50 Images That Show What Miami's Past Was Like
Miami is one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the world. It is one of the most visited and loved cities and welcomes millions of people on a yearly basis. Miami is full of history and culture and also offers fabulous nightlife, beaches, and a tropical climate. Miami's history goes back hundreds of years and is a coastal metropolis in southeastern Florida. Some of the popular attractions in Miami are South Beach, Little Havana, Ocean Drive, and the Miami Zoo.
Miami Got Its Name From The Mayaimi Tribe
The Mayaimi were Native American people that lived in the Miami region in the 1600 and 1700s and lived around Lake Mayaimi. The Mayaimis have no relationship with the Miamis of the Great Lakes region.
However, the city of Miami is named after the Miami River, which is derived from Lake Mayaimi. Julian Granberry, the linguist, stated that the language of the Calusa, Mayaimi, and Tequesta people is related to the Tunica language, and Mayaimi meant 'big water.'
Only US City Founded By A Woman
Miami officially became a city in 1896 and is the only major U.S. city to be founded by a woman. Miami was founded by Julia Tuttle, who came to the area to visit her father. She liked what she saw, and after her father died, she was given his land.
Julia was a businesswoman who used the money from her parents' estate to purchase the James Egan grant of six hundred and forty acres. She purchased more land and then talked Henry Flagler, railroad builder, into extending tracks southwest into Miami.
Miami Beach Is Largely Man-Made
Miami Beach was incorporated in 1915 and is across the Biscayne Bay from Miami proper. However, it started as nothing much more than a big sandbar. They dug deeper water channels around the land, and soil was added to the surrounding area; the beach was mostly man-made.
Ever since then, the beaches have been replenished with new sand that is brought in. The diminished shoreline sadly means that residents are more vulnerable when big storms hit the area.
Miami Has More Than 800 Parks In Total
Miami is known for having more than eight hundred parks scattered around the area. The park in the photo below is one of the parks called Bayfront Park. It is a thirty-two-acre public park in downtown Miami, on Biscayne Bay.
Construction on the park began in 1924 and opened in 1925. The park was designed by Warren Henry Manning, and located in the park is a bronze statue of Christopher Columbus.
Benjamin Green Invented The First Sunscreen In Miami
Benjamin Green was a pharmacist in Miami in the 1940s and served as an airman in World War II. Green developed one of the world's first sunscreens using red veterinary petrolatum as a physical barrier from the sun to prevent ultraviolet rays from hitting his skin while he was serving in World War II.
However, the sunscreen was heavy and unpleasant, so after the war, he developed a more pleasing product by adding cocoa butter and coconut oil. His sunscreen later became known as Coppertone suntan lotion.
The First Burger King Opened In Miami In 1954
The very first Burger King was opened in Miami in 1954, and three years later, the now-iconic burger, the Whopper, was introduced. The Whopper was first sold for just thirty-seven cents.
The Burger King was opened by James McLamore and David Edgerton and had its roots in the Insta-Burger King chain. Today, the chain has nearly fourteen thousand restaurants across the world and has even launched in India.
Miami’s Nickname Is ‘Magic City’
Ethan V. Blackman was the man responsible for Miami's nickname, 'Magic City.' "What inspired me to call Miami the Magic City was the enthusiasm of Mr. Flagler plus a blueprint of the city. You see, the time I wrote that phrase, I had never even seen Miami. In looking over the material, I got so enthusiastic over the possibilities of the city that bordered on the Gulf Stream and faced the broad waters of Biscayne Bay that I referred to it as the 'Magic City.'"
"I knew that Miami would remain if I could make it, the Magic City. So I talked and thought and wrote 'Miami, the Magic City,' and the name stuck. The town grew as the phrase stirred the curiosity of the outside world, and it came to see." ---- Ethan Blackman.
Miami Is The Cruise Capital Of The World
Miami is considered the 'Cruise Capital of the World' and is the busiest cruise and passenger port in the world. Multiple cruise lines have invested millions in their terminals at the port in Miami.
There are eleven terminals at PortMiami that see everything from large major cruise lines, small vessels, and luxury cruises. Some of the cruise lines in Miami are Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas, and Norwegian Cruise Line.
Miami Is Home To The Largest Concentration Of Street Art
Miami is home to the Wynwood Art District, which has over ten galleries, museums, and collections. It is one of the largest open-air street-art installations in the world and covers thirty thousand square feet.
The galleries feature work by many leading artists such as Brazil's Os Gemeos, Kenny Scharf, and Shepard Fairey. The Wynwood Art District is bounded by North 36th Street, North 20th Street, I-95, and Northeast First Avenue.
Miami Played An Important Role During WWII
Miami was an important part of World War II. Many members 0f the Army Air Corps lived in hotels and apartments and took technical training in the facilities. The Port of Miami was the preserve of the Navy as well as a Submarine Chaser Training School.
Miami Beach became the training grounds for the Army Air Corp, and Downtown Miami was converted into the southern command and training facility for the Navy and the center of celebration after the Japanese surrendered.
It Is Home To The Largest Cuban Community In The US
Miami is home to the largest Cuban community in the United States. Little Havana is the Cuban neighborhood and is home to many Cuban exiles and immigrants from Central and South America.
The area is known for its landmarks such as the Cuban Memorial Boulevard, Domino Park, the Tower Theater, Plaza de la Cubanidad, and Jose Marti Park. In addition, little Havana is known for its street life, music, restaurants, and cultural activities. This photo shows Fidel Castro giving a speech in Little Havana.
The Cuban Sandwich Was Invented In Florida
The original Tampa-style Cuban sandwich showed up in Miami during the first half of the twentieth century. There is a Miami News ad from 1937, that shows a Cuban sandwich with salami.
However, when more Cuban immigrants came to Miami in the 1950s and 1960s, they began to make modifications to the sandwich. "In Miami, the recipe eventually changed because there is not a large Italian population here. Again, the sandwich is a story of immigration." ----- Mandy Baca.
It Is One Of The USA’s Warmest Locations In The Winter
Miami is listed as the warmest city in the United States during the winter, and it also has some of the hottest weather in the US. The average daily highs in the winter reach about seventy degrees, and the nightly lows are about sixty-two degrees.
Miami is where snowbirds travel for the winter, and it's also a popular destination for international travelers. Mostly every day during the winter reaches at least sixty degrees and sometimes hits the eighties.
Miami Used To Be A Mangrove Swamp
Miami used to be mangroves and swamps full of mosquitoes, crocodiles, palmetto scrub, and a sea-stroked beach. Carl Fisher spent a fortune putting machines to work for fifteen years pumping up muck from Biscayne Bay and called the area Miami Beach.
Back then, there were only about three hundred people that lived in the area, and the main reason it had remained empty for so long was that it was too soggy and swampy for development.
Coconut Grove Is Known As The Oldest Inhabited Neighborhood In Miami
Coconut Grove is the oldest neighborhood in Miami and traces its roots back to 1873. It was originally founded by the Bahamians and had a hippie cachet that, by the end of the twentieth century, had transitioned into trendy and upscale.
Coconut Grove was annexed by the city of Miami in 1925, and the first hotel in South Florida was built in Coconut Grove, named Bay View Inn. Still, today, forty percent of all Bahamians that live in the United States live in Coconut Grove.
Has One Of The Largest Collection Of Art Deco Buildings
In Miami, there is a large collection of relics reminiscent of the glamorous Art Deco movement, and there are over eight hundred historic Art Deco buildings just in Miami Beach.
It is the biggest collection of Art Deco buildings in the world and includes Flamingo Park, the historic streets of Collins Avenue, Washington Avenue, and Espanola Way. The Art Deco District is also known as the best in the world for clubbing.
It Is The Only City In The USA Bordered By Two National Parks
In the United States, Miami is the only city that is bordered by two national parks. Everglades National Park is to the west of Miami, and the Biscayne National Park is to the east. The photo shows the Everglades National Park, which is the largest tropical wilderness in the United States.
The park is a network of wetlands and forests fed by a river and is the most significant breeding ground for tropical wading birds in North America. Most of South Florida's fresh water is recharged in the park.
The Area Was Once The Home Of The Tequesta Indians
The Tequesta tribe was a small and peaceful Native American tribe. They were one of the first tribes in South Florida and settled near Biscayne Bay, which is now the Miami area.
They built their villages at the mouth of the Miami River and built them with palmetto leaves. They developed a culture and subsistence that was extremely successful. Sadly, the tribe died out after catching diseases that the Europeans brought with them.
Buildings In Miami Can’t Have Basements
Houses in Miami can't have basements; instead, their houses are built on concrete slabs. The area is filled with waterways in every direction and has a large aquifer system that spans around one hundred thousand square miles and provides water for the large cities in Florida.
The water is very close to the surface, and because of that and the proximity to the ocean, it is impossible to dig out a basement. If they were to dig more than ten feet down, they would encounter water.
Latvian Immigrant Edward Leedskalnin Built The Area’s Iconic Coral Castle
Edward Leedskalnin was a Russian immigrant who built the Coral Castle in Miami, all by himself. He moved to Florida in 1922 and purchased an underdeveloped parcel of land. He spent the next twenty years building a massive structure that he called Rock Gate, which he dedicated to the girl who had left him years before.
He worked alone and sculpted more than eleven hundred short tons of oolite limestone into the landmark called the Coral Castle. Then, he opened it to the public and offered tours.
It Is Believed That Jackie Gleason’s Ghost Haunts The Country Club Of Miami
Jackie Gleason was a regular at the Country Club in Miami after moving there in the 1950s. He was well-known for starring in The Honeymooners and The Jackie Gleason Show and would often bring to the club fellow celebrities such as Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.
He was very interested in the paranormal and sadly passed away in 1987 from colon cancer. Many members of the Country Club believe that Gleason haunts their exclusive golf facilities.
Miami Was A Popular Spot For Pirates
It has been reported that famous pirates such as Gasparilla, Blackbeard, and Jean Lafitte often visited Miami's shoreline to bury their treasures. As a result, tourists and locals have discovered silver, gold, trinkets, and jewelry both underwater and underground.
The photo shows the only treasure chest with authenticated provenance to a pirate, which is on exhibit at St. Augustine Pirate Museum in Miami. The treasure chest is made of iron and belonged to Captain Thomas Tew.
The Dominant Language In Miami Is Spanish
The official language in Miami is English, but about sixty percent of Miami's population speaks Spanish. The reason for so many Spanish-speaking people is due to the large waves of immigration of people from numerous Hispanic regions.
That includes Central and South America. That has made Miami one of the hardest places to work or do business in the United States without knowing a foreign language.
Miami Has Only Ever Seen Snow One Time
It has only ever snowed one time in Miami, and it was on January 19, 1977, when flurries were recorded. According to a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, there is less than a one percent chance of it snowing in Miami, Florida.
It started to snow early in the morning, and temperatures fell down to the thirties. It only snowed for about an hour and a half but was enough for a dusting on cars and streets. The snow didn't last long, but it wreaked havoc on the local crops.
The Areas Coral Gables Biltmore Hotel Was A Hospital During WWII
The Miami Biltmore Hotel was built in 1926, and during World War II, it served as a hospital and as a VA Hospital later. When the war started, the War Department took over the hotel and converted it to a twelve hundred bed hospital in 1942.
In 1946, it was transferred to the Army and renamed Pratt General Hospital, and then in 1947, it was transferred to the Veterans Administration. It remained a VA hospital with four hundred and fifty beds until a newer facility opened in 1968. The building remained unoccupied for almost ten years, and then in 1983, the hotel was reopened as a luxury hotel and resort.
Miami Is Home To The Largest Freshwater Pool In The US
The Venetian Pool at Coral Gables is the largest freshwater pool in the country, and the water is pristine and natural. The pool was put in place by humans and is filtered with natural water.
The pool is emptied and refilled each day with naturally filtered water and was built in 1923 out of the remains of an abandoned coral rock quarry. The pool also connects to several natural grotto caves that swimmers can explore.
The Cape Florida Lighthouse Is Miami’s Oldest Structure
The Cape Florida Lighthouse is located in Miami and was built in 1825, making it the oldest structure in Miami. The lighthouse guided mariners off the Florida Reef but was decommissioned in 1990.
Captain John Dubose was the first keeper of the lighthouse and the lighthouse was later attacked by a band of Seminole in 1836. However, in 1846, the lighthouse was rebuilt and has gone through renovations, inactive periods, and being lit again.
Julia Tuttle Is Known As The ‘Mother Of Miami’
Julia Tuttle was the businesswoman that founded the city of Miami. She later became known as the 'Mother of Miami,' and a statue of Tuttle was erected in Bayfront Park in 2010. She is also known for convincing railroad magnate Henry Flagler to extend the railroad down to the Miami River.
In return, she would supply him with land for a hotel and a railroad station. Finally, in 1896, the railroad arrived, and it was three months later when residents voted to incorporate a new city called Miami.
70% Of Miami Is Hispanic
Miami has a close relationship with Latin America, and you can see that in its ethnic neighborhoods. Little Havana is one of those neighborhoods as it was developed as a Cuban enclave within the city.
About seventy percent of people in Miami are Hispanic, and close to thirty-five percent of the Hispanic population of Miami are Cubans. Sixteen percent of the Hispanic population are Central Americans, including Hondurans, Guatemalans, Nicaraguans, and Salvadorans.
The Giant Freeze Of 1894-95
On December 29, 1894, Miami and other areas of Florida had a storm blow through that plunged the temps to eighteen degrees. The Great Freeze of 1894-1895 also included the even worse freeze on February 7, 1895.
The Giant Freeze killed the fruit and trees, wiped out the smaller growers, and allowed the large growers to dominate the citrus business. It was reported that 21,737 acres of citrus were destroyed, and the economic setback lasted for more than a decade.
African American Labor Played A Crucial Role In Miami’s Early Development
Overtown neighborhood in Miami began as the 'colored town,' and the people developed a thriving community of their own over time. It was the Black workers who built and serviced the railroad, streets, and hotels.
In fact, the success of Miami's pioneer tourist industry depended on the labor of Black workers, and for more than fifty years, they were the primary workforce in Miami. However, after they helped Miami become a city, they lost their civil rights to existing public policy.
The 1926 Miami Hurricane
In 1926, the Great Miami Hurricane ripped through and devastated the Greater Miami area. It was a large and intense tropical cyclone that caused about one hundred million dollars in damage and ended the Land Boom in Florida.
It destroyed hundreds of structures, left thousands of residents homeless, and caused at least seventeen deaths. The hurricane flooded surrounding neighborhoods and continued to cause damage to Alabama and Mississippi.
Florida East Coast Railway Arrived In Miami In 1896
Henry Flagler finally accepted the deal and brought the first train to the Miami area in 1896. J.N. Lummus described the arrival as, "The old wood-burning engine, with its big bell top, was spouting smoke and the whistle and the bell were going full tilt."
The first train consisted of a mail coach, baggage car, locomotive, day coaches, and a chair car. The railroad coming pushed forward the development of Miami into a real city and increased the population from 260 to 1,681. Also, Flagler was responsible for building The Royal Palm Hotel, dredging a channel, building streets, instituting the first water and power systems, and financing the town's first newspaper.
In 1913, The Bridge To Miami Beach Was Constructed
The Bridge to Miami, built in 1913, was called the Collins Bridge, and it crossed Biscayne Bay between Miami and Miami Beach. Before the bridge, the area was only accessible by ferry, and building the bridge cost about one hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
It was built by John S. Collins, and at the time, it was the longest wooden bridge in the world at two and a half miles. In 1925, the original bridge was replaced by a series of arch drawbridges and was renamed the Venetian Causeway.
City Hall Was Built In 1909
The original city was located in downtown Miami just southeast of Florida East Coast Railroad Miami depot from 1907 until 1928. It was later relocated one block north into the newly constructed Dade County Courthouse from 1928 until 1954.
In 1975, the city hall building was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The city hall was relocated to Coconut Grove after being in Downtown Miami for fifty-eight years.
Miami Municipal Airport Opened In 1937
The Miami Municipal Airport opened in 1937 with two runways. However, in 1941, the airport was taken over by the United States Army Air Forces and was used for the British Flying Training School Program.
The school was part of the Lend-Lease Act and was where Royal Air Force flying cadets had a twenty-week basic flying course taught by civil contractors. In 1942, the training ended at the airport, and the airfield became a pilot training field, and by 1944, the airfield returned to civil control.
The Miami Riot In 1968
In 1968, a group of black organizations in Miami called for a 'mass rally of concerned Black people' at the Vote Power building. The protest was intended to "show their frustration with the nation's unfair political, economic, and social systems."
They chose the date so it would coincide with the Republican National Convention being held in Miami Beach. A white reporter was physically ejected from the rally, which caused the Miami police to respond and exacerbate tensions. Things continued to get out of hand and ended with the police breaking out the tear gas.
Miami Zoo Opened In 1980
The Miami Zoo is the largest zoo in Florida and was originally established in 1948 at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne. It started with a small roadshow that was stranded in Miami and exchanged three monkeys, two black bears, and a goat for about two hundred and seventy dollars in repairs for their truck.
The first group of animals included an elephant, rhinoceros, and some lions, and soon after, some tortoises, pheasants, and monkeys were added. Sadly, in 1965, a hurricane killed two hundred and fifty animals in the zoo. Since then, the zoo has grown into a large and popular zoo.
Juan Ponce De Leon, First European Man To See Miami, 1513
Juan Ponce de Leon was a Spanish explorer who was the first European to reach Florida, and he founded the first European settlement in Puerto Rico. He led a privately outfitted expedition, and in 1513, they landed on the coast of Florida in what is now Miami.
Leon named the area Florida because he discovered it at Easter Time, which in Spanish is Pascua Florida. He went back to Puerto Rico and became the military governor of Bimini and Florida, where he got permission to colonize those regions. He again sailed to Florida with two ships and two hundred men.
The First School Building in Miami Was Opened In 1889
The first teaching school in Florida was opened in Coconut Grove in 1889. The school was built by Charles Peacock using wood from ships wrecked in nearby Key Biscayne. It was originally used as a Sunday school, but in 1889, it was used as a one-room schoolhouse.
The ten children that first attended the school were from the Pent, Frow, and Peacock pioneers families. Flora McFarlane was the first teacher hired to teach the children of Coconut Grove. It also held the first meetings of the Woman's Club of Coconut Grove, which included Flora McFarlane, Euphemia Frow, Louisa Newbold, Isabella Peacock, and Mary Munroe.
Streetcars Began Operating In 1906
In 1906, streetcars were in use, which was an electronically powered streetcar system. However, the first trolley only lasted one year, and streetcars didn't return until 1915. Then in 1922, the first streetcar using overhead wires began being used in Miami.
The maintenance yard was once located in the now Village of Merrick Park. Unfortunately, the hurricane in 1935 was the beginning of the end of the trolley, and in 1939, the streetcar service to Miami Beach ended.
The Construction Of Vizcaya Began In 1914
The Villa Vizcaya was built between 1914 and 1922, and it was businessman James Deering's winter residence. When Deering died in 1916, the construction of the elaborate Italian Renaissance gardens and the village continued into 1923.
The villa was built with imported French and Italian garden layouts and elements implemented in Cuban limestone stonework and planted with native plants that thrived in the habitat and climate. The estate was about one hundred and eighty acres.
In 1870, William Brickell Established A Trading Post On The South Side Of The Miami River
William Brickell was a co-founder of Miami, along with Julia Tuttle, and in 1868, Brickell purchased two spots of land. They purchased a stretch from Coconut Grove to the Miami River, and he and his family opened a trading post and post office in their home.
Both Tuttle and Brickell contributed land to Henry Flagler's East Coast Railway. William Brickell's wife became one of the young city's first real estate developers and managers.
Telephone Service Began In Miami In 1899
Miami was granted telephone service in 1898, and the Miami Telephone Company was incorporated in 1899. The first switchboard was operated out of the Red Cross Drugstore in Downtown Miami but moved locations in 1902.
They also came out with their first phone directory in 1902 and were the first to broadcast music. The company became the South Atlantic Telephone Company in 1917 and then, in 1924, became the Southern Bell Company.
The University Of Miami Was Established In 1925
Citizens chartered the University of Miami in 1925, offering unique opportunities to develop inter-American studies, conduct teaching and research programs in tropical studies, and further creative work in the arts and letters.
They hoped that a local university would benefit the community. The first class of three hundred and seventy-two students enrolled at the university in 1926. However, after the hurricane, the university barely remained solvent, and the Merrick Building was even left half built for over two decades.
Prinz Valdemar Ship Sinks Offshore In 1926
The Prinz Valdemar was about two hundred and forty-one feet long with four tall masts, and it was the largest ship to ever gain access to the Miami harbor. The tugs started to tow the ship up the channel in 1926, but the ship ran aground on a sandbar and toppled over sideways.
The eight men onboard jumped to safety, but the ships' tall masts prevented anything but the smallest craft from entering or leaving the port. Eventually, they were able to move the ship, but it really backed things up as there were ships waiting to bring in construction materials and ships needing to get out of the harbor. They dragged the ship alongside Biscayne Boulevard, and it was converted into an aquarium, then a restaurant, and finally into a bar.
Ryder Truck Company was Founded In Miami In 1933
Ryder Truck Company was founded in 1933 by James Ryder in Miami. It is a concrete hauling company and was started with one truck, a 1931 Ford. In 1938, Ryder signed a five-truck lease deal and increased his fleet to twenty trucks.
He then bought the Great Southern Trucking Company and combined the two, and the Ryder System went public in 1955. Ryder expanded into the distribution and supply chain markets by the 1960s and 1970s.
The Orange Bowl Football Contest Began In 1935
The Orange Bowl began in 1935 in Miami and is an annual American college football bowl game that is played annually. It is the second-oldest bowl game in the country and was originally held at Miami Field and moved to the Miami Orange Bowl Stadium in 1938.
In the early years, the Orange Bowl didn't have defined conference tie-ins and usually put a team from the southeastern part of the country against a team from the northeastern or central states.
WTVJ Television Began Broadcasting In 1949
With the addition of a transmission antenna to the top of the Everglades Hotel, a new television station was allowed to broadcast video content from downtown Miami. The new television station was built, five hundred thousand dollars was invested, and twenty-one employees were hired.
In 1949, WTVJ was the first to broadcast on the estimated thirty-five hundred to four thousand television sets in the Miami area. Most of the content broadcasted was pre-recorded.