The second largest city in the state, a port of entry, and the transportation and business hub of S Fla., it is also a popular and famous resort of the E United States. Tourism remains a major industry, closely followed by manufacturing and commerce. Miami has an international airport and is the principal American port for cruise ships to the Caribbean. The city is also the processing and shipping hub of a large agricultural region and a center for rebuilding and repairing aircraft. Manufactures include clothing, transportation equipment, machinery, plastics, and electronic components. Other industries are printing and publishing, fishing, and shellfishing. Miami is the home to the National Hurricane Center (at Florida International Univ.) and the headquarters of the U.S. Armed Forces Southern Command, responsible for military operations in Central and South America.
Professional football's Miami Dolphins, baseball's Florida Marlins, and basketball's Miami Heat play in the city, and college football's annual Orange Bowl contest is held there. Professional hockey's Florida Panthers play in suburban Sunrise. Miami is the seat of a number of institutions of higher education, including Barry Univ., Florida International Univ., Florida Memorial College, Miami Dade College, and St. Thomas Univ. The Univ. of Miami is in nearby Coral Gables. The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, host to the Miami City Ballet and the Florida Grand Opera, is also there, and the nearby Pérez Art Museum Miami opened in 2013. A number of state parks, gardens, and major tourist attractions are in the area.
The first modern settlement was made in the 1870s near the site of Fort Dallas, built in 1836 during the Seminole War, but it was preceded by more ancient settlements, such as the Tequesta site unearthed in 1998. In the 1890s, Henry M. Flagler made Miami a railroad terminus, dredged the harbor, began a recreational center, and promoted tourism. Miami received its greatest impetus during the Florida land boom of the mid-1920s. Since 1959 the large influx of Cubans has created
Little Havana, an ethnic sector that has had sporadic racial unrest; by the 1990 census nearly 50% of the city population was Hispanic, predominantly of Cuban descent.
In Apr., 1980, the U.S. government agreed to allow 3,500 Cuban political refugees into the country; a national announcement by Cuban leader Fidel Castro that those wanting to leave Cuba should gather at Mariel, near Havana, resulted in the boatlift of more than 100,000 Cuban refugees to S Florida. The 1980s and early 1990s were marked by large suburban growth, spurred by the increase of high-technology industries in the Miami area. Metrorail, the city transit system, opened in 1984. In the 21st cent. Miami has experienced continuing growth in its Hispanic population, which has been augmented an influx of Central and South Americans, and a revival of its downtown area.
See J. Buchanan, Miami: A Chronological & Documentary History, 1513–1977 (1978); J. Didion, Miami (1987); T. D. Allman, Miami: City of the Future (1988, rev. ed., 2013).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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