Millionaire's-Row-1948-lg

Winter 2007 – Naming rights: Brickell Avenue name extension wrong for many reasons

Historically, it doesn’t make sense. Geographically, it doesn’t make sense. From a brand-name-identity standpoint, it doesn’t make sense. But, to a few big-time developers pushing to have two blocks of Southeast Second Avenue renamed to the more chic “Brickell Avenue” just north of Miami River, the idea makes a lot of sense, financially, for their pockets.

Readers may recall the uproar began last spring when the name change went before the City of Miami Commission. The commission heard from interests to the north who would like to take on the readily recognizable and highly regarded Brickell name, and business and residential interests to the south of the river intent on protecting their brand name and not allowing it to be diluted by random extensions. Torn, but off the hook, the City said it didn’t have the jurisdiction to make the name change since the road is part of the federal highway system with oversight by the State of Florida. That’s how it ended up in Tallahassee.

Millionaire's-Row-1948duo

Brickell Avenue in 1948 was lined with mansions and
called “Millionaire Row.” The home on the left is Santa
Maria. Photo courtesy of Arva Parks McCabe.

Members of the Brickell Area Association, the business alliance leading the charge in this naming battle, have been preparing for the 2007 Florida Legislative session in case the name change provision gets lopped onto the coattails of another bill, and slipped into law. A similar last-minute effort died in 2006 when the legislative session ended in May, but those developers with strong interest in pursuing the change haven’t given up.

Miami’s most regarded historians on local history, Arva Parks McCabe and Paul George, have both publicly explained that south of the River was the Brickell family’s territory and north of the river was Julia Tuttle’s. The river was always the geographic dividing line. The proposed name change would mean Julia’s street would be called Brickell, which many see as beyond literary license, perhaps more akin to historical heresy.

“It is so ironic that someone today is trying to move the Brickell name to the north side of the river,” Ms. McCabe said. “The north side of the river belonged to Julia Tuttle. It would be a terrible slap in the face to the ‘Mother of Miami’ to put the Brickell name there.”

Ms. McCabe explained that after Miami was founded by railroad tycoon Henry Flagler and pioneering Julia Tuttle in 1896, William Brickell refused to cross the river to the north because he thought Flagler had slighted the south side. Each side clearly had, and has, its own identity. Over time, Second Avenue has been known as Dixie Highway (after 1916) and before that Avenue “B.”

“Second Avenue should either look for a totally new name that reflects today’s Miami or work on changing the image of Second Avenue,” Ms. McCabe said. “About 25 years ago Hank Meyer came up with the New World Center for downtown. I have always thought that was clever and had a lot of good, subtle meanings. New World Boulevard isn’t bad since Miami-Dade campus is called the New World Campus.”

BrickellHammockl

An early view of the Brickell hammock. Photo courtesy of Arva Parks McCabe.

Perhaps because Miami has too many examples of history overlooked for contemporary expediency, the Brickell Area Association has aligned with a lobbying arm to assist watching that history isn’t cast aside and the Brickell name sold for a song in Tallahassee in this year’s session which got underway in late February.

The BAA and Dade Heritage Trust are also investigating the feasibility of obtaining a special historic designation for Brickell Avenue, either as a Scenic Transportation Corridor, which is the City’s designation status, or as a Florida Scenic Highway, the statewide designation. The FDOT criteria requires one or more of six resources of “intrinsic value” be present to be considered for the designation. These include cultural, historic, architectural, recreational, natural or scenic resources.

The BAA is launching a website, www.savehistoricbrickell.com, to track the issue. The BAA resolution, see below, further outlines the reasons why extending the Brickell name is not beneficial for the Brickell community. For further reading, see the article on the history of Brickell Avenue, read The Authentic History of Brickell Avenue from the Brickell Area Association.

From BHA News, Winter 2007, Vol. XVII, No. 1