The area was once the home of the Tequesta Indians until they were nearly wiped out by European diseases and warfare brought on by two centuries of Spanish control of Florida. Miami was founded in 1870 near the site of Ft. Dallas, built in 1835 during the Seminole Indian wars. The city's name is probably derived from “Mayaimi,” an Indian word for “big water.”
Miami is the only U.S. city to have been planned by a woman. Julia Tuttle, a Clevelander, arrived there in 1891 and bought several hundred acres on the bank of the Miami River. She convinced New York financier Henry M. Flagler of the area's vast potential and persuaded him to extend his Florida East Coast Railroad to Miami in 1896, the year the city was incorporated. Flagler dredged Miami Harbor, built the renowned Royal Palm Hotel, and promoted the area as a winter playground. Tourists flocked there, and by 1910 the city was a thriving recreational area. Miami survived the collapse of a land speculation boom in the 1920s and severe hurricanes in 1926 and 1935 and continued to grow. It experienced a monumental population boost during the 1960s, when about 260,000 Cuban refugees arrived on its shore. They made a great impact on Miami, which is now a bilingual metropolis.
Miami is an international banking and finance center and has the greatest concentration of international and Edge Act banks (banks making only foreign loans and deposits) in North America; these constitute a major employment base. Greater Miami has a highly diversified economy with numerous multinational and Fortune 500 companies. It is a national leader in biomedical technology, and the health care sector is a major industry. Greater Miami is also part of an area known as the Computer Coast of Florida, and its growing technologies include computers, electrical engineering, and plastics manufacturing.
Miami is one of the world's leading year-round resort centers. The city is a major transportation hub, and the port of Miami is the world's largest cruise port and a major seaport for cargo. The famous island resort of Miami Beach, incorporated in 1915, is connected to Miami by four causeways.
See also Encyclopedia: Miami.
Selected famous natives and residents: