For more than 10,000 years, South Florida has attracted people. Lured by the warmth of the sun and the promise of a better day, they arrived from many places, forged a new way of living in our tropical paradise and left their mark. The Miami River, in the course of several thousand years, has hosted a large Tequesta Indian settlement; Spanish missions; slave plantations; army forts; the home of Julia Tuttle, modern Miami’s “mother”; and Henry M. Flagler’s magnificent Royal Palm Hotel. Flagler, after accepting attractive offers of land from Tuttle and the Brickell family, who lived across the river, brought his Florida East Coast Railway to Miami in 1896, jump-starting the transformation of a tiny riverine community into an incorporated city.
Downtown Miami witnessed Miami’s incorporation and virtually everything else occurring in the young city. Historic neighborhoods like Miami Shores, Bayside, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, Opa-Locka, Morningside, Miami Beach, Overtown and Little Havana all reflect the changing face of Miami as it grew from a swampy wilderness to a gleaming metropolis in less than 100 years. Miami’s must-see attractions include the Art Deco Historic District, one of the world’s largest concentrations of 1930s architecture; Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a spectacular Italian Renaissance-style villa built in the early 1900s for industrialist James Deering; the Barnacle Historic State Park and Barnacle House, built in 1891 by pioneer Ralph Middleton Munroe; Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens, an extensive and stunning collection of rare tropical plants; and the historic 1845 Cape Florida Lighthouse on Key Biscayne, South Florida’s oldest structure.
When it comes to historic architecture, Miami boasts simple pioneer bungalows made of coral rock and Dade County pine, swimming pools resembling Venetian lagoons and Spanish Mediterranean mansions that defy imagination. Keep your camera ready and your eyes open wide. Miami is an adventure for the senses!