Cambridge Lawns

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Cambridge Lawns is a residential neighborhood of single-family homes near the University of Miami and joined by proximity and a common front onto tree-lined Broad Canal [1] (a.k.a. Brewer Canal), a waterway of the City of South Miami in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

The neighborhood includes the Cambridge Lawns Historic District [2] and adjacent homes in the Cambridge Lawns subdivision and is generally defined on the west by Brewer Park [3] and the widening of the Broad Canal, also known as Brewer Canal; on the east by SW 60th Avenue; on the north by Miller Drive; and, on the south by SW 58th Street to the west of 62nd Avenue and the Broad Canal to the east of 62nd Avenue.[4]

Originally developed in the mid-1920s just 0.7 miles from the newly chartered University of Miami, the Cambridge Lawns neighborhood was given a 'university' theme from the outset by developers. With the college lawns and riverside parks at Cambridge University in England in mind, developers projected a waterfront park and tree-lined canal with adjacent suburban lawns, while the neighborhood's first street names were dubbed in honor of well-known U.S. universities—SW 57th Street was then called “Harvard Avenue,” for example, while SW 57th Drive was “Princeton Boulevard” and SW 58th Street was originally named “Clemson Avenue.”[5]

By 1928, developers had completed 30 of the first homes in the neighborhood's signature Tudor Revival (or Mock Tudor) and Mediterranean Revival Style architecture, marking what today is known as the Cambridge Lawns Historic District. These homes, which received their historic designation in 2005, are still referred to by many as "cottages," owing to their modest lot and construction size. The Tudor Revival homes are generally 1½ stories, noteworthy for their gabled facades and chimneys, while the Mediterranean Revival homes have textured or smooth stucco surfaces, ornamental window and door frames and barrel-tile roofs.

The Great Miami Hurricane of 1926 brought an end to the 1920s South Florida real estate boom, while the Great Depression and World War II would keep the local real estate market depressed for more than two decades. The post-war return to prosperity saw student enrollment at the University of Miami climb above 10,000 and with the area ripe for new homes for professors, administrative staff and baby-boom families, developers launched a second phase of homebuilding on larger lots in the Cambridge Lawns subdivision to the south of Broad Canal. The newer homes, built in the 1950s, are variations on the Mid-century modern style, situated on larger properties with more square footage of construction than the homes north of the canal. They feature horizontal lines, louvered windows, open-plan living space and airy "Florida rooms" that incorporate inside/outside leisure areas.

An integral element of the Cambridge Lawns neighborhood is the Broad Canal, lined by its signature towering Australian Pines (Casuarina spp.), as well as native Gumbo-limbo (Bursera simaruba), a few native West Indian Mahoganies (Swietenia mahagoni), voluminous Tropical Almonds (Terminalia catappa) and other tropical and native trees and vegetation. These provide habitat for a plethora of wildlife, including the diverse birdlife that has placed Brewer Park on the Audubon Society[6] list of prime locations for birdwatching in the Miami area. Broad Canal, which was dredged and cleaned as part of a public works improvements project in 2004-05 [7], ebbs and flows with the tides and drains south into Twin Lakes Canal [8] and then flows past Fuchs Park to empty at Gulliver Preparatory School [9] into the Snapper Creek Canal, a freshwater drainage conduit for the Everglades system that flows several miles further south and enters Biscayne Bay at a point just south of Matheson Hammock Park25°40′33″N 80°15′51″W / 25.675771°N 80.264225°W / 25.675771; -80.264225

Another integral element of Cambridge Lawns' waterfront park-like atmosphere is Brewer Park, a neighborhood "pocket park" dedicated in 1956 [10] and named after longtime area resident George Brewer. The park provides multiple recreation opportunities for local residents and its trees and vegetation contribute significantly to the habitat for local wildlife and birdlife. In 2005, the City commission and then-Mayor Mary Scott Russell announced the availability of funds for the Brewer Park Improvements project which was completed in 2007.