views updated May 14 2018


Getting There
Getting Around
Public Safety
Health Care
Parks and Recreation
Performing Arts
Libraries and Museums
Holidays and Festivals
Famous Citizens
For Further Study

Miami, Florida, United States of America, North America

Founded: 1836;
Incorporated: 1896
Location: East coast of South Florida, United States, North America
Time Zone: 7 am Eastern Standard Time (EST) = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Ethnic Composition: White, 71.8%; Black, 27.4%; American Indian, 0.2%; Asian 0.6%; Hispanics, 62.5% (may be of any race)
Elevation: 3.4 m (11 ft)
Latitude and Longitude: 25°83'N, 80°27'W
Coastline: 135 km (84 mi)
Climate: Semitropical climate with a warm summer and a dry winter, and high humidity. Second most humid city in the U.S.
Annual Mean Temperature: 24°C (76°F); January 20°C (68°F); July 28°C (82°F)
Average Annual Precipitation: 142 cm (56 in)
Government: Mayor-commission
Weights and Measures: Standard U.S.
Monetary Units: Standard U.S.
Telephone Area Codes: 305
Postal Codes: 3310133299

1. Introduction

Located nearly at the southeastern-most point of the continental United States, the city of Miami, which celebrated its one-hundredth birthday in 1996, conjures images of sunny beaches, tourists, and immigrants, and it is also a major center for international trade. Since Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba at the end of the 1950s, successive waves of Cuban immigrants have dramatically changed the ethnic composition of the city, which is now over 50 percent Hispanic, and informally known as "the capital of Latin America." Miami today is a colorful, cosmopolitan city, reveling in its ethnic diversity. Its sunny climate and natural beauty continue to make it a prime tourist destination, even as it struggles to contain crime and other urban problems resulting from large-scale flight to suburban areas.

2. Getting There

Miami is located in South Florida. Situated on the Atlantic coast bordering Key Biscayne Bay, it is also located at the mouth of the Miami River.


Miami can be accessed by highways running both north-south (I-95, the Palmetto Expressway, the Florida Turnpike) and east-west (the Airport Expressway, the Dolphin Expressway, and the Tamiami Trail). Also running east-west are the Miami Beach, Bal Harbor, Sunny Isles, and William Lehman Causeways.

Bus and Railroad Service

Greyhound and Trailways provide service to Miami from points across the United States. Amtrak offers trains with sleeping berths and restaurant cars.


Miami International Airport is second nationally in the number of international passengers transported every year. Over 85 scheduled carriers offer flights to and from the city. In 1997 the airport served 34 million passengers, 19 million domestic and 15.5 international. About 70 percent of all passengers arriving in the United States from Central and South America come through Miami's airport.


Miami International Airport leads the nation in transport of international cargo and is the world's third-busiest airport in terms of total freight tonnage. In 1997, it handled 1.7 million metric tons (1.9 million tons) of cargo. Nearly 278,700 square meters (three million square feet) of new cargo handling space will be added to the facility by 2006 as part of a $4 billion major improvement plan.

Miami's Dante B. Fascell Port handled nearly 6.4 million metric tons (seven million tons) of cargo in 1997. The port employs 45,000 people, generating $8.3 billion in revenue annually.

Miami Population Profile

City Proper

Population: 365,498
Area: 88 sq km (34 sq mi)
Ethnic composition: 71.8% white; 27.4% black; 0.2% American Indians; 0.6% Asians; 62.5% Hispanic (may be any race)
Nicknames: Gateway of the Americas, Cruise Capital of the World

Metropolitan Area

Population: 2,210,000
Description: Includes Miami and the surrounding region
Area: 5,037 sq km (1,945 sq mi)
World population rank 1: 143
Percentage of national population 2: 0.8%
Average yearly growth rate: 1.2%
Ethnic composition: 77% white; 21.1% black; 1.8% Asian; 54.4% Hispanic (may be any race)

  1. The Miami metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
  2. The percent of the United States' total population living in the Miami metropolitan area.

3. Getting Around

Greater Miami extends along the coast of Biscayne Bay. The major avenue in the city is Biscayne Boulevard, a four-lane road that borders the city's oceanfront parkland to the east (Bicentennial Park and Bayfront Park). The downtown streets are laid out in a grid pattern, with the Dolphin Expressway and the North-South Expressway forming major arteries through the city. To the east a number of bridges, called causeways, connect the mainland with Miami Beach, Virginia Key, and Key Biscayne.

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

A 7.1-kilometer (4.4-mile) elevated rail service, Metrorail, carries passengers around downtown Miami, while Greater Miami is served by the 34-kilometer (21-mile) Metromover system. In addition, the Metrorail line connects with Tri-Rail, which serves Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Broward counties over a 108-kilometer (67-mile) route. Miami's Metrobus service is used by about 200,000 passengers every day.


Various walking tours are offered, including tours of a variety of neighborhoods and an architectural tour of the Art Deco District. There are also boat tours and aerial tours by helicopter and hot-air balloon.

City Fact Comparison
(United States)(Egypt)(Italy)(China)
Population of urban area12,210,00010,772,0002,688,00012,033,000
Date the city was founded1836AD 969753 BC723 BC
Daily costs to visit the city2
Hotel (single occupancy)$82$193$172$129
Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)$40$56$59$62
Incidentals (laundry, dry cleaning, etc.)$2$14$15$16
Total daily costs (hotel, meals, incidentals)$124$173$246$207
Major Newspapers3
Number of newspapers serving the city2132011
Largest newspaperThe Miami HeraldAkhbar El Yom/Al AkhbarLa RepubblicaRenmin Ribao
Circulation of largest newspaper349,1141,159,339754,9303,000,000
Date largest newspaper was established1910194419761948
1United Nations population estimates for the year 2000.
2The maximum amount the U.S. Government reimburses its employees for business travel. The lodging portion of the allowance is based on the cost for a single room at a moderately-priced hotel. The meal portion is based on the costs of an average breakfast, lunch, and dinner including taxes, service charges, and customary tips. Incidental travel expenses include such things as laundry and dry cleaning.
3David Maddux, ed. Editor&Publisher International Year Book. New York: The Editor&Publisher Company, 1999.

Miami is known as the "Cruise Capital of the World." Its port is home to ocean liners operated by Cunard Lines (including the Queen Elizabeth II ), Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Lines, and Premier Cruises. Cruise ships launched from Miami dock at ports in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and South America.

4. People

In 1995 Miami had an estimated population of 365,498, up from 358,548 recorded in the 1990 census. In 1990, blacks accounted for 27.4 percent of the population, Asians 0.6 percent, and American Indians 0.2 percent. Hispanics (who may be of any race) made up 62.5 percent of the population. The Miami Metropolitan Area had an estimated population of 2,210,000 in 1998, up from 1,937,194 in 1990. Its population was 77 percent white, 21.1 percent black, and 1.8 percent Asian. Hispanics (counted as an ethnicity, not as a race) accounted for 54.4 percent of the population.

5. Neighborhoods

Downtown Miami is an area of great cultural diversity, where one can often hear Spanish, English, Hebrew, and other languages spoken. The heart of downtown is the intersection of Miami Avenue and Flagler Street. A dozen or so blocks along Flagler make up the city's shopping and theater district.

After undergoing a period of blight and neglect, Miami Beach, a sand bar in the Atlantic Ocean about five kilometers (three miles) east of the mainland, is enjoying a renaissance, both among Florida natives and tourists. The trendiest spot is South Beach (nickname: SoBe), renowned for its colorful Art Deco buildings. New nightclubs, hotels, restaurants, cafés, galleries, and stores have opened in this area that used to be known primarily as a mecca for Jewish retirees from northern states, drawing an eclectic mix of urban yuppies, artists, and vacationers. The pedestrian-only thoroughfare Lincoln Road, occupying 11 blocks in the heart of South Beach, is a popular center for culture, nightlife, and shopping. Here one may view contemporary art by the area's up-and-coming painters, hear a bookstore poetry reading, or peer through the windows of the Miami City Ballet's rehearsal studio to see its dancers at work.

Surrounding the central city are suburbs including Little Havana, the Bohemian-flavored Coconut Grove, West Miami, North and South Miami, and Coral Gables.

6. History

The name "Miami" means "Big Water" in the language of the Calusa Indians, the major Native American tribe inhabiting the region when the Spanish arrived there in the sixteenth century. Although the Spanish never really succeeded in the settling the region, the Calusa had been wiped out by the early eighteenth century, from their lack of resistance to the diseases the Europeans brought with them, and the Creeks and Seminoles became the dominant tribes. The British gained control of Florida in 1763, during the French and Indian War, but the Spanish won it back 20 years later, only to lose it again in 1821, ceding the territory to the United States.

Hostility by the Seminoles slowed settlement in the region until their banishment to the Everglades in 1842 and even afterward. As northern Florida prospered, the south remained sparsely inhabited and undeveloped. The area of present-day Miami, at the mouth of the Miami River, was part of a tract of land belonging to a plantation owner and also the site of Fort Dallas, which became a permanent outpost of the U.S. army in 1849. Following the Civil War (186165) two entrepreneurs, William Brickell and J.W. Ewan bought the land and established a trading post that eventually grew into a commercial center.

However, development of Miami began in earnest when the wealthy widow Julia Sturdivant Tuttle bought a large tract of land in the area and convinced Henry Flagler to extend his Florida East Coast Railroad there. The railway construction was completed in 1896, and Miami was incorporated in the same year. Another major advance in transportationexpanded highway accessbrought the city a building boom in the 1920s, when its population jumped from 30,000 to 200,000 people within five years. The boom ended with a devastating hurricane in 1926, but the infrastructure put in place in the preceding years had laid the groundwork for future development.

Industrialization and military bases came to the city during World War II (193945), leading to another population boom, and Miami has grown steadily ever since. The face of the city was changed forever when Fidel Castro (b. 1927) came to power in Cuba in 1959, and over 150,000 Cubans flocked to Miami over the following decade. Today it is a bilingual city and the only major city in the United States with a majority Hispanic population. In the 1990s, Hurricane Andrew, rising crime, and inter-ethnic tensions led to the exodus of some 100,000 non-Hispanic whites from Greater Miami, leaving the city struggling with growing social and fiscal problems.

7. Government

Miami is the seat of Dade County. The Miami-Dade County Government, whose offices are headquartered in downtown Miami, is headed by a strong "executive" mayor, a country manager, and a county commission, and has a budget of $4 billion. County commissioners are elected by district. Each of the 29 municipalities in the county also has its own government. The city employs approximately 3,500 persons.

8. Public Safety

A well-known negative aspect of Miami is the city's reputation as the nation's crime capital. Home to movie stars, multinational corporations, and a culturally and ethnically diverse population, Miami, in the eyes of the public, is also linked to drug lords and high-profile killings, such as the murders of nine foreign tourists in Florida from October 5, 1992, to September 14, 1993five of which took place in Miami. In 1997, the city made headlines with the murder of clothing designer Gianni Versace.

In 1995, the city's crime index per 100,000 residents was 15,623.7, the highest in the nation. Violent crimes reported to police totaled 3,413.3 (murder, 29.0; rape, 52.3; robbery, 1,498.7; aggravated assault, 1,833.3). Property crimes totaled 12,210.3 (burglary, 2,607.2; larceny/theft, 7,271.1; motor vehicle theft, 2,332.1).

9. Economy

Miami has a highly diversified economy with over 170 multinational companies headquartered in the city and its environs. Top economic sectors include tourism, services, trade, manufacturing, real estate, and construction. Major employers include the Miami-Dade County school district, county, federal, and state governments, University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, and Bell South.

The Miami Customs District reported $47 billion in imports and exports for 1997, mostly from trade with Latin America. The 19-hectare (47-acre) Miami Free Zone, established in 1978, was the world's first privately owned and operated foreign trade zone. It consists of a 78,593-square-meter (846,000-square-foot) warehouse and office complex near Miami International Airport.

Hurricane Andrew in 1992 was followed by a building boom, and the construction industry remains active, with rising demand for single-family homes and condominiums. In 1997, sales of single-family homes totaled $1.9 billion; sales of condominium units totaled $558 million. Top industries in the manufacturing sector are apparel, metal fabrication, printing, and medical products, and the biomedical sector is showing rapid growth.

The film and entertainment industry is another major generator of income for Miami. Together, movies, television, and commercial and fashion photography generated more than $212 million in income in the area. Recent movies filmed in the Greater Miami area include Donnie Brasco, Speed II, Out of Sight, and There's Something About Mary.

Miami's access to Latin America has made it a top international banking and investment center, with most bank offices located in the city's financial district along Brickell Avenue. Today it is home to the international trade divisions of a number of major U.S. banks. The city's financial institutions have won important business in connection with economic development and privatization in Latin American countries.

Agriculture remains an important part of the Greater Miami economy. The region is the nation's leading supplier of vegetables during the winter season. As the only subtropical farming area in the continental United States, it is a leader in the production of tropical fruits and vegetables, with crops valued at $81 million annually. The Miami area also supplies one-fourth of all ornamental plants sold in the country.

10. Environment

Miami, located only two degrees above the Tropic of Cancer, is a subtropical city located on flatlands that were once home to pine and palmetto trees. Its coastal area consists of sandy beaches, and even the region's interior is only thinly wooded. Lake Okeechobee, 145 kilometers (90 miles) north of the city, is linked to Miami by manmade canals.

During the wet season, Greater Miami must contend with problems caused by tropical storms and hurricanes. Among the worst is sanitary sewer overflow, exacerbated by the city's low terrain: its highest elevation is only 12 meters (40 feet) above sea level, and the groundwater table is only one to two meters (three to six feet) below the earth's surface. When it rains, water is sucked through the sandy earth and further still into the cracks of some of the sanitary sewer pipes crisscrossing beneath Metropolitan Dade County. When unexpected water makes its way into these pipes, the system becomes overloaded.

Downtown flooding in the late 1980s and early 1990s caused raw sewage to spill into the Miami River, prompting Metropolitan Dade County to sign consent decrees with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that mandated comprehensive sanitary sewer system rehabilitation. The metropolitan area's water and sewer department is in the midst of a $1.1 billion sewer upgrade project scheduled for completion by 2002. Pumping station capacities will be expanded; three wastewater treatment plants will be upgraded; and studies of utility operation will be conducted.

Dade County's Department of Solid Waste Management collects waste from more than 260,000 residential addresses, disposing of approximately 2.1 million metric tons (2.3 million tons) annually. Its disposal system consists of one resources recovery facility and associated ash monofill, two landfills, and three regional transfer stations.

11. Shopping

Miami and its suburbs offer abundant and varied shopping. The downtown shopping district centered around Flagler Street and South Miami Avenue is one of the busiest shopping areas, with some 1,500 retail outlets, including the second-largest jewelry district in the country. The Omni International Hotel has a two-level shopping plaza with a multiplex movie theater. Bayside Marketplace on Biscayne Boulevard is an open-air waterfront arcade modeled on Boston's Quincy Market, with dozens of shops as well as restaurants and entertainment facilities. Picturesque CocoWalk in Coconut Grove offers major retail stores, specialty shops, and cafes, all in a setting that has the feel of an Old World village. A variety of ethnic stores in Little Havana offer specialty products, and the Falls, an upscale shopping center anchored by Macy's and Bloomingdale's, features manmade waterfalls, footbridges, and covered walkways. In South Beach, Lincoln Road, the nation's first pedestrian-only shopping street, offers a colorful mix of culture, cuisine, and shopping. Miami's Design District offers dozens of showrooms for interior decorators.

12. Education

The Miami-Dade County school district enrolls more than 340,000 students, making it the fourth largest in the country. About one quarter of its students are foreign-born and speak 62 different languages. Among the educational innovations instituted by the school system are 66 magnet school programs, charter schools, satellite learning centers housed in private businesses, and the New World School of the Arts for high school and college students. A new type of school, the Elemiddle School serving grades K through eight, was introduced in 1998, with the goal of replacing large middle schools with smaller community-based units. Students in the Greater Miami area also have the choice of attending over 445 private schools, which enroll more than 45,000 students.

With more than 50,000 students, Miami-Dade Community College (MDCC) is the nation's largest single-district multi-campus community college. This two-year school, which operates six campuses, leads the nation in number of degrees awarded to minority students. Florida International University, a four-year state university, has two campuses and enrolls over 30,000 students. The 72-year-old University of Miami is a private research university with an enrollment of 14,000 and respected programs in law, engineering, medicine, and business, and is noted for its Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and Jackson/UM Medical Center.

Other four-year institutions include Nova Southeastern University, home of Florida's first dentistry school; Barry and St. Thomas universities, which are both Catholic-affiliated; Baptist-run Florida Memorial College; and Johnson & Wales University, a degree-granting college that prepares students to enter the hospitality and restaurant fields. Johnson & Wales runs an on-campus restaurant and two off-campus eateries staffed by its students.

13. Health Care

Miami is the home of the nation's second-largest public hospital, the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, which forms the core of a major medical complex located near the city's downtown. The complex also houses the highly respected Bascom-Palmer Eye Institute and the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Miami-Dade County has a total of 28 hospitals and 33,000 licensed health-care personnel, the most of any region in Florida. Hospital facilities were reported to have had a combined revenue of $120 million in 1997 and to have treated some 15,000 patients from Florida and around the world.

In addition to direct patient services, the Miami area is home to a substantial biomedical industry that produces pharmaceuticals and medical devices and conducts important research and development projects, such as those that led to the development of ultrasonic diagnostic equipment and artificial kidneys. Biomedical companies located in the region include Cordis/Johnson & Johnson, Beckman-Coulter, and Kos Pharmaceuticals. In 1998 the Miami-Dade County commissioners set aside an 11.7-square-kilometer (four-and-a-half-square-mile) area for the development of a proposed biomedical corridor to further enhance the presence of this sector in the region.

14. Media

Miami's major daily newspaper is the Miami Herald, published in the morning and on Sundays (circulation: weekdays, 349,114; Sundays, 461,201). The city has two Spanish-language daily papers, El Nuevo Herald (published by the Herald for Spanish speakers) and Diario las Americas (circulation, 68,011). Miami also has a daily business newspaper, the Daily Business Review. The newspaper of the black community is The Miami Times, and New Times of Miami is an alternative paper focusing on news and the arts. Spanish-language magazines published in Miami include Hombre Internacional, TV y Novelas (a soap-opera fanzine), and a Spanish-language edition of Harper's Bazaar.

Miami has television stations affiliated with all the major commercial networks, as well as two public broadcasting stations and 19 am and FM radio stations, some of which broadcast exclusively or mostly in Spanish.

15. Sports

Miami is home to several major league sports teams. The National Football League's Miami Dolphins play at Joe Robbie Stadium. In the National Basketball Association, the Miami Heat plays at the Miami Arena. The National League's Florida Marlins, who play at Pro Player Stadium, won the 1997 World Series. Miami also has a team in the American Soccer Leaguethe Miami Freedom, whose home matches are usually played at Milander Stadium in nearby Hialeah.

A variety of other sports are also played in the Greater Miami area. Jai-Alai, a game that originated in the Basque region of Spain and has players chasing balls called pelotas that can travel at speeds of up to 274 kilometers (170 miles) per hour. The South Florida Cricket Association has more than 25 teams. Miami is home to Florida's largest thoroughbed race track, the Calder Race Course, which offers racing both in the summer and winter. Greyhound racing, also popular with Miamians, is sponsored by the Biscayne Kennel Club. The Miami Grand Prix is held in Homestead every February.

16. Parks and Recreation

Miami has 37 parks, covering a total of 1,012 hectares (2,500 acres), and there are some 700 parks and recreation areas found throughout Dade County. Miami's parks offer facilities for picnicking, hiking, camping, basketball, softball, handball, racquetball, as well as 129 kilometers (80 miles) of bike trails. The city also operates ten public swimming pools, 15 public tennis courts, two golf courses, and four marinas, with a capacity of 940 boats.

Water sports are the premier recreational attraction in the Miami area and include boating, canoeing, fishing, swimming, scuba and skin diving, windsurfing, and waterskiing. Haulover Park and Biscayne National Park are popular with divers, while Haulover Beach and South Pointe are among the spots favored by surfers.

17. Performing Arts

Miami's Florida Philharmonic Orchestra is the major symphonic ensemble in South Florida. The region is also home to the Greater Miami Opera, whose productions feature soloists from around the world. Other musical groups include the Miami Chamber Symphony and the New World Symphony, a youth orchestra. Dance is represented by the Miami City Ballet Company, directed by renowned dancer Edward Villella, and the Ballet Flamenco La Rosa. A variety of touring artists also performs at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, the Jackie Gleason Theater of the Performing Arts (called TOPA), and the Dade County Auditorium, which is also home to the city's opera company. The Miami Beach Symphony Orchestra performs at the Jackie Gleason Theater.

Regional theater is presented at the Coconut Grove Playhouse, and the Florida Shakespeare Theater performs at the Biltmore Hotel. The Miami Light Project offers musical theater, comedy, and dance at a variety of locations.

18. Libraries and Museums

The Miami-Dade Public Library System operates a main branch downtown, as well as 25 neighborhood branches and four regional libraries throughout the area. The downtown library, located in the Metro-Dade Cultural Center, has the largest library collection in the southeastern United States. More than 500,000 patrons annually take advantage of the library special educational programs and exhibitions. Its Porta-kiosk Library in the Metrorail Civic Center Station, opened in 1992, is the world's first library located in a transit-system facility.

The Historical Museum of Southern Florida and the Miami Art Museum of Dade County (together with the Miami-Dade Public Library) are housed in the Metro-Dade Cultural Center in downtown Miami. The art museum (formerly the Center for the Fine Arts) features major artworks from around the world, including many traveling exhibits. Other museums in the Miami area include the Miami Museum of Science and Space Transit Planetarium; the Weeks Air Museum, whose exhibits chronicle the history of aviation; the Gold Coast Railroad Museum, where historic railroad cars are on display; the American Police Hall of Fame and Museum; and the Miami Youth Museum, which features hands-on exhibits for children.

A unique facility located in Coconut Grove is the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Originally a palatial private residence built in 1916 in Italian Renaissance style, the museum features 34 rooms whose decor ranges from rococo to neoclassic, including a gilded music room and a tapestry-filled dining room. Surrounding the mansion are four hectares (ten acres) of formal gardens overlooking Biscayne Bay.

19. Tourism

Tourism is one of the mainstays of Miami's economy, and it continues to grow steadily. In 1997 the tourist industry generated $11.6 billion in revenue and created full-time employment for 125,000 people. In the same year, nearly ten million people visited Greater Miami, breaking tourism records for the third year in a row. Warm weather, sunshine, abundant beaches, and a wide variety of entertainment are among the elements that draw large numbers to the region. The three most popular districts among visitors to Miami are (in order) South Beach, Bayside Marketplace, and Coco-Walk. Miami is surpassed only by New York City and Los Angeles in numbers of foreign visitors, attracting 5.3 million in 1997 from Europe, Canada, and South America.

Miami's major convention facility is the James L. Knight International Center, a complex consisting of the Miami Convention Center, a Hyatt Regency Hotel, and the University of Miami Conference Center. The Convention Center auditorium seats 4,800 people, and the facility also offers lecture halls, meeting rooms, and a 2,601-square-meter (28,000-square-foot) hall for exhibits. Giving the city's convention industry a major boost was the recent completion of the $135 million oceanfront Loews Miami Beach Hotel in 1998, located within walking distance of the convention center. Another new facility, the 422-room Royal Palm Crowne Plaza Resort, was completed in late 1999.

20. Holidays and Festivals

Miccosukee Tribe's Indian Arts Festival National Children's Theatre Festival
Orange Bowl
Art Deco Weekend Festival
Freddick Bratcher Florida Dance Festival

Late January-early February
Original Miami Beach Antique Show

Miami Film Festival
Miami International Boat Show
Bob Marley Festival
Coconut Grove Arts Festival

Late February-early March
Doral-Ryder Open

Taste of the Beach
Calle Ocho Festival
Carnaval Miami
Florida Derby
Grand Prix of Miami
Italian Renaissance Festival
Lipton Tennis Championships

Mid-March-early April
Dade County Fair & Exposition

Fairchild Tropical Garden Rain Forest Festival
Merrick Festival of Coral Gables

Roots & Culture Festival
Subtropics Music Festival
Arabian Nights Festival
Great Sunrise Balloon Race & Festival

Late May-early June
Miami International Home & Garden Show

Miami/Bahamas Goombay Festival
Florida Dance Festival

4th of July at Bayfront Park
Tropical Agricultural Fiesta
Colombian Festival
International Mango Festival
Key Biscayne 4th of July Parade & Fireworks

July-early October
San Francisco Shakespeare Festival

Miami Reggae Festival

Early September-late October
Festival Miami

West Indian Carnival Extravaganza
Caribbean Festival
Columbus Day Regatta
Hispanic Heritage Festival

Miami Book Fair International
Puerto Rican Festival
South Florida International Auto Show
South Miami Art Festival
Feria de Espana

Late November-early January
Santa's Enchanted Forest

Big Orange New Year's Eve Celebration
King Mango Strut
King Orange Jamboree Parade

Late December-early January
Kwanzaa Celebration

Metropolitan South Florida Fishing Tournament

21. Famous Citizens

Dave Barry (b. 1947), longtime Miami resident, writes a Pulitzer Prize-winning humor column for the Miami Herald.

Polish-born Isaac Bashevis Singer (190491), Nobel-Prize winning novelist who maintained a residence in Miami starting in the 1970s.

Edna Buchanon (b. 1939), crime reporter and novelist.

Carl Hiaasen (b. 1953), author of crime and mystery novels.

Janet Reno (b. 1938), attorney general of the United States.

Sidney Poitier (b. 1924), the first black actor to become a major motion picture star.

Ellen Zwilich (b. 1939), composer and first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for music.

New York-trained dancer Edward Villella (b. 1936), director of the Miami City Ballet Company.

22. For Further Study


Miami City Hall. [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999).

Miami-Dade County. [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999).

Miami Information Access. [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999).

MiamiSite. [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999).

Government Offices

City Hall
3500 Pan American Drive
Miami, FL 33133
(305) 250-5400

Mayor's Office
3500 Pan American Drive
Miami, FL 33133
(305) 250-5300

Miami Planning and Development Department
444 SW 2nd Ave.
Miami, FL 33130
(305) 416-1400

Tourist and Convention Bureaus

Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau
701 Brickell Ave., Suite 2700
Miami, FL 33131
(305) 539-3000


Daily Business Review
1 SE 3rd Ave., Suite 900
Miami, FL 33131

Diario Las Americas
2900 NW 39th St.
Miami, FL 33142

Miami Herald
1 Herald Plaza
Miami, FL 33132

Miami Metro Magazine
800 Douglas Rd., Suite 500
Coral Gables, FL 33134


Allman, T. D. Miami, City of the Future. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1987.

Cerwinske, Laura. Miami, Hot and Cool. Photographs by Steven Brooke. New York: C.N. Potter, 1990.

Davies, Frank. Kidding Around Miami: What to Do, Where to Go, and How to Have Fun in Miami. Santa Fe, NM: John Muir Publications, 1997.

Dunn, Marvin. Black Miami in the Twentieth Century. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1997.

Grenier, Guillermo, and Alex Stepick III, eds. Miami Now: Immigration, Ethnicity, and Social Change. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1992.

Harris, Daryl B. The Logic of Black Urban Rebellions: Challenging the Dynamics of White Domination in Miami. Westport, CN: Praeger, 1999.

Moore, Deborah Dash. To the Golden Cities: Pursuing the American Jewish Dream in Miami and L.A. New York: Maxwell Macmillan International, 1994.

Portes, Alejandro, and Alex Stepick III. City on the Edge: The Transformation of Miami. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

Rieff, David. The Exile: Cuba in the Heart of Miami. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993.

Rieff, David. Going to Miami: Exiles, Tourists, and Refugees in the New America. Boston: Little, Brown, 1987.


views updated May 21 2018



Miami (pronounced my-AM-ee), also called Maumee. The name may come from the Miami-Illinois word Myaamia, meaning “allies.” The Chippewa called the Miami Omaumeg (also Oumami or Oumamik), meaning “people who live on the peninsula.” The tribe is sometimes called Twigh Twees or Twaatwaa after the sound a crane makes.


The Miami originally lived in the area around the Great Lakes in parts of present-day Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio. During the 1800s the majority of them were forced to move first to Missouri, then Kansas, and finally to Oklahoma. Today the main groups of Miami are concentrated in Indiana, Kansas, and Oklahoma.


Prior to European contact there may have been as many as 15,000 Miami. That total fell to about 4,500 soon after the European arrival in the late 1600s. It decreased again over the next few decades to approximately 2,000. Estimating the number of Miami during these early time periods is difficult because only warriors were counted. According to the 1910 U.S. Census 226 Miami lived in the United States; of those, 123 lived in Oklahoma and 90 lived in Indiana. The 2000 census showed that 3,784 people identified themselves as Miami only, while 6,420 claimed to have some Miami heritage. Of the people who claimed to be Miami only, 1,526 resided in Indiana, 352 in Oklahoma, and 334 in Kansas.

Language family


Origins and group affiliations

In the 1600s the Miami lived with the Mascoutens along the southern end of Lake Michigan. At times they also lived with the Kickapoo. The Miami and the Illinois were often thought of as one tribe. Although both tribes spoke a similar language and were sometimes allies, they considered themselves two distinct groups. Originally the Miami consisted of six bands: Piankashaw, Wea, Atchatchakangouen, Kilatika, Mengakonkia, and Pepicokia. Some of these groups later merged, became separate tribes, or disappeared altogether. The Miami traded with all the tribes in the Great Lakes region except the Chickasaw and the Dakota, who were their enemies. In the late 1700s the Miami led an alliance of other Great Lakes tribes that included the Ojibway, Potawatomi, and Shawnee (see entries).

Some researchers believe the Miami descended from the prehistoric Fisher and Huber tribes who lived in the southern Lake Michigan area. When the Europeans arrived the Miami were living in the Great Lakes region and controlled most of the waterways. Though they had a reputation as fierce fighters and retaliated when attacked, they preferred peace and, as a result, they relocated many times. In the early twenty-first century most Miami lived in two areas of the country—Indiana and Oklahoma, although some remained in Kansas during that migration.


Ancient ancestors

Some researchers believe the Miami are related to the Mississippian culture (see Mound Builders entry). Excavations revealed stone spear points dating to 8,000 bce in the territory the Miami once inhabited. Others believe the Miami arrived in this part of the country at a later date. By the time of the first European contact in the mid-1600s the Miami were living in the area of present-day Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Important Dates

mid–1600s: The Miami encounter Europeans and provide scouts to guide Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet to the Mississippi River.

1641–1701: The Miami engage in the Beaver Wars.

1755–63: The Miami ally with France during the French and Indian War. British win, and king forbids American settlers to move west of the Appalachian Mountains.

1790: Led by Little Turtle, the Miami defeat Harmar and his American army.

1791: In the greatest Native American defeat of the U.S. Army, the Miami win at St. Clair.

1794: The Miami lose the Battle of Fallen Timbers and are forced to sign the Treaty of Greenville in 1795.

1846: The Miami divide. One band stays in Indiana; the other goes to Kansas.

1867: The Kansas tribe relocates to Oklahoma.

1897: The U.S. government terminates the tribal status of the Indiana Miami.

1996: The Miami Tribe of Oklahoma adopts a revised constitution.

Trading troubles

During the 1500s and 1600s French explorers set up trading posts in the Great Lakes region. White men’s diseases had preceded their arrival, and many Native American tribes had become ill or died due to epidemics (uncontrolled outbreaks of disease). Those that survived were vying for the French trade by trapping beaver to exchange for guns, blankets, mirrors, tools, glass beads, and alcohol.

When the area became overtrapped the Beaver Wars (1641–1701) broke out, and Native Americans fought with each other for control of the trade and for better hunting grounds. In the 1660s, the Miami and the Illinois settled on the western side of the Mississippi River to avoid Iroquois (see entry) raids. A year after the Seneca destroyed Miami villages in 1687, the Miami broke away from the Illinois tribe, with whom they had been fighting, and moved back to northern Indiana.

French–British conflicts

In the early 1700s the French established forts to protect their soldiers and trappers. When the British sent trading parties to the area the French warned them to keep out of the territory. The British ignored them and threatened the Native Americans with attack if they traded with France. In 1732 a group of three hundred Native Americans—Miami, Piankashaw, and Wea—died after drinking brandy. Some said the French had poisoned the alcohol, hoping the Native Americans would distrust the British and trade with them instead.

Increasing hostilities led to the French and Indian War (1755–63; a war fought in North America between England and France involving some Native Americans as allies of the French), and most Miami allied themselves with France. After the British defeated the French, the British turned French trading posts into forts. Many Miami moved to present-day Indiana to avoid further confrontation.

Most Native Americans viewed the British victory as positive because the king refused to allow American colonists to move west of the Appalachian Mountains. The tribes believed their territory was now secure from white invasion.

The American Revolution

The Americans colonists, however, had no intention of following the British king’s orders. When the American Revolution (1775–83; the American colonists’ fight for independence from England) began the commander of the British army, Henry Hamilton (1734–1796), offered the Native Americans rewards for attacking the Americans. Many tribes took Hamilton up on his offer. However, the Miami did not, even though they supported the British.

As the war dragged on the Miami and several other tribes, under the leadership of Chief Little Turtle (1752–1812), aided the British, believing an British victory would prevent American colonists from taking over their land. After the Americans won the war in 1783, whites expanded into the Great Lakes area. The U.S. government divided the land into parcels and gave it the settlers.

Harmar and St. Clair Defeats

The Miami formed a confederation with the Delaware, Shawnee, and Potawatomi (see entries) tribes headed by Little Turtle. Constant skirmishes over frontier land led President George Washington (1732–1799; served 1789–97) to send troops to the area in 1790. The first army of 1,500 soldiers commanded by Brigadier General Josiah Harmar (1753–1813) outnumbered Little Turtle’s small band. But the Miami chief’s tactics defeated the stronger American army.

In 1791 Washington sent a larger army of three thousand troops to the area, led by General Arthur St. Clair (1734–1818). The Miami again emerged triumphant. With more than six hundred dead and almost three hundred wounded, the Americans suffered their worst defeat ever in a battle against the Native Americans.

Battle of Fallen Timbers

After St. Clair’s defeat, Washington appointed General Anthony Wayne (1746–1796) commander of the Northwest army in 1792. When Native Americans attacked a supply train in 1794 Wayne’s army attacked Native American villages and destroyed crops. Little Turtle urged his people to try for peace, but few agreed, so he turned his command over to Shawnee leader Blue Jacket (c. 1745–c. 1810).

Wayne and Blue Jacket met at Fallen Timbers, Ohio. Knowing that Native Americans always fasted before a battle, Wayne waited several days until the tribes were weak with hunger and some had left to find food. Then he attacked. Many Native Americans were killed, and Blue Jacket’s men retreated to Fort Miami, where the British refused to help them. Without British support the Native Americans had to agree to Wayne’s terms. They signed the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, giving the U.S. government most of Ohio and parts of several adjoining states. Not all the tribes agreed with this decision, and bloodshed continued for several decades.

Sale of land

The Americans soon desired more land. In spite of the Greenville treaty, many settlers moved onto Miami land. William Henry Harrison (1773–1841), who later became president of the United States, used Native American debts and the lure of alcohol to acquire more land. Over the next decade Native Americans gave up more than twenty-one million acres.

In 1805 Tenskwatawa, the Shawnee Prophet (1775–1834), convinced many tribes to return to Native traditions and stay away from alcohol. His brother, Tecumseh (1768–1813), also urged Native Americans not to sell any more land to the whites. However, a group of peace chiefs from several tribes including Little Turtle of the Miami, sold land in Indiana and Illinois under the Fort Wayne Treaty.

More relocations

Other treaties signed between 1818 and 1840 gave up the rest of Miami land. Only one small band had land left, that owned by Chief Meshingomesia. The rest of the Miami moved to Kansas in 1846. Between five hundred and fifteen hundred Miami stayed behind; many had intermarried with whites. By 1872 fewer than three hundred of this group remained, and the U.S. government divided the land among them.

Miami Population: 2000 Census

In 2000 the U.S. Census showed the following breakdowns for the Miami tribes living in the United States. These statistics reflect the number of people affiliated with the particular tribe of that name, not necessarily those who live in that state. (For that information, see “Population.”)

Miami Population: 2000 Census
Indiana Miami615
Oklahoma Miami574

“2000 Census of Population and Housing. Matrix 7: American Indian and Alaskan Native summary file.” Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Data User Services Division, American FactFinder, 2004.

During his lifetime Chief Jean Baptiste Richardville (also called Peshewa, or “Wildcat”; c. 1761–1841), negotiated to prevent the Miami from being relocated. After he died, his son-in-law, Francis Lafontaine (Topeah, or “Frost on the Bushes”), took his place. Although Topeah kept half of the tribe in Indiana he oversaw the forced move to Kansas Territory. He died the following year on his return trip to Indiana.

About 550 Miami relocated to Kansas. Settlers soon followed and, when Kansas became a state in 1862, they asked the government to remove the Native Americans. Five years later the Miami agreed to a treaty giving up their Kansas land. They moved to Oklahoma and, along with several other tribes, purchased 6,000 acres. In 1893 the government divided that land into smaller individual properties, and took the rest. By the 1930s neither Miami tribe had any land left.

Through all those years the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma kept its federal recognition status. But in 1897 the U.S. government terminated the tribal status of the Indiana Miami, claiming that the Miami had lost their tribal heritage by marrying into and fully adapting to white society. Without federal recognition the Indiana Miami do not have the right to govern themselves as a separate nation or receive government funding and other benefits. As of 2007 the Indiana Miami continued to petition for the return of their tribal status.

The Miami in the early twentieth century

During the early part of the 1900s Miami farmers lived in poverty. Many purchased goods on credit, and whites often demanded repayment in land, so the majority ended up landless. Most Miami in Indiana lived like the whites. They spoke British, dressed like white Americans, and sent their children to public schools. Although some retained their culture, many intermarried with whites and adopted their ways.

In spite of their assimilation, or adapting to white culture, many Miami felt the effects of prejudice. Not only did they face insults, but also physical violence. To help the tribe, Chief Camillus Bundy (1854–1935) began holding a yearly Miami reunion (see “Festivals”). He also was instrumental in organizing the tribe as the Miami Nation of Indians of Indiana in 1923. They went against federal policy of that time period and asked the government to honor past treaties. Bundy wrote to then-president Calvin Coolidge (1872–1933; served 1923–29):

Once having been recognized by the Congress and government of this union, no one has the right to dissolve us and destroy us as a race, but they have been doing so, and are doing so, and through it all we have been reduced to a plight which is a reproach on this nation. America owes us an obligation. We appeal to you now as its head.

Though the Miami did not succeed in these requests, they kept trying, and they also worked for federal recognition. One of the difficulties they faced was that many of them had intermarried with whites and tried to live like the rest of society. The government used that as reason for denying their petition for federal recognition. This meant that they were not considered an independent nation, nor could they receive any federal benefits. They also were told that it was too late for them to receive the land they had been promised in treaties years before.

Two of the main Miami activists of the era were Bundy and Victoria Brady. In 1928 and 1929, when the legislation requiring the U.S. government to return land to the Miami tribe did not pass, Brady protested by occupying the offices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). When papers related to the Miami claims were lost, she ransacked an office. Meanwhile Bundy and his family, who had lost their farm, camped in tents in their family cemetery. They did not expect the government to take this land, but Bundy was jailed for refusing to leave the land when ordered.

World War II and after

In 1937 the Indiana Miami organized and adopted bylaws. Two years later the Oklahoma Miami adopted a constitution. The two tribes began to work together for their land rights. But when World War II (1939–45; a war in which Great Britain, France, the United States, and their allies defeated Germany, Italy, and Japan) began, the Miami put aside their land claims and supported the war effort. More than twenty-five thousand Native Americans joined the service to fight for the United States during the war.

Once the war ended the Miami returned fighting for their legal claims. This time both groups filed separately. In 1960s the government agreed to settle two of their many claims, but postponed payment. With the death of the leader of the Indiana group, Ves Godfroy, infighting ensued among the Indiana Miami.

At the same time the government funded construction of a dam in Indiana that would flood 14,000 acres of former tribal land, including several Native American cemeteries. Removal and reburying the remains also caused friction. By the time the claims were paid in 1969, each person received little more than $1,200. By 1982 all the factions had united as the Miami Indians of Indiana.

Even though the Oklahoma Miami were federally recognized, they did not fare much better. The tribe had no land, and money for legal battles came from donations. Settlements to the tribe were meager, and the terms of many treaties have never been fulfilled.


The Miami’s main gods were the Great Hare as well as the Sun. Lesser deities, called manitous, could include inanimate (non-living) objects as well as living beings. Some manitous included thunder, lightning, tornadoes, and the spirits of animals. The people offered prayers and tobacco to manitous for protection. The Underwater Panther was one of the most feared manitous, because it caused wild waves with the flick of its tail. The people offered it tobacco so they could fish and travel safely.

Various religious societies formed in the tribe. Some revolved around clan war-bundles, packets which contained sacred objects to help warriors win in battle. Other societies included people who had received visions from the same manitou spirit. Warriors, who had performed heroic acts in battle, made up another society; their bravery indicated they had special powers.

During the late 1700s some Miami accepted the teachings of Neolin, the Delaware Prophet, who encouraged Native Americans to return to their Native ways and give up white men’s goods like alcohol and guns. Other Miami, influenced by the Jesuit or Baptist missionaries, converted to Christianity. Adopting Christian beliefs altered Miami society in many ways. One major change occurred in women’s roles. Previously they had been equal to men; now men were considered dominant. By the mid-1800s most of the tribe’s leaders had become Baptists, so tribal councils became predominately male.


The Miami and Illinois were close dialects (varieties) of the Central Algonquian language. The Miami language was considered dead in 1965 when the last of the Native speakers died. However, in 1988 a graduate student, David Costa, began to study the language. He interviewed a few elders who had heard the language as children and recalled some words. With their help and written documents, he reconstructed the basics of the language.

Since 1995 the Miami Nation has continued Costa’s work by searching written records from past centuries to reclaim their language. They also developed programs to teach the language to their children.

Miami words

  • aamaawia … “bee”
  • alemwa … “dog”
  • aya … “hello”
  • mihko … “red”
  • miiciwa … “eat”
  • moohswa … “deer”
  • niihka … “friend”
  • shikaakwa … “skunk”
  • waapanswa … “rabbit”


The main divisions of the Miami tribe were clans (groups of people related by a common ancestor), and each clan elected it’s own chief. In addition the tribe had tribal chiefs, village chiefs, war chiefs, and peace chiefs. Men and women both held these positions. Miami women chiefs had the power to end feuds and wars. Because the society was matrilineal, mothers passed down the position of hereditary chief to their children.

Hereditary chiefs also handled religious duties. Once the Europeans arrived and disease killed many people, however, some of the tribe’s belief in the chief’s power dwindled. In spite of this the Miami had great respect for their chiefs. Generally the head chief did not go to war, but acted as a diplomat. Sometimes women who had visions accompanied a war party.

In the early twenty-first century the Miami Nation of Oklahoma had a chief and a second chief as well as a tribal council. Because they received federal recognition, they operate as an independent nation. Recognition also entitles them to federal funds and benefits. The Miami Tribe of Indiana has been waiting since 1995 for federal recognition. As of 2007 they did not qualify for federal help or for any additional payments for lost lands. The tribe still maintains traditional leadership and holds tribal meetings as they have done throughout their history.


Early economy

The Miami were hunters and gatherers who lived near the water for most of the year, then migrated to the prairie during the winter to hunt buffalo. They also farmed, raising corn, fruit, and vegetables to supplement their diet.

After the arrival of the Europeans the Miami entered the fur trade. They controlled most of the ports in the Great Lakes region, and shrewd business people like Tacumwah (c. 1720–c. 1790) and her son, Chief Richardville (c. 1761–1841), got rich from the fur trade and from controlling ports along the waterways.

Twentieth-century economy

After the Miami relocated to Kansas and then Oklahoma they struggled to survive. By the 1900s many men in Indiana worked on the railroads or at circuses. Three different circuses had headquarters near Peru, Indiana, and the Miami worked in the food stands, cared for and trained wild animals, and sometimes performed circus acts. Many men also served as cooks, firemen, and engineers on the four railroads in the area.

During the Great Depression (1929–41; the period, following the stock market crash in 1929, of depressed world economies and high unemployment), the circuses closed, putting many Miami out of work. The state welfare office denied them benefits because they were Native Americans. But because the Bureau of Indian Affairs did not acknowledge them as a tribe, they were not eligible for federal funds either. To stay alive, many reverted to hunting and fishing, but were arrested for violating state hunting regulations. In 1933 Elijah Shapp wrote: “We the Miami Indians of Indiana want our land and money that is due us.… My people are starving.”

Present-day economy

In 1990 the Miami Tribe of Indiana purchased a tribal complex in Peru, Indiana, and started Little Turtle Daycare Center. They opened a shelter, arts and crafts workshops, an archive, and a museum that they fund mainly through bingo proceeds.

The Western Miami founded an organization, Miami Tribe of Oklahoma Business Development Authority (MTOBDA), whose mission is to develop and manage business enterprises so the tribe remains self-sufficient. In 1995 these Miami joined with the Modoc to operate The Stables Casino near the Modoc Tribal Complex. Since then the Miami opened another casino, Miami Tribe Entertainment Casino, located at their tribal complex. The tribe also owns the 1,000-acre Tahway Farms, which supports crops, pecan groves and cattle; the Miami Trader Gift Shop, which sells Native arts and crafts; Envira Tech Environmental Testing Lab; and several other businesses. According to 2000 U.S. Census statistics this branch of the Miami Nation has an amazing zero percent unemployment. This means everyone in the tribe who wants to work has a job.

Daily life


In Miami families both men and women hunted, fished, and tanned hides. Usually the men prepared the fields, and women planted and tended the crops. Women also prepared meat, gathered wood, and sewed the bark canoes together. When the tribe migrated from place to place, it was usually the woman’s job to carry the material for the wigwam on her back and to build the house. Men went to war, but sometimes women accompanied them (see “Government”). Both genders did storytelling, artwork, music, and healing.

The equal division of labor also extended to the children. Boys and girls both learned to work at the same jobs as their parents. An early European observer noted that both sexes were treated equally and that illegitimate children were treated the same way as legitimate children. It was acceptable, and not uncommon, for unmarried Miami women to have children.

Mothers carried their babies in cradleboards strapped to their backs. The Miami did not believe in physical punishment so they only scolded their children. Many Indian tribes also used storytelling as a way to help children learn proper behavior.

The family line passed down through the mother’s brother, but children belonged to their father’s clan. No one from the same clan could marry.


The Miami had winter and summer villages. During the growing season, they lived near the water. Summer homes were 12 by 20 feet (3.6 by 6 meters) with high gabled roofs and bark-covered exteriors. People spent most of their time outdoors; they usually cooked and ate outside.

In winter they constructed lodges covered with bark or mats made of woven reeds placed over a framework of saplings. Their homes, called wikiami, were oval with a fire pit in the center. They stored their possessions at the back and placed sleeping platforms around the sides.

The Miami sometimes situated their towns on hills and surrounded them by palisades (fences made of logs). Villages had sweat lodges; they also had larger wooden longhouses for ceremonies and councils.


Because the Miami lived around lakes and rivers, they knew how to travel by water. Although the men hollowed out large trees to make dugout canoes or built birchbark canoes, they often traveled on land. Before the Spanish brought horses to America, the tribe used dogs as pack animals. Sometimes dogs were loaded down with goods. Other times they harnessed the dogs to frames made from wooden poles called travois (truh-VOY). They lashed their possessions to the travois or to wooden sleds attached to the poles, and the dogs dragged them as they moved from camp to camp. The sleds were important for traveling through snow during the winter.

Clothing and adornment

Because the men wore so little clothing, Europeans nicknamed the Miami the “naked” or “tattooed men.” Men wore breechcloths (fabric secured at the waist that passes between the legs) and tattooed most of their body. In winter they wore leather shirts and leggings.

Women dressed in deerskin skirts and leggings. They often painted their skirts and breechcloths with red dyes. Females tattooed their cheeks, arms, and chests. The people preferred going barefoot, but wore moccasins in winter.

Miami headdresses were simple, usually a beaded headband with a few red feathers. Women had long hair, which could be braided or rolled into a bun. Men adopted the Mohawk hairdo, and often added a porcupine roach for decoration. These roaches were made of porcupine hair dyed bright colors. Both men and women painted their faces and had permanent tattoos.

After the Europeans arrived some Miami dressed similarly to the newcomers. Women wore short calico (printed cotton) dresses with red leggings underneath and buckskin moccasins. They draped a long length of cotton over their shoulders as a shawl. Others wore full, ankle-length skirts with brightly colored blouses and decorated shawls or blankets around their shoulders. Leggings, skirts, shawls, and moccasins were often adorned with silk-ribbon appliqué and glass beads.

Men wore frock coats with ruffled shirts underneath, but kept their breechcloths, leggings, and moccasins. They wrapped cloth around their heads like turbans.


Although the people hunted and gathered, they also farmed. Crops included beans, melons, squash, pumpkins, tobacco, and corn. The tribe was known for its maize (corn), which had tender, white kernels. This variety of corn is called “Silver Queen” today. Corn was eaten in many ways and was also dried and ground into flour. Women also collected roots, nuts, berries, and fruits.

In the late fall the men spent several weeks hunting buffalo. When they found a herd they set a circular fire in the grass around the animals, leaving one opening. As the buffalo rushed away from the blaze, the tribe stationed themselves near the opening and shot them with bows and arrows. The women jerked the meat (cut it into long thin slices and dried it in the sun) or broiled it. They also spun thread of buffalo hair to make bags to carry the meat. The fur made robes and blankets for winter.

In addition to bison and deer the tribe hunted other large game, such as elk, wildcat, lynx, and bear. The hunters divided the meat among all the people. As large game grew scarce, the men hunted muskrat, opossum, porcupine, raccoon, turtle, and woodchuck. They also ate a variety of small birds as well as ducks, geese, and turkey. Toward the end of winter the Miami tapped trees for sap and boiled it in birchbark containers to make maple syrup.


Children learned by watching their elders. Older Miami were expected to serve as examples of proper behavior, and youngsters looked up to them.

By the early 1900s most Miami in Indiana went to school with whites. Many boys preferred learning traditional skills like hunting and trapping to sitting indoors in one-room schoolhouses. Once the Miami lost most of their land, few children could attend high school. They had to find jobs in order to help support their families. Not until after 1945 did many Miami get a higher education.

Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, developed the Myaamia Project to preserve Miami Nation history, culture, and language. They also have an art museum to showcase Miami arts and crafts. Students from the Miami tribe are offered scholarships to attend the university.

Healing practices

In late summer the tribe gathered bark, fruits, roots, leaves, and berries for medicine. They used wild ginger for colds, wahoo bark for fevers, wild cherry teas for hiccoughs, black willow for skin problems, prickly ash for toothaches, chestnuts for coughs, and milkweed for warts. For an earache they blew tobacco smoke into the ear.

The Miami had Midewiwin (Spirit Doings). Mide priests held rituals for illness and encouraged people to behave properly. Although these priests had a high rank, they were not as important as healers.


The area where the Miami lived was rich in clay, which they used in making pottery. Rivers and lakes provided many reeds, which the tribe used for matting and to construct the walls of their homes.

The Miami were known for their quillwork, beadwork, and embroidery. They decorated their clothing and moccasins with appliquéd designs. Silk ribbonwork adorned leggings and moccasins. After they adopted European dress, women used traditional needlework on their shawls and skirts.

In the early and mid-1900s many people believed the Miami and their traditions would die out. Few engaged in traditional crafts; and little was done to pass on these arts. But during the 1960s, the Miami began holding classes to teach the skills to younger generations.

Rabbit and Possum

Many Native American tribes tell tales to explain how different animals acquired their physical features. This Miami story describes why the rabbit’s upper lip is divided into two parts.

The Possum and the Rabbit gambled together to see if it should be dark all the time or light all the time. Possum kept singing a song that it should be dark, and he sang this over and over. Rabbit kept singing his song that it should be daylight. Along toward morning, Rabbit began to get a little bit tired. Possum said, “You might as well give it up, Rabbit. It’s going to be night all the time.” Well, they argued about this. Then Possum said to Rabbit, “Suppose you did win and daylight came to stay. Why, children would abuse you. They would chase you into a hollow log and take a stick and twist the fur off of you.” Rabbit said, “I don’t care. They’ll have lots of fun playing with me anyway.” Now, while they were arguing, Rabbit kept singing, “Daylight, daylight, daylight!” And when Possum looked around, there he saw the daylight was coming. He grabbed Rabbit’s mouth to make him shut up, and split his upper lip. That’s why Rabbit has a split lip.

Stand, Nancy, as told to Truman Michelson, 1916. Available online at (accessed on July 7, 2007).


Birth and naming

A woman giving birth stayed in a hut opposite her husband’s. If the delivery took too long, large groups of men would rush toward the hut firing guns, believing that frightening her would help.

Before the mother and baby returned to the family home, the mother bathed. Her husband cleaned the hut by shaking out all the skins and removing all the ashes from the fire. Then he lit a new fire and invited her into the hut.

Children were given names that represented natural objects or a quality the parents hoped their child would acquire. Others were named for respected ancestors.


Both boys and girls trained for vision quests when they were very young. To do this, they fasted. At puberty, boys used black paint or charcoal on their faces; girls used dirt. The teens fasted for long periods of time until they saw an animal spirit.

Marriage and divorce

A man and woman might decide to marry, or their families could make the decision for them. Sometimes the chief in a village would choose a wife for a man. Once the selection had been made, the man’s father sent female relatives to the woman’s house with cloth, kettles, guns, skins, and meat. If the woman took these presents, she sent gifts in return. This meant they were married. Then the groom gave his bride an expensive gift like a horse.

To mark the marriage, families exchanged gifts. The woman’s eldest brother gave her the best meat from his hunting season. She in turn gave it to her husband’s mother, who divided it among her family. Then the mother-in-law gave vegetables to the bride’s family.

Both husbands and wives had the right to leave the marriage. To divorce a spouse, all a person had to do was walk away. If a husband abused his wife, she could kill him without being punished. Spouses who stayed married were expected to be faithful. If a Miami wife cheated on her husband, they clipped her nose. A man could marry more than one wife if he could afford it.


The Miami marked several occasions with dances and ceremonies. When warriors returned victorious, the tribe held the bison dance. Harvesting corn called for the Green Corn Ceremony.

Every year since 1903 the Miami Indians of Indiana have held a reunion. Started by Camillus Bundy, the get-together occurred near former villages. After a council meeting the men ate first, then the women and children. People dressed in ceremonial costumes and participated in games, dancing, and music. Today families still gather in Wabash, Indiana, once a year to engage in these traditional activities.

War etiquette

Miami warriors used bows and arrows, tomahawks, spears, and buffalo hide shields. They often ate their prisoners of war. One family was trained to roast the prisoner; then the body was eaten. The tribe had religious rituals that were part of the ceremony. In later years, Little Turtle tried to stop this practice.

Death rituals

When a person died the Miami dressed the body in good clothes and laid it out in the lodge. After a short wake, four non-family members carried the corpse to the grave. They placed food and water in the grave, and an elder begged the dead not to take any of the living along on its journey. They uncovered the body’s chest, and relatives walked around the grave and laid a hand on it. Then they covered the body.

A body might be buried in different ways. Sometimes the Miami laid it flat in a shallow grave lined with bark or planks. They also buried corpses in sitting positions. Other times they split a tree and hollowed it out. They enclosed the body and fastened the tree to the ground with stakes. If they buried the body on the surface, they made a small log enclosure around it, tilting the logs in to meet on top. Some bodies were laid on a scaffold high in the air until only the bones were left.

After the burial an elder of the same sex stayed at the grave four nights. The Miami believed it took four days before the spirit started on its journey. The Milky Way was the path it took, but it could be tempted back by evil spirits and never arrive in the spirit land.

Soon after the funeral the tribe engaged in the dead person’s favorite dance or activity. When the first corn (mimjipi, meaning “corn spirit”) was harvested, it was fed to spirits of dead relatives. One year after the death children of the deceased adopted a new parent. Then the dance or activity was performed again to mark the end of the mourning period.

Current tribal issues

In 2004 Stan Calvert, a childhood friend of Chief Brian Buchanan, gave the Miami Indians of Indiana a gift of 150 acres of land because he believed the tribe would preserve it. They plan to use the land for hunting and camping as well as to create a living village and museum. The tribe is still fighting for federal recognition, even though they have proof that they existed as a tribe since the 1600s. Without federal recognition the tribe is not eligible for federal benefits or funding. They also have no status as an independent nation.

Notable people

As the son of a Mahican mother and Miami war chief Little Turtle (Mihsihkinaahkwa; 1752–1812) could not inherit his father’s position, however, he proved to be a mastermind of war strategies and earned the honor of leading the Miami. He was known for his routs of American forces at Harmer’s Defeat (1790) and St. Clair’s Defeat (1791). After the Native American defeat by General Wayne (1794), Little Turtle agreed to peace terms and signed the Greenville Treaty, ceding most of the state of Ohio and parts of Indiana to the Americans. When he signed the treaty he said, “I am the last to sign it, and I will be the last to break it.” Afterwards he promoted peace. He also helped his tribe by encouraging vaccinations and discouraging the use of alcohol.

Although most of the Miami supported the French, Memeskia (d. 1752), nicknamed “Old Briton,” allied himself and his band of Piankashaw with the British during the early 1700s. He established the village of Pickawillany, which grew into a large trading center. Memeskia outwitted French attacks several times, but when he executed some French soldiers, the French along with several other tribes—Ottawa, Ojibwa, and Potawatomi—retaliated. The Native American warriors cut out Old Briton’s heart, then cooked and ate his body in front of the tribe.

Tacumwah (c. 1720–c. 1790; “Parakeet”), sister of Little Turtle, also called Marie-Louise Pacanne Richardville, served as chief. One European, Henry Hay, not realizing women could hold positions of power, wrote in 1789 that Richardville “is so very bashful that he never speaks in council, his mother who is very clever is obliged to do it for him.” A successful businesswoman, Tacumwah controlled the fur trade in the Wabash Valley area of present–day Indiana. Her son, Chief Richardville (c. 1761–1841), inherited his mother’s wealth and became a millionaire. While he was alive he kept the tribe together in their Indiana homelands. He served as chief from 1816 to 1841, and his skilled negotiations won important concessions for the tribe from the U.S. government.

Anson, Bert. The Miami Indians. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2000.

Baxter, Nancy Niblack. The Miami! Indianapolis: Guild Press of Indiana, 1987.

Edel, Wilbur. Kekionga!: The Worst Defeat in the History of the U.S. Army. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1997.

Rafert, Stewart. The Miami Indians of Indiana: A Persistent People, 1654-1994. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1999.

Wilson, Frazer Ells. The Peace of Mad Anthony: An Account of the Subjugation of the Northwestern Indian Tribes and the Treaty of Greeneville. Kila, MN: Kessinger Publishing, 2005.

“Indian History: The Miami Indians Today.” City of Peru. (accessed on July 7, 2007).

“Miami Culture and History Links.” Native American Language Net: Preserving and Promoting Indigenous American Indian Languages. (accessed on July 7, 2007).

“Miami Indian Tribe.” Native American Nations. (accessed on July 7, 2007).

Miami Nation of Oklahoma. (accessed on July 7, 2007).

The Myaamia Project at Miami University. (accessed on July 7, 2007).

“Official Site of the Miami Nation of Indians of the State of Indiana.” Miami Nation of Indians. (accessed on July 7, 2007).

Ohio History Central. (accessed on July 7, 2007).

George Cornell, Ph.D.; Associate Professor, History and American Studies, Michigan State University; Director, Native American Institute

Laurie Edwards


views updated May 29 2018


ETHNONYMS: Miamiouek, Maumee, Oumami, Twightwees


Identification. The Miami are an Algonkian people, closely related to the Illinois. They inhabited the area to the south and west of Lake Michigan in mid-continental North America when Europeans first entered the region in the late 1600s. They subsequently moved south into Indiana and were finally removed to Oklahoma in the mid-1800s. Six Miami subgroups were the Wea, Piankashaw, Pepikokia, Kilatika, Mengakonkia, and Atchatchakangouen, each with many variations in spelling.

Location. Throughout their history the Miami have lived in temperate forest and prairie areas of the midwestern United States. Fish, mollusks, and migratory wild-fowl are plentiful on the rivers, and deer, elk, bear, and numerous small mammals thrive in the rich deciduous forests. Bison were also common on the prairie peninsula to the west and south of Lake Michigan prior to European settlement. There are two main groups of Miami today: the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, recognized by the U.S. government, and the Miami Nation in Indiana.

Demography. In the late 1600s it was estimated that there were about five thousand Miami. Rapid decreases in population followed American colonization of the Illinois country in the late 1700s, and the recorded Miami population had fallen below one hundred by 1890. Today, there are several thousand Miami registered at the tribal office in Peru, Indiana (although they are largely acculturated into the White population) , and several thousand others listed as members of the Miami Tribe in Oklahoma.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Miami language is classified in the lower tier of the Central Algonkian linguistic group, and is closely related to the Illinois language, the two having only slight dialectical differences. The Miami language has been considered extinct since about 1965, although some Miami still employ a limited vocabulary and attempts have been made to revive the language as part of a recent cultural revival effort.

History and Cultural Relations

The Miami evolved out of the prehistoric Fisher and Huber cultures of the southern Lake Michigan region. In the late 1660s fear of Iroquois raids prompted them to move west of the Mississippi with the Illinois people. At the same time a group of Miami took up residence with a large group of similarly displaced people around Green Bay, Wisconsin. These Green Bay Miami were visited frequently by Jesuit missionaries during the 1670s. In the 1680s the Miami began to move back to the southern end of Lake Michigan. This trend southward continued, and by 1750 large numbers of Miami peoples could be found near the present-day Indiana cities of Fort Wayne, Lafayette, and Vincennes.

The Miami were allied with the English during the American Revolution, and some (most notably Little Turtle and his followers) continued to fight the Americans until the Greenville Treaty was signed in 1795. By 1820 most Miamis had sold their land to American settlers and moved to Reservations in Missouri. The majority of the remaining Miami were forcibly removed from Indiana in 1846 and resettled in Kansas, moving finally to Oklahoma in the 1870s to live with other Miami and Illinois people who had settled there.


Summer agricultural villages ranged in population from Several hundred to perhaps several thousand people, consisting of some dozen or more nuclear and extended family groups. Villages were typically located near a river and often close to open prairie. Villages were frequently palisaded and were apparently kept immaculately clean. In some cases the Miami shared a single palisaded village with another group. Within the palisade were circular or elliptical houses for each nuclear or extended family. These were fashioned from tightly woven reed mats laid over each other on a wooden frame. The Doorways were covered with bison skins, which were also used to line the floor. A central hearth provided light, heat, and fire for cooking, the smoke escaping from a hole in the roof. In the center of the village was a larger structure that served as the village chief's house and as a meeting place. Agricultural fields were located outside of the palisade, but within easy walking distance. Winter camps consisted of one or more Nuclear and extended family groups, probably never having a population of more than a few dozen people. Winter camps were distributed around Miami territory and may have been moved frequently. Houses in winter camps were similar to those in summer villages.


Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Simple hortiCulture and hunting provided the basis of Miami subsistence. Crops grown included maize, beans, squash, pumpkins, melons, and tobacco. Fields were cleared by the slash-and-burn technique, and planting was done using digging sticks and hoes fashioned of stone or bison scapulae. Nuts and fruits were also collected from the forests and prairies. Deer and bison were major sources of meat, although small game were trapped or hunted with bow and arrow. Soon after planting, usually in early June, the majority of a Miami village would leave in a group to hunt bison on the plains. This communal hunt usually lasted five weeks or more. Bison were hunted by ambush or fire drive. The meat from this hunt was used for subsistence until the village's crops matured. Following the harvest in the fall, families would leave the village alone or in small groups to hunt deer and small game in the forests during the winter, although some families remained in the village and hunted in its immediate vicinity. The Miami kept dogs as companions and sacrificial animals.

Today, the Miami are completely acculturated and work as farmers, factory workers, and businessmen.

Industrial Arts. Clothing was fashioned from deer or bison skin, and was often dyed black, yellow, or red. Bison hair was also woven into bags and belts. Cooking and storage pots were made of fired clay. Bowls and spoons were carved from wood. Arrows, axes, hoes, and pipes were fashioned from stone by either chipping or grinding.

Trade. With the coming of Europeans, some Miami became specialists in the fur trade. But trade between the Miami and surrounding groups, even some geographically quite distant, had always been common. Items traded were generally nonlocal raw materials such as copper, obsidian, and unusual chert and stone.

Division of Labor. There was a marked division of labor by sex. Women were expected to take care of the house (including making and repairing the reed mats, supplying water and wood for the fire, and cleaning), make clothing for the family, prepare game that the men brought in (including hide preparation), gather wild plant foods (such as berries, nuts, and roots) and make the baskets and clay pots with which to gather them, weed and cultivate the fields, prepare meals, and take care of children. Men, on the other hand, spent most of their time hunting, warring, gaming, or discussing village matters.

Land Tenure. Until formal land tenure was established by the U.S. government, the control of land was informal. Each village used the land that surrounded it and moved when the land became unmanageable or unproductive.


Kin Groups and Descent. The basic kinship unit was the nuclear family consisting of a man, his wife (or wives), and their children. A more inclusive unit was the clan, whose members were determined patrilineally. Clans were exogamous, and their names included the bear, deer, elk, crane, snake, and acorn. More inclusive than the clan was a moiety division in each Miami village.

Kinship Terminology. Kinship terms followed the Omaha system.

Marriage and Family

Marriage. Polygynous marriages were accepted if a man could support more than one wife, but marriages were more often monogamous. Marriage was clan exogamous. Marriages could either be arranged or decided upon by the individuals, but all had to be approved by the individuals' families. Brideprice payments were made by the husband's family to the wife's. If the payment was accepted, the individuals were considered married, although further presentations would be made by both families. Less formal marriage arrangements were also common. Couples were expected to set up their own homes once married, usually near the husband's family. Divorce was common and often resulted from adultery on the part of the wife.

Domestic Unit. The nuclear family of a husband, wife, and children formed the basic domestic unit. They shared a house, fire, food, and household chores. The nuclear family might be extended by the addition of co-wives, parents, grandparents, and perhaps other relatives.

Inheritance. There were apparently no formal rules of Inheritance, although a person could be ceremonially adopted to fill the place of an individual who died, and this person would acquire the dead individual's possessions.

Socialization. Mothers gave birth in seclusion and remained secluded with the infant for several weeks. Most of a Miami child's life was spent in close proximity to its mother, often bound in a cradle board. The Miami were concerned and affectionate parents and allowed their children great Freedom. At puberty, both boys and girls secluded themselves and fasted, seeking contact with a guardian spirit. The onset of menses apparently marked a girl's becoming a woman, but a boy had to go on at least one war party before he could paint his face red, the symbol of male adulthood. Some boys did not follow the male pattern of maturation, but adopted the women's instead, becoming berdaches who were thought to have great spiritual power and knowledge.

Sociopolitical Organization

Social and Political Organization. Village leaders were also the heads of the various village clans. The village chief was the head of the highest ranking clan. Although clan heads and village chiefs were generally recognized as such Because of their wisdom, respect, and speaking ability, the sons of chiefs usually became chiefs themselves. Village chiefs were responsible for day-to-day affairs of the village, settling disputes and maintaining relationships with other groups. Miami village chiefs were paralleled by war chiefs, who organized and carried out raids on other groups. War chiefs were recognized solely according to their success in war. If a war chief organized a raid that failed, his status as a chief would be threatened or lost. Members of raiding parties could not be conscripted, but had to volunteer, so a war chief's ability to conduct raids was dependent on the trust Miami men had in him and his ability to conduct a raid successfully.

Social Control. Internal disputes were handled informally by the families involved or by the village council of clan chiefs. Gossip and the threat of sorcery were probably strong means of social control, although some crimes, such as murder and adultery, carried severe punishments.

Conflict. Intergroup warfare could be initiated for a variety of reasons, from revenge for murder to the desire of young men to gain prestige. The decision to go to war was decided upon by the war chiefs, and once decided, the initiating chief would put together a raiding party of perhaps twelve men. This party would attack a chosen village, attempt to kill one or more men or to take them prisoner, and then retreat quickly. A raid was successful if no one in the raiding party was killed or taken prisoner, and it was considered a great victory if an enemy was killed or taken prisoner. Since war chiefs could lose their power and prestige if too many of their men were killed, Miami war chiefs were very cautious. Raids were often called off just outside an enemy village, and retreat after a raid was always well planned and swift. Prisoners were treated with extreme cruelty, although they could be adopted into the group to take the place of someone who had died or been killed. More frequently, however, prisoners were slowly tortured to death and were sometimes eaten.

Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. Miami religion centered around Individual and group attempts to gain power from spirits known as manitous. The Miami believed that manitous roamed the world and could take the form of humans, animals, and Perhaps even plants or nuts. The source of the manitou's power was known as the kitchi manitou and was often equated with the sun, although the kitchi manitou was apparently not considered to be animate. From youth, women and particularly men were instructed to seclude themselves, fast, and try to contact a manitou in a dream. Once contacted, a manitou became the individual's guardian spirit, giving the person power in return for respect and sacrifices. Feasts were given and public and private sacrifices of food or tobacco were made to gain power from or appease specific manitous.

Religious Practitioners. Shamans were considered to be closer to manitous than ordinary people and could gain power from them either to heal or to kill. Shamans also participated in the Midewiwin and in unabashed displays of their strength: they would fight and kill each other using supernatural power to throw bones, shells, and other charmed objects into the adversary and then try to bring the dead back to life.

Ceremonies. The Calumet Dance was held to gain power from manitous, usually before going to war. It provided a means to publicly offer tobacco to manitous by the members of a raiding party. The calumet was a stone pipe with a long wooden stem, decorated with paint and feathers. Members of the raiding party would make the calumet "dance" in their hands and then smoke it and offer the smoke to a manitou. "Striking the pole" was also done by members of a raiding party. Each would strike a post with his hatchet or war club, and relate a tale of his own bravery, dancing between the tales. Feasts were also given for manitous, particularly before going to war. There were two types of feasts: one, which was a simple dinner with speeches and dancing rituals, and another in which all the food, frequently in copious amounts, had to be consumed before the feastgoers could leave.

Arts. Miami men were tattooed head to foot, and women were tattooed on their arms, face, and chest. The Miami used paint or painted porcupine quills to decorate their clothes and shoes. Music and song accompanied dances, and dance was probably considered both a form of entertainment and a way of showing respect to a manitou.

Medicine. The Miami employed a wide variety of plant materials in making remedies for common ailments, which apparently provided effective treatments for cuts, fractures, and even arrow and gunshot wounds. Shamans were called in if these remedies failed. The shaman healed by using his Supernatural power to expel or pull illness out of an individual. Often this illness was embodied as a small bone or shell which the shaman pretended to physically suck out of the sick person.

Death and Afterlife. Ritualized lamentations and weeping accompanied a friend's or relative's death, and women whose husbands died were required to follow a number of strict taboos. The body of the dead individual was cleaned and decorated, wrapped in skins, and placed on a scaffold or in a tree, sometimes with small presents or food. After the interment a game might be played or a dance performed that the Individual had particularly liked, but the body was apparently not visited again. The Miami believed that upon death Individuals enter another world, where they find themselves walking down a road. The dead are tempted as they walk, and they must cross several obstacles before reaching a beautiful Country where there is great abundance and everyone is happy.


Anson, Burt (1970). The Miami Indians. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Callender, Charles. (1978). "Miami." In Handbook of North American Indians. Vol. 15, Northeast, edited by Bruce G. Trigger, 681-689. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.

Kinietz, Vernon (1965). Indians of the Western Great Lakes, 1615-1760. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Trowbridge, Charles (1938). Meearmeer Traditions, edited by Vernon Kinietz. University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology, Occasional Contributions, no. 7. Ann Arbor.


Miami: Economy

views updated May 21 2018

Miami: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

For most of Miami's history, its economy has been based on tourism. In fact, it was not so long ago that the city came to life only during the winter months when tourists from cold northern regions flocked to its beaches, hotels, and resorts. That phenomenon is no longer the case, as tourists visit the region throughout the year. In 2003, 10.4 million overnight visitors came to Greater Miami, infusing the local economy with $9.9 billion in direct expenses, such as hotel rooms, restaurants, shopping, transportation, and attractions, and another $5.5 in indirect expenditures in such areas as real estate, medicine, and retail.

While tourism continues to be the principal industry in Miami, the city's economy has become more diversified. Trade is increasingly vital to the economy. Its close proximity to Latin America and the Caribbean make it the center of international trade with those areas. Nearly $50 billion in total merchandise trade came through the Miami Customs District in 2002. Because many companies choose to establish their Latin American headquarters in southern Florida, Miami-Dade County is known as the "Gateway to the Americas." In 2003 approximately 1,200 multinational corporations were established in the region.

The city's international trade infrastructure is vast and varied. With an economic impact of $18.6 billion, Miami International Airport is the nation's top airport for international freight and third for international passengers. The Port of Miami, which contributes $8 billion to the local economy, ranks first among the state's containerized ports and ninth in the United States. The World Trade Center Miami is Florida's oldest international organization, and assists member companies to introduce and expand their international presence. It is also petitioning to establish Miami-Dade County as the site of the Permanent Secretariat of the 34-nation Free Trade Area of the Americas. Miami is home to more than 64 foreign consulates, 25 international trade offices, and 32 binational chambers of commerce. Two free trade zones exist in Greater Miami, the Homestead Free Zone and the Miami Free Zone, one of the world's largest privately owned and operated zones. The top imports into the Miami Customs District in 2002 were apparel and accessories; the leading exports were electrical machinery and photographic and medical equipment.

International banking is another growing segment of the economy. With total deposits of $74.3 billion in 2003, about 100 commercial banks, thrift institutions, foreign bank agencies, and Edge Act banks are located in downtown Miami, representing the largest concentration of domestic and international banks on the East Coast south of New York. Brazilian, British, Canadian, French, German, Israeli, Japanese, Spanish, and Venezuelan banks have offices in Miami-Dade County. Still, domestic banks dominate the market, led by Bank of America Corp., which has total deposits of over $7.8 billion in its 25 local offices.

Items and goods produced: apparel, textiles, books and magazines, pharmaceuticals, medical and diagnostic testing equipment, plastics, aluminum products, furniture, light manufactured goods, transportation equipment, cement, electronic components, agricultural products such as tomatoes, beans, avocadoes, and citrus fruits

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

Local programs

The Beacon Council is the agency responsible for recruiting new businesses to Miami-Dade County in an effort to create new jobs. The Council's many free services include site identification; labor recruitment and training; business data and economic research; packaging local, state, and federal business incentives; and import/export assistance. The Council promotes the many advantages of doing business in Miami-Dade County, including a number of business incentive programs and a favorable tax structure. Business location incentives at the local level include Empowerment Zone and Enterprise Zone opportunities, each of which offers tax or wage credits to businesses based on the number of new jobs created. The Miami-Dade County Targeted Jobs Incentive Fund is available to companies that are on the list of industries identified by the county as desirable additions to the local economy. The Grow Miami Fund grants qualified small businesses long-term, low-interest loans ranging from $50,000 to $2 million. In 2003 the city partnered with ACCION USA to make $4 million in micro loans available to the small business community.

State programs

Enterprise Florida is a partnership between Florida's government and business leaders and is the principal economic development organization for the state of Florida. Enterprise Florida's mission is to increase economic opportunities for all Floridians by supporting the creation of quality jobs, a well-trained workforce, and globally competitive businesses. It pursues this mission in cooperation with its statewide network of economic development partners.

Among the incentive programs managed at the state level is the Economic Development Transportation Fund, which provides up to $2 million to fund the cost of transportation projects, such as access roads and road widening, required for the establishment, expansion, or retention of businesses in Florida. The state's Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund is similar to the Miami-Dade program that rewards the creation of jobs in certain industries. Florida also offers various sales and use tax exemptions for machinery and equipment purchase, electric energy, research and development, and other aspects of doing business in the area.

Job training programs

The Workforce Development Board (WDB), commonly known as Jobs & Education Partnership, is a part of Enterprise Florida. WDB provides policy, planning, and oversight for job training programs funded under the federal Workforce Investment Act, along with vocational training, adult education, employment placement, and other workforce programs administered by a variety of state and local agencies. Regional Workforce Development Boards operate under charters approved by the Workforce Development Board. The 24 regional boards have primary responsibility for direct services through a state-wide network of One-Stop Career systems.

State and local workforce development efforts are concentrated on three broad initiatives. First Jobs/First Wages focuses on preparing workers for entry-level employment including the School-to-Work and WAGES (Work and Gain Self-Sufficiency) programs. High Skill/High Wages targets the higher skills needs of employers and training workers for advancement through such programs as Performance Based Incentive Funding, Occupational Forecasting Conference/Targeted Occupations, Quick Response Training, and Incumbent Worker Training. One-Stop Career Centers are the central elements of the One-Stop system that provide integrated services to employers, workers, and job-seekers.

Development Projects

Under the leadership of Mayor Manuel Diaz, the city of Miami experienced an unprecedented level of development and private investment. New projects valued at about $12.5 billion were planned or under construction in 2004. This influx of capital resulted in a tax base that grew 15 percent during the year, attributing to a $2.3 billion dollar increase in real estate values. Two of the largest projects under development are the Midtown Miami Project, which will result in the Shops at Midtown and the Midtown Miami residential center, and a $1.5 billion commitment by a group of private investors to develop several locations in the city; combined, these two projects will result in 3.5 million square feet of residential, commercial, office, and parking space in Miami. Another significant development is the Wagner Square project, slated to break ground in 2005, which will produce residential and commercial retail units from 2.95 acres of environmentally contaminated city land.

City leaders are determined to develop all areas of the Greater Miami region, not just the downtown area. The $1 billion Midtown Miami residential project will create more than 1,500 jobs in Wynwood, an area that lost 20,000 jobs during the 1990s. Approximately $175 million in private investment will help revitalize Overtown, the poorest neighborhood in Miami. The University of Miami will bolster the region's foothold in biotechnology by constructing a 300,000 square foot Clinical Research Building along with two new wet lab facilities. The Miami International Airport launched a $4.6 billion program to renovate existing facilities and construct new ones.

In addition to attracting new business developments, Miami is focused on improving the existing environment. Mayor Diaz implemented the city's first Capital Improvement Plan, an initiative to rebuild the city's entire infrastructure by reconstructing, resurfacing, and repairing every road, sidewalk, and curb on a 12-year cycle. Operation Difference and a Quality of Life task force strive to make the city safer and cleaner by tackling garbage dumping and housing violations, along with such illegal activities as drug dealing, prostitution, and gambling. The Miami Herald reported that the city's crime rate dropped nine percent during 2004, the 11th consecutive year of decline.

The Clean Up Miami Campaign includes daytime street sweepers and litter and graffiti clean-up teams. The Adopt-a-Waterway program, the first of its kind in the nation, will improve water quality in the Miami River and its tributaries and will complement the city's $80 million dredging project that is expected to pull approximately 500,000 cubic yards of sediment from the river. Miami-Dade County's Adopt-a-Tree program distributes thousands of trees throughout the region. The Miami River Greenways Plan will develop a series of pedestrian and bicycle paths to link parks and neighborhoods on both sides of the river.

Economic Development Information: Miami Department of Economic Development, 444 SW 2nd Ave., 3rd Fl., Miami, FL 33130; telephone (305)416-1435; fax (305)416-2156; email The Beacon Council, 80 SW 8th St., Ste. 2400, Miami, FL 33130; telephone (305)579-1300; fax (305)375-0271; email [email protected]

Commercial Shipping

Miami ranked 22nd among "America's 100 Most Logistics Friendly Metros" by Expansion Management magazine in 2004. The economic and logistical vitality of Miami comes in large measure from Miami International Airport (MIA). Served by more than 100 airlines, MIA is a hub of both domestic and international trade and is the primary commerce link between North and South America. In 2002 the airport transported nearly 1.8 million tons of cargo and more than 30 million passengers. MIA ranks first in the nation for international freight and third for both international cargo and international passengers. Its trade support infrastructure includes more than 300 freight forwarders and customs brokers, as well as a Cargo Clearance Center that provides 24-hour service by inspectors from the U.S. Customs Serice, Department of Agriculture, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Food and Drug Administration.

The Port of Miami, in addition to being the world's largest cruise port, has achieved dominance in international commerce; it ranks first in Florida and ninth nationally in commercial tonnage. In 2002 the port handled 8.7 million tons of cargo and 3.6 million passengers, a 5.9 percent and 7.4 percent increase over the previous year, respectively. The Miami Free Zone's principal function is importing for domestic U.S. consumption. Fifteen minutes from the seaport and five minutes from the airport, the free zone is one of the largest duty-free zones in the United States. Two major railway systems, Amtrak and Tri-Rail, link the city locally and nationally. Interstates 95 and 195 run perpendicular through the Miami region. A network of 5,640 miles of roadway provides delivery and receiving routes for the nearly 100 motor freight lines operating in the area.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

The Miami-Dade County labor force is Florida's largest and most comprehensive, numbering over 1.1 million, of which college students and adult/vocational education students make up 100,000 each. The region's labor advantages include a large and diverse pool of Spanish-speaking and bilingual workers who contribute to Miami's expansion as a headquarters of international operations. The Beacon Council forecasts the largest employment growth sectors for the mid-to late-2000s will be professional and business services, education, health services, and construction.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Miami-Hialeah metropolitan area labor force, 2003 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 1,004,100

Number of workers employed in . . .

manufacturing: 52,400

trade, transportation and utilities: 252,800

information: 28,400

financial activities: 67,300

professional and business services: 146,800

educational and health services: 129,900

leisure and hospitality: 92,100

other services: 42,100

government: 150,900

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $14.09 (2003 statewide average)

Unemployment rate: 5.4% (December 2004)

Largest employersNumber of employees
Miami-Dade County Public Schools54,387
Miami-Dade County32,265
Federal Government20,100
Florida State Government18,900
Jackson Memorial Hospital/Health System11,700
Baptist Health Systems of South Florida10,300
University of Miami9,079
American Airlines9,000
Miami-Dade College7,500
Florida International University5,000
United Parcel Service Inc.5,000

Cost of Living

The Beacon Council reports that Miami's 2003 cost of living, while above the national average, was lower than other major urban areas like New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and Washington DC.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Miami area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $323,449

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 111.5 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: None for personal income; 5.5 percent of net income for corporations

State sales tax rate: 6.0%

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 1.0%

Property tax rate: $26.23895 per $1,000 of assessed property value (2004)

Economic Information: The Beacon Council, 80 SW 8th Street, Suite 2400, Miami, FL 33130; telephone (305)579-1300; fax (305)375-0271; email [email protected]

Miami: Recreation

views updated May 23 2018

Miami: Recreation


Visitors to Miami will find a variety of activities, from an adventure-filled day at a nature park to a nostalgic stroll through a historic district. The city's principal attraction is Miami Seaquarium, south Florida's largest tropical aquarium and home of Flipper, television's star dolphin. At Seaquarium, Flipper, Lolita the Killer Whale, and Salty the Sea Lion appear in three shows daily. Seaquarium also features thousands of other sea creatures in display tanks, as well as tropical gardens and a wildlife sanctuary. Another popular family-oriented wildlife/nature park is Monkey Jungle, where hundreds of monkeys, gorillas, and trained chimpanzees swing freely through a natural rain forest. Chimpanzees perform daily. Similar to Monkey Jungle, Parrot Jungle Island presents more than 1,100 tropical birds that fly free. Featured are trained birds that perform daily in 40-minute shows, riding bicycles, playing poker, roller skating, and demonstrating arithmetic. Located between downtown Miami and South Beach, Parrot Jungle occupies 18.6-acres with an Everglades exhibit, children's area with petting zoo, animal barn, playground and water play areas, baby bird and plant nurseries, picnic pavilions, food court, 500-seat theater, two amphitheaters, jungle trails, and aviaries.

Perhaps the ultimate wildlife experience can be found at Miami MetroZoo, rated the top attraction in Miami in 2004 by Zagat Survey. This cageless zoo is set on approximately 300 acres of natural habitats, where hundreds of species of the world's animals roam on islands separated from visitors by moats. Animal shows are presented daily, and elephant rides, monorail tours, walking tours, the children's petting zoo, PAWS, and an outdoor concert series are also available.

The Miami area maintains some of the nation's most beautiful tropical gardens. Fairchild Tropical Garden, in nearby Coral Gables, is the largest botanical garden in the continental United States. It features paths that wind through a rain forest, sunken gardens, a rare plant house, and 11 lakes displaying a wide variety of tropical vegetation. When the gardens sustained massive damage from Hurricane Andrew in 1992, scientists from around the globe gathered to begin to help restore this world-class botanical paradise. The Richard H. Simons Rainforest is a two-acre exhibit that features a 500-foot gurgling stream, waterfalls, paved paths, and rest areas.

Miami has preserved much of its rich past and embraced its social and ethnic diversity. A 30-block strip called Calle Ocho showcases Miami's Cuban culture in restaurants, nightclubs, sidewalk coffee shops, parks, cigar factories, and boutiques. The Art Deco District in Miami Beach contains more than 800 buildings designed in the Art Deco architecture and pastel colors of the 1930s. Another reminder of the past is Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a 70-room Italian Renaissance-style palace with beautiful formal gardens overlooking Biscayne Bay. Vizcayawhich was built by James Deering, the founder of International Harvesterhouses a collection of fifteenth- to early nineteenth-century European art.

Arts and Culture

The primary venues for concerts and theatrical performances in Miami are the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, the Jackie Gleason Theater of the Performing Arts (called TOPA), and the Miami-Dade County Auditorium. The Gusman Center, an ornate Baroque-style theater, has been transformed from a 1920s movie palace into an elegant stage for the performing arts. Its 40-week season includes classical music concerts by the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra and the New World Symphony (who are housed at the Lincoln Theatre in the Lincoln Road Shopping District). The Jackie Gleason Theater hosts the Miami Beach Symphony Orchestra and other entertainments. The Miami-Dade County Auditorium, featuring Art Deco revival decor, is a performance site for many local and international artists. At the historic Coconut Grove Playhouse, for more than 50 years south Florida's principal regional theater, Broadway and Off-Broadway shows are presented. The Florida Shakespeare Theater performs in a new space in the Historic Biltmore Hotel. The Miami Light Project, which performs artistic works such as musicals, stand-up comedy, and dance, performs in various locations. The Greater Miami Performing Arts Center is scheduled to open its doors in the 2005-2006 season, and will be one of the few facilities in the nation to feature three separate performance halls for ballet, opera, theater, and symphonic music. It will be home to the Concert Association of Florida, Florida Grand Opera, Miami City Ballet, and the New World Symphony.

The Metro-Dade Cultural Center, which consists of the Miami-Dade Public Library, the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, and the Miami Art Museum, is part of a reviving downtown Miami. The Historical Museum traces the 10,000-year history of humans in south Florida through permanent and traveling exhibits. The Miami Art Museum presents a variety of traveling exhibits.

Several Miami-area museums and galleries reflect the city's varied culture. For example, the Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture exhibits works by traditional and contemporary Hispanic artists; documents and memorabilia pertaining to the Cuban culture and history are presented, along with concerts, lectures, and films. Other historical museums include the 1891 Barnacle State Historic Site in Coconut Grove, Coral Gables' restored 1920s Merrick House, and the Holocaust Memorial.

The Bass Museum of Art in the heart of the Art Deco district in Miami Beach houses a permanent collection of Old Masters, sculptures, textiles and period furniture. Newer museums in the region include the Sanford L. Ziff Jewish Museum of Florida, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Wolfsonian. The Wolfsonian boasts a collection of more than 100,000 objects, including ceramics, glass, books, and furniture. Also instrumental in Miami's cultural life is the Art in Public Places program, one of the earliest of its kind, which has installed more than 450 works in the Metro-Dade area.

Arts and Culture Information: Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, 701 Brickell Ave., Ste. 2700, Miami, FL 33131; telephone (305)539-3000; toll-free (800)933-8448

Festivals and Holidays

Miami hosts countless festivals and fair throughout the year. Many reflect the city's rich cultural heritage. The Hispanic Heritage Festival runs throughout October with art, theater, dance, and Latin folklore, and cuisine. In March, the grounds of Vizcaya Palace are transformed into a sixteenth century marketplace of arts, crafts, and performance at the Italian Renaissance Festival. The nation's largest Hispanic festival is Carnival Miami, also held in March, featuring salsa, brilliant costumes, and Cuban delicacies. It culminates in an all-day block party in the heart of Little Havana, the Calle Ocho Festival, which earned the title of the world's largest street party because it spans 23 city blocks. Cowbells, whistles, and washboard bands salute summer's Miami/Bahamas Goombay Festival, which celebrates Bahamian culture.

Art festivals abound. One of the largest and most prestigious is Art Basel Miami Beach. This fair, sister to the world famous Art Basel Switzerland, debuted in December 2002 and is now the most successful art fair in North America. January's annual Art Deco Weekend in South Miami Beach features tours of the historic Art Deco district, site of more than 800 buildings from the 1920s and 1930s, and includes an antique car show, a costume ball, films, and lectures. Other art events include the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, a three-day event held in February, as well as the Miami Beach Festival of the Arts, Art in the Tropics, and the South Miami Art Festival. Film festivals are just as common. The Miami International Film Festival showcases films from the United States, South America, Europe, the near East, and Australia that might not otherwise be seen in this country. Other festivals spotlight Jewish, gay and lesbian, Brazilian, African American, and Italian films.

The Orange Bowl Festival centers around the Orange Bowl football game on New Year's night. This festival, which has been held annually since 1933, includes the King Orange Jamboree and sports tournaments for children and adults. The season of Lent is kicked off with the Greater Miami Mardi Gras celebration. The Miami Wine & Food Festival, ranked as one of the nation's top ten wine events, is held each April. More than 100 rides and 50,000 exhibits are featured at the Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition, an 18-day event held in the spring.

Sports for the Spectator

Miami offers a variety of spectator sports at both the professional and collegiate level. The Miami Dolphins of the National Football League play their home games in Pro Player Stadium, which is also home to the Florida Marlins National League baseball team. The AmericanAirlines Arena houses the professional basketball team the Miami Heat, who play from November through April. The Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League play from October through April at the National Car Rental Center in neighboring Broward County. The excitement of Major League Soccer exists for the city in the form of the Miami Fusion, who play home games at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

The city of Miami is the site of the Orange Bowl Classic and Festival, which features the annual New Year's Day football game between two top-ranked collegiate teams. The University of Miami Hurricanes play their home basketball games in the Orange Bowl, while the Florida International University Golden Panthers play at the Golden Panther Arena.

Other popular spectator sports in the Miami area are horse and auto racing. Hialeah Park holds thoroughbred races year-round; Calder Race Course in Miami also offers thoroughbred racing. One of Miami's major sporting events is the Grand Prix of Miami, an annual, week-long auto race in the European tradition. Held at the Metro-Dade Homestead-Miami Speedway, the event attracts more sports car entries than any other auto racing event in the United States and is televised throughout the world. It also features the season opener of the PPG Indy Car World Series. Jai-alai is played year-round at the Miami Jai-Alai fronton. Those interested in other sports can choose among golf tournaments, greyhound races, horse shows, regattas, soccer matches, and tennis tournaments. Golf enthusiasts enjoy the Royal Caribbean International Golf Classic and the Genuity Golf Championship, while tennis fans gather for the Florida Caribbean Tennis Championships, the NASDAQ-100 Open, and the Ericsson Open.

Sports for the Participant

A complete range of outdoor activities is available year-round in Miami at numerous public and private facilities. Miami-Dade County offers more than 20 public golf courses. Nearly 500 tennis courts for day and evening play are located in many parks and recreation areas throughout Miami and the county; in addition, most hotels have their own tennis facilities.

The extensive public park system in the Miami area was called "one of the most innovative systems in the country" by the National Recreation and Parks Association. Of the more than 300 parks and nature centers, two are national parks: Everglades and Biscayne. Among the recreational activities that can be pursued in Miami's parks are picnicking, canoeing, boating, hiking, camping, fishing, swimming, basketball, softball, handball, racquetball, vita course trails, and 80 miles of Class I bike trails.

Water sports are pursued with great enthusiasm in Miami's ocean and bay. Most local dive shops offer lessons, certification courses, and dive trips for scuba and skin diving. Among the favorite diving spots are Haulover Park and Biscayne National Park. For surfing one can go to Haulover Beach in Sunny Isles and South Pointe in South Miami Beach. A popular place for windsurfing is Hobie Beach in Key Biscayne. Waterskiing schools, jumps, towing services, and ski boat rentals can be found along beaches and causeways throughout the Miami area. Many beach hotels also offer water sports equipment rental.

Fishing is another favorite pastime. A fresh water fishing license, obtainable at bait and tackle stores, is required for anyone between the ages of 15 and 65 years. The Florida Game and Fresh Water Commission publishes guides to fishing regions. In the Miami area the popular spots are Tamiami Canal, from west Miami along U.S. 41, which is noted for pan fish and bass; and Thompson Park fishing camp, a 29-acre campground near Hialeah, with three fishing lakes available only to campers. No license is required for salt water fishing, but minimum size and bag limits apply. Fishing piers are located at Haulover Park, Baker's Haulover Cut, and South Pointe. Full-service charter boats and party boats for deep sea fishing are available at area marinas. Annual events include the Mayor's Cup Billfish and Miami Billfish tournaments.

Shopping and Dining

In keeping with its international image, Miami offers a cosmopolitan shopping experience. Every kind of shopping facility is available in the area, from indoor and outdoor malls to elegant specialty boutiques. Virtually all famous high-end retailers and designers, including Chanel, Versace, Saks Fifth Avenue, Cartier, and Bloomingdale's, have a presence in the area.

Aventura Mall, located in the northern portion of Miami-Dade County, is the largest super-regional mall in south Florida. It contains 250 upscale shops and restaurants, as well as a 24-screen movie theater. The Village at Merrick Park, which opened in 2002, features 115 stores and restaurants in a natural environment complete with landscaped fountains, tropical foliage, and serene gardens. At the Downtown Miami Shopping District are more than 1,000 retail businesses, including the country's second-largest jewelry district. In Little Havana ethnic shops offer a variety of exotic items, from Cuban coffee and rum-soaked pastries to mantillas and furniture. The Falls, located on the southern edge of the city and anchored by Bloomingdale's and Macy's, sets its more than 100 shops among covered walkways, footbridges, and waterfalls. In Coconut Grove, CocoWalk shopping district resembles a European village. Bal Harbor Shops are in Miami Beach in an area called the Rodeo Drive of the South because of their exclusive stores and designer boutiques. Lincoln Road Shopping District, located in the Art Deco District of Miami Beach, was the first pedestrian-only shopping street in the United States. In trendy South Miami, The Shops at Sunset Place, an entertainment-shopping complex, has waterfalls, fountains, a grand staircase, and 35-foot Banyan trees.

Dadeland Mall features more than 185 specialty stores. Biscayne Bay's open-air Bayside Marketplace, on 20 acres of waterfront property at the north end of Bayside Park, has more than 100 shops that offer merchandise not ordinarily found in regional shopping areas. Just west of Miami Beach is the Miami Design District, comprised of 18 blocks of interior design showrooms and home furnishings and furniture stores that are open to the public.

With its expanding role in international trade, cuisine from every culture as well as local specialties can be found in a wide variety of dining establishments in Miami. Enhancing the ethnic diversity of Miami's dining possibilities are the more than 30 restaurants, supper clubs, and cafeterias in Little Havana.

Visitor Information: Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, 701 Brickell Ave., Ste. 2700, Miami, FL 33131; telephone (305)539-3000; toll-free (800)933-8448


views updated May 18 2018


MIAMI, founded in 1896, anchors a sprawling, four-county, South Florida metropolis of over 5 million people. The city has evolved through a series of quick character changes, including raw tropical frontier, vast real estate speculation, tourist playground for the rich and famous, retirement destination for the middle class, safe haven for Caribbean and Latin American exiles and refugees, and multicultural boiling pot. Few American cities have experienced such dramatic change so quickly. Few places captured the American imagination so completely and so consistently over the course of the twentieth century.

South Florida's forbidding distances and water-logged environment prevented the region from moving beyond the frontier stage until the early twentieth century. The railroad and hotel baron Henry Flagler made Miami the destination of his Florida East Coast Railway in 1896. In succeeding decades Flagler became the city's chief builder and promoter. Emphasizing Miami's seashore location and subtropical amenities, Flagler successfully cultivated the image of a "Magic City" in the Florida sunshine. With in two decades other fabulous promoters were grabbing national attention for their own Miami-area speculations. Carl Fischer created Miami Beach, George Merrick built suburban Coral Gables on city beautiful principles, and dozens of smaller real estate speculators subdivided Miami and nearby communities. Even before the great Florida boom of the mid-1920s, tourists flocked to Miami and Miami Beach, some 150,000 a year by 1920.

The collapse of the Florida real estate boom in the late 1920s and the coming of the Great Depression in the 1930s only temporarily slowed Miami's growth. The glamorous vacation and resort image of Miami and Miami Beach kept the tropical twin cities in the national spotlight. Between 1920 and 1940 the Miami area grew in permanent population from 43,000 to 268,000, an increase of over 520 percent that placed Miami among the nation's fastest-growing metropolitan areas.

Metropolitan Miami's population growth slowed after 1940 but not by much, rising to 495,000 in 1950 and to 935,000 in 1960, a growth rate of 250 percent over two decades. Miami's upward growth spiral during the mid-century decades was sustained by powerful new forces for change. As in the rest of the emerging Sun Belt, the impact of World War II was far-reaching. The federal government established numerous military bases and training facilities in the Miami area. Defense spending and military payrolls provided a major boost to the local economy, attracted large numbers of civilian workers, and facilitated economic diversification. After the war thousands of service people who had trained in Miami returned to live out their Florida dreams.

New technologies also brought growth and change to Miami. Rail transportation supported South Florida's tourist economy until the 1930s, when automobiles and then commercial air travel increasingly filled that role. The newly developed DC-3 airliner, introduced in 1935, set Miami on a new course as one of the nation's aviation centers and a major gateway to Latin American cities. By the 1980s Miami had one of the busiest airports in the world, and the aviation industry (airport, airlines, suppliers) had become the city's largest employer.

Other powerful forces for change emerged by the 1950s. The introduction of home air conditioning in 1955 revolutionized Miami home construction and made year round living in South Florida appealing to larger numbers of people. Postwar demographic changes also altered Miami's population base considerably. Before the war Miami's population consisted primarily of southern whites and blacks as well as a large contingent of immigrant blacks from the Bahamas. After the war internal migration of Jews, Italians, and social-security retirees from the Northeast and Midwest brought new levels of ethnic diversity to the city. The Miami area's Jewish population rose from about 8,000 in 1940 to about 140,000 in 1960, a dramatic migration that rippled through Miami's politics and culture. Jews concentrated in Miami Beach, facing anti-Semitism but eventually coming to dominate that city's political structure. Liberal northern Jews, unaccustomed to racial segregation, worked with black activists in voter registration campaigns and lunch-counter sit-ins to achieve major civil rights breakthroughs by 1960. Miami's demographic transformation also underlay major governmental reforms, such as the introduction of a powerful county wide metropolitan government in 1957.

The decade of the 1960s brought still further change to Miami. The Cuban Revolution of 1959 toppled an unpopular dictatorship, but it also unleashed the first of many successive migration waves of Cuban exiles to South Florida. Over the next forty years, arriving by airlift, boat-lift, and make-shift rafts, almost 1 million Cubans found a new home in the Miami area. The subsequent arrival of hundreds of thousands of Haitians, Nicaraguans, Colombians, and others from Latin America and the Caribbean quickly altered the city's ethnic composition. As the Latin population grew, the practice of exile politics resulted in Hispanic domination of Miami and Miami-Dade County. After 1972 Hispanic mayors predominated in Miami. Unsettled by the new immigration and its consequences, non-Hispanic whites began an exodus of their own from the Miami area by the 1980s. Most migrating northerners began to choose other Florida retirement destinations. However, international trade and finance boomed along with the local real estate market, as Miamians took advantage of the city's new Latin ambiance. By the 1980s Latin American and European tourists in Miami and Miami Beach outnumbered American vacationers.

Miami's new ethnic and racial diversity led to turmoil and conflict. Black Miamians suffered from job competition with Cuban arrivals in the 1960s and resented the special treatment and financial support the newcomers received from the federal government. Haitians complained about a double standard in American immigration policy that favored the mostly white exiles from communist Cuba but excluded black immigrants from Haiti. Four major race riots in Miami between 1980 and 1992 reflected these underlying tensions. The polarizing debate over Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy rescued from an overturned raft in 1999 and reunited with his father in

Cuba in 2000, unleashed new tensions. Urban problems, such as high crime rates, a flourishing illegal drug trade, attacks on tourists, political corruption, and damage to an environmentally sensitive ecosystem, contributed to Miami's newest image as a lost paradise.

The 2000 census demonstrated the powerful impact of forty years of immigration on Miami and confirmed widely held perceptions of its boiling-pot cultural mix. Hispanics comprised 66 percent of the city of Miami's population of 362,470. Metro Miami's population of 2.2 million included 1.3 people of Hispanic background, or 57 percent of the total. About 650,000 of the Hispanics are of Cuban descent. Almost 60 percent of metro Miami residents speak Spanish at home, another testament to the power of Latin immigration. Transformed by twentieth century technologies and shaped by economic and demographic changes, Miami nevertheless retains its tropical allure and cultural vitality.


Dunn, Marvin. Black Miami in the Twentieth Century. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1997.

García, María Cristina. Havana USA: Cuban Exiles and Cuban Americans in South Florida, 1959–1994. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

Grenier, Guillermo J., and Alex Stepick III, eds. Miami Now! Immigration, Ethnicity, and Social Change. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1992.

Mohl, Raymond A. "Miami: The Ethnic Cauldron." In Sunbelt Cities: Politics and Growth since World War II. Edited by Richard M. Bernard and Bradley R. Rice. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1983.

Portes, Alejandro, and Alex Stepick. City on the Edge: The Transformation of Miami. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

Raymond A.Mohl

See alsoCuban Americans ; Resorts and Spas ; Sun Belt .

Miami: History

views updated May 23 2018

Miami: History

Early Settlement Attempts Create Conflict

South Florida was settled more than four thousand years ago by primitive people who had established a thriving culture by the time Spanish explorers led by Ponce de Leon arrived in 1513. The principal native tribe in the region that is now Miami-Dade County was the Calusa (renamed Tequesta by de Leon), whose members built villages along the Miami River. The name Miami comes from the Calusa word "Mayami," meaning "Big Water." Tequestaor Chequeschatheir village on the north bank of the river, became the site of the future city of Miami.

Spanish conquistadors, attracted by the mild climate, abundant food sources, and fresh water supplyand by tales of gold and other richesmade repeated attempts to colonize the Miami region during the early sixteenth century but were met with hostility from the Calusas. Nevertheless, by the early 1700s, less than two hundred years after the arrival of the Spanish, most of the native population of south Florida had disappeared. European diseases like smallpox had severely reduced their numbers, as did inter-tribal wars. The few Calusas who remained were threatened by invading Creek and Seminole Indians, and in 1711 many fled to Havana, Cuba.

Spain, never really successful in settling the Miami region, supported France against the British during the French and Indian War, and as a result lost Florida to the victorious British in 1763. In 1783, after the American Revolution, Florida briefly reverted to Spanish possession, but in 1821 Spain ceded Florida to the United States for $5 million. Over the next two decades, settlers moving into the Biscayne Bay area encountered conflict with the Seminoles living there. In 1836, as part of an effort to quell the angry Seminoles, the U.S. Army took over Fort Dallasoriginally a naval post at the mouth of the Miami River. In 1842, after numerous skirmishes, the remaining Seminoles were driven into the Everglades swamp, a region so unfit for human habitation that the government did not challenge their occupation of it. Seven years later a permanent structure was built at Fort Dallas from which the army could monitor the Seminoles.

While other outposts in Florida flourished after the final Seminole conflict, Miami and Dade County suffered. Farming had become impossible and settlers drifted to other locales. By 1860 the name Miami no longer appeared in public records. The Civil War barely touched the few people who lived in the isolated Miami River settlement; in fact, it was assumed by those in prosperous north Florida towns that the southern region was uninhabited. Although stragglers, deserters, and freed slaves passed through Miami after the war, few settled there.

The City Becomes a Cosmopolitan Mecca

In the 1870s investors and developers from the midwest moved into the area, claiming old titles and buying land. Among them was Julia Tuttle, the wealthy widow of a Cleveland businessman, who enjoyed life in Miami and saw potential for a resort community there. She persuaded Henry Flagler to extend his Florida East Coast Railroad into the wilderness beyond Palm Beach. On April 15, 1896, Flagler brought his railroad into Miami and also began to develop the town, which was incorporated in 1896. Other entrepreneurs followed, and Miami grew from a village with a population of 343 people to a flourishing resort. Miami Beach was founded in 1915.

After World War I, improved highways gave greater access from the north and triggered an unprecedented building boom. In 1920 the city's population was 30,000 people; by 1925 real estate speculation swelled the population to 200,000 people. A year later the boom had collapsed, but it had laid the basis for future development in office buildings, hotels, housing, and a network of streets and roads. A hurricane in 1926 killed 243 people and caused damage estimated at $1.4 billion in 1990 dollars. Miami's phenomenal growth slowed.

World War II brought a second boom to Miami. Soldiers replaced tourists, and after the war servicemen who had trained in the city returned to make their homes there. This second boom has continued without significant interruption to the present. It was given impetus in the 1960s with the migration of more than 178,000 refugees from Communist Cuba. The Cuban migration transformed Miami into an international city, strengthening existing ties with the Caribbean and South America. Today the city is bilingual; Spanish-speaking employees work at most businesses, and downtown shops post signs in both English and Spanish. Still, racial tensions persisted. For example, an incident of alleged police brutality toward an African American caused major rioting in 1980. And African Americans staged a tourism boycott resulting from the snubbing by county commissioners of former South African President Nelson Mandela during his visit to Miami in 1990.

End of Century Sees Political Turmoil, Reform Efforts

Capitalizing on its multinational character, Miami moved during the 1980s and 1990s into the forefront of world commerce and finance. Hundreds of thousands of European visitors discovered Miami Beach, popularizing the Art Deco hotels and adding to the city's cosmopolitan flair. But in the wake of racial and ethnic tensions, some highly publicized murders of foreign tourists, and Hurricane Andrew in 1992, at least 100,000 non-Hispanic whites fled the Greater Miami area between 1990 and 1996, leaving a city that was the only large U.S. city with a Hispanic majority.

The city struggled in the late twentieth century to balance the needs of its mostly poor citizens with the need for business development. In spite of its glamorous image, Miami was the nation's fourth poorest city. In 1997, faced with a $68 million budget shortfall, Miami became the first city in Florida to have an oversight board appointed by the state. City voters rejected a plan to dissolve Miami as separate entity and merge it with the county, though county voters approved to change the name of Dade County to Miami-Dade County. This name change did little to help Miami, whose problems had become more than financial. The 2000 incident involving Elian Gonzalez, a five-year-old Cuban boy who survived a shipwreck to arrive in the United States only to be returned to Cuba by the U.S. government, deepened ethnic tensions between Miami's Cuban and non-Cuban population. By the turn of the century, corruption in the city government and a number of controversial police shootings brought about scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Justice.

A Radical with a Business Vision

Desperate for a positive change, disenchanted voters shook up Miami's government by electing Manuel A. Diaz as mayor in 2001. Diaz, a lawyer who had never held elected office, immediately and radically restructured the government. Modeling it on a private-sector organization, he eliminated some departments and consolidated others, and incorporated a vertical structure consisting of such positions as a Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer. Business processes were rewritten at each employee and government level, and a new emphasis was placed on accountability, training, and timely service to citizens. A number of programs were developed and implemented to boost the local economy and improve the quality of life for Miami's residents and visitors. By 2004, only three years after the city was nearly bankrupt and its bonds were junk grade, Wall Street gave its bonds an A+ rating, the highest in Miami's history. Diaz's remarkable results in such a short time earned him the Urban Innovator of the Year Award by the Manhattan Institute.

Historical Information: Historical Museum of Southern Florida, 101 W. Flagler St., Miami, FL 33130; telephone (305)375-1492; email [email protected]

Miami: Education and Research

views updated Jun 11 2018

Miami: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

Like all public schools in the state of Florida, the public elementary and secondary schools of Miami are part of a county-wide district. The Miami-Dade County district, fourth largest in the United States, is administered by a partisan nine-member elected school board that appoints a superintendent.

The district operates the largest magnet school system in the nation, offering 77 specialized fields of study in such areas as mathematics, science, and technology; gifted; international education; Montessori; visual and performing arts; communications and humanities; and careers and professions. Additionally, 25 charter schools are under contract with the school district. In 20022003, more than 117,000 children were enrolled in the kindergarten through the twelfth grade at 286 schools and centers.

The following is a summary of data regarding Miami's public schools as of the 20022003 school year.

Total enrollment: 371,482

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 206

junior high/middle schools: 53

senior high schools: 36

other: 45

Student/teacher ratio: 19:1

Teacher salaries

average: $45,905

Funding per pupil: $5,858 (20012002 operating and special revenue funds)

Miami-Dade County has more than 400 private schools enrolling approximately 50,000 students.

Public Schools Information: Miami-Dade County Public Schools, 1450 N.E. Second Avenue, Miami, FL 33132; telephone (305)995-1000

Colleges and Universities

The Miami area has dozens of institutions of higher learning, including five vocational/technical schools. Florida International University, which enrolls more than 31,000 students, is the state's largest public university. The University of Miami is a private university noted for its business school. Miami-Dade Community College, with nearly 47,000 students, is recognized as one of the best in the nation. Barry University and St. Thomas University are both affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church; Florida Memorial College is affiliated with American Baptist Churches in the USA; and Trinity International University is affiliated with the Evangelical Free Church of America. International Fine Arts College offers Associate, Bachelor's, and Master's degrees.

Libraries and Research Centers

In addition to its main branch in downtown Miami, the Miami-Dade Public Library System operates 34 branches and four regional libraries, with a regional library on Miami Beach and a branch in Sunny Isles Beach scheduled to open in 2005. Its collection numbers more than 3.8 million volumes; 1 million volumes can be found at the Main Library in the downtown Metro-Dade Cultural Center, where the largest collection of books and documents in the Southeast are housed. The library also holds numerous newspapers, magazines, films, records, tapes, sheet music, and photographs. The Main Library serves as a resource center for the system and provides information via eight subject departments: art, business, Florida, languages, music, science, urban affairs, and genealogy. Special collections are held in the Florida Room, the Foundations Center Regional Collection, and the U.S. and State Documents department; special interests include Florida and foreign languages, particularly Spanish. The library sponsors a wide array of educational and culturally enriching programs and exhibitions attended by more than 500,000 patrons annually. In 2002 the library system returned bookmobile service to outlying suburban neighborhoods.

Miami is home to more than 40 special libraries, including the University of Miami, which houses more than two million volumes. The library at the Wolfsonian Museum features a collection of about 36,000 books and other materials focusing on industrial arts, design, and architecture. The Wolfsonian's research and study center traces the interconnections of European culture with other cultures. Numerous other research centers are affiliated with academic institutions, conducting research activities in such fields as medicine, energy, marine science, economics, Latin America and the Caribbean, the environment, and aging.

Public Library Information: Miami-Dade Public Library System, 101 W. Flagler St., Miami, FL 33130-1523; telephone (305)375-5026; email [email protected]

Miami: Communications

views updated May 18 2018

Miami: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

Miami's major daily newspaper, the morning The Miami Herald is supplemented by two Spanish-language dailies, El Nuevo Patria and Diario Las Americas, a Spanish-language weekly, El Nuevo Herald (Sunday), and the Daily Business Review. The Miami Times is an African American community newspaper. Miami Today is a weekly newspaper aimed at upper management. New Times of Miami is an alternative news and arts weekly. Among the more than 50 newspapers and magazines published in Miami are the Spanish-language version of Harper's Bazaar, Hombre Internacional, and TV y Novelas, which covers the lifestyles of Spanish-language soap opera stars.

Television and Radio

Television stations broadcasting from Miami include seven network-affiliated stations, two public broadcasting stations, one independent, and one commercial station. Cable television service is also available throughout Miami-Dade County. Seventeen AM and FM radio stations broadcasting from Miami present programming ranging from popular, easy listening, country, rock and roll, jazz, and classical music to news, sports, religious and educational programs, and talk shows; several stations serve the special interests of African Americans and Spanish-language listeners.

Media Information: The Miami Herald, Knight-Ridder Inc., 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132-1693; telephone (305)350-2111

Miami Online

The Beacon Council. Available

City of Miami home page. Available

Diario las Americas. Available

El Nuevo Herald. Available

Enterprise Florida. Available

Historical Museum of Southern Florida. Available

Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. Available

Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. Available

Jackson Memorial Hospital/Jackson Health System. Available

The Miami Herald. Available

Miami-Dade County home page. Available

Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Available www.dade

Miami-Dade Public Library System. Available

Miami Department of Economic Development. Available

Selected Bibliography

Beebe, Morton, Miami: The Sophisticated Tropics (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1991)

Miller, Mark, Miami and the Keys (Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 1999)

Muir, Helen, Miami, U.S.A. (Miami: Pickering Press, 1990)

Parks, Arva Moore, and Carolyn Klepser, Miami Then & Now (Berkeley, CA: Thunder Bay Press, 2003)

Portes, Alejandro, and Alex Stepick, City on the Edge: The Transformation of Miami (Berkeley: University of California Press, c1993)

Miami: Transportation

views updated May 29 2018

Miami: Transportation

Approaching the City

The visitor arriving in Miami by plane will stop at the Miami International Airport (MIA), an ultramodern facility only seven miles from downtown and served by more than 100 airlines. MIA is the one of the busiest in the world, and has the third highest international passenger traffic in the country. The Metropolitan Miami-Dade County Aviation Department, which is overseeing a $4.6 billion expansion of the airport, also maintains five general aviation facilities that handle corporate aircraft flights. The Port of Miami is the world's busiest cruise port, serving more than 3.6 million passengers annually. Amtrak provides passenger rail service into and out of the city. Tri-Rail links downtown Miami to three counties and to Miami International Airport via a 65-mile train system.

The major north-south expressways into Miami are Interstate 95, the Palmetto Expressway (also called State Road 826), and the Florida Turnpike. Main east-west routes are Interstate 195, the Dolphin Expressway (State Road 836), the Airport Expressway (State Road 112), the Tamiami Trail (U.S. 4, which is also Southwest Eighth Street), and the Miami Beach Causeways (MacArthur, Venetian, Julia Tuttle, and Seventy-ninth Street). Other east-west thoroughfares are the Bal Harbor (Broad Street), Sunny Isles (State Road 826) and William Lehman Causeways.

Traveling in the City

Miami is laid out in a grid pattern organized around a downtown intersection of Miami Avenue (east-west) and Flagler Street (north-south), which divides the city into four quadrants. For ease in getting around, visitors have only to remember that "streets," "lanes," and "terraces" run east and west, while "avenues," "courts," and "places" run north and south.

Miami's Metrorail-Metrobus system is operated by the MetroDade Transportation Administration. A tourist attraction in its own right, Metrorail carries passengers in air conditioned, stainless steel trains on an elevated railway over a 21.5-mile route from south of the city to north Miami-Dade. It provides connections to all major areas of the city. With the completion of the downtown Metromover, Miami-Dade County became the first community in the world to have a people mover connected to a rail system. The Metromover is a free service that is made up of individual motorized cars running atop a 4.4-mile elevated track, looping around the downtown and connecting to the Metrorail. Interconnecting with the Metrorail and the Metromover is the fleet of buses known as Metrobus, which runs almost 24 hours a day.

Bus, boat, and even helicopter tours are a relaxing way to see Miami and its environs. Comprehensive tour service is provided by numerous tour companies that feature half- and full-day bus or trolley excursions in and around Miami. For those who would like to experience the full effect of the city's skyline, several cruise lines in Miami Beach offer luncheon and moonlight boat excursions.