MIAMI AT A GLANCE
- CLIMATE: Miami has a humid, subtropical climate, verging on a true tropical clime. Although technically the city has only recorded triple-digit temperatures once in its history (July 21, 1942), the humidity often pushes the heat index up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The city does experience cold fronts from November through March, and even recorded snowfall once in 1977. Rain is abundant, with roughly six feet per year. Miami is statistically the most likely of any major city to be hit by a hurricane.
- ECONOMY: Despite Miami’s reputation as a city dependent on tourism, the city is a major financial centre, and a prime location for international commerce. Many corporations who do business in Latin America have regional headquarters in Miami, and the city’s airport and seaport are among the busiest in the country. Despite this, poverty is a very real problem in Miami, with almost 30% of the population below the poverty line.
- GOVERNMENT: Miami is governed by an elected mayor and a council of five city commissioners representing the city’s five districts.
- POPULATION: The population is just over 350,000 in Miami proper, with 2.3 million in the larger urban area. The majority of the population is Hispanic, and Miami has the largest percentage of individuals who speak a language other than English at home. English, Spanish and Haitian Creole are the city’s official languages.
- MEDIA & CULTURE: The Miami Herald is the city’s primary English-language newspaper, with El Nuevo Heraldand Diario Las Americas serving the Spanish-speaking population. The city has several professional sports teams, including the Miami Dolphins (football), the Miami Heat (basketball), the Florida Panthers (Hockey) and the Florida Marlins (baseball).
Miami’s central financial and business district runs from South 10th Street to North 17th Street, and from I-95 to the bay. The Miami River divides the neighbourhood into two sub-districts: north of the river is the shopping and government district most popular with tourists and the terminally trendy, while south of the river is the Brickell financial district. Downtown also hosts several large venues, including the American Airlines Arena (home of the Miami Heat) and the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, which includes an opera house and a concert hall. Downtown likewise hosts a sizeable club district, though one that doesn’t compare with Miami Beach. Still, some members of the Spring Court pre-fer the downtown scene, and changelings of all Courts who fancy themselves more cultured take in attractions such as the Bayfront Park Market and outdoor shows at the AT&T Amphitheatre. The Summer Court, unsurprisingly, attends athletic competitions regularly at the arena.
Downtown Miami is renowned for its unique skyline, with many of the buildings decked out in brilliant greens, pinks and orange neons that sometimes make the city look more like Las Vegas in Florida. Urban folklore holds that angels eat the light from those neon-lit buildings; whether or not angels find it palatable is open to debate, but changelings, at least, can gain a point of Glamour once per night by plucking a shard of neon light from the air and eating it.
Of more interest to most changelings, though, is the Court of the King of Endless Summer located in the abandoned Freedom Tower at 600 Biscayne Boulevard. This 255-foot skyscraper was used as a processing centre to document and provide medical and dental care to Cuban refugees in the 1960s and ’70s. The building was sold off in 1974, after the first major wave of immigration, but the hope and joy of all those people for whom the tower was the first taste of a life of freedom left an indelible imprint on the building. When it was eventually abandoned, the building became a haven for squatters and the homeless — still a place of refuge, albeit in a different way. Homeless children refer to it as “the big pink haunted house,” perhaps a reference to its mystical activity.
The upper floors of the building contain a Hollow; if one makes three right turns through three doorways on the top floor, one enters a space reminiscent of the building’s cupola, only considerably larger and decorated in the rich livery of the Summer Court. Thunder’s Courts are typically held in the early afternoon, with the sun at its peak and the city at its hottest. On his fiery throne, he hears grievances, settles disputes and addresses problems within the freehold. Lately, and distressingly, this has focused more on responding to alleged sightings of the Others and the disappearance of more than a few changelings.
Once an independent city in its own right, Coconut Grove stretches from N. Prospect Avenue in the south to the intersection of U.S. Route 1 and Brickell Avenue in the north, and from Le Jeune Road in the west to Biscayne Bay in the east. Coconut Grove is one of the trendier and
wealthier areas of Miami, famous for an annual art festival and the huge variety of restaurants in the district. Coconut Grove has a very Caribbean atmosphere, and hosts many festivals celebrating Caribbean lifestyle, cuisine and music throughout the year.
By night, Coconut Grove comes alive, with an ample selection of bars, nightclubs and shows that cater primarily to a younger crowd: students from the University of Miami, young professionals fresh off work in the financial district and the like. In keeping with the neighbourhood’s styling, many of these venues feature Caribbean music such as calypso or reggae.
Called the “City Beautiful,” Coral Gables is an independent city often lumped in with Miami due to the presence of the University of Miami. Coral Gables is very much a college town, with plenty of student housing, shops and restaurants, and a pedestrian-friendly layout. The city is famous (or perhaps infamous) for its strict aesthetic regulations, covering everything from mandatory bicycle racks to requiring that all buildings, even parking structures, maintain architectural styles that complement their neighbours.
Without a doubt, the University of Miami is the city’s most prominent landmark, with its 240-acre campus and several satellite campuses around town. The Autumn Court is thick on the ground here, with quite a few of its members either enrolled or ensconced in staff positions (mostly security, janitorial and similar menial jobs, but at least one Darkling has tenure in the psychology department), and they vigorously defend their “turf” against encroachment. Naamah, the Autumn Queen, holds court on every gibbous moon in the John C. Gifford Arboretum on campus, and several of the younger courtiers are known for putting on a very impressive (and exclusive) Halloween party, complete with “haunted” house (which actually winds into the Hedge in one or two instances, if the stories are to be believed).
Between 36th and 85th Streets, bordered by U.S. Route 1 and Miami Avenue, lies Little Haiti. Little Haiti (or La Petite Haïti) began life as Lemon City, a small agricultural town known for its lemon groves. Lemon City was annexed by Miami in 1925, and over the years, a steady stream of Haitian immigrants gave the district its new name.
Haitian markets and restaurants abound in the district, and voodoo is practised prominently (albeit usually in secret for fear of discrimination). Thanks to the efforts of several prominent citizens, Little Haiti is gradually experiencing an urban rejuvenation, including the development of the trendy Miami Design District in the southern tip of the district, but crime and poverty still remain very real problems. The Winter Court, in particular, has worked against the renewal process, as Little Haiti is one of the Court’s pre-eminent markets in the drug trade.
Little Havana was once one of the largest Cuban neighbourhoods in the state. Ironically, despite the neighbourhood’s name, recent years have shown a trend toward an exodus by Cuban Americans and an influx of immigrants from Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala. Part of the neighbourhood is actually referred to now as “Little Managua.” Never the-less, Cuban culture remains a prominent part of the neighbourhood and draws many tourists.
The neighbourhood is best known for its annual Calle Ocho Street Festival, a part of Carnival. The massive celebration takes place on 8th Street (hence the name “Calle Ocho”) between 27th Avenue and 4th Avenue and attracts more than one million visitors each year, including a sizeable portion of the city’s changeling population. Calle Ocho has been a tradition among all the Courts, but especially the Antler Crown, for 15 years, and is generally treated as an excuse to cut loose and enjoy the wild side of life.
Assumed by many to be a neighborhood of Miami, Miami Beach is actually an independent city, albeit closely linked to Miami. Miami Beach occupies the largest of the barrier islands in Biscayne Bay, and is linked to the mainland by three causeways: I-195, the Venetian Causeway and Ma-cArthur Causeway. Famous for its Art Deco district, Miami Beach has been a popular tourist destination for decades; the famous South Beach district in particular has been greatly re-vitalized by the tourist trade. Before the area was made world famous as a primary shooting location for Miami Vice, much of South Beach was home to retirees living in small tenements and to the famous “cocaine cowboys,” the entrepreneurial early smugglers of cocaine into the United States.
No mention of Miami Beach would be complete with-out a discussion of the clubs, bars and nightspots that make the city famous. South Beach (composed of the southern-most 23 blocks of the island) is the most prominent night-club district on the island, and “exclusive” barely begins to describe it. Typical covers range from $20 to $60, and if the door staff doesn’t like your look, you won’t get in even with the money. The clubs themselves are mercurial and ever-changing; one might even suspect them of being owned by the Others. A goth industrial club that was all the rage last season might become a hip-hop club that no one would be seen dead in this season; obviously, one must be extremely astute to navigate the South Beach social scene.
Maria Thorne and her faction hold the deeds to three clubs in South Beach: one on Ocean Drive and two more on Washington Street. Currently, they are called Kim’s, the Condor and Born, though they may well change at a moment’s notice. Vichy Spring claims no actual territory, though, and South Beach is a common haunt for changelings of all Courts. The clubs are popular places to get a Glamour-buzz, negotiate backroom deals or just hook up and get laid (mortals don’t have a monopoly on drunken debauchery, after all).
Directly north of Downtown Miami lies Overtown, one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city. Created in 1896, the same year Miami was incorporated, Overtown was born out of the Jim Crow laws of the day. The law restricted where blacks were permitted to live, and so the land west of Henry Flagler’s railroad tracks was given over to the (mostly black) rail workers and became known as “Coloured Town”. In its early years, the district was a vibrant and active part of the community and a popular tourist destination, frequently featuring entertainment by the era’s most prominent artists, including Billie Holliday, Cab Calloway and Ella Fitzgerald. Over the years, though, as the discriminatory laws were repealed and many residents moved out, the area became one of the poorest places in all of southern Florida. Today, Overtown is a violent, gang-ridden neighbourhood with one of the highest murder rates per capita in the country.
Overtown is a bastion of the more aggressive members of the Summer Court, and at least a few of the street gangs in the neighbourhood are either led by or composed entirely of Iron Spear soldiers. The close proximity to downtown means easy access to the Court in the Freedom Tower as well.
Along with Overtown, Liberty City is Miami’s largest African American community, with more than half of the city’s African American population. The neighbourhood runs east from 27th Avenue to I-95, and from 97th Street south to 41st Street. Liberty City was named for the low-income Liberty Square Housing Project built in the late 1930s to relieve crowding in Overtown. In the 1960s, Liberty City achieved notoriety as the location of the first fully interracial congregation of the Presbyterian Church in the American South. In 1980, the neighbourhood again came to prominence, though for a less noble reason: the acquittal of five white police officers involved in the fatal beating of a black motorist touched off a three-day riot that could not be quelled even by the deployment of 1,000 National Guardsmen and earned Miami a “disaster area” label by the federal government.
Today, Liberty City fares little better than the neighbourhood it was founded to help. An extremely poor neighbourhood, Liberty City has a high index of violent crime and gang activity; in 1998, a drug war between rival factions of the John Does street gang served as a smokescreen for a skirmish between the Winter and Summer Courts, with the Silent Arrow retaking a sizeable chunk of the territory the Court had lost in the riots 18 years earlier.