No, not that one. This one:
Welcome to Miami…Arizona. This is what Miami looks like when it lives in the desert. There is a “river” there, but no beach. I put “river” in quotations because it’s usually dry. Well, I say it’s “usually” dry, but it hasn’t been dry lately, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start this story at the beginning.
The story of Miami, Arizona begins with a copper mine named Inspiration. It was founded in 1911 and heavily promoted by the mining engineer, William Boyce Thompson. Mr. Thompson knew a thing or two about mining, and was himself the owner of the nearby copper mine called the Magma mine. Copper mining made Mr. Thompson a very rich man, and the view from his desert mansion looked like this:
Well, at least that’s what the view from the Picket Post Mansion looks like today when you visit his former winter residence at the William Boyce Thompson Arboretum. He, of course, pitched his house on a location that netted the best possible view, but the workers in his mines had to look at views more akin this:
Well, the houses probably looked better when they were new. In its heyday, Miami, AZ boasted 2,000 residents, which is roughly the same number of people that live there today. The city’s major employer is the Freeport-McMoRan mining company which currently owns and operates The Miami Mine. Copper mining has a long and complicated history in Arizona, and the landscape has long been scarred by the open-pit process:
There used to be a mountain there, but now it’s just terraces. The landscape around Miami is fragile native desert, but it lost a lot of it in the summer 2021 to one of Arizona’s largest wildfires. The Telegraph Fire burned 180,757 acres and took with it nature’s natural ability to hold back erosion. Heavy rains followed the following months, and caused entire mountains to flood into the streets:
The town of Miami braced itself for the destruction and applied sandbags in front of as many doors as it reasonably could:
The flooding happened a month after the fires, but the sandbags were still there when I took these pictures nearly four months later. It looked to me that the city didn’t want to bother removing the bags only to have to put them down again whenever it was next predicted to storm. This is what the city looks like now and will likely look for months into the future.
Miami, AZ is a good place to stretch out your legs and run on staircases that sometimes lead to nowhere:
It’s also a good place to be reminded that Banksy once opened a dystopian theme park called Dismaland when you imagine kids playing next to signs that look like this:
One thing that Miami, Arizona has in common with its Floridian counterpart is its need for air-conditioners, and this semi-ghost town has no shortage of them:
If you happen to need a Covid test before your trip back to wherever you came from, all you need to do is follow this sign:
and end up at this make-shift testing site/shipping container:
All in all, Miami, AZ is an awesome place to visit if you love taking pictures. The city is very photogenic and sets the imagination wild:
And it looks darn-tooting good in black-and-white too!
The future of Miami, Arizona is one of survival. The residents here are a tough bunch, and I respect their tenacity. If they can make it here, they can certainly make it anywhere.
Adios, from Miami, Arizona!