The Miami area was first inhabited for more than one thousand years by the Tequestas, but was later claimed for Spain in 1566 by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. A Spanish mission was constructed one year later in 1567. In 1836, Fort Dallas was built, and the Miami area subsequently became a site of fighting during the Second Seminole War.
Miami holds the distinction of being the only major city in the United States founded by a woman, Julia Tuttle, who was a local citrus grower and a wealthy Cleveland native. The Miami area was better known as "Biscayne Bay Country" in the early years of its growth. Some published reports described the area as a promising wilderness. The area was also characterized as "one of the finest building sites in Florida." The Great Freeze of 1894-1895 hastened Miami's growth, as the crops of the Miami area were the only ones in Florida that survived. Julia Tuttle subsequently convinced Henry Flagler, a railroad tycoon, to expand his Florida East Coast Railroad to the region. Miami was officially incorporated as a city on July 28, 1896 with a population of just over 300.
Miami prospered during the 1920s with an increase in population and infrastructure but weakened after the collapse of the Florida land boom of the 1920s, the 1926 Miami Hurricane and the Great Depression in the 1930s. When World War II began, Miami, well-situated due to its location on the southern coast of Florida, played an important role in the battle against German submarines. The war helped to expand Miami's population; by 1940, 172,172 people lived in the city. After Fidel Castro rose to power in 1959, many Cubans sought refuge in Miami, further increasing the population. In the 1980s and 1990s, various crises struck South Florida, among them the Arthur McDuffie beating and the subsequent riot, drug wars, Hurricane Andrew, and the Elián González uproar. Nevertheless, in the latter half of the 20th century, Miami became a major international, financial, and cultural center.
Miami and its metropolitan area grew from just over one thousand residents to nearly five and a half million residents in just 110 years (1896-2006). The city's nickname, The Magic City, comes from this rapid growth. Winter visitors remarked that the city grew so much from one year to the next that it was like magic.
The surface bedrock under the Miami area is called Miami oolite or Miami limestone. This bedrock is covered by a thin layer of soil, and is no more than 50 feet (15 m) thick. Miami limestone formed as the result of the drastic changes in sea level associated with recent glaciations or ice ages. Beginning some 130,000 years ago the Sangamonian Stage raised sea levels to approximately 25 feet (7.6 m) above the current level. All of southern Florida was covered by a shallow sea. Several parallel lines of reef formed along the edge of the submerged Florida plateau, stretching from the present Miami area to what is now the Dry Tortugas. The area behind this reef line was in effect a large lagoon, and the Miami limestone formed throughout the area from the deposition of oolites and the shells of bryozoans. Starting about 100,000 years ago the Wisconsin glaciation began lowering sea levels, exposing the floor of the lagoon. By 15,000 years ago, the sea level had dropped to 300 to 350 feet (110 m) below the contemporary level. The sea level rose quickly after that, stabilizing at the current level about 4000 years ago, leaving the mainland of South Florida just above sea level.
Beneath the plain lies the Biscayne Aquifer, a natural underground source of fresh water that extends from southern Palm Beach County to Florida Bay, with its highest point peaking around the cities of Miami Springs and Hialeah. Most of the South Florida metropolitan area obtains its drinking water from this aquifer. As a result of the aquifer, it is not possible to dig more than 15 to 20 ft (4.6 to 6.1 m) beneath the city without hitting water, which impedes underground construction. For this reason, the mass transit systems in and around Miami are elevated or at-grade.
Most of the western fringes of the city extend into the Everglades, a subtropical marshland located in the southern portion of the U.S. state of Florida. This causes occasional problems with local wildlife such as alligators venturing into Miami communities and major highways.
In terms of land area, Miami is one of the smallest major cities in the United States. According to the US Census Bureau, the city encompasses a total area of 55.27 sq mi (143.1 km2). Of that area, 35.67 sq mi (92.4 km2) is land and 19.59 sq mi (50.7 km2) is water. That means Miami comprises over 400,000 people in a mere 35 square miles (91 km2), making it one of the most densely populated cities in the United States, along with New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago among others. Miami is located at 25°47′16″N 80°13′27″W? / ?25.78778°N 80.22417°W? / 25.78778; -80.22417.
Miami has a true tropical climate, specifically the Tropical monsoon climate (Köppen climate classification Am) with hot & humid summers and warm winters, with a marked dry season in the winter. The city does experience cold fronts from late October through March. However, the average monthly temperature for any month has never been recorded as being under 64.4 °F (January averages 67 °F). Most of the year is warm and humid, and the summers are almost identical to the climate of the Caribbean tropics. The wet season lasts from May to October, when it gives way to the dry season, which features mild temperatures with some invasions of cool air, which is when the little winter rainfall occurs — with the passing of a front. The hurricane season largely coincides with the wet season.
In addition to its sea-level elevation, coastal location and position just above the Tropic of Cancer, the area owes its warm, humid climate to the Gulf Stream, which moderates climate year-round. A typical summer day does not have temperatures below 75 °F (24 °C). Temperatures in the high 80s to low 90s (30-35 °C) accompanied by high humidity are often relieved by afternoon thunderstorms or a sea breeze that develops off the Atlantic Ocean, which then allow lower temperatures, although conditions still remain very muggy. During winter, humidity is significantly lower, allowing for cooler weather to develop. Average minimum temperatures during that time are around 60 °F (16 °C), rarely dipping below 40 °F (4 °C), and the equivalent maxima usually range between 70 and 77 °F (21 and 25 °C).
Miami has never recorded a triple-digit temperature; the highest temperature recorded was 98 °F (37 °C). The coldest temperature ever recorded in the city of Miami was 30 °F (−1 °C) on several occasions. Miami has never recorded an accumulation of snow, and has only once recorded snow flurries, on January 20, 1977. Weather conditions for the area around Miami were recorded sporadically from 1839 until 1900, with many years-long gaps. A cooperative temperature and rainfall recording site was established in what is now Downtown in December, 1900. An official Weather Bureau Office was opened in Miami in June, 1911.
Typical summer afternoon shower rolling in from the Everglades.
Miami receives abundant rainfall, one of the highest among major U.S. cities. Most of this rainfall occurs from mid-May through early October. It receives annual rainfall of 58.6 inches (1,488.44 mm), whereas nearby Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach receive 63.8 in (1,620 mm) and 48.3 in (1,230 mm), respectively, which demonstrates the high local variability in rainfall rates. Hurricane season officially runs from June 1 through November 30, although hurricanes can develop beyond those dates. The most likely time for Miami to be hit is during the peak of the Cape Verde season which is mid-August through the end of September. Due to its location between two major bodies of water known for tropical activity, Miami is also statistically the most likely major city in the world to be struck by a hurricane, trailed closely by Nassau, Bahamas, and Havana, Cuba. Despite this, the city has been fortunate in not having a direct hit by a hurricane since Hurricane Cleo in 1964. However, many other hurricanes have affected the city, including Betsy in 1965, Andrew in 1992, Irene in 1999, and Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma in 2005. In addition, a tropical depression in October 2000 passed over the city, causing record rainfall and flooding. Locally, the storm is credited as the No Name Storm of 2000, though the depression went on to become Tropical Storm Leslie upon entering the Atlantic Ocean. Miami has been identified as one of three cities in the United States most vulnerable to hurricanes, mainly due to its location and it being surrounded by ocean and low-lying coastal plains, the other two cities being New Orleans and New York City.
Typical summer afternoon shower rolling in from the Everglades.
Entertainment and performing arts
Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, the second-largest performing arts center in the United States.
Miami Art Museum.
Miami is home to many entertainment venues, theaters, museums, parks and performing arts centers. The newest addition to the Miami arts scene is the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, the second-largest performing arts center in the United States after the Lincoln Center in New York City, and is the home of the Florida Grand Opera. Within it are the Ziff Ballet Opera House, the center's largest venue, the Knight Concert Hall, the Carnival Studio Theater and the Peacock Rehearsal Studio. The center attracts many large scale operas, ballets, concerts, and musicals from around the world and is Florida's grandest performing arts center. Other performing arts venues in Miami include the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, Coconut Grove Playhouse, Colony Theatre, Lincoln Theatre, New World Symphony House, Actor's Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, Jackie Gleason Theatre, Manuel Artime Theater, Ring Theatre, Playground Theatre, Wertheim Performing Arts Center, the Fair Expo Center and the Bayfront Park Amphitheater for outdoor music events.
The city is home to numerous museums as well, many of which are in Downtown. These include the Bass Museum, Frost Art Museum, Historical Museum of Southern Florida, Jewish Museum of Florida, Lowe Art Museum, Miami Art Museum, Miami Children's Museum, Miami Science Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Wolfsonian-FIU Museum and the Miami Cultural Center, home of the Main Miami Library. Other popular cultural destinations in the area include Jungle Island, Miami MetroZoo, Miami Seaquarium, Coral Castle, St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church, Charles Deering Estate, and parks and gardens in and around the city; there are over 80 parks in Miami. The largest and most popular parks are Bayfront Park and Bicentennial Park (located in the heart of Downtown and the location of the American Airlines Arena and Bayside Marketplace), Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Tropical Park, Watson Island, Morningside Park and Key Biscayne.
Miami is also a major fashion center, home to models and some of the top modeling agencies in the world. Miami is also host to many fashion shows and events, including the annual Miami Fashion Week and the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Miami held in the Wynwood Art District. Miami is also the home of the world's largest art exhibition, dubbed the "Olympics of Art", Art Basel Miami Beach. The event is held annually in December, and attracts thousands of visitors from around the world.
Miami music is varied. Cubans brought the conga and rumba to Miami from their homelands instantly popularizing it in American culture. Dominicans brought bachata, and merengue, while Colombians brought vallenato. West Indians and Caribbean people have brought reggae, soca, kompa, zouk, calypso, and steel pan to the area as well.
In the early 1970s, the Miami disco sound came to life with TK Records, featuring the music of KC and the Sunshine Band, with such hits as "Get Down Tonight", "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty" and "That's the Way (I Like It)"; and the Latin-American disco group, Foxy (band), with their hit singles "Get Off" and "Hot Number". Miami-area natives George McCrae and Teri DeSario were also popular music artists during the 1970s disco era. Miami-influenced, Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine, hit the popular music scene with their Cuban-oriented sound and had huge hits in the 1980s with "Conga" and "Bad Boys".
The Kampong, a botanical garden in Coconut Grove.
Miami is also considered a "hot spot" for dance music, Freestyle, a style of dance music popular in the 80's and 90's heavily influenced by Electro, hip-hop, and disco. Many popular Freestyle acts such as Pretty Tony, Debbie Deb, Stevie B, and Exposé, originated in Miami. Indie/folk acts Cat Power and Iron & Wine are based in the city, while alternative hip hop artist Sage Francis, electro artist Uffie, and the electroclash duo Avenue D were born in Miami, but musically based elsewhere. Also, punk band Against All Authority is from Miami, and rock/metal bands Nonpoint and Marilyn Manson each formed in neighboring Fort Lauderdale. Popular Cuban American female recording artist, Ana Cristina, was born in Miami in 1985, and became the first Hispanic person in history to perform the "Star Spangled Banner" at a presidential inauguration.
The 80's and 90's also brought the genre of high energy Miami Bass to dance floors and car subwoofers throughout the country. Miami Bass spawned artists like 2 Live Crew (featuring Uncle Luke), 95 South, Tag Team, 69 Boyz, Quad City DJ's, and Freak Nasty. Examples of these songs are "Whoomp! (There It Is)" by Tag Team in 1993, "Tootsee Roll" by 69 Boyz in 1994, and "C'mon N' Ride It (The Train)" by the Quad City DJ's in 1996. These songs all reached the top 10 in the pop charts and gave Miami Bass a new commercial success.
Miami is also home to a vibrant techno and dance scene and hosts the Winter Music Conference, the largest dance event in the world, Ultra Music Festival and many electronica music-themed celebrations and festivals. Along with neighboring Miami Beach, Miami is home to some famous nightclubs, such as Space, Mansion, Parkwest, Ink, and Cameo. The city is known to be part of clubland, along with places such as Mykonos, Ibiza and Ayia Napa.
There are also several rap and hip hop artists out of Miami. They include Trick Daddy, Trina, Pitbull, Jackie-O, Rick Ross, and legendary Miami Bass group, 2 Live Crew
Miami International Airport, located in an unincorporated area in the county, serves as the primary international airport of the Miami Area. One of the busiest international airports in the world, Miami International Airport caters to over 35 million passengers a year. Identifiable locally, as well as several worldwide authorities, as MIA or KMIA, the airport is a major hub and the single largest international gateway for American Airlines, the world's largest passenger air carrier. Miami International is the United States' third largest international port of entry for foreign air passengers (behind New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport), and is the seventh largest such gateway in the world. The airport's extensive international route network includes non-stop flights to over seventy international cities in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
Alternatively, nearby Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport also serves commercial traffic in the Miami area. Opa-Locka Airport in Opa-Locka and Kendall-Tamiami Airport in an unincorporated area serve general aviation traffic in the Miami area.
Miami-Dade County is served by four Interstate Highways (I-75, I-95, I-195, I-395) and several U.S. Highways including U.S. Route 1, U.S. Route 27, U.S. Route 41, and U.S. Route 441. For information on the street grid, see Miami-Dade County, Florida#Street grid. Some of the major Florida State Roads (and their common names) serving the county are:
* SR 112 (Airport Expressway): Interstate 95 to MIA
* SR 821 (The HEFT or Homestead Extension of the Florida Turnpike): SR 91/Miami Gardens to U.S. Route
* SR 826 (Palmetto Expressway): Golden Glades Interchange to U.S. Route 1/Pinecrest
* SR 836 (Dolphin Expressway): Downtown to SW 137th Ave via MIA
* SR 874 (Don Shula Expressway): 826/Bird Road to Homestead Extension of Florida's Turnpike/Kendall
* SR 878 (Snapper Creek Expressway): SR 874/Kendall to U.S. Route 1/Pinecrest & South Miami
* SR 924 (Gratigny Parkway) Miami Lakes to Opa-locka
In 2007, Miami was identified as having the rudest drivers in the United States, the second year in a row to have been cited, in a poll commissioned by automobile club AutoVantage. Miami is also consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in the United States for pedestrians.