are inaccurate, and the facts bear me out.

The Collins Bridge (built by John S. Collins and his son-in-law, Thomas J. Pancoast and financed by Carl G. Fisher) opened in 1913. By the time it was removed, in 1925, it was shaky and unsteady, the entire crossing having been built of wood. (It was a bridge, not a causeway, and except for Bull Island, today’s Belle Isle, which was the only natural rather than manmade island on either the Venetian or MacArthur Causeways, all of the other islands on both causeways were manmade and pumped in.)

By 1925, 12 years after it opened, it was both unsafe and unusable by automobiles. According to Miami: The Way We Were (page 100), published by Surfside Publishing in 1989, “Collins Bridge...was replaced by the Venetian Causeway, which was built alongside it.”

It should further be noted that, by the time construction began on what would be named Venetian Causeway, the Collins Bridge was no longer safe for automobiles -- much less horse-drawn vehicles or heavy construction equipment -- to use, hence the new causeway was built almost entirely through the use of barges, dredges, and other floating vessels.

Our collection of Miami-Dade County images (photographs, negatives, postcards, slides) is the largest in private hands in the nation, while our collection of Miami-Dade County postcards is the largest in public or private hands in the nation, with images of the Collins Bridge and Venetian Causeway during various time periods included in said collection.

After the County Causeway opened on February 17, 1920, as a free-access route to Miami Beach, traffic declined dramatically on the Collins Bridge, and it was bought, several years later, by Ellen Spears Harris and Hugh Anderson, builders not only of the Venetian Causeway but of the islands along said causeway under the name Venetian Islands Company. Later, of course, Mrs. Harris and Mr. Anderson would be the principals of the Shoreland Company, which built today’s Miami Shores.

The Collins Bridge was anything but a causeway, crossing no islands other than Bull Island, and was built over open water for the approximately three miles between Miami and Ocean Beach, which was the predecessor name of Miami Beach and was the name in use at the time the bridge opened.

The Venetian Causeway does, indeed, deserve to be on the National Register of Historic Places, as much for its age (coming up on 95 years) as for its beauty and uniqueness, but not for being “the oldest causeway in the county,” which it certainly is not.

Seth H. Bramson
Miami Shores

 

Outraged for the Animals at Jungle Island

I’m writing to you because I came across your detailed news article on Jungle Island, “Cagey Business” (April 2018) by Erik Bojnansky and Francisco Alvarado. I feel that Biscayne Times should write a follow-up story on Jungle Island.

I visited Jungle Island with my two young children recently, and we were extremely saddened and upset to see the care of some of their animals.

I’m a longtime South Florida resident and have visited Jungle Island as well as the original Parrot Jungle many times throughout the years.

However, while things weren’t always perfect at this zoo, yesterday brought us close to total outrage and tears. I’ve never seen such gross conditions.

We witnessed a solitary alligator in its enclosure, which we were very familiar with, since we’ve visited so many times. However, we were shocked when we found a small, blackened puddle of water, maybe six feet at its widest point, and possibly two feet at its deepest. The alligator was lying motionless in this tiny puddle of water. We were in the underground tunnel area, and the glass separating us from the alligator was nearly obscured with algae. It was quite obvious there was a problem with the water system.

We reported this to a staff member who seemed to be a zoologist. He was aware of the problem, and said they’ve not been able to fix this ongoing plumbing problem but were hoping to get a plumber in that week. He said every few days they put in water, but it immediately drains down to this small (filthy) puddle. He assured me the alligator was happy. He stated that the enclosure was more than 20 years old and in bad condition, and hadn’t been renovated at all.

If Jungle Island cannot fix the problem with the alligator, they should have it released into the Everglades through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, or donate it to another zoo (like the Zoo Miami or Orlando’s Alligator World).

Then we visited the area where they keep orangutans. Three large cages, but only one of them had a solitary orangutan, which we almost didn’t notice. He or she was lying on the bottom of the cage, motionless, hugging a security blanket.

It just lay there on the bottom and appeared to be extremely depressed. What happened to its companions? These animal are social and the one we saw was no doubt feeling alone and depressed.

This isn’t right. If Jungle Island cannot afford to add a partner orangutan, then they should donate this one to a zoo where it is not living in isolation.

What really bothered us what the fact that there were so many staff workers who were busy putting up all types of decorations for the “Luminous” show, and working on building the tree-top adventure, and adding to the water park area.

It’s an outrage that Jungle Island is using its financial and human resources on these gimmicky money-making ventures while neglecting living animals in their care. They can’t claim to not have the funds or human resources to help the animals, when one can see all the “enhancements” being constructed.

I encourage Biscayne Times to visit and write an update. Maybe more publicity will spark the owners to remedy these animal-cruelty injustices.

Please don’t include my name with this letter. I speak up only to increase the chances that these animals will be helped.

Name Withheld by Request

Miami

 

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