Miami : History in Brief


1866- Miami was founded after the end of the Spanish rule in Florida. (1)

1870 - William and Mary Brickell established themselves as successful Indian traders in Miami.

1870- Henry and Charles Lum came to South Beach to purchase land and to plant and harvest coconuts. They purchased 165 acres for 75 cents a piece. (2)

1891 - Julia Tuttle settled in Miami.

    • Prophesized that Miami would one day be a great city that would be a center of trade with South America and a gateway to the Americas.

1894- The coconut business was not very profitable for the Lums so they gave their plantation to John Collins and left South Beach. (3)

1896- Motivated by a vision of Miami's future potential or by the desire for more civilization, Henry Flagler completed a railroad to link Miami to Northern Florida and the East Coast of the United States. (4)

  • Blacks from the Bahamas were the main part of the labor force, whether they were building the railroad or harvesting vegetables. (5)

1903- A project that was started by the Army Corps of Engineers, which cut through the mangrove swamps of Government Cut, made the first opening to the Atlantic Ocean possible. It also allowed safer and more direct access to the port. (3)

1907- John Collins extended his land on Miami Beach and discovered fresh water, allowing him to plant avocados, fruits, and vegetables.

1910 - Miami 's population soared to 5,500.

    • African Americans comprised 25-40 percent of population

1912- The Lummus Brothers, Miami businessmen, established an Ocean Beach Reality Company, which envisioned a city fronting the ocean made up of modest single families. (3)

1920 - Miami Herald marveled at the “astounding growth of Miami as a tourist center.”

1920s- Miami was known as a “tropical paradise” for tourists. (6)

1926 - Population boom comes to a halt and Miami suffers from 1st severe hurricane.

1941 - U.S. entered World War II.

    • Parts of Dade County (ex. Homestead) became training bases for the armed services.
    • Many members of these armed services returned as permanent citizens, revitalizing population.
    • Miami became the most noted winter vacation resort. Soon after, more northerners were being attracted to Miami 's service-oriented and paradise atmosphere. (6)

1950 - City of Miami population hit 172,000.

    • A prominent Jewish community and a large annual tourist population developed.

1958- Direct Air Service to the Caribbean undermined the tourism in Miami and caused a major drought in its economy. (7)

1959- The Cuban Revolution and other issues in Latin American economies shifted Miami's economy from one that was based on tourism to one that prioritized providing for “Latin Americans with financial services.” (7)

Before 1960s- Miami's population consisted largely of black and white southern migrants and their descendants, which included Jews, Bahamians, and other Caribbean blacks. (8)

1960s- Miami surpassed New Orleans as the United States' principle trade outlet with Latin America. (7)

Since 1960s- Miami had a demographic shift from having virtually no immigrants to a plurality of immigrants by the 1980s. On top of this, there was an economic reorientation from domestic tourism of the past to a more service- and finance-oriented economy that includes significant Latin American trade. (9)

Late 1980s- Miami 's economy was based on services, wholesale trade, finance, insurance, and real estate, which was similar to many other cities around the country. Miami was more successful than any other city due to the many Latino immigrants who headed the import and export companies, banks, and smaller transportation and service companies.

    • There are 25,000 Hispanic businesses in Dade County, and they are considered the most powerful economic corporations. (10)
    • “The Hispanic enclave economy in Miami provided not only a source of employment and economic development for the community, but also a resource for political empowerment and a sphere of cultural and linguistic maintenance” (11)

Miami : History in Brief

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