Here’s a story from the Happy Endings Department.
Thirteen years ago, another luxury condo was planned for a prime riverfront location in downtown Miami.
During the routine review of the site by county archaeologists, workers discovered a number of holes cut into the Oolitic limestone bedrock. As they explored, they discovered the holes formed a 38-foot circle, what turned out to be a complex and planned architecture unique to the Tequesta Indians.
The ensuing demonstrations by Native Americans, colorful New Agers, schoolchildren and history-loving Floridians made national news.
And an amazing thing happened: The Miami Circle was saved.
In February 2011, in a grand opening featuring a Native American ceremony, the site opened as a public park managed by the HistoryMiami museum.
What will you find there now?
Primarily, it’s an open space on the Miami River with a magnificent view and some interpretive signage. The circle itself is buried to preserve it.
Around the circle, chunks of white limestone are placed in an irregular pattern and serve as benches.
If you don’t know the story of “saving the circle,” you may be underwhelmed by the site, though it’s hard not to be impressed with the view.
A new walking trail extends from the base of the Brickell Bridge, which is adjacent to the park, along the river and south to Biscayne Bay. It connects with an existing public baywalk behind a large condo complex.
There’s no parking, although some is planned under the bridge. (There is a traffic circle leading down to the Miami Circle where some visitors told us it was OK to park, though there is no signage to indicate if that’s true.)
If you’re planning to visit, the Miami Circle makes a great part of a scenic urban hike or bike trail.
The Miami Riverwalk Park along the south side of the river extends out to Brickell Key, an island in Biscayne Bay that is home to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The path around that island provides great views of the bay. (We were rewarded on our bike ride with a dolphin swimming by. )
If you’re on a bike, you should start at Bayfront Park, on the north side of the Miami River and then pedal over the Brickell Avenue bridge and stop by the Miami Circle. From there, take the Riverwalk out to Brickell Key, which is a joy to pedal around. If you want a longer route, use the sidewalk to go south down busy Brickell Avenue. A loop that takes you through parks (Simpson and Alice Wainwright) is described in this well-researched article about Miami bike tours from the Biscayne Times.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Miami Circle, visit the excellent site by the Florida Department of State Bureau of Archealogical Research.
That site reports an interesting opportunity:
“Local shaman Catherine Hummingbird Ramirez has held a candlelight vigil every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. since the discovery of the Miami Circle. Mrs. Ramirez is always willing to talk to visitors and tell the story of the Miami Circle and its importance to Native peoples in Florida and elsewhere.
“If you are in the Miami area, visit with Mrs. Ramirez at the site on Tuesday evenings. She maintains a small shrine at the gate to the Miami Circle property and often conducts a smudging ceremony for visitors.”
More good resource material:
- The Miami Herald’s account of the Miami Circle grand opening has excellent video from the ceremony.
- Website for the Miami Circle