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How Wynwood Earned Its Street Cred

The untold story of how Wynwood's graffiti propelled a forgotten industrial swath of Miami into one of the most coveted tracts of real estate in America.

At the moment, Wynwood is an unlikely, and therefore exciting, mélange. The line out the door at Panther Coffee, once the dominion of the young, scruffy hip, is studded with property prospectors in slacks. Ducati is opening a store up the street. Two new condos are slated to break ground half a block west, yet there’s a clutch of feral chickens in a side lot. The neighborhood is so hot The New York Times website ran a video on Wynwood style. You wouldn’t have recognized it from how it was six years ago. At that time, it was a desolate, mostly drab, and sometimes dangerous warehouse district outlined by working-class housing. I worked in the area, and it was hard to find a sandwich, or even anyone to say hello to. I was even held up at gunpoint, although admittedly only once.

Why the eruptive change? In a word, graffiti—acre after acre of resplendent colors, massive images, ideas, turmoil: a curvy 10-foot tree goddess, a horned man-beetle the size of a van, lost businessmen metamorphosing into larvae. Turn down any street and you’re likely to be wowed. In a month, the images might be replaced by new ones. Welcome to Wynwood, 2014. And this place is about to change even more—JugoFresh has moved in, Ralph Pucci furniture just opened a 5,000-square-foot showroom, and Zak The Baker is opening up shop shortly. There’s even word of a hotel and 500 residential units in the next five years.

Robert William de los Rios, the man behind, a site that aspires to catalogue all of Wynwood’s street art, says over 300 artists have created here in the past three years. During the six days of Art Basel Miami Beach 2013, 50,000 people came to visit Wynwood Walls, Goldman Properties’ mural park.

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