Wynwood is a neighborhood on mainland Miami contiguous with the Design District to the northeast and the Midtown Miami development to the east. Though it is a neighborhood rather than an officially incorporated area, its boundaries are roughly NW 20th Street to the south, I-195 to the north, I-95 to the west, and North Miami Avenue to the east.
The neighborhood is the next locus of gentrification in mainland Miami now that the Design District is firmly populated by fine dining restaurants and luxury boutiques. These days, Wynwood is best known for its burgeoning arts district, mainly centered along N.W. Second Avenue and its still relatively affordable warehouse and loft spaces. As such, Wynwood reflects the classic gentrification mix of longtime area residents and upwardly mobile, bourgeois bohemian types.
Historically, Wynwood was a working-class neighborhood largely populated by Puerto Ricans, starting in the 1950s. The neighborhood has long mixed small apartment buildings and houses with small, main street-style commercial corridors harboring resident-owned businesses. These are divided by two large industrial districts, including a large strip of warehouses along N.W. Second Avenue, and the “Fashion District” bordering I-95, which houses a number of wholesale clothing and shoe businesses.
However, interest in the area rose in the early ’00s, even as the Design District continued to rise. Some art-world types, seeing the rents already increase in that neighborhood, moved to Wynwood early. Among those gentrification pioneers were the private collectors Steve and Mera Rubell, who decided to open their museum-quality private collection along N.W. 29th Street about a decade ago.
The sprawling, cheap warehouse spaces soon attracted other art-world types, and a few galleries started popping up in the Rubells’ wake. In 2003, Mark Coetzee, Nina Arias, Brook Dorsch, Bernice Steinbaum, Marty Marguiles, and Locust Projects founders Weston Charles, Elizabeth Withstanly, and COOPER founded the Wynwood Arts District, and started hosting its own regular gallery nights. The area as an art neighborhood gained traction along with the rise of Art Basel Miami Beach, with further private collections and aggressively contemporary galleries opening in the area.
Interestingly, for a long time, while commercial rents rose in Wynwood and the arts district gained press and word-of-mouth traction, the neighborhood hadn’t functioned fully for gentrifiers. In other words, there were some loft buildings in Wynwood, but not many people actually lived there, and there were few personal services business or restaurants catering to the artsier crowd. Meanwhile, outside of gallery nights, Wynwood remained largely deserted and industrial during the day and frequently at night too.
This has started to change. The Lost and Found Saloon, on the northeastern fringes of the neighborhood, started serving up dirt-cheap vegetarian burritos and the like several years ago, kicking off a trend. Then, in 2008, semi-upscale Italian restaurant Joey’s moved into the area and now has a loyal clientele. (Related post: “Throwing Pizza with Chef Ivo”.)
That’s been followed by establishments like the sleek indoor/outdoor lounge and club Cafeina and the trendy Wynwood Kitchen & Bar. With the subsequent openings of gourmet coffee shop Panther Coffee and the snack shop/creative workspace Lester’s, young professionals are growing increasingly comfortable in Wynwood, the former Puerto Rican enclave.
N.W. Second Avenue
These days, N.W. Second Avenue (between 29th Street and 20th Street) is the main strip of gentrified Wynwood where most of the area’s popular galleries and trendy boutiques and restaurants are located.
It’s also the site of the wildly popular Second Saturdays Art Walk (aka Miami Art Walk and Wynwood Art Walk) in the Wynwood Arts District. On the second Saturday of every month, the galleries open their doors in the evenings to host special events, performances, and raucous parties. This has become a hugely popular event in Miami, with thousands flooding the streets.
Because of this, though, it has also drawn criticism from both residents and gallery owners who say the raucous turnout reflects an abiding interest in partying and drinking, not in art. Indeed, a few galleries have begun closing their events earlier in the evening and refusing to serve alcohol. Still, the event remains safe and one of the best occasions to people-watch, a cherished Miami pastime.
To experience the two extremes of Second Saturdays, visit Miguel Paredes Fine Art Gallery and Fredric Snitzer Gallery. The two galleries are less than a block from each other but couldn’t stand farther apart when it comes to their art and atmosphere. Miguel Paredes features an open bar, extremely loud music, and even louder art work. Snitzer, on the other hand, has a cold ambience and caters to the more serious art collector.
Major Galleries and Art Spaces in Wynwood
– Bernice Steinbaum Gallery
– Butter Gallery
– David Castillo Gallery
– Diana Lowenstein Fine Art
– Dorsch Gallery
– Fredric Snitzer Gallery
– Gallery Diet
– The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse
– Miguel Paredes Fine Art Gallery
– Pan-American Art Projects
– The Rubell Family Collection
– World-Class Boxing — the Scholl Collection
– The Wynwood Walls
Major Dining and Entertainment in Wynwood
– Cafeina Wynwood Lounge
– Crescendo Lounge
– Electric Pickle
– Jimmy’z Kitchen Wynwood
– Lost and Found Saloon
– O Cinema
– Panther Coffee
– Wynwood Kitchen & Bar
View Miami Art Walk in a larger map