By Paul S. George
In the months leading up to America’s entry into World War I, in April 1917, Wyndwood (sic), located in the northeast environs of the City of Miami, announced itself to the public. The developers of the new subdivision chose that name, proffered in a “Lot Contest,” by a Mrs. Ward, who, for her efforts, received “A Clear Deed To Her $650 Lot.”
The original plat called for a far smaller neighborhood than the Wynwood of today, one stretching from Buena Vista Drive, today’s N.W. 36th Street, to N.W. 29th Street, nee Western Boulevard; from east to west, the subdivision reached from North Miami Avenue to Northern Avenue, today’s N.W. 5th Avenue. Over time, the informal borders on the west and south pushed west to N.W. 7th Avenue and south to N.W. 20 Street, respectively.
Wynwood (the “d” was soon dropped) experienced a delay in its development because of the exigencies of war. By the early 1920s, however, Wynwood was a rising middle class community of primarily single family homes with a retail, institutional, and factory area arising along N.W. 2nd and 5th Avenues.
In the expansive era following World War II, the Garment District along the N.W. 5th Avenue corridor grew dramatically. West and east of it stood warehouses holding the fruits of that district. At that time, a Puerto Rican neighborhood, known as “Little San Juan,” began emerging north of N.W. 29th Street. While many longtime homeowners left the neighborhood, the Hispanic population continued to grow.
By the 1980s, drugs and crime bedeviled Wynwood and elsewhere. At the same time, prominent family art collections moved in taking advantage of affordable real estate rates. Joining them was the Bakehouse Art Complex for fledgling artists. This nascent art scene exploded in the early 2000s, largely through the support of the Goldman family, large property owners in the district, creating, ultimately, the greatest collection of wall art in the Western World, and bringing huge real estate investments with it. Today’s Wynwood is one of the most dynamic neighborhoods in Florida, while its art offerings draw visitors from seemingly everywhere.