Every year, I am lucky enough to take my family on a trip to another city, whether it be here in the United States or even in a foreign country. It seems that every city I go to was planned far better than South Florida. On the contrary, it seems as if all of South Florida was built with no plan whatsoever and solely with the concept of pleasing as many residential developers as possible.
Every city, except for South Florida seems to have a main downtown area filled with parks, restaurants, museums, theaters and night life. Even the stadiums for the local sports teams are located there. There is no question that the heart and soul of the city is located in the downtown area.
For example, New Yorkers have Manhattan. The Gas Lamp area of San Diego is sensational. Atlanta’s downtown area is great with its museums and cultural and educational centers. Chicago has the downtown area and the Navy Pier. Philadelphia has a wonderful historic district that is simply a source of pride for the community. Do I even need to mention Washington DC, Boston, San Francisco and the endless amount of culture there?
It seems as if much thought went into the designing of each of these cities. Their downtown areas were created to be the source and center of attention and to leave no doubt. So I ask each you….where is the heart and soul of South Florida? Is it South Beach? Give me a break. A few restaurants (all with no view of the water) does not make a cultural city. Is it the Miami downtown area? Not if you expect something more than going to a Miami Heat game. There isn’t even a good restaurant in the area. Is it Fort Lauderdale almost 30 miles away? One block of some shops and bars on Las Olas also presents little in the way of culture.
Ask yourself…..if a friend from another city was coming to visit South Florida for five days, other than the beach, what places would you tell them are the “must sees.” I’m dying to know your answers. It really is difficult to think of almost anything.
Here’s what we do have though….an endless view of condos, condos and more condos. Along with the condos, we now have tremendous traffic congestion. To make matters worse, there is no doubt in my mind that we have the absolute worst public transportation system of any city in the country. If your tourist friend doesn’t rent a car, they see nothing and go nowhere. How can you call yourself a major city without sufficient public transportation?
Instead of building a city center where all of our stadiums are located, we have them spread out from Sunrise to Miami Gardens to downtown Miami and Hialeah. Other than those stadiums, there is nothing to attract visitors to those cities, unless we say Sawgrass Mills shopping in Sunrise is the type of culture we are offering. Over the years, we became all about cramming as many people as we can into as many buildings as we can. We don’t have a single world class museum. Even more embarrassing is the fact that it is impossible to believe that the most tropical city in the entire country does not even have an Aquarium for visitors to see! Toronto just completed a world class aquarium and 7 months a year it’s probably below freezing there. They put tropical fish on display, we can’t.
We have other priorities here it seems. Build more bars for people to drink in. Build more casinos for people to gamble in and build more condos to cram more people in. So tell me……other than the weather……… what’s the draw to South Florida?