By Nicholas Jurkowski
Hialeah is a unique city in many respects. For starters, the city ranks number one on the list of American cities where Spanish is most spoken - as a matter of fact, 92% of the residents of Hialeah speak Spanish as a first language (so if you want to practice your Spanish, it isn't a bad place to go). The high Hispanic population means there are a lot of activities and attractions that won't be found, for example, in the middle of Minnesota. Opportunities to watch and play Jai-Alai abound, and you can regularly see Quinceanera celebrations as you pass by restaurants and community celebrations. In addition to the unique cultural make-up, Hialeah has some interesting history: a disproportionate number of pro-athletes and astronauts hail from Hialeah, famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart made her final farewells from Hialeah before departing, and in 1925, one of the most famous horse-racing tracks in the world opened in the form of Hialeah Park.
Hialeah Park is the oldest and widest continually used turf-racing track in the United States, and since 1925 has been patronized by Winston Churchill, the Kennedy family, and J.P. Morgan. Though the last race was run in 2001 (Cheeky Miss captured the 10th to end the track's racing career), the park is on the national register of historic places, and now stands like a phantom. The flamingos that have lived nearby for years have made it possible for the track to also be recognized as an Audubon Bird Sanctuary. Going to the park now is like visiting a ghost town. For an idea of what it looks like, check out this site: http://icuban.com/hialeah_park.html. The park can be very interesting to explore, especially for a racing fan.
If you are in the mood for some slightly eerie racing history, head over to Hialeah Park to take a look. The vines stretching up the Mediterranean architecture and disused voting booths are oddly fascinating. For those who really enjoy this kind of thing, consider renting a Millenium limousine to take you there. If you’re going to explore old architecture, I find it’s best to get there in the comfort and luxury of a limousine.
Nick Jurkowski is a senior editor for
http://www.milleniumlimo.com. The essays above can be found on his night life blog, The Urban Adventure Blog, which is updated daily.