Miami History

A significant period in Miami history dates to the 1560s, when the Spanish explorers first arrived claiming the area for Spain. The primary inhabitants of the area, at that time, were the Tequesta Indians, who had lived in the area and cultivated the land for many years, and the Seminole Indians. Over the years following the Europeans' arrival, Miami history included ongoing battles involving the US, Britain, and Spain over ownership of the vast area of Florida and also uprisings of the Seminole Indians, culminating in the Seminole Wars, which ended in 1819 when the Spanish Minister, Luis de Onis, negotiated a treaty with then Secretary of State John Quincy Adams turning over ownership to the US.

Other significant dates in the history of Miami came in the late 1800s, when Charles and Henry Lum bought property to start a coconut farm and built the first house in the area in 1886. The area the brothers purchased eventually became what is now known as South Beach. In 1910, three enterprising partners, John Collins, Carl Fisher, and brothers John N. and James E. Lummus, began developing the area, and by 1915 they had incorporated the town and created the city of Miami Beach.

Another land buyer at that time was Julia Tuttle, who purchased 640 acres in the Miami Beach area and grew orange trees. Her insight into the area becoming a booming town was validated when she was able to convince long-time friend Henry Flagler to establish a train route to the area. Facts about Miami from those years include the Florida East Coast Railway traveling to the Miami Beach for the first time in 1896 and the first mayor of Miami, John N. Lummus, being elected in 1915. Another of the interesting Miami facts from that time concerns the death of Julia Tuttle. After she died in 1898, Julia was interred at the City of Miami Cemetery, becoming one of the first people buried in there.

The early twentieth century brought much change to the area. Visitors interested in restaurants and Miami facts about food should consider a visit to Joe's Stone Crab, a famous seafood eater that opened in 1913 and is still doing a thriving business today. Lummus Park was created in 1915 when John N. Lummus sold oceanfront property to the city in 1915, and when Carl Fisher utilized Rosie the elephant to help clear out a swampy area and create Lincoln Road, currently home to the Lincoln Road Mall.

The history of Miami was also influenced by businesspeople and visionaries such as Tuttle, Flagler, and Collins, as well as realtor George Merrick, who created Coral Gables, and the co-founder of Miami, William Brickell. The 1920s brought more innovations, development, and building that would add to the history of Miami. Names such as Firestone, Penney, LaGorce, and Champion built mansions on the area known as Millionaire's Row. A trolley car system linked the mainland and Miami Beach, Fisher's Flamingo Hotel opened for business, and the LaGorce Golf Course was completed. The Miami Kennel Club, which features greyhound racing, opened in 1927.

A significant part of the architectural history involves the construction of art deco hotels and buildings during the 1930s; today this area is referred to as the Art Deco District, and visitors who are interested in Miami facts about architecture can take a self-guided walking tour of the area. Other historic hotels in Miami Beach include the Fontainebleau Hotel, which opened in 1956, and the Eden Rock Hotel, which opened in 1956.

The population of Miami grew from 28,000 in 1940 to 46,300 in 1950 and further increased to 63,200 by 1960, following an influx of Cuban refugees fleeing Cuba after Castro took power in 1959. In 1980, 140,000 Cubans come to Miami on the Mariel boatlift. Cuban culture is still an integral part of the city, and many events and restaurants in the Little Havana district celebrate this aspect of Miami's heritage.

Other important dates in Miami history include 1973, when the Miami Dolphins had their first undefeated football season and went on to win Super Bowl VII; 1988, when Lummus Park was listed on the national register of historic landmarks; and 1992, when Hurricane Andrew slammed into the east coast of Florida, devastating the area and causing an estimated $30 billion in damage.

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