Visualizing the commercial district of Grand Ave in the 1960s


A digital reconstruction of the historical commercial heart of the Black community in Coconut Grove

In the 1950s and ‘60s, West Grove had a thriving commercial district on Grand Avenue that served the Black community in segregated Miami. Very little now remains of the shops, restaurants, juke joints, and movie theater that served as the focal point of the neighborhood, however the place is still alive in the memories of those who grew up there.

An independent study course, organized by Prof. Gray Read and FIU alumna Bobbi Walker in the Spring term 2023, brings together architecture students from FIU and Miami Dade College (MDC) and one FIU Doctoral student in the Humanities, to create a digital reconstruction of the historic commercial heart of the Black community in Coconut Grove.

The class created a 3D digital model of the buildings that once lined Grand Avenue based on archival research, old photographs, and the recollections of some of those who remember the life of the place. The final product is a virtual walk down Grand Avenue accompanied by a set of short narratives recalling the life of the place.

The model contributes to the community’s effort to remember its history and identity, even as the area is facing pressure for redevelopment and gentrification.

The model will be used as an online resource with an invitation to add more stories.

Andrea Ceglia
Andrea Gomez
Aarti Mehta-Kroll
Olivia Oldham
Natasha Overn
Leesley Polanco
Sarah Terrazas
Cristina Fonfria
Nina Cuesta (MDC)
Giselle Rivera (MDC)

Gray Read (FIU)
Bobbie Walker (MDC)

The project is made possible thanks to the grant support of Humanities Edge.

The event is scheduled to take place Wednesday, April 19, 2023 starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Gibson Plaza (3629 Grand Ave, Miami, FL 33133).

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