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Miami, Florida

Florida: Empire of the Sun


Miami—Approached by one of the most beautiful boulevards in the world, running four miles along the many-tinted bay, Miami, called the Magic City, has an unreal and magical appearance. Above the four parked driveways along the bay front, lined with Royal Palms and ornamental lights, rises the skyline of the business section, with the towering Dade County Court House shining silver-white in the background. In 1896, there were but two families in Miami; today, Miami is the second largest city in the state, playing the role of winter hostess to hundreds of thousands of seasonal visitors.

Miami offers a fitting climax to the tropical pageant of the East Coast. The metropolitan business district overlooks the causeways and palm-fringed islands of beautiful Biscayne Bay to Miami Beach, one of the great winter playgrounds of the nation. To the west lies Coral Gables, a city planned to perfection, while just north and west is Hialeah, a nationally known sporting center. Here is also located the greatest international airport in the United States. These cities, with exclusive Coconut Grove on the south, comprise what is known as the Greater Miami area.

Young as this beautiful metropolis of the tropics is, its historic site has been occupied for more than four hundred years. The great Indian town of Tegesta stood here when Menendez stopped in 1567 to leave twenty-four soldiers and two priests as a coast guard and mission station. The only name which then foretold Miami was the name of Mayami, meaning "vast", which was given to Lake Okeechobee by the earliest Indians. These Indians did not submit to Spanish control, but the Seminoles, who supplanted them, were so thoroughly converted by the mission priests of Our Lady of the Grotto, which stood at Coconut Grove, that they were known as Spanish Indians, many of whom went to Cuba when the United States acquired Florida in 1821. Fort Dallas, now preserved as a memorial on the Miami River, was built in 1837 on a great cotton plantation beside the bay and developed into a trading post for a remnant of the Indians after the Seminole Wars ended. But modern Miami began when Flagler, after the freeze of 1895, extended his East Coast railroad here and erected another of his great hotels.

The most remarkable period of Miami's growth occurred after the World War, when it became the focal point of Florida real estate activities and for the two years of 1925 and 1926 strained every resource to house the overflowing throngs pouring in from the North. Following this period the continued occupation of the many splendid apartments and hotels proved that tourist travel was increasing steadily every year. Today, Miami's surplus of transient guest accommodations is fully utilized each season.

Each hour in the day at Miami may be filled with entertainment if the tourist desires. There are swimming pools, tennis courts, golf links, polo fields, horse races, bowling greens, boating with a speed motor or by sail, air trips from several aviation fields and incomparable drives past miles of palatial homes. Scores of Miami hotels have a reputation all over the world for their perfect appointments, and for the sea food and tropical fruits on their tables. From nearby comes the Florida lobster, a crayfish of more tender meat and more succulent flavor than ordinary lobster.

Excerpt from "Florida: Empire of the Sun" Published by the Florida State Hotel Commission, Tallahassee, Florida. 1930.


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