Wednesday January 30, 2008

Historic Overtown/Lyric Theatre: new name of the Metrorail station previously know as “Overtown/Arena.” I dig the nod to the Lyric (name-checked by Garrison Keillor when he was in town), but isn’t the “Historic” a little much?

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  1. nonee moose    Wed Jan 30, 09:52 AM #  

    I don’t know, you tell us.

  2. Chris    Wed Jan 30, 10:13 AM #  

    I exit I-95 S at NW 8 St to get home every day. And every time I see the brown sign (brown for parks, historic sites, forests, etc…) with an arrow pointing to Historic Overtown I wonder how many tourists wander down that road instead of to the left to the Port of Miami.

    “Oh hun, we still have an hour until we have to check in. Let’s explore!”


  3. Rick    Wed Jan 30, 10:52 AM #  

    Nonee: C’mon, man, this is a guy who has no idea who Peter Sellers was. I suppose if it ain’t post 1990, why the hell worry about it.


  4. alesh    Wed Jan 30, 01:29 PM #  


    Your point is that anything that HAS a history should have the word “Historical” added to its name? No knock on Overtown, but if that’s the case I can think of some places that have more of a claim.

    This strikes me as straight-up patronizing.

  5. Rick    Wed Jan 30, 02:03 PM #  

    Alesh: Your rhetoric is annoying. Of course, everything has a “history.” What’s at issue here, I think, is whether Overtown’s is worth noting. Obviously, the county thinks so and based upon Nonee’s link, which I think every South Floridian should read by the way, I tend to agree.

    The fact that you think it’s “patronizing” (to who?) and “a little much” is confusing, to say the least.


  6. i'm GLAD i wasn't there..    Wed Jan 30, 02:33 PM #  

    rick:you mean choice of words,or jargon, or lingo but not rhetoric.

    the only reason the county deems overtown historical is because as I-95 cut through a, previously vibrant, community they promised some sort of perennial status to those who remained; which IS a text-book example of patronizing: condescension & feigned support.
    that said, i don’t think it’s “a little much” because the word “historical” indicates there is something more than what appears, which may in turn promote seeking information and further understanding…something we always need more of….

  7. nonee moose    Wed Jan 30, 02:43 PM #  

    No, Alesh, everything isn’t “historic” out of hand. I offered you the link, one of many available on the area, and when I asked for your assessment I was being sincere, albeit a bit snarky, I admit.

    I know from reading your blog that you are Czech by birth. But were you here in 1980? If you weren’t and haven’t read up on Overtown that year, I highly recommend it. The events of that year alone bestow some “historic” significance, let alone any contribution the area made to the Harlem Renaissance of the ’20s.

  8. chill    Wed Jan 30, 03:20 PM #  

    Rick seems to still have a burr up his ass with Alesh. Even though Alesh didn’t “pile on” as Rick continues to believe.

    move on man. Also, isn’t to whom, not to who? Can’t wait to read your venom next week. You are one angry dude.

  9. Rick    Wed Jan 30, 03:54 PM #  

    Chill: Alesh and I have been going back and forth since the heyday of Overtown. He busts on me for using Blogger and criticizes my blog design. I, in turn, find fault with just about everything he writes. Where have you been? Or is it bin? I always gets that stuff mixed up.

    I’ll look for you next week, chill. Will you be using that pseudonym or something else?


  10. alesh    Wed Jan 30, 04:19 PM #  


    Overtown’s history is rich, tragic, and profound. I would argue that it’s actually cheapened by adding the “Historical.”

    Imagine applying that term to other places and it almost sounds to differentiate the vital parts of a city from those that are “merely” historical. E.g. “Paris” vs. “Historical Paris” (of course nobody says that, which should tell you something).


    It seems you got annoyed out of an ability to make a coherent argument. Since you were so impressed by your first Wikipedia page, why don’t you click around and read up on the history of some other things. You can start with Miami Beach and the East Coast Railway, and then head out to other parts of the world . . . North Korea, maybe. Maybe we should prepend “Historical” to anything who’s history is “worth noting,” as you put it?

    If you think the County’s use of the word is anything BUT patronizing (to whom? DUH: the residents of overtown; same ones the county keeps dicking over in matters that actually MAKE A DIFFERENCE to anything), I need to borrow your rose-colored spectacles.

  11. nonee moose    Wed Jan 30, 04:44 PM #  

    Alesh, I’m a big Miami booster. An apologist, even. But Paris? Come now. Talk about a stretch.

    “Historic”, used in context is a mark of distinction. The area surrounding the Lyric (itself an historic landmark, as even you suggest)is worthy of specific note, in that it was ground zero for Black American culture in this City. The reasons for that fact are shameful, and another subject altogether. But the particular history and noteworthiness of the area remains. I would agree with you if we were discussing Historic Doral, or Historic Village Green. I don’t think it cheapens Overtown’s history one bit. If anything, it’s almost a “pull” strategy for people to look closer and confirm the statement. It may also, I hope, be prelude to earnest revitalization efforts for an area so in need of it.

  12. Rick    Wed Jan 30, 06:00 PM #  

    Alesh, if you actually think the average resident of Overtown, the group you say the county is patronizing, gives two flips about whether their Metrorail station is called “Overtown/Lyric Theatre” or “Historic Overtown/Lyric Theatre,” you truly are living in another dimension.

    Damn, I miss the How-To-Get-A-Cheap-Jump-Start type posts.


  13. CL Jahn    Wed Jan 30, 06:08 PM #  

    “Historical” is perfectly acceptable labeling: Overtown IS historic, being one of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods.

    It was created as a result of the “Jim Crow” laws of the day, but grew into a vibrant community. The Lyric Theater hosted acts like Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Josephine Baker, and Billie Holiday, to name just a few.

    The Lyric Theater, built in 1913, was lauded in its time as “the most beautiful and costly playhouse owned by colored people in all the Southland.” It anchored a thriving theater district known as “Little Broadway,” and attracted throngs of people both black AND white.

    We tend to overlook history in the US, and we need to be reminded when something has a history worth noting. Overtown isn’t just any old neigborhood, and the Lyric isn’t just a building; they are a cradle of culture that shaped the tastes of Americans for generations.

    Leaving off “historical” is the insult.

  14. Chill    Wed Jan 30, 08:39 PM #  


    Chill. Just a few more days until you begin your daily diatribe. I can’t decide on this pseudonym. Maybe “bin chillin” is more in order.

  15. wynwooder    Wed Jan 30, 09:16 PM #  

    the lyric’s legacy is worth noting with whatever label the city or the owner or the overtownites wish to use. that, if you do some simple research, is unquestionable.

    i live in wynwood, worked in downtown and passed by there a lot and never once saw this place lit, not to say open. what is it with this place? it’s important enough to have a metrorail station named after it without even opening to the public? THAT i don’t get.

  16. alesh    Wed Jan 30, 09:26 PM #  

    Rick~ That’s great. What you just said translates to this: “It’s OK to be patronizing to them, because they’re too stupid to notice.” Good job.

    nonee~ Paris is an arbitrary example. But let’s try it another way. Try prepending “Beautiful” to the beginning of a city name . . . pick your own city. Doesn’t it just sound silly? Like “why do you need to tell us; why not SHOW us?” Same difference with “Historic.” If they want to highlight Overtown’s history, then highlight it! Do something to promote it! But just declaring it “Historic” is silly at best.

    CL Jahn~ See everything I said before.

    OK, let me try it ONE MORE WAY with you people. Let me try one of my infamous analogies, since those always go over so well. Let’s say that I change my name to “Intelligent Alesh” and declare that henceforth I shall be called “Intelligent Alesh.” And let’s say that anytime anyone tells me this is silly, I say “But i am intelligent!” and cite some example of my intelligence. Retarded, right? Now, take it one step farther: suppose it’s not me, but it’s, say, my BOSS, who starts insisting that everyone call me “Intelligent Alesh.” Putting aside the silliness, does not the condescension become very apparent?

  17. nonee moose    Wed Jan 30, 11:21 PM #  

    Intelligent Alesh. Is that like Perfect Tommy?

    I think your missing the point of the designation. It’s like designating a “Historic Downtown” district, hilighting the area where downtown was started during some golden age or other. It’s a step further from calling someplace Wynwood, or Little Havana or even Coconut Grove. They’re all Miami, so why the distinction?

    Wow, I am experiencing pointlessness, realtime. Talk about being in the moment.

    Effit, it’s a stretch. Whatever.

  18. Wilder    Wed Jan 30, 11:37 PM #  

    For what it’s worth: Miami’s pretty young compared to the rest of the states, and an infant compared to most of the world.

    Within the world of Miami, Overtown is one of the few parts that really IS historic. It’s an insult not to acknowledge that.

    Heck, the original settlers of Overtown built Miami.

    Looking to the future, you have to recognize now what needs to be saved and restored. I think that’s a big part of why Overtown has that Historic tag.

    I get the point about how anything could be deemed historic, but in this case, Overtown qualifies.

    That’s not a matter of condescension. It’s a matter of recognition where recognition is due.

    And if you can’t accept that, you should brush up on your South Florida history. While you are at it, check out the meaning behind Lemon City.

    Bonus point for a photo that shows any part of the wall that still remains in Liberty City.

    In other words: CL Jahn is right.

  19. Rick    Thu Jan 31, 06:25 AM #  

    If your language equivocates “could care less” with “being stupid” then I suppose you’re correct, Alesh. They’re two different things in my language, but then again, I’m part of “you people,” which seems to include everyone but you.

    Here’s your homework, Alesh. Jump on your bike and take a ride through Overtown. Along the way, ask a random sampling of residents if they think the county is patronizing them with the new station name. Report back here.

    Now THAT would be a post worth reading.


  20. wynwooder    Thu Jan 31, 09:06 AM #  

    alesh, in response to comment 16: if you look at all the major cities in the area (Santo Domingo, San Juan, Havana, Key West, Miami(?)…) you will see that the core of these settlements are their historic districts. i don’t know if that model can be applied to miami (or the us at that), but it sure makes sense.

  21. Carlos Miller    Thu Jan 31, 10:39 AM #  

    In 1898, when citizens voted to incorporate Miami as a city, the majority of voters were black. But they ended up being segregated to the neighborhood north of downtown, which at first, was called “Colored Town”. It later became Overtown.

    The 1900 census showed that 40 percent of Miami’s citizens were black, most of them foreign born, mainly from the Bahamas. And for the next twenty years, more than 10,000 black Bahamians immigrated to Miami. By 1920, Bahamian blacks made up 16 percent of the city’s population. Even back then, Miami was a haven for immigrants.

    It is the blacks who built this city.

    As Miami quickly became a city and Miami Beach became a national tourist spot, many black artists were invited to perform on the beach.

    By the 1930s, Overtown was a thriving entertainment district for black performers known as “Little Broadway”.

    After all, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Count Blasie and Ella Fitzgerald may have been allowed to perform on Miami Beach over the years.

    Up until the 1960s, they weren’t allowed to sleep in its hotels.

    So they stayed in Overtown and gave after-hour performances that lasted until daylight.

    The construction of I-95 cut through the middle of Overtown, slicing the community in half.

    I’ve research and written extensively on Miami’s history. It is fascinating, but they don’t teach it at school. I’ve always said that we need to know where we’ve been in order to know where we’re going.

    Here is my version of the History of Miami. I am in the processing of redesigning the entire site so please forgive the unprofessional appearance of the site. I plan to revise and update this piece once the new site is up, which should be sometime in February.

  22. Rick    Thu Jan 31, 07:02 PM #  

    Jeebus, Carlos…can you post anything without spamming your blog?

    Just sayin’.


  23. Cutler Ridger    Fri Feb 1, 07:36 AM #  

    Re: Wynwooda’

    Atleast in Santo Domingo, I can speak for since I’ve been there. But they have a section of the city that’s deemed “La Zona Colonial” (The Colonial District) where it is the true origins of the city…(Christopher Columbus’ house, etc etc).

    Its a beautiful thing. For the people that live there, they’re probably like “blah”. But it makes people like myself, who was a tourist to the city, be more aware of the area and really go the extra mile to see why that part of Santo Domingo was deemed historical. And I’m sure it provides extra “political/financial incentive” for the government to preserve that section of the city.

    In short, the “historical” add-on can only be a positive thing in my eyes. F**kwhatchahurd.

  24. firreal    Fri Feb 1, 11:56 AM #  

    i think its cool that they’re going to name it historical overtown so then maybe tourists can go and take a nice stroll through it.. it’d be like that ride in disney ‘its a small world’, except instead of it being a bunch of cute little puppets, it’d be junkies poverty low-income government housing and dudes trying to sell you awesome cheap narcotics.

  25. CL Jahn    Fri Feb 1, 08:56 PM #  

    CL Jahn~ See everything I said before.

    Everything? Like this:

    isn’t the “Historic” a little much?

    Hardly compelling.

    I can think of some places that have more of a claim.

    Not in Miami, you can’t. In fact, few places in South Florida wield as much influence on recent history as Overtown. See everything I said before.

    “Paris” vs. “Historical Paris” (of course nobody says that, which should tell you something).

    That’s because it would be grammatically incorrect; it should be “Historic Paris.”

    And people DO call it “Historic Paris.”

    Or maybe you meant this bit:
    You can start with Miami Beach and the East Coast Railway

    Mmm. Miami Beach is at least twenty years YOUNGER than Overtown; Miami (of which Overtown is a part) was incorporated in 1895, Miami Beach in 1915. And all the black celebrities who put Miami Beach on the map had to sleep and eat in Overtown. So if Miami Beach is worthy of being designated historic, it’s only because Overtown was there first to support it.

    And the East Coast Railway (1895) only came south (1896) because Miami was already there; and Miami was there because the inhabitants of Overtown voted for it. And the inhabitants of Overtown were there to build it. Again, to claim that the FEC is “more worthy” is ludicrous since it came AFTER and BECAUSE OF Overtown.

    As for you arguments to declare yourself “intelligent Alesh,” it would only have meaning if the rest of us decided you deserved the label. And maybe someday we will declare that you’re the intelligent Alesh to distinguish you from the one who makes these very foolish arguments.

    But you’ll have to start making better arguments than “I think it’s silly because I disagree with it.”

    BTW, I grew up in Historic Haddonfield; nobody was patronizing US. Your argument simply doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. Cling to it if you like, but you got no facts.