[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: I "Heart" Hialeah

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I "Heart" Hialeah

Anyone who's lived in South Florida for any length of time has heard all the jokes and negative stereotypes about Hialeah. It's ugly, dangerous, dirty, chusma, no one speaks English, etc. and ad nauseum.

Now, before I start throwing valentines at Hialeah, I have to say that some of these stereotypes are rooted in reality. Hialeah is far from the most scenic part of South Florida. Most of the city is gritty and blue-collar. It rains more there in the summer than in neighboring areas. Its drivers, even by South Florida standards, can be horrendous. The traffic-choked Palmetto Expressway is it's main north-south artery. It's schools aren't among the best in the area (but not as bad as some other areas), and quite frankly having been raised in the southwest sections of Miami, I can't find any good reason to want to live there.

Many of its residents don't speak English too well, but many DO speak it quite well. And, yes, Hialeah's blue-collar nature does give it a well-earned reputation as a place where its residents can be brash and bawdy.

Hialeah is also a city where its ordinary residents are refreshingly real and honest, with little concern for political correctness or giving off airs. If this is considered chusma, where can we get some more of it? I do a decent amount of work in Hialeah and with Hialeah officials, and I must say that I have always been treated with courtesy both in the city and in dealings with those folks. Hialeah residents are usually very willing to help out. Those who criticize Hialeah and have had bad experiences there to back it up may have some legitimate reasons, but I also think there's a culture gap and even an attitude problem. People from Hialeah can be very helpful, but only if you don't walk in to their neighborhood with an attitude of "this place sucks".

Far from being dangerous, Hialeah has a lower crime index than Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Orlando, Jacksonville and Tampa. Look it up here. Drive due east from any part of Hialeah if you want to see what dangerous really is. It has a good park system, and it's inhabitants exhibit a sense of community pride that is unfortunately rare in most of South Florida. Folks are hard-working and family oriented, and Hialeah's top students frequently end up going to Ivy League schools (that is, if the abuelas don't have a fit over their niñito leaving home).

Imagine then my reaction a few weeks ago when Forbes released its list of Top 10 Boring Cities, and Hialeah made the list! Hialeah can be lots of things, but boring isn't one of them.

Daniel Shoer Roth of the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald must think the same way I do about the "City of Progress", because in a column last month, he highlights a lot of the same things mentioned here. Please make sure to check it out.

Que viva la ciudad de agua, fango y factoria!



Blogger joel said...

Over at SFDB, Alex has suggested that you implied a racist view point in this post. I, on the other hand, am not too sure about that. I live in the aforementioned "east of Hialeah" and understand what you are referencing, that is, that crime is higher east of Hialeah than in Hialeah proper.
Care to comment?

2:53 PM, February 20, 2009  
Blogger Robert said...


You are absolutely correct (amazing what clear and unbiased thinking can do, right?). I even mentioned Hialeah's lower crime rate compared with other Florida cities... regardless of and independent of race. Thanks for your lucid comment.

3:20 PM, February 20, 2009  

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