Kendall’s Disputable Boundaries and a Brief Synopsis of our Town’s Growth

Most people that live in South Florida have some idea of where Kendall is.  They also have some idea of what it is. But there is more to Kendall than what most people think. An internet search will quickly come up with some pertinent facts.  But mere facts alone don’t tell the whole story.

Kendall & West Kendall

Kendall is not an incorporated city (although some would like it to be).  Instead, it is a census-designated place south of the city of Miami. It comprises a little bit over sixteen square miles of land and water in an irregular shape.  Kendall is bordered to the east by US 1 and to the west by the Florida Turnpike. A small part extends north as far as Miller Drive (S.W. 56 street) and as far south as S.W. 152nd street.  Within its borders lived over 75,000 people according to the 2010 Census. Undoubtedly, the population has grown in the intervening years.

1960’s -The Kendall Boom

There were settlements in the Kendall area as early as the 1880s, but little development of the area took place until after World War II when Miami’s population began to surge. At first, most of the development centered around the former Florida East Coast Railroad tracks and what would become US 1 (South Dixie Highway).  During the 1950s and 1960s, housing construction slowly moved eastward, along North Kendall Drive and Killian Drive. In 1960 Baptist Hospital opened on Kendall Drive, and in 1962 Dadeland Mall opened at the intersection of US1 and North Kendall Drive. Both facilities provided an anchor for the continued growth of the area. In fact, even now the business center of Kendall is located in the Dadeland area, with tall residential and office buildings directly across the street from the mall in “Downtown Dadeland”.

Dadeland Fuels Growth in Kendall

Anyone who has visited Kendall can see that the main feature is quiet and comfortable residential neighborhoods punctuated by shopping centers and strip malls along the main roads.  For those seeking exciting nightlife, a trip north to Coconut Grove, Wynwood, or South Beach is advised. There are a few hubs of activity located in the Dadeland area and the Regal Cinemas in Kendall Village.

For some, this relatively quiet area is too boring. For many others, it is an oasis away from more hectic parts of town”.

The Kendall Centerline

Up until the early 70s, development stopped about where the Turnpike is today.  Population pressures spurred development westward. Now the area known as West Kendall extends almost to Krome Avenue.  The nature of the developments changed. For single-family homes, the yards became much smaller and many more houses have two stories in order to fit more living space in available land.  There are many more condominium and apartment units than houses in Kendall. Since West Kendall is not a census-designated place, the boundaries of West Kendall are open to interpretation.

No doubt, the centerline of West Kendall can be considered North Kendall Drive. West Kendall Toyota and the former Kendall-Tamiami Airport (now the Miami Executive Airport) suggest that perhaps SW 136 Street may be the southern border.  It is more difficult to pin down the northern border of West Kendall because of some older neighborhoods like the Horse Country centered on Miller Drive west of the Turnpike. Krome Avenue would have to be considered the western boundary at this time, although there are currently development boundaries in place to the east.  There are still some agricultural areas of West Kendall. Drive out on Kendall Drive almost to Krome and look north and south. Imagine what you see extending all the way back to the Turnpike. That’s what Kendall looked like fifty years ago.

The Kendall Oasis

Still, there is plenty to do in Kendall, West Kendall and nearby locations like the MetroZoo, especially family-oriented activities.  A lot of new and interesting restaurants are opening all the time. Of course, there is plenty of shopping. Is it all a bed of roses?   No. The road infrastructure has not kept pace with population growth and so traffic jams are a constant feature. And what was once a very affordable part of town has become fairly expensive.  Still, Kendall is one of the nicer places to live. Anywhere.