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The Real Greater Miami: An Introduction

New York City Miami connection
For the seven years I lived in Miami, I often heard the hackneyed notion that this city is the sixth borough of New York. Being home to so many ex-New Yorkers, Miami would just have to live with its identity as the southern appendage to the colossus up north.

Vacationing New Yorkers and snowbirds would inundate the best hotels, buzzing through lobby bars like palmetto bugs, alighting on the best stools, and scaring the locals (and everyone else) away. They had pored over their OpenTable apps on the flight down, and scooped up every decent restaurant reservation on the Beach. They colonized Wynwood and distracted all of the best art (and coke) dealers.

New Yorkers were bringing their world-weary sophistication to a cute but ultimately superficial hick town, and they were not shy about letting Miamians know that they expected them to be grateful about it.

Miamians would grumble about the rudeness and the petty snobbery, while vacuuming up the cash, and blithely continuing to do what Miamians do best: trying to build a community. But the influence was positive as well, as legions of New Yorkers saw the Miami lifestyle as a refreshing change from the hyper-competitive, cold, and gray landscape that can sometimes define life in the Big Apple.

It was a symbiotic relationship, based on codependency, not necessarily beneficial to either city. Something had to change.

SimplyGood - Beach Life

Since I’ve been back in New York, I’ve seen a remarkable development. When I visited the Armory Show this spring — the supposedly venerable New York art show that takes its name from the notorious Armory Show of 1913 (then called the International Exhibition of Modern Art) — it seemed to lack the panache and excitement of the Art Basel Miami Beach extravaganza, with the 15th edition coming this December (you could say it’s a comparative infant in the pantheon of longstanding art shows). At the Armory, visitors seemed rushed, and somewhat downtrodden, compared to the lively and viscerally inspiring multitude of groundbreaking shows that take place during ABMB Week.

True, there are over 1,500 art galleries in New York City, so perhaps the large-shiny-object effect of the massive week-long fairs can’t quite hold the attention of art-saturated New Yorkers. But then, I learned something else— and this is the genius of marketing: the Armory Show is only eight years older than Art Basel Miami Beach! While they took their name from the original “Armory Show,” which is credited as introducing the United States to Modern Art, the current show actually began in 1994. So, it’s barely more than a teenager, just like ABMB.

This led me to the idea that, perhaps, with some obvious exceptions, New York is really not that much different than Miami.

With the speed of communications today, anyone who has the desire to learn about the latest trends in art, fashion, design, architecture, music, or even what food the hippest restaurants are putting on their menus, can do so in an instant.

To put it another way, kale travels fast.

And trends don’t start in just the big metropolises like New York or LA anymore. More often, they begin in smaller cities and towns, like Atlanta, Nashville, Austin, Portland, or even, gasp, Miami. So it began to dawn on me that Miami and New York actually have a lot more important aspects in common, and that in comparing the two cities, it is no longer necessary to make the old, tired assumptions.

Miami has a stronger affinity with New York than it does Fort Lauderdale, or Hollywood, or any of its closest neighbors. Though geographically separated by 1,277 miles, the two cities more closely resemble brothers or sisters who scheme and plan outings together — New York in the summer, Miami in the winter.

Art Basel Miami Beach

Attendees at Art Basel Miami Beach

The term “Greater Miami” may, under normal circumstances, be understood to mean other towns that surround Miami (and Miami Beach), like Weston, or Kendall, or Hialeah. We could talk about actual county denominations and all that boring stuff.

But the real “Greater Miami” extends to places like New York and other cities scattered throughout the U.S. and the world, from where people arrive to our tropical paradise to not just vacation, get a tan, and eat a Cuban sandwich, but also to absorb the identity of Miami, which has slowly evolved into a dynamic cultural powerhouse.

So when we write about what is happening in New York, it is with an acute awareness that neither city is “greater” than the other, of course, but on the contrary: the belief that New York can reasonably be seen as part of a “Greater Miami” — with ideas traveling along a two-way highway. This bold exchange, not based on some antiquated power assumptions, but born out of curiosity and wonder, will bring to both cities’ inhabitants tangible mutual benefits — and, hopefully, delight.

Numerous ideas that emanate from New York, or events that take place there, may have a small Miami component, or even a larger one. But their overriding importance is that they expand everyone’s understanding of what is possible, anywhere, anytime, and in any location.

Welcome to the New, Greater Miami.

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