Hialeah, FL History
Hialeah, FL is the sixth-largest city in Florida with almost a quarter of a million residents. It is a principal city of the Miami-metropolitan area, yet it has its own street grid system that is entirely independent of Miami’s. This important city has a fascinating history has shaped it into the incredible city that it is today.
Hialeah’s name was either derived from a Seminole word or from Muskogee which was the language of the Creek. The Seminole translation of the city means “high prairie”. Whereas the Muskogee word of origin is haiyakpo meaning “prairie” and hili meaning “pretty”.
Either interpretation draws attention to the area’s prairie-like appearance sitting between Biscayne Bay and the Everglades. This prime location attracted its first major developers in the early 1920’s.
The Roaring 20’s
In 1921 a cattleman by the name of James H. Bright and an aviator by the name of Glenn Curtiss began developing the area that would one day be known as the city of Hialeah. These men also developed the area’s main attraction: the Hialeah Park Race Track. It began as a greyhound racing facility, but developed into one of the grandest horse racing tracks in the world attracting celebrities from across the globe.
After facing many hardships including hurricanes and law changes the park closed in 2001. However, it has since reopened as a casino and quarter-horse racing facility.
From Elite Wonderland to Working-Class Watering Hole
The Hialeah Park Race Track in addition to the film industry made the city a place for the rich and famous to have their fun. When the racetrack was in its heyday it saw visitors as prominent as Winston Churchill and members of the Kennedy family.
However, as refugees from Fidel Castro’s authoritarian regime began to flood into the area along with World War II veterans, the town was transformed into a hub of working-class activity. This influx of Cuban immigration has lead the city to have the highest percentage of Cubans and people of Cuban descent of any city in the entire United States at over 75%.
Hialeah, FL Today
The population of Hialeah today is nearly 150 times that of 1925. This is because the city has experienced a growth rate that was higher than the ten largest cities in Florida for the past fifty years. This city is also known as the only industrial city that continues to grow as most others have stagnated or declined because of the nation’s trend toward service jobs instead of manufacturing occupations.
Spanish is a huge part of the city’s culture as it is reported that over 96% of the city’s inhabitants speak Spanish at home. This attribute of the city has attracted many companies and investors to it such as Telemundo which is the second-largest Spanish-speaking television network in the United States.
This is a city that is deeply rooted in its culture and has a proud past in which it has overcome severe adversity in the form of natural disasters as well as economic hardship.
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