Hispanics move into Liberty City and beyond…

We  have noticed the trend over the past few years. As we cover news stories in Overtown, Liberty City, and Opa locka. 

What we have been seeing was most visible the other day while covering a story near the corner of Northwest 17th Avenue and 36th Street. To give  you a landmark the event was right in front of Miami-Jackson Senior High School.  Ten years ago the area was mostly black. Black businesses, a vibrant corner of what has been traditionally African American.  Not anymore.

17th Avenue and 36th street is like a slice of Santo Domingo. Spanish is the operative language, the restaurants serve Central American fare, the tiendas feature phone cards for the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras.  The sounds blaring from the music store’s large speaker is not rap, it is salsa.

Throughout Liberty City and Opa locka we have seen more and more evidence of Hispanic families as part of the neighborhood mix. Most noticeable are the Central American construction workers who are seen making their way home into Liberty City. Often, it appears,  three or four workers share a small house, probably a rental.  As has happened elsewhere families soon follow and an small enclave is created.

There are 45 million Hispanics in the U.S., about 15% of the population. The newer arrivals are seeking workand finding it  in South Florida. Any day check out the construction sites of downtown Miami. The City skyline is being changed by thousands of Hispanic workers who daily cling to the skyscrapers that are turning the Magic City into “the Manhattan of the South.”

They have to live somewhere and to the keen observer it is pretty clean where they are setting up camp, just check it out after quitting time and see  who comes home to many of the traditional African American neighborhoods to the north of Downtown Miami.

Hard to tell without deep study and government statistics what the social, economic, and political ramifications of this means for South Florida. No doubt along the way issues will surface but for now, it is an interesting development worth watching.

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