[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: South Florida History: Miami is Born

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

South Florida History: Miami is Born

I apologize for skipping a week in this series, but I hope to get it back on track with this post. The previous post in the series was a memoir by Spanish captive Hernando De Escalante Fontaneda in which he describes a string of islands he called "The Martires", or the martyrs. Apparently, he was referring to what we call today the Florida Keys. I assume he was referring to the entire string of keys, not just one or two, but I could be wrong.

Anyway, let's talk about the official birth of Miami. When people talk about the relative lack of history in Miami, they often fail to mention that it's because of Miami's short timeline. Let's take a look at a few American cities and the years in which they were incorporated.

Chicago - 1833
Los Angeles - 1781
Atlanta - 1847
Dallas - 1841
Tampa - 1849
Orlando - 1875
New York City - 1898 (this was the year the 5 boroughs were joined, but settlers have lived in the area since 1625).

Miami was incorporated in 1896. Barely over 100 years ago. About 400 men voted for incorporation in a building located at present-day South Miami Avenue and 4th Street, just north of the Miami River. Miami's diversity was evident even back then; a third of the incorporators were African-American and Bahamian.

Speaking of blacks, Julia Tuttle helped to lay out "Colored Town" between today's NW 6th and 12th streets west of the railroad tracks, in what is today's known as Overtown.

It didn't take long for Miami's status as a resort to become known. Henry Flagler built a luxurious resort - the Royal Palm Hotel - the following year in 1897. No doubt Miami's subtropical climate was as appealing back then as it is today.

(courtesy of University of Miami History Photo Archive)

To view each installment of the series, click here.



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11:47 PM, March 29, 2008  

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