Last year the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the midcentury modernist architecture of Bay Harbor Islands' East Island among the eleven most endangered historic sites in America—a moment which amplified the preservation movement there—and this year the distinction has passed to Little Havana. So, congratulations are in order to Little Havana and all the people who have been tirelessly working for its preservation. Little Havana has now been nationally recognized for being incredibly close to destroying its architectural and historic legacy, which is a big step towards saving it. As the National Trust says: "More than 250 sites have been on the list over its 28-year history, and in that time, only a handful of listed sites have been lost."
The National Trust continues:
Little Havana has long been a safe haven for immigrants and a symbol of the American melting pot. A mixed use, walkable, series of neighborhoods, Little Havana was first a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in the early 20th century. Beginning in the 1960s, these neighborhoods became home to generations of Cuban immigrants, and to this day they remain a cultural center for Cuban Americans, as well as immigrants from the Caribbean, Central, and South America.
There are two main threats to the Little Havana neighborhood: upzoning, which could dramatically alter the character of the area; and the lack of protections in place for scattered historic building types. Owing to the neighborhood's ideal location—close to Downtown Miami and the Brickell Financial District—upzoning represents the most critical threat to the historic scale and character of Little Havana.
"The most well known Cuban-American enclave in the United States and a symbol of the immigrant experience and the American melting pot, Little Havana remains a thriving, diverse urban area," said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "Across the country, cities are looking for creative ways to ensure that new development is compatible with existing neighborhoods, and we urge Miami to explore zoning policies that respect the historic character of this beloved urban area."
Little Havana's neighborhoods are still composed of residential blocks intersected by commercial streets, creating a self-sustaining community where goods and services are located within walking distance of area residents—many of whom are immigrant families, seniors, and middle-to low-income workers. Little Havana contains unique local variations of iconic American architectural typologies, such as the bungalow, the walk-up apartment, and the courtyard apartment. Ideally, these scattered historic building types would be listed together as a protected collection of buildings.
· America's 11 Most Endangered Sites [National Trust]