It’s the place where crazed basketball fans bang on pots and pans after a big Miami Heat win, and where news of Fidel Castro’s failing health was celebrated by exiles waving flags.
The place is Hialeah’s West 49th Street, and Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez is working to spruce up what he called the “famous” street.
“I think that street deserves, being that it is, ‘ La famosa calle 49,’ an upgrade,” he said at an October council meeting.
The curbs are freshly painted. New landscaping graces the medians. And soon, signs ushering in the holiday season will hang from the tall light poles lining the street.
The red-and-green banners wish drivers a “Season’s Greetings” in English and Spanish, and each is sponsored by a local business. The city has ordered signs for each season, as well as generic signs that will welcome shoppers to the bustling area during the rest of the year.
It was all done at little cost to the city, Hernandez said. The mayor convinced local business to pitch in the money needed for the upgrades, while the city provided the labor. All told, the city was able to raise about $100,000 from local, private businesses, Hernandez said.
“It’s a great partnership that’s going to improve the image of our city,” Hernandez told the Miami Herald.
Lillian Machado, whose husband owns the well-known Gus Machado Ford dealership on West 49th Street, supported the fix-up project with a donation.
“My husband and I, our thinking was that yes, it’s a very important street in Hialeah. It will add to our business and it will make a better community,” Lillian Machado said.
West 49th Street not only attracts shoppers, but also serves as a main drag for people whizzing through the city, and as a gathering point when big news breaks.
“Forty-ninth Street is Hialeah’s artery,” Hialeah native, Abel Iraola told the Herald in a tweet. “When Miami parties...49th Street is the epicenter.”
Naming chain restaurants that have opened up along West 49th Street, such as Olive Garden and Long Horn, 20-year old Iraola said it is “very obvious there is a push to make it more appealing.”
More businesses, and more sprucing up, are on the way.
Hernandez said other big-name restaurants such as Hooters and Los Ranchos will open up on the street soon. The city also has plans to build an entrance feature on West 49th Street and West 20th Avenue, he said.
“I would love to keep it going east-bound,” Hernandez said of the improvements.
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