A Brief History of Miami, FL
Miami, FL is a bustling and vibrant city that is filled to the brim with history and culture. Located on the southern tip of Florida along the Atlantic Ocean, this city is actually the southernmost major metropolitan city within the mainland states of the United States, discounting Hawaii. This city is a major hub for art, culture, finance, media, and more.
Indigenous Peoples and First Colonization in Miami, FL
Like all the land under the sun in the United States of America, Miami was first occupied by Native Americans. The tribe that was dominant in this area was known as the Tequesta. The Tequesta people lived in this area and around the southeast area of Florida since approximately the 3rd century B.C. They first came into major contact with Europeans in the 16th century.
The Spanish were the ones to claim this area of the New World first. Pedro Menédez de Avilés, who was a Spanish admiral from Asturias, Spain, came to Florida with his fleet in the 1560s. He is most famous for founding the city of St. Augustine, but in 1566 he also pronounced the area of Miami under Spanish rule.
Miami's Role in the Seminole Wars
The United States has a long and bloody history of conflict with the indigenous populations. One of those series of wars is the Seminole Wars, which consisted of three major conflicts that collectively took place in the time span of 41 years, from approximately 1817-1858. The city of Miami played a large role in the Second Seminole War from 1835-1842.
The Second Seminole War arose from issues with the 1832 Treaty of Payne’s Landing. Essentially, the conflict sparked because the U.S. was attempting to force the Seminole population out of Florida entirely, but they refused to go.
This led to the Seminole tribe employing guerilla warfare tactics to defend their territory and remain in Florida. Miami, FL is significant in the Second Seminole War because it was a major site of fighting.
20th Century Issues, Growth, and Culture
During the 20th century, Miami and its history saw a dynamic range of conflict as well as positive growth. The city saw a large influx of immigrants, especially from the Bahamas, as well as a large African American population. But the KKK and Jim Crow were both active elements in the city, which saw a lot of violence and racism during this time as well.
The 20th century also saw a huge influx of northerners to the city. Throughout the 1920s, the city expanded in infrastructure and population.
During WWII, the war also created an increase in the city’s population. Because of Miami’s good location, the city served as US base for defense against German submarines. A little after the war, the city saw an influx of Cuban residents seeking refuge after Fidel Castro came to power in 1959. Since then, Cuban immigrants continue to be a significant portion of Miami’s immigrants.
Seventy percent of the city’s population is Hispanic and over thirty percent is Cuban. This Hispanic and especially Cuban presence is visible culturally in Miami in everything from food, to music, to language.
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