History of Miami
Before it was claimed for Spain in 1566, the area of present-day Miami was inhabited for thousands of years by the Tequestas. The attempts to colonize the area along the Miami River were hampered by the hostility of the local tribes. However, by the 1700 most native inhabitants of the area have disappeared. In 1821, Florida was ceded to the United States and in the following decades many new settlers arrived to the Biscayne Bay. They were in almost constant conflict with the Seminoles so the U.S. Army took over Fort Dallas and in 1824 managed to drive the Seminoles to the Everglades.
However, by the 1860 the Miami area was almost completely abandoned as the inhabitants found farming to be virtually impossible. Most of the land was bought again in 1870, after the Civil War which barely touched the area. Julia Tuttle from Cleveland was among those who bought the land and saw the potential for creating a resort community. Thanks to her, the East Coast Railroad arrived to Miami in 1896 and the same year the town was officially incorporated.
After World War I, Miami experienced a period of great growth. The growth slowed down after a hurricane that killed 234 people in 1926 but by that time Miami already had a population of over 200,000 and a steady economy based on tourism. The second boom came with World War II, when soldiers replaced tourists and many members of the army chose to remain in the city after the war.
In the 1980s more than 178,000 people immigrated to Miami from Cuba, which transformed it to an international city. Miami is today a bilingual city but that does not mean it is free of racial tensions. In addition, despite its rather glamorous image, Miami was at one point the fourth-poorest city in America.
In 2001 Miami was almost bankrupt but after the election of mayor Diaz it managed to pull through. Today the city’s bonds have an A+ rating and the overall quality of life is significantly higher.
Geography and Climate
Miami is located on a plain between Florida Everglades and Biscayne Bay. The bay has hundreds of natural and artificial barrier islands. Miami Beach and South Beach are located on such islands. Western fringes of Miami extend to the Everglades marshland and the communities close to the swamp have occasional problems with alligators venturing in.
Miami has a tropical monsoon climate. Summers are long, hot and humid and winters are brief, warm and drier. Hurricane season in Miami lasts from early June to late November, although hurricanes have been known to strike even outside of that period.
The city can roughly be divided into South, North, West and Downtown Miami. Downtown Miami is the heart of the city and its central business district, with the largest concentration of international banks in the USA. Midtown area in North Miami is home to many ethnically diverse communities, as well as to artists and bohemians. Traditionally immigrant neighborhoods are also located in Western Miami and the south side of the city features many of Miami’s oldest homes and also restaurants, bars, nightclubs and shops, located in the Coconut Grove neighborhood.
In 2010, Miami had a population of 399,457, of which 70% were Hispanics or Latinos of any race, 19.2% were Black or African American, 11.9% were non-Hispanic Whites, 1% were Asian, 0.3$ were Native American, 2.7% were of two or more races and 4.2% were of some other race.
Miami is a bilingual city and the majority of its residents speak Spanish.
Economy of Miami
Tourism has long been the major economic sector in Miami. While tourism still continues to be a major source of revenue, the economy is today much more diversified, especially in sectors relative to trade and international banking.
Some of the largest companies based in Miami include Bacardi, Telemundo, RCTV International, Burger King, Alienware, Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Univision, U.S. Century Bank, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, CompUSA, Perry Ellis International, Sony Music Latin, Universal Music Latin Entertainment, and many more.
Culture and Arts in Miami
The city has a number of performing arts venues, most notably the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, as well as the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, Coconut Grove Playhouse, New World Center, and Fair Expo Center. Major museums in the city include the Frost Art Museum, Miami Art Museum, Miami Science Museum and History Miami.
Music is a very large part in the life of Miami residents. The city has a vibrant Latino music scene and it is also a hotspot for dance music, hip-hop, electroclash and Miami bass. Miami hosts the Winter Music Conference, the largest dance event in the world.
In sports, Miami is home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, the NBA’s Miami Heat, the NHL’s Florida Panthers and MLB’s Miami Marlins.
Top institutions of higher education in Miami include Florida International University, Carlos Albizu University, Miami Campus, Miami Dade College, University of Miami, Barry University, Keiser University, Miami International University of Art & Design, St. Thomas University and Johnson and Wales University.
The Port of Miami is the busiest cruise port in the world. With this port and the Miami International Airport, Miami is the principal and the largest gateway between USA and Latin America. The city is the southern terminus of Amtrak’s Atlantic Coast services (the Silver Star and Silver Meteor lines). Public transportation in the city is provided by Miami-Dade Transit and SFRTA and includes commuter rail, heavy-rail rapid transit, an elevated people mover and buses.